Since making his first appearance in the mid-seventies, Deathlok has always been around the periphery of the Marvel Universe. He would pop-up every now and then, guest-starring in one book or another, then going away just as fast. The character has always had a loyal following but for one reason or another has never risen above C-list status and has never been able to consistently maintain his own monthly series.
Funny how being a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe can change things.
After playing a major part in the first season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Deathlok’s profile has never been higher. More people know who he is now than ever before and want to see the cyborg in action again. And so Marvel is taking the opportunity to give fans what they want and launch Deathlok in an all-new regular series as part of Avengers NOW.
Deathlok #1 introduces us to Henry Hayes, a medic who heals the injured in war zones all over the world. But unknown to everyone, including himself, he is also Deathlok, the cyborg assassin who kills on command when he gets word from his mysterious overseers.
In terms of a first issue, Deathlok #1 is fairly standard fare. Writer Nathan Edmondson gives the reader everything they need to know, drops a few hints as to what’s going on in the background, a S.H.I.E.L.D subplot and not much else. And while this would normally not be enough to get me interested in a book long-term, in the case of Deathlok that’s not the case.
First, while this may be slightly run-of-the-mill first issue material, I was amazed by just how well done it was. The writing is crisp and moves at a breakneck pace. Not a word or panel is wasted as Edmondson lays out what Deathlok is all about and what it is he does. He smartly lets the artwork do most of the talking and lets the issue wash over the reader, leaving us with way more questions than answers.
And speaking of the artwork, wow. Mike Perkins does an amazing job breathing life into the book. His style reminds me a great deal of Mike Deodato Jr with the same flowing, organic feel to his pencils. There are some pages here that will just take your breath away and really impress you. The book is easily one of the best looking on the stands and will amaze and impress.
Deathlok #1 is a book that gives the reader just enough information to get you hooked, but not nearly as much as you would find in a typical first issue. Even in this age of decompressed storytelling, there just isn’t much meat on the bones of Deathlok’s 20 or so pages. And as I said, normally this would make the title a “pass” for me.
But for some reason, I came away from this debut issue needing to know more. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve become a Deathlok fan due to enjoying Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television show so much or because the issue was so well executed that it sucked me in without me knowing it. But either way, I’ll be picking up the second issue with no hesitation.
Edmondson and Perkins pull off quite a feat with the first issue of Deathlok; they give you a book you didn’t even know you wanted to read. I can only hope future issues are as good and can maintain this level of anticipation.