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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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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

Astro City: Samaritan #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Great
Story Title: The Eagle and the Mountain

Samaritan and an old foe size each other up in their latest encounter, as we see key moments in both characters’ past.

astrocitysamaritan Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent E. Anderson
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Lettering and Design: John Roshell of Comicraft
Asst. Editor: Kristy Quinn
Editor: Ben Abernathy
Cover Art: Alex Ross
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm Signature Series

While I’ve read several of the Astro City TPBs, the first arc of Dark Age, and a couple other AC stories, I don’t feel all that familiar with any specific characters. They’re largely archetypal to me, and I think I read them with other characters in mind, or at least, without much of a vested interest in anyone in particular.

Samaritan to me is a different take on Superman, and this "Infidel" puts me in mind of Lex Luthor, and visually in mind of some character from Hellblazer (Papa Midnight, perhaps).

However, these characters certainly are not the others–they draw from a similar pool of ideas, but hold a rich uniqueness all their own.

The issue opens with a story about an eagle and a mountain, to set things up. The issue is narrated by Infidel, presenting things from his point of view–something that when done on occasion like this, works very well. Though we know that he is the "bad guy" (Samaritan being the "good guy"), it’s easy to see where Infidel is coming from, his motivation and such.

Through the years, Infidel and Samaritan have clashed, and despite the intensity of the battles, neither every truly gained the upper hand, resulting in a truce of sorts, as each watches the other, waiting for a moment to strike. The cordiality between Samaritan and Infidel is a bit off-putting at first, but works very well here. It is in itself a bit archetypal–two bitter enemies interacting civilly, almost friendly, neither seeking to physically confront the other…but the dangerousness of both is felt throughout the interactions, and the characters have a very real feel to them, as more than just some black/white comic-book-supervillain/comic-book-superhero interaction; there’s just more depth to it.

And that seems to me to be a large part of the way Astro City works–standard superheroes and supervillains cast in a "real world" of sorts, offering plausible answers to questions that transpose comic book situations with real world actuality. Of course it’s still a comic itself–but it gets beyond certain cliches.

The art works really well here–Anderson‘s art is clear and mood-suited as usual, conveying both the quieter and the loud, cosmic scenes quite well.

Possibly the best part of this issue is that it stands alone. If you’re a long-time fan of Astro City, it’ll add to your enjoyment of the overall "saga." However, if you’ve never touched an Astro City book, this is a great place to check it out, with a story of one of the main superheroes and maybe his greatest foe. In a world of increasing need of the "previously…" page, this issue acknowledges that with a "previously" box: What You Need To Know Before Reading This Issue! / Uh, nothing, really. Dive on in, the water’s fine.

Check it out–it’s a $4 book, but it’s 40 pages, self-contained, and a very enjoyable read!

Ratings:

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4.5/5
Overall: 4.5/5

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