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Deathblow (2006 series) #3 [Review]

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

Deathblow continues his quest for "place" in contemporary society.

deathblow003Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Carlos D’anda
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editors: Scott Peterson
Cover Art: Carlos D’anda Brian Stelfreeze
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics

It’s a bit hard to review this issue…and I feel rather stupid for that fact. I just don’t seem to "get" who these characters are nor exactly what’s going on. At the same time, it’s not a TOTALLY negative thing, but I think there’s something lacking for my not being familiar with the character prior…the positive being that this is "only" the third issue and much of the story yet to go.

This issue sees the character we’ve followed for a couple issues attempting to figure out his place in contemporary society, free to do what he wants as he will when he wants to. After breakfast with his family, Cray sets out to find his friend/his dog at the park. Some less-than-comfortable encounters and violence later, we see some hints at a villain of the piece and what the title character might be facing soon.

While it was a bit hard to follow at points, I generally enjoyed certain chunks of Azzarello‘s Hellblazer work. I’ve read the first trade of 100 Bullets, as well as his arc on Batman several years ago, and the more recent Superman arc. Unfortunately, it seems his writing is a bit hit-or-miss for me, almost on an issue-by-issue/case-by-case basis. This is, despite some early optimism, turning out to be a miss. Those other stories had the benefit of involving characters I was already familiar with, whereas here I’m not only not familiar with the characters, but don’t care about them. Even comparing this to a tv show, the infrequency (though I believe mostly on-schedule for once-per-month) of the story segments and lack of any introductory pages make this an hard read without having dug out previous issues to re-read–though that could be leveled more at the publisher than writer.

The art is just fine, and captures a certain sort of realism without leaving behind the visual "feel" that it is still a two-dimensional series of images on paper. No complaints from me artwise.

While I didn’t much enjoy this issue, I suspect others more familiar with the history of the character, or more patience, or just a better memory may enjoy it. It’s still the middle of an arc, and will very likely be far more understandable in its eventual collected/single-volume format than it is here.

Ratings:

Story: 2.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

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

Deathblow (2006 series) #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: And Then You Live! (Part One)

A new start for the man code-named Deathblow…

deathblow001Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Carlos D’anda
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Rob Leigh
Asst. Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editors: Ben Abernathy and Scott Peterson
Cover Art: Carlos D’anda, variant by Stephen Platt
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC Comics

This issue has a mix of stuff to it, with a good pacing. We open with the reader apparently being addressed, before we discover we’re seeing things through the eyes of someone being tortured, before flipping to the discussion of a rescue operation, then the rescue operation itself. We’re introduced to the main character, and are left at the issue’s conclusion with a glimpse of what may be to come, as the status quo we’re led to believe is shifted into place isn’t what we–or the title character–thought.

The writing here is good. Before this issue, pretty much the entirety of what I knew of the character or concept, even, of Deathblow was what can be found in Jim Lee‘s "The Stormfront" column in this past month’s Worldstorm books. However, there’s enough here that while there may be an initial sense of genericy, we are not only introduced to the title character in this debut issue, but early enough on that events transpire after his introduction, (which then lead into the issue’s cliffhanger). The art has a gritty edge to it, and with the coloring, a subtle darkness that gives a visual impression of just how un-pretty things are here, story-wise.

As a debut issue, this has a good amount going for it. We get some background that sets up what’s going on here, now, in the present, that leads to the introduction of this Deathblow character. (The fact that the title character actually shows up is a definite plus.) We are introduced to the character in such a way that accounts for (apparently) events that came in the earlier volume of the title (pre-Worldstorm) and presumably gives an extra depth for readers familiar with the character from way-back-when…but it works equally as well in setting the character up for those (like myself) coming in cold.

I didn’t have much of any expectation coming in beyond the usual one would expect of any comic. I’m not absolutely wowed or amazed at the book…but I find in it a solid start with plenty of potential, and I’m willing to give it a go, see how stuff develops.

I’m sure you could find better, but there’s plenty worse out there. As a debut/first issue, this is a good point to jump on and check things out. If you’ve $3 to spare, it probably couldn’t hurt too much.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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