Today I bring you an updated guide of a character who tended to operate on the fringes of the Marvel Universe until he got pulled into the MCY via Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – The Definitive Guide to Deathlok.
Deathlok is a character who is really eight different characters. Maybe it would be easier to describe him as a concept – a lot like The Terminator. Did that pique your interest? Before you head to the guide, get the short story on Deathlok, including where he’s been recently and what amount of his comics have been printed in collected editions to date.
Who is Deathlok?
Deathlok was Marvel doing pulp futurism with a touch of cyberpunk in the pages of 1970s anthology series Astonishing Tales, as soldier Luther Manning is killed and awakens in 1990 as part-man, part-machine.
1990! The horror! Despite finding a way to cross over with Spider-Man, that original character was a part of self-contained story until he was exported to the present day to fight Thing in Marvel Two-In-One.
Later, Michael Collins has his brain transplanted into a modern-day Deathlok robot. This is the version who has his own 1990s series, where he struggles to contain the more murderous urges of his cyborg body’s programming. But, just to keep things confusing, the series also features the modern day Luther Manning (circa the time he was meant to turn into Deathlok, even if the United States hadn’t yet become the dystopian wasteland of his original comics).
From that point forward, Deathlok exists more as a concept or designation for regular humans merged into cyborg killing machines. For a while they existed as far-flung future enemies for Wolverine to carve through, but Marvel brought the concept back to the modern day with Henry Hayes in 2014 to tie in with the character’s appearance on television’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Getting started with Deathlok
You have three distinct options for three different versions of the character.
Want the original pulp futurism version of the character who eventually fights Thing? Buy Deathlok The Demolisher: The Complete Collection, which comprehensively covers the 1970s run (and one 1980s issue) of the original version.
Want the first present-day reboot? Start with Deathlok: The Living Nightmare of Michael Collins, the prestige 1990 mini-series by Dwayne McDuffie, which continues to Deathlok: The Souls of Cyber-Folk.
Deathlok in 2017
Deathlok entered 2016’s All-New, All Different Marvel as a regular cast member of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (the comic, not the show). He hasn’t appeared since that comic wrapped up in December of 2016! There hasn’t been a hint of any Deathloks since then.
Current Collection Status
Deathlok used to have a major gap in his collected editions standings do to his seemingly-stranded 1991 series going uncollected, but Marvel halfway remedied that to have a book on the stands to tie in to his TV appearances. Where does that leave his collection tally?
|1970||Astonishing Tales #25-28 & 30-36||11||11|
|1972||Marvel Team-Up #46||1||1|
|1971||Marvel Spotlight #33||1||1|
|1974||Marvel Two-in-One #27 & 54||2||2|
|1982||Marvel Fanfare #4||1||0|
|1968||Captain America (1968) #286-288||3||3|
|1995||Spider-Man: Power of Terror||4||4|
|2009||Wolverine: Weapon X #11-15||5||5|
|2010||Uncanny X-Force #5-7||3||3|
|2016||Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.||10||10|
Admittedly, this list has some fudging in it to try to accommodate major guest-starring arcs from notable Deathlok’s who never had their own series (I and VII). That said, we’re pretty close on having every significant appearance of every Deathlok collected. We need one or two more tradea to finish out his 1991 series (into which the brief back-up from Marvel Fanfare #4 could appear), and then all we’ll be missing is his co-starring turn in Spider-Man: Power of Terror.
Unfortunately, Marvel has no real incentive to reprint those comics, since Deathlok is a non-factor in the MCU and isn’t currently appearing in any comics series. However, Marvel’s use of reprints to support both media properties and new ongoing titles is so predictable you could use it to set your clock. Mark my words – we’ll get that gap-filling book whenever Deathlok next has an ongoing series.
Want to understand how we got from Deathlok I to VIII and where they all appear along the way? Head to the Deathlok guide for all the details!