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Deathblow (2006 series) #2 [Review]

Quick Rating: Average
Story Title: And Then You Live! (Part Two)

The man code-named Deathblow continues to be integrated back into society…

deathblow002Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Carlos D’anda
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editors: Scott Peterson
Cover Art: Carlos D’anda, variant by J.G. Jones & ALex Sinclair
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics

While I liked the previous issue and found plenty of positive points in it despite my unfamiliarity with the character, this issue takes a much different turn for me. The art maintains its quality, and the writing still seems strong in itself–but I find that I don’t really care that much about the main character, the supporting-cast-thus-far feels forgetable, and I don’t really know where in WorldStorm continuity this even fits.

Deathblow is returned to a home and family he doesn’t remember, and pretense on his part is not well-rewarded. There’s some sort of lab experimentation going on, analogous to the character’s re-introduction into New York City society, and a question is raised at issue’s end that looks like it’ll be playing a solid role in coming issues.

In a way, not MUCH happens in this issue, and yet quite a bit. I wasn’t–personally–pulled into the story itself all that much. For one thing, there seems to be a time-jump from what I recall at the end of the first issue, and some potential story-stuff that I expected is not present, which throws me off a bit.

There’s a lot of potential to the character himself, and the series; lots of room for commentary politically and on military stuff, and just the state of the world. There’s lots of room to look at what soldiers get put through and are asked to do, and the issue of being both the victim and causation of trauma. Other than recognization of the "Deathblow" name, I really don’t have anything else to ground me in the story, to know where things are coming from; there’s nothing summing up the first issue, and characters aren’t specifically identified. While this works for the story in and of itself, as someone new to the character without any significant knowledge of what may have come before, nor a clear placement (YET. It may be still to come as WorldStorm continues to unroll) of the story in general continuity (assuming it is in the shared universe) keeps me from being invested here.

Azzarello seems good for writing this sort of gritty, non-pretty story, and I suspect that while things are starting slow, given time, the characters and story will develop into a richer tapestry that’ll draw folks in.

D’anda‘s art is appropriately gritty and dark, capturing the tone of the story and bringing a fairly unique feel to the issue–one’s not going to mistake this for a Superman comic (hero showing up or not), for example.

If one is familiar with the character and history, and not coming in cold, there’s probably stuff that’s a lot deeper that I’m not picking up on. I want to like this series, for some reason. It’s not there yet. The potential is, though. I for one will give another couple issues to get pulled in more. I’ll cautiously recommend this if you bought the first issue. If you’ve not picked the title up yet, there’s nothing I can really point out that would singularly be reason to start.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3/5

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Savage Dragon #s163-168: Emperor Dragon

sd163I remember seeing Savage Dragon #1–from the original mini-series–on the new/recent indy-comics’ rack at Capp’s Comics in Mentor Ohio, way back when. And I remember when the first issue of the series proper came out, and I ESPECIALLY remember that 2nd issue, when the TMNT guest-starred.

I remember the series making waves–articles in Wizard, controversies over depictions of the Divine, and just what the character could and would be put through.

sd164And yet, I never really read the series.

I recall hearing stuff about the 75th issue, and actually picking that one up. Giant-sized, if I recall. Involved some time-traveling villain as a kid, before he grew up to become that time-traveler. And Dragon killed him….resulting in an all-new world.

I realized that was a good jumping-on point, and followed the series for several issues of this new world, particularly enjoying the cover dress, sd165made to look like classic Marvel books, or so it seemed.

But the series quickly faded off my radar.

Every now and then since, it would show up again–generally the anniversary issues. A friend gave me a run of the first 30-32 issues of the series several years back, and I’ve had my eye on the Savage Dragon Archives volumes (Image‘s version of DC‘s Showcase and Marvel‘s Essential lines).

This past summer, when I went on a tear dropping most of the comics I’d been following, burned out from events, sd166I noticed a new storyline starting in Savage Dragon, and put the title on my pull list. And I’ve faithfully bought each issue for the past half-year.

But tonight, I finally sat down and READ the things.

And it’s almost like things have come full-circle.

This Emperor Dragon arc has the look and feel of classic silver-age stuff…Larsen‘s art is very Kirby-esque. And the story is one that could only be told in a book like this, never in something from Marvel or DC.

sd167I wasn’t sure what I’d think, but I found myself–especially after I finished reading–realizing how important the story is to the overall Dragon mythos. And in a way, it felt like issue #75 all over again, except better, for having so much more history behind it.

Savage Dragon is one of the original Image series, and one of the longest-running series not from Marvel or DC, with nearly 2 decades behind it. I followed along with this story pretty well without MUCH background knowledge. sd168And while this story very likely strongly informs what’s to come…it seems that the coming issues would make another nice jumping-on point for an entirely new status quo–one on the level that rarely gets seen in comics, it seems.

Been a fun ride, and I plan on sticking with the title for awhile longer…and maybe actually play some catch-up for backstory.

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