Avengers Now Review & Spoilers: Deathlok #1 by Nathan Edmondson and Mike Perkins

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DEATHLOK {3rd Series} #1 Review

“The Enemy of My Enemy” (20 pages)

Story by: Nathan Edmondson
Art by: Mike Perkins
Colors by: Andy Troy
Letters by: VC’s Joe Sabino
Covers by: Perkins & Troy; Clayton Crain; Skottie Young
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Another new book. Aside from the typical excitement one might feel at the mention of a new number-one, there’s nothing like holding one and flipping through the pages slowly, absorbing every word, examining every panel with eagle eyes. There’s also some promise when a book (re)launches and hope that it’ll live a long healthy shelf-life. To put it bluntly: if said book is written and illustrated really well, then the hype is worth it!!

The two pages open innocently enough. Henry Hayes (first introduced in Original Sins #1 for the neophytes) is having his prosthetic leg checked by an employee of Biotek. Seems like standard procedure and nothing out-of-the-ordinary. The two men share a common bond that most adults share: lamenting how time elapses and the fact that their little ones are growing up way too fast. Just a typical day in suburban Anywhere, USA (although here it’s specified as New Jersey). The audience is reminded that Henry is a doctor for Medics Without Borders. Despite his ‘disability’, he’s most definitely front-and-centre in major global hotspots.

By page 3, BBLLAAMM!!! Literally!! Deathlok is all geared up and on a mission. I love how his code name is Mustang. Strong, fierce, unpredictable. Sounds about right. Given his first appearance in Original Sins¸ there are code-phrases to trigger and/or execute Deathlok’s mission. The one currently uttered is “Into the nonsense.” This was something said one page earlier by the Biotek employee who admires Henry’s unending dedication in the field of medicine. The cyborg ‘killer’ standing on a train is a classic espionage trope. Of course, what is up must come down. Disposing of the obstacles and target isn’t much of a stretch. What’s more surprising is that a passenger takes two photos (front and back) of the automated assassin. The guy got off easy with only his phone being blown to bits. After the mission is over, it is imperative to skedaddle. Nothing like jumping into the abyss from a derailing train to maintain covertness. Begin mind-wipe……

…..where was I? Sorry, that wipe must’ve caused a brief short circuit. Anyhoo, what’s worse than killing a no-good son-of-a-gun? Dealing with a teenage daughter. It’s a little appropriate to give a frosty-hearted, metallic man the cold shoulder due to his absences (as an actual medic or as an operative?). Henry’s brief time with Aria is crushing to say the least. Starbucks and her hoodie are the only comforts she needs. She ain’t wrong.

Moving on to the good stuff!! What’s intrigue in the Marvel Universe without the involvement of S.H.I.E.L.D.?? I love seeing Maria Hill back as director. It made little sense to me the brief time Daisy Johnson was in the role. At any rate, Maria speaks to a young, competent, aspiring agent named Andrea. She’s getting a promotion. The task? Look into Henry Hayes’ emergence as Deathlok (again, I’m referring to Original Sins #1). The irony is that Andrea was passed up promotion three times and is now hesitant to be involved in something that is clearly dangerous. Maria empathizes with her considering that being passed up for promotion (three times no less) is an all-too-common thing in the real world as well as the MU. Maria instills confidence in Andrea by making her a one-woman task force to look into the party/parties capable of eluding S.H.I.E.L.D.’s surveillance. Andrea is christened as Agent Hope.

Henry is globe-trotting yet again. This time, it’s to Venezuela to tend to the wounded who have engaged in protests. Let’s be honest, in reality it’s another takedown. Once more, he is lauded for his profession. Little does anyone know (including himself) what really lies beneath!! The code-phrase “Whiskey David” appears on the pixel board at the baggage claim. After re-reading OS, I’ve noticed it is repeated here. Mr. Edmondson, nothing is accidental, is it? Another standard op is given to Deathlok. This time it’s a favour to the Venezuelan government by killing rebels. There should be little resistance due to intel and satellite tracking but Henry is ordered to be in full gear just in case. Lo and behold, surprises of all surprises, there is a bit of unexpected resistance in the form of The Black Tarantula!! Talk about a detour! WHO, you ask? He started as a Spidey villain then became an ally of DD before heading back home to fight the good fight. I truly thought he was shot down, in the head no less, on page 18, panel 3. DDAAMMNN. Quick, efficient, ruthless. That’s what the mega bucks pay for when politics are involved. Instead, it was just a flesh wound. Also, it could be that since Black Tarantula has regenerative powers and is supposedly immortal, he got off real easy.

The book ends with Black Tarantula holding his mask and Deathlok making an off-the-cuff remark but still cliché “This must be a nice place to visit“. Random!! Is that his humanity seeping through? Shadow cabinets and puppet masters are also standard espionage fare. Control is a woman named JJ who gives the specs for Deathlok’s missions. The ‘man behind the curtain’ wants to ensure that no one knows of ‘Lok’s existence, especially Henry himself.

A really great start!! I’m craving for more!

This is Nathan Edmondson’s third on-going book for Marvel. It’s no coincidence that his titles involves shoot-‘em-up scenarios as well as rough-and-tough characters. For those completely in the dark, I’m referring to Black Widow and Punisher. I’ll admit that reading/collecting spy comics isn’t at the top of my list but he delivers a flawless piece. He expertly weaves everyday life and casual conversations with over-the-top action. The change in scenes isn’t choppy, awkward, or forcefully placed. In fact, it makes the story flow all the much better! I’ve never really read any of his previous work but he seems to be quite the natural at this. BTW, nice nod to your other book (Black Widow), Nathan!! I miss the olden days when the two major comic companies would asterisk former issues for reference.

Mike Perkins’ art is a sweet treat for someone like me. His work is reminiscent of David Finch, IMO. The faces are quite life-like and the bodies are extremely proportionate instead of the over-exaggerated physiques. The two examples to back up my observations are Henry standing on the porch on page 2, panel 5 and the close-up of Maria Hill on page 13, panel 5. His inks accentuate the characters and the background details in all the right places. He’s been off-the-radar for a few years so reacquainting myself with his illustrations makes me smile all around. I really enjoyed his run with Ed Brubaker on Captain America vol. 5.

Andy Troy’s colours are versatile. From sunny suburban bliss to secretive conferences to bloodshed and guns blazing, this man captures all of it effortlessly.

Joe Sabino, another letterer from the venerable VC is to be commended for the ID of locales, Deathlok’s computerized voice and the pixel board message.

This may be the third Deathlok (and appropriately third on-going proper) in the mainstream MU but I’m already enthralled by this brand new character’s story. It’s bemusing to see this title as part of the Avengers NOW! line.

No matter who’s in control, I give this book a solid 3-for-3 [100%].

Deathlok II Marvel

This book is brought to you by…

Corporate endorsement or copyright infringement? Notice the following:

  • Henry is sporting an UnderArmor® T-shirt. The logo itself is trademarked.
  • Aria mentions Starbucks® twice [huge fan, myself ;-)]

Life imitates art, or is it the other way around?

Doctors Without Borders (the actual name is Médecins Sans Frontières) is a real organization, folks! No pretend stuff here.

Aesthetics vs. Prosthetics

I really like how Henry’s face isn’t entirely covered. In the first full page spread, he had a red ‘visor’ to assess the situation. Having his face open is perhaps a tactic to make him seem less intimidating by showing his human-ness.

The red eye is a classic mainstay. How else could you differentiate a brainwashed individual with implants? Mike Perkins gives us two glorious renditions: page 9, panel 5 and page 14, panel 6.

The costume harkens back to the original incarnation with the same colour scheme. Either way, Henry looks lithe and sleek, not bulky and predominantly metallic. It’s also no accident that his appearance is based off J. August Richard’s portrayal in TV’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The same goes for the selected memory deletions.

First Person Shooter

This comic could be viewed as a FPS game, ish. What else do you expect from a killing machine?

Killshots: 11 (if you count the phone being plugged) — surprisingly low

Explosions: 3        Flares: 1

Rocket’s red glare: 10 — He really carries around some heavy artillery!

Spy-Speak 101

Exfil — short for “exfiltration”; synonym for “extraction”. When the going gets tough, GTFO!! There are two types: hostile or friendly.

Trigger words/Code-phrases: 2 — “Into the nonsense” and “Whiskey David

Code-names:

  • Mustang [military slang, specifically in the USAF for a commissioned officer who began his/her career as an enlisted officer. Usually much older and more experienced than younger counterparts]
  • Control — a bit cliché but how else to describe the puppeteer?

Similar but Different

Control a.k.a. JJ kinda/sorta looks like Andrea a.k.a. Agent Hope. There’s no possibility they’re one and the same, is there?

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