Hello Comical Musings faithful. It has been a little while since our last post. Many of the Writer’s Blok has been indisposed and even though I have been reading quite a bit, nothing has been jumping out at me critically. I’ve been preparing for more Ultimate Universe review posts and gearing up for Gratuitous Fan Service Week, but nothing has given me a complete opinion or compelled me to share anything with you. Today, by matters of pure fate, that is no longer the case. For today, I read a little title from BOOM! Studios called Deathmatch #1.
We’ve spoken positively about BOOM! Studios previously and enjoy the somewhat independent and licensed children’s titles that they publish. I can’t say that BOOM! Studios has an ongoing title that I am hooked on, although I have heard great critical feedback about Irredeemable and Incorruptible. Much like it shook loose my writer’s boredom, Deathmatch #1 could change that too. It’s hard to turn down a first issue with a great cover that only costs $1, so kudos to BOOM! Studios’ marketing department for making it an easy, gateway, impulse kind of purchase. $1 is pretty dadgum cheap. So, the accessible price point got me through the door, but then the onus was on Paul Jenkins and Carlos Magno to keep me there.
The story feels both familiar and innovative at various points in the nearly thirty pages that make up issue #1. The premise feels familiar. Heroes and villains alike are kidnapped and forced to fight to the death in an arena-like setting by unknown, seemingly omnipotent forces. The setup is executed masterfully. Paul Jenkins introduces us to multiple characters with ease. By the end of the issue, I was surprised how many characters I had mini tidbits of knowledge about. I guess that what I am trying to say is that I felt like I got a very rounded-out view of the cast. The characters have established and organic motives and feel like a group of individuals with the common bonds of distaste and curiosity at their situation. No one knows what’s going on, and neither do we, but the characters are playing ball in the deadly tournament out of necessity. Little facts are sprinkled throughout the story, almost making it more of a mystery, so that as you take it all in, you wonder what pieces of the puzzle will be included in the inevitable “AHA!” moments. Deathmatch gets innovative with really subtle flashbacks done as slightly obscured, slightly older looking comic book panels. It’s a neat design and although it is not hit you over the head double page spread 30,000 character action sequences, it’s unique and kept me in the moment. Another unique choice was the surprise ending to issue 1. I was not expecting things to develop in the way that they did or as quickly as they did and it leaves me looking at something I thought was predictable and wondering “what it really is?” The bracket in the back and the character bios are also a nice touch to make you feel comfortable with Deathmatch.
Deathmatch is a possibly overlooked gem of the racks that could be a big thing very soon. It reminds me of Astro City in that there are many characters and the world is easy to get lost in. Deathmatch is innovative, yet familiar in a way that is easy for new readers to take in. Deathmatch is affordable, but valuable. Deathmatch is simply a foundationally sound comic, an entertaining read, and a wise purchase. Buy it today at your local comic shop!
~ Scott Deaux ~