Comic Book Review: Deathblow #4

Azzarello is doing a great job cranking out a dependable read on Deathblow. As a matter of fact, this is really the only title out of Wildstorm’s onslaught of new titles that really hooked my interest. I am confident that Deathblow #4 is going to be another well done issue. Let’s do this review.

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

Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Deathblow brutally kicking the crap out of a bunch of drug dealers while the talking dog watches him. We cut to General Ruckus talking to Ivana. Ivana tells the General that Deathblow’s mind has found a way to circumvent the reconditioning. That Deathblow was reconditioned to avoid violence. But, they didn’t expect that he would cast himself as a victim so that he could react to violence. Ivana says that mayhem seems to be an absolute necessity for Deathblow just like breathing or eating.

General Ruckus asks if Ivana knows if THEM (The Hidden Extreme Militia) has contacted Deathblow. Ivana says they have no proof of that having occurred. Ruckus says that Deathblow is a loose cannon and that they can’t have that. Ruckus instructs Ivana to tell the agents in place to “earn a vacation.” Ivana doesn’t think it is a wise idea to eliminated Deathblow, but General Ruckus doesn’t care about her opinion.

We cut back to Deathblow standing over all the brutally beaten criminals. Blood is covering Deathblow’s arms up to his elbows. Deathblow tells Mr. Jiminy, the talking dog, that what he just did was pretty cool. Mr. Jiminy isn’t too sure about that.

Suddenly, a part dinosaur and part man cyborg attacks Deathblow. The cyborg and Deathblow start brawling. Mr. Jiminy picks up a gun in his mouth and tosses it over to Deathblow. Deathblow grabs the gun and blows the cyborg’s head off. Mr. Jiminy then says “Are you O.K., Mike?” Deathblow asks what Mr. Jiminy just called him. The talking dog repeats “Mike.”

We shift to Deathblow waking up in his bed and seeing the strange black guy from last issue lying next to him. The guy tells Deathblow that they are coming for him. Deathblow asks who “they?” are. The guy responds that Deathblow knows who they are and that he just doesn’t recognize them for what they are.

The guy then rambles on that it is “us versus them.” And that no one wants Deathblow playing for the other side. The guy says that he is on Deathblow’s side. Deathblow then asks whose side is he on. The strange guy is surprised that Deathblow doesn’t know. The guy comments that they really did a number on Deathblow’s mind. The guy says that Deathblow can ignore him if he wants to, but that one funeral is enough for Deathblow.

We cut to Deathblow’s two children meeting with Ivana. Ivana tells the kids that General Ruckus has ordered them to “earn a vacation.”

We shift to Deathblow on his recliner drinking a beer and watching the New England Patriots football game. Chastity then walks over wearing a hot French Maid’s outfit and claims that she has some “cleaning” to do.

Chastity “accidentally” spills a glass of champagne across her boobs. She then says “oops, look what I did.” And crawls up on Deathblow’s lap and blocks his view of the TV. Deathblow pushes Chastity off him and she falls to the floor. Chastity then asks “Daddy” is he is gay. Deathblow responds that he isn’t gay. That he bet on the game.

We cut to Deathblow on the fire stair of his building talking with Mr. Jiminy. The talking dog says that Deathblow is lashing out against the world while at the same time he is looking for it to tell him what to do. Mr. Jiminy says that being his own man doesn’t work for Deathblow. That Deathblow is a guy who follows orders and without that his life doesn’t make sense. Mr. Jiminy then tells Deathblow that he can help Deathblow if he wants.

We shift to Deathblow’s “kids.” Martha asks her brother what their “dad” is doing. The brother says that Deathblow is outside talking to a dog. Martha comments that Deathblow really has gone off the deep end. The brother then responds that the dog is talking back.

The siblings then go to their bed room and open up a toy chest full of weapons. They arm themselves with some major weapons. The sister comments how nice Aruba is around this time of year. The brother comments that he is all about Bangkok.

The Good: Deathblow #4 was another solid read. Azzarello continues to crank out quality reads and has gotten this new title off to a good start. Deathblow #4 was nicely paced. Azzarello continues to move the story along at a measure and steady pace. The reader isn’t bored, but certainly doesn’t feel rushed. Azzarello is doing a good job with the plotting. It is clear that Azzarello has a definite purpose and direction to this story. Azzarello manages to deliver a balanced issue with equal parts action scenes and dialogue heavy scenes.

Azzarello delivers some quality dialogue. Deathblow is beginning to be more and more developed with each issue. I felt that Deathblow was a bit too one-dimensional after the first and second issues. However, Azzarello has really put forth some effort over the last two issues to flesh out Deathblow’s personality more.

I really like how Azzarello is handling Deathblow’s character. Deathblow is so much more than just your stereotypical soldier of fortune violent themed character. Deathblow is coming across more and more complex with each issue. A large part of that is due to the brainwashing that the General Ruckus placed Deathblow under. The mental instability to Deathblow is what gives him more depth and keeps him from being your generic tough guy comic book character.

Azzarello is slowly giving the reader a few more tasty crumbs to nibble on with each issue. In this issue we get insight into General Ruckus’ plans for Deathblow. I dig the idea of taking one insanely dangerous man like Deathblow and programming him to run away whenever faced with violence.

We also learn about the existence of T.H.E.M. Evidently we have General Ruckus and his shady personnel on one side and the members of T.H.E.M. on the other side. I’m interested to learn more about T.H.E.M. and their objectives. Having said that, I’m also interested in learning more about General Ruckus and exactly what he is up to.

And then we have that weird guy who keeps appearing out of thin air and making cryptic statements to Deathblow. Just who is this guy? And which side is he working for? I gather that he isn’t on General Ruckus’s side. So, is he with T.H.E.M.? Or is he with another group. Or is he just his own person totally on his own?

I like this strange guy. He is pretty entertaining and definitely is a great literary tool for Azzarello to give cryptic hints about what has happened to Deathblow and what is in store for him in the future.

Despite all of these interesting tidbits that Azzarello gave the reader, my favorite two involved Deathblow’s “kids” and Mr. Jiminy. And Azzarello delivers both of those revelations at the very end to deliver a fantastic hook ending that grabs the reader’s attention and gets him excited to read the next issue.

Azzarello reveals that Deathblow’s “kids” are in fact highly trained assassins working for General Ruckus. It is pretty twisted to see these little kids pulling out all of these automatic weapons from a toy chest. I loved it. The fight between the kids and Deathblow should be very interesting. It definitely is going to help wake up Deathblow from this dream life he is currently living.

The second revelation is that the talking dog, Mr. Jiminy, is not a hallucination from Deathblow’s deluded mind. Mr. Jiminy actually can talk! That is wild. We have been left to wonder if Deathblow’s conversations with Mr. Jiminy weren’t all taking place in Deathblow’s mind. Well, we now have concrete proof that Mr. Jiminy really is a talking dog.

And that leads the reader to the obvious question of what the hell is Mr. Jiminy? An intelligent talking dog? Bizarre. And what are Mr. Jiminy’s plans for Deathblow. Mr. Jiminy makes the cryptic offer to Deathblow if Deathblow wants the help. I cannot wait to learn more about Mr. Jiminy, who he works for and what his plans are for Deathblow.

And what is the deal with the wild part dinosaur, part man cyborg that Deathblow battled? Who created that monster? I hope we find out a bit more about the source for that creature.

And all of these various plotlines are what makes Deathblow such an intriguing title. Azzarello has layered mystery upon mystery with characters coming from all different angles. The reader doesn’t know what is going to happen at the next moment. And you definitely don’t know who to trust or the motivations for most the of the characters.

Azzarello is also wise enough to make sure that me sprinkles in enough humor to keep Deathblow from being way too grim and gritty. This is a smart move that saves Deathblow from being too heavy handed and more of a parody than a serious title. Mr. Jiminy gets most of the best lines. His dialogue in the scene after Deathblow kills all the criminals was funny.

And the scene with Deathblow and Chastity was great. That was a funny scene well placed in the middle of the issue. Plus, it showed just how blindly focused Deathblow can get. It stresses how basic and no-nonsense Deathblow can be.

D’Anda’s provides more solid artwork on Deathblow #4. I’m not really crazy about D’Anda’s style of art, but it is a great match for this title. D’Anda’s style really fits the dark, gritty and creepy world of Deathblow.

The Bad: I have no complaints with this issue.

Overall: Deathblow #4 was another quality read. Azzarello and D’Anda are a great team and have impressed me with their work on this title. Deathblow has been the most consistently good read out of all the new Wildstorm titles that were unleashed several months ago. I’d recommend giving Deathblow a chance unless you absolutely abhor darker themed titles with a good bit of violence.