Marvel Masterworks: Deathlok - Volume 1 Hardcover – Nov 25 2009
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In 1974 -- ten years before the cyberpunk of Neuromancer -- Deathlok presented a dark future world of advanced computer technology. A man "locked in death," forced to "live" with a cyborg body and symbiotically with a computer in his head. Creator and artist Rich Buckler, along with Doug Moench and others, were there before RoboCop, the Terminator, and the whole Cyberpunk movement.
I originally read this in High School, and I'm amazed at how well it holds up. This series should have continued much longer.
Accept no substitutes ~ THIS is Deathlok. Short-lived as it was, one of the defining series of '70's Marvel comics.
This volume features classic, old school, Marvel Bronze age linear storytelling but is purposefully dreamlike, open-ended, and vague in spots which makes for a bit of a disjointed reading experience. I had to go back and re-read a couple of the early Astonishing Tales chapters to pick up on some of the details I'd missed the first time through. All that being said, it's a really good book and I recommend it to anyone, especially fans of Bronze Age Marvel comic books. I give this book a solid 7/10.
It is important to to remember Deathlok preceeded every other self-loathing/time travelling cyborg, dystopian future type storyline (Robocop, Blade Runner, Terminator, etc). The Deathlok series was well ahead of its time. The book reads as if the writer & artists were flying by the seat of their pants and making things up as they went because they were! This was literally groundbreaking material when originally published.
What really struck me were the many similarities between the character traits and plotlines from early McFarlane Spawn issues compared to the Deathlok series. Both characters come back 5 years post-death, the zombie-like appearances, they are both white guys (well Spawn came back as a white guy) married to black women, both of their best friends remarried their wives, the self loathing and failed suicide attempts. It's almost as if McFarlane was doing a Deathlok-homage in several of those early Spawn issues.
Some of the later issues contained in this volume aren't on par with the 1st half of the book, but I'm glad they were included for completeness sake. All in all it's a great volume if you can find it for cheap. Apparently as originally published, Deathlok's story was left hanging when Astonishing Tales was abruptly cancelled in the mid-1970s. The character then bounced around for several months in Marvel Team-Up & Marvel Two-in-One & Marvel Spotlight. Then a few years later, JM DeMatties picked up some of the story's plot threads during his stint on Captain America and finished off Deathlok's story nicely.
Well done, Marvel for including all the post-Astonishing Tales issues. In the back of the book, there are several extras included (original art, origin interview with the creators, short stories from anthology titles, etc) which I enjoyed. I hope this review was useful.
Doug Moench manages to make what might be a convoluted tale interesting and understandable for the youngster I was when I read it for the first time. He also managed to make a reader feel for this death-dealing cyborg, which considering the body count of the series, was a near-miraculous feat itself. The artwork is pencilled by comic book legend Rich Buckler; if Jack Kirby was the King of Marvel Comics' Sixties, Rich Buckler was the Crown Prince of the Seventies. The only artist who comes close to being as omnipresent (and as good) as him was the Royal Regent in the form of John Buscema.
This is a book any comic book of science fiction fan should have in their library. There is a cheaper color trade paperback of the same work out now (Deathlok the Demolisher The Complete Collection) as well, but if you can get this one for a reasonable price (I spent perhaps $10 more for this one than the trade on Amazon's Marketplace), I think this is one to get, just for the durability.