After the awesome first arc, slide with me down a steep slope of declining quality. . .
The bad news is that they switch out Tim Sale for Trevor Scott on art starting this issue (Sale does 2 pages at the end and a sweet pinup, though). The good news is that Scott does a pretty good job with a more realistic style than Sale, but still nice and moody without being as hard on the eye as Lee's Miller homage was.
Along with the switch in art, there's a change in direction starting here. Deathblow quits I.O. and takes on some work as a bodyguard to do a favor for a friend. Of course, there's more to the job than meets the eye.
All in all, I enjoyed this issue a lot after the apocalyptic goings on of the previous arc. I liked that the writer narrowed things down a bit.
One thing I DIDN'T like is that it looks like the new direction means to involve Deathblow more fully into the Image Universe as they drop in characters I had no idea who they were (Waering and Savoy) who Deathblow seemed to know but there was no reason why I should. I had to hit the internet to find out that they were Wetworks characters.
I blame this on 90's Image wanting SO bad to be Marvel. They just could NOT keep Deathblow on the fringes of their universe where he belongs. I have a bad feeling it's crossover time from here on out. . .which means a jump off the rails can't be far ahead.
Scott's art isn't as good in this issue. It's pretty poor in places. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come because he did a pretty good job on the last issue.
What I did like was that this was a 2 parter instead of a long story arc. I wouldn't mind seeing a few more shorter stories.
That said, this issue had some good moments, but all in all it was a bit disappointing. From the uneven art to some questionable writing (Caroline just taking it in stride that Johnny Savoy, rock star, is a vampire) and Image just assuming we're supposed to know who characters from outside Deathblow are, there's a lot of room for improvement. . .especially when compared to the first arc.
Oof. This one was bad.
First off, the art by Mel Rubi is just awful. My God, is it awful. So bad it's actually distracting from the story.
The story looks like the start of a new arc, about an assassin taking out all the members of a SEAL team mission to Gamorra (Deathblow included) for some reason. It's a cliche that's been done at least a hundred times in movies, books, t.v. and comics. If there's nothing to make it different and Rubi keeps doing the art, this could be where Deathblow jumps the rails. . .
Ooooookay. . .NOW we come to the "Image REALLY wanted to be Marvel" phase of Deathblow's run. And it ain't pretty (Literally, the art is sub-par in this issue).
Before, Deathblow was sort of lurking at the edge of Image's shared universe. From this issue going forward to the end of the run, it's steady crossover time. A damn shame. Deathblow is a MUCH better character staying in the shadows and on his own.
THIS issue is part of "Wildstorm Rising". I guess it was the first big multi-title crossover for the company. And it's just sort of. . .there. A new arc was started last issue, but then this issue interrupts it in a pretty abrupt way.
Basically, it's Deathblow vs. Aliens because he has a piece of. . .er. . .something? He found on a mission long ago and hung on to as a keepsake.
There's some good moments here and there, but overall this issue is pretty poor. The sub-standard art doesn't help. There are 3 artists "credited" for this issue, which makes the art incredibly uneven. . .going from pretty good to awful from page to page.
Deathblow gets back in the bodyguard business for Rayna Masters. This time protecting a reporter with a secret about the nation of Gamorra (Image's version of Latveria).
Although it was better than the last issue, I can see that this issue is pretty much just setup for a trip to Gamorra for Deathblow. It's still pretty funny that Deathblow can't eat, sleep, or crap in peace.
The art on this issue is very uneven. There are two artists "credited" here and the difference between them is pretty wide, so from page to page you go from completely awful to actually pretty good. It seems they were struggling to push this book out on time at this point, hence the shared art for the past 5 issues, but they could have at least tried to match them up a little more closely. . .
Thank God they ditched Mel Rubi on art. Once again, there's two artists credited here and even though they both lend a MUCH more "superhero comic book" look to things, at least they match up pretty well and neither one of them are bad. Both are actually pretty good. So there's that. . .
The story is basically the first part of a rescue mission to steal back kidnapped reporter Karl Woodbern from the ruler of the nation of Gamorra.
When I said before that Image really wanted to be Marvel at that point in time, it extends to their own version of Doctor Doom's Latveria. Both small nations hated by the rest of the world for human rights abuses. Both run by despotic madmen. Both more powerful than they ought to be due to advanced super-science.
In other words, Deathblow on mission in Gamorra = Captain America on mission in Latveria. The whole concept of Gamorra is lazy and derivative of something Marvel had going since the 60's and Deathblow really has no business going into costumed superhero territory.
I really enjoyed the "Military meets the Supernatural" vibe of the book before. Now it's just turning into a slightly darker superhero title. A damn shame.
This issue was definitely a step up from the last few. Mostly because there's only one artist on the job and he does a great job. The art is extremely detailed and dynamic, which is good for this issue because it's pretty much one long fight scene. . .but it's not the right art for Deathblow in general.
The various cyber-augmented sci-fi troopers and creatures of Gamorra look fantastic, so I'd say this artist would be a great choice for a Cybernary comic. There's even an extremely brief cameo from Cybernary, which was a surprise because I had thought that Cybernary was in the future. . .
All in all, I liked this finisher to the Gamorra mission a lot, even though it was extremely "Super Hero" in tone instead of "Shadowy Combat Assassin".
Image decided it was time for some uncomfortably young teenage T&A to liven up the dark adventures of Deathblow, so now we get a team up with their popular X-Men ripoff. . .Gen 13!
Trevor Scott is back on art with this issue, and he does a decent job, even if he still seems unable to understand the concept of a background. . .
The story itself is a pretty flimsy excuse to team up Deathblow and Gen 13. It even includes an obligatory "fight breaks out because both sides don't understand the other is actually their friend" superhero comic teamup cliche.
Deathblow pretty much is a guest in his own title this time out. It's pretty good for what it is, but it ain't Deathblow. . .
It is what it is. . .and that is a flimsy excuse to team up Gen 13 with Deathblow for some standard superhero team-up fun. Taken that way, it's not bad. Taken as a Deathblow story, it's awful.
To me, Gen 13 was always a bit on the questionable side of the superhero T&A equation (the youngest one, Freefall, is 14 years old according to the mighty internet) their inclusion here is just as questionable.
Yup. . .Deathblow is going off the rails as the writer for the past 21 issues bails as of this one.
It's more crossover/teamup fun as Deathblow joins up with Dane from Wetworks (Image just sort of expects the reader to know this, of course) to try and get some information as to who and why the members of Team 7 are being hunted down (SPOILER: Craven is dying and wants their gen factor. )
It's basically an excuse for a cliche comic book "Monster of the Month" fight with a guy with a gun implanted in his chest.
Yeah. . .we've come a long way since Deathblow's questioning his purpose in life and whether or not redemption is possible for someone with as much blood on his hands as him. Goodbye dark and conflicted anti-hero. . .hello SuperDeathblow!
7 more issues. God help me.
And there you have it. Deathblow #13-22. I've already flipped through the rest of the issues and if you thought this batch was the steady downward slide, #22-29 are where Deathblow goes off the cliff and straight down the hole into brightly-colored superhero crossover hell. I could barely even stand to read them.
Enjoy my pain as I force myself through the final 7 issues of Deathblow! Be there or be square!
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Issue # 6