I’m back from the comic shop this week and I got three new comics plus a hard cover collection:

  • Rex Mundi Vol 2- 17
  • The Walking Dead – 60
  • Mysterious the Unfathomable – 4
  • Herbie Archives Volume 3
  • And now for a review of something I’ve read recently.

  • Astonishing Tales 25-36 starring Deathlok the Demolisher by Rich Buckler, Doug Moench, Bill Mantlo and others
  • These comics hit the stands in 1974-1976. I probably got them in about 1978 or 1979 and they were a favorite of mine during my teenage years. But I hadn’t read them in over twenty years before now and sometimes comics I remember fondly don’t hold up well when read in adulthood.

    I’m happy to report that these hold up pretty well. Deathlok is mainly the work of Rich Buckler. He plots and pencils most of the issues. Doug Moench is the scripter for the first six issues and then Bill Mantlo takes over that task. There are a variety of inker/finishers on the book. The lettering is also notable for having an early, hand lettered, computer type font.

    Deathlok takes place in the then future of 1990. It’s a dystopian future where an unnamed war has been going on for ten years. Deathlok is a cyborg built to change the balance of power in that war. He was supposed to just be a machine but part of a man’s brain, who died five years before, was used to run the cyborg. When Deathlok is turned on everyone is surprised that there is a person in there (some say the movie Robocop swiped a lot of stuff from Deathlok).

    Deathlok breaks free, wanders off on his own, and tries to find his way in the world after being dead for five years and then coming back in a monstrous body. All this on a wrecked island of Manhattan.

    The whole series has a fairly modern feel to it. There is a lot of military stuff going on and they don’t shy away from killing and maiming. There are few, if any, thought balloons to be found in the Moench issues but there is an internal running dialogue between Deathlok’s human and computer selves. This is in captions much like the first person narration that is inescapable in today’s comics.

    I liked the Moench scripted issues best. I think he captured the pissed off, mixed up, crazy, hopelessness of waking up five years after you’ve died to find yourself trapped in a monster’s body with a constant computer voice in your head. There was a directionlessness to these issues that rang true to me.

    The Bill Mantlo scripted issues were still pretty good but were a little more conventional. The plot went in a little more conventional direction too. Deathlok lost a little of his despair any agony at being alive but I’m not sure how much longer that could be kept up. That has always been the achilles heel of most Deathlok revival series. Sooner or later he has to accept that he is alive again and begin to live but that also negates what makes him interesting. Some characters weren’t meant to continue.

    I was happy to read these issues again after all these years. They hold up well. They are a lot different than most 1970’s Marvel comics. I hope Marvel reprints these in a nice hardcover book one of these days. I think the original issues are still the only place these can be found.