Comic Book Review: Deathblow #1

So far these new Wildstorm titles have garnered a rather unimpressive 0-2-2 record here at the Revolution. Deathblow #1 is the next title up to bat for Wildstorm. Now, I enjoyed the original Deathblow series back in 1993. But, that was a long time ago and Deathblow was a typical Image title. You had a bad-assed character with a generic “tough” name and the emphasis was more on the art than on the writing. Now, I’m not all that familiar with Brian Azzarello. I have not read much written by him. I’m also not familiar with Carlos D’Anda. So, it should be interesting to see if Deathblow #1 can finally register a title in the win column for Wildstorm. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Carlos D’Anda

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The issue begins with some unknown person (Deathblow) locked in a cell and being tortured by some a professional interrogator.

We then cut to the Pentagon which apparently has luxury condos inside of it. We see a nice large bathroom where a hot black woman is taking a bubble bath. Also in the bathroom, is General Ruckus who is sitting on the toilet. The General finishes his “business” at the same time as a not so hot looking white chick enters the room. Her name is Ivana and she has a metal hand that, evidently, can vibrate. The General confirms with Ivana that International Operations is sure about their intelligence information. The General then orders the strike and says it is time to bring their boy home.

We cut to some military attack helicopters in Hindu Kush. The helicopters launch missiles at a prison camp. We cut to inside the prison. A couple of prisoners are debating who the soldiers are coming to free. The American soldiers tromp past the various cells looking for their target. The soldiers get into a small firefight and end up blowing up one of the prison cells. Unfortunately, that was the cell that house the American that they were sent to rescue. The soldiers comment how they can’t go back empty handed.

We shift to the man who was torturing a prisoner (Deathblow). Suddenly, Deathblow frees himself and takes out the guard who is with the professional interrogator. The interrogator then yells out to the American soldiers that he is Petrus Komar, the Captain of Intelligence for the militia. That if they save him and take him to America he will tell them everything he knows. But, before the American soldiers can get him out of the cell, Deathblow kills Komar in a particularly brutal fashion.

Deathblow then identifies himself as Michael Cray, an American black ops specialist who has been presumed dead for six years. Codename: Deathblow. Deathblow asks for one of the soldier’s guns. Deathblow then blasts off the lock on the cell door and in the process accidentally shoots one of the American soldiers. (Huh?)

We cut to Gitmo, where General Ruckus is questioning Deathblow. The General says that he doesn’t believe Deathblow’s entire story and that the General needs to know the truth. Ivana enters the cell and mentions how Deathblow isn’t a prisoner of war and that this isn’t a prisoner of war camp. The General agrees that Gitmo is a Detention Center and then leaves Ivana to “question” Deathblow. We see Ivana whip out a particularly nasty looking razor knife. End of issue.

The Good: Deathblow #1 was a slightly above average read. The pacing is well done. Azzarello doesn’t waste anytime getting this story moving. We quickly establish all the major players and reveal that Deathblow is still alive and get him back into the custody of the American military all by the end of the issue. Azzarello seems to have a definite story in mind and appears to have a tightly plotted story arc. I also like that Azzarello isn’t taking much time to set up his story. The fast pace of this issue was much welcomed after the other much more slower paced stories in Wildstorm’s other new titles.

Deathblow #1 also provides the reader with plenty of action. Out of all of the new Wildstorm titles, this issue had the most action. The dialogue was solid. Nothing great, but certainly nothing bad. Just good solid comic book dialogue. It certainly had plenty of “tough” talk, but then Deathblow is the type of title that is naturally going to have a lot of “tough” talk.

D’Anda’s artwork is dark and gritty. While, I would not really like his art on other titles, it definitely works well on Deathblow. D’Anda’s style compliments Azzarello’s story and brings to life Deathblow’s dirty and violent world.

The Bad: Deathblow #1 delivers a standard story that you would expect in a soldier of fortune style comic book. And this isn’t a negative, it just isn’t a positive. The issue is that there really doesn’t seem to be anything particularly new or interesting in this story. General Ruckus is such a “paint by numbers” villain. Ruckus is your stereotypical bad guy that you see over and over again in numerous mercenary and military based comic books. The entire feel of this story had a very “been there, done that” feel to it.

Ivana’s character comes across more like a bad reject from a James Bond movie. Maybe I will like her more once Azzarello gets a chance to develop her further, but I wasn’t that interested by her character in this issue.

Deathblow is Deathblow. He is your standard issue tough guy black ops specialist. Maybe my memories are clouded by time, but I recall Deathblow’s character more complex in the original series. He was dying of cancer and seemed to be a much more interesting personality. Azzarello’s Deathblow reads like any other military tough guy that you see in numerous comic books. Again, hopefully, Azzarello can flesh out Deathblow into a more fully developed character rather than a one note tough guy that the old Image was overpopulated with in the 1990’s.

Another concern is that if this title become too dark, violent and grim then it may begin to become more of a parody than a serious comic book. Hopefully, Azzarello will be able to sprinkle in some humor in order to show the reader that he isn’t taking himself or his story too seriously.

Overall: Deathblow #1 is what it is. This is a standard mercenary/soldier of fortune comic book that is going to center on gritty dialogue and plenty of violence and action. And that isn’t a bad thing. However, I hope that it ends up having a bit more to offer than just that. Having said that, if you dig military black ops ass-kickers and comic books with plenty of violence then you will certainly enjoy Deathblow.

The art was good enough and the writing just good enough that I’ll come back for the second issue. Deathblow #1 wasn’t quite good enough to register Wildstorm their elusive first win here at the Revolution. This issue was another draw. So now Wildstorm stands at 0-2-3.