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Deathmatch #6 (Boom!): Paul Jenkins recently signed an exclusive contract with Boom! Studios, posted a “goodbye letter” of sorts to Marvel and DC that made the rounds on the web today, and essentially said it’s because he’d rather be doing creator-owned material like this. That’s just fine with me. Deathmatch has done everything right. The $1 introductory issue made me purchase a book I might have otherwise skipped. It instantly transcended what could have been a gimmick involving a Final Four bracketing system. It moved quickly into dismantling established superhero archetypes and into industry meta-commentary territory. The art is this bad-ass composite of, like, George Perez and Juan Jose Ryp that marries the past with the future. What’s not to love? The world-building going on in this book is top notch. Jenkins has already killed off half a dozen characters that were better than most of the characters being used in several ongoing titles currently being published by some of the very companies he just walked out on. I love the swagger. Omni-Engine’s losing it, Dragonfly is onto something, Sol Invictus and The Rat face off this round, as do Mink and Melody Toon. With each match, the stakes are upped because not only are the surviving fighters just better, but because we’ve spent half a year with these character now and they’ve grown on us as we’ve come to know them. I don’t want to see any of them leave because I want to learn more about this world, so it’s emotionally devastating each time one expires. That’s the type of emotional investment I felt sorely lacking in Marvel and DC fare because nothing they did ever seemed to have any consequences when you can just Lazarus Pit people back to life or say ohbutwait that one you killed was actually an LMD or reboot the entire stupid universe at will when all of your creative approaches have atrophied. I’m already hoping Boom! makes a big ol’ expansive hardcover someday that collects this series, along with the character profiles and more bonus material about their exploits. Hell, I’d pay to see faux covers of the characters' first appearances, or the spin-off crossover mini-series to The Rift story. Yeah. More like this please. Grade A.
The Wake #1 (DC/Vertigo): This is a strong debut from Scott Snyder (who is on fire in mainstream circles right now) and Sean Murphy (who should be more on fire that he is based on his talent) that triangulates around the horror, mystery, and classic sci-fi genres. Murphy’s art is slick as ever, helicopters, and Flak Jackets hats, and it really excels in the hyper-detailed environs like aboard the sub. If you caught Joe The Barbarian with Grant Morrison, you know he kills this stuff, and I look forward to more of it. Looking at Snyder’s writing on American Vampire, and even the way he’s able to weave fictional history into a cape comic like Batman, I would also anticipate that we’ll get some type of folkloric or mythic aspect informing this as well. I mean, there’s no reason that, uhh, thing down there couldn’t take us to Atlantis or ancient civilizations or alien visitation, or whatever. The possibilities are limitless. Things like the time shift in the narrative structure could wear thin if over-used, but I tend to err on the side of trust with this particular writer. With 9 issues left to go, there’s plenty of time to explore and connect the timelines. Now, I’ll stop short of using the word “derivative” because it sounds pejorative and I can’t make a strong case for it (the basic layout and visual elements of these interlocking covers do smack a little of John Paul Leon’s recent triptych on The Massive though), but there certainly does seem to be something in the zeitgeist involving the sea and post-apocalyptic dystopian futures. Pop culture tends to go in waves as “idea studios” compete; you’ll see a cluster of movies about asteroids hitting the Earth, then you’ll see a batch about terrorists, you’ll see lots of comics with pirates, and then zombies, and then vampires, always vampires, and now there’s a lot of oceanic interest. Recently, we’ve got The Massive, Great Pacific, Post York, The Wake, and probably a few others I’m forgetting. Anyway. This has heaps of potential and I’ll probably stick it out until there’s a reason not to. Grade A.