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It’s time to return to Deathblow without Tim Sale and after the epic tale of the Black Angel, and I had no idea what to expect.
What I do know is that Brandon Choi is now down to scripting just this and Gen13, and I miss the guy! Not only for his consistency, but for the way the entire WildStorm Universe gelled under his pen.
As great as Choi was on the global intrigue of Stormwatch and the teen angst of Gen13, something about this pair of procedural tales makes me think his heart remains in these gun-for-hire stories. These three issues are by far the best of Deathblow yet, despite them having nothing to do with his mega-arc with the Black Angel.
Choi imports of a noirish the vampires and werewolves from Wetworks for a noirish tale in issues #13-14. It works perfectly to establish Michael Cray’s new status quo nine months after his battle with the Black Angel. Now he’s a gun for hire who can’t help but step into supernatural affairs.
The story is tense, bloody, and maybe the first true mystery tale we’ve seen from WildStorm. It also feels an issue or two longer than it actually is (in a good way) thanks to being packed with plenty of rising action and fine details.
Similarly, the Navy Seals one-shot that follows is a satisfying standalone story that fleshes out the mysterious Gamorra mission where Michael Cray met Mr. Waering. It also ties in some plot threads from as early as Deathblow #0, with the Seals-in-training on the base all gunning for Cray’s head due to the spectacular bloodbath of Costa Mesa. It’s a thrilling little mystery with no easy resolution that leaves us as confused as Cray.
On art, original Stormwatch inker Trevor Scott has made the leap to penciller and his work is perfect for Deathblow! He’s nowhere near Sale’s look – and more like Whilce Portacio than Jim Lee. As amazing as Sale’s approach was, there is something deeply satisfying about seeing Deathblow drawn in Image’s house style. There’s nary a bad page here, and some truly interesting panel work. Scott isn’t addicted to splash pages like most Image artists, and he delivers a lot of interesting framing, smaller sequential panels, and silhouetted bodies.
At the start we’re back to the sickly gray and green palette from colorist Ben Fernandez, which will give you whiplash if you’re coming directly from Linda Medley’s warm limited palette on the last arc. Fernandez warms things up when Cray touches down in LA. It’s such a relief to see some saturated reds that aren’t blood (although, there is still plenty of blood). Issue #15 has downright normal colors as we see Cray driving the I-5 by day.
The Choi/Scott synergy on this trio of issues is remarkable. These are two of the first totally throwaway, fill-in types of stories we’ve seen on any WildStorm book, yet they both are gripping reads that only serve to make what came before more interesting.
Want the recap? Keep reading for the full plots of this trio of awesome issues. Here’s the schedule for the rest of this month’s WildStorm re-read. We’re in the home stretch! Tomorrow brings us Union (1995) #1-3 & Gen13 (1995) #0-1 (in two separate posts), followed by Team 7: Objective: Hell (1995) #1-3 on Tuesday, and then we’ve reached the main event – WildStorm Rising!
Need the issues? These issues have never been collected. For single issues try eBay (#10-12) or Amazon (#13, 14, 15). [Read more…] about From The Beginning: WildStorm Universe – Deathblow #13-15