4.01.2013

Deathmatch [Shotgun Blurbs]


Deathmatch
Published by Boom! Studios
Creators: Paul Jenkins & Carlos Magno

What It’s About: If you’re like me and you grew up really interested in college basketball, you’ll immediately be cognizant that a host of super-powered entities are being conscripted by their captors and bracketed off NCAA-style to unwillingly fight each other to the brutal death. But instead of Coach K’s Duke Blue Devils vs. the Runnin’ Rebels of UNLV, or Rick Pitino’s Kentucky Wildcats vs. the Huskies of UCONN, you get character pairings with names like Sol Invictus vs. Mink or Manchurian vs. Dragonfly. These beings are essentially walking WMDs with the power to tear holes in the very fabric of the cosmos and we quickly learn how precarious their existence would be with their fallibility in the real world. The characters all arrive as fully fleshed personalities (thanks to some robust character profiles and assorted misc. bonus content) with a larger macro story just now beginning to play out. Deathmatch is a cult classic in the making with room left beyond the initial premise for spin-off series or even prequel books that dive into the rich history of how this world and these people came to be.

Why You Should Buy It: While the grabby premise is pure joy, Deathmatch quickly transcends the simple visceral allure of its basic March Madness system to become a post-modern deconstruction of various superhero archetypes. By taking silly old 1960’s straw men tropes and placing them in a 21st century setting with very real consequences, Jenkins and Magno are squeezing new life and understanding out of a genre long thought played out. Jenkins seems to efficiently run in every direction at once and manipulates the archetypes of everyone from Batman to Iron Man, Cap to Superman, The Joker to She-Hulk, Rorschach to a host of other familiar b-stringers, and even Crisis-like events whispered about in flashback, taking on a whiff of sly industry meta-commentary in the process. Carlos Magno is clearly an artist to watch, as he channels some of my favorite bits of George Perez’s figure work and Juan Jose Ryp’s enveloping detail. So, come for the killing, but stay for the extremely rich world-building. The creators deliver a universe with pre-existing history, characters with pre-existing relationships, and make us believe it all in a perversely satisfying and utterly convincing way.

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