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Includes Issues: Deathblow 1-9
Issue Dates: December 2006 – February 2008
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This review contains minor spoilers. Skip To The Verdict? »

When a rescue operation on foreign soil goes wrong the squad refuses to return empty handed. In steps another prisoner. He claims to be a black-ops operative, previously thought to be deceased.

He is then brought back to American soil (following verification checks) and is told to take a leave of absence with his family. The problem is that he doesn’t remember his children, his wife is dead and, oh, the neighbor’s dog talks to him.

Clearly not all is what it seems in Deathblow: And Then You Live!

Is this a simple case of Michael going crazy from all those years held captive or is it some kind of built-in defense mechanism triggered by his niggling doubts?

The trade collects all nine issues of the second volume of Wildstorm‘s Deathblow. This series is written by Brian Azarello and the story is an explosive one.

It has everything from the aforementioned talking dogs to a slightly psychotic dinosaur robot. You might believe that Grant Morrison’s bizarre imagination had been consulted at some point during the writing process.

One particular concept in the book bares a very uncanny resemblance to a concept from Morrison and Quietly’s We3: rats that have been turned in the living weapons.

While the concept might be borrowed, the workings and execution is done in a different way, keeping the story fresh.

The book is penciled by Carlos D’Anda (Outsiders) and coloured by a regular Wildstorm colourist Carrie Strachan; both combining to make some high quality artwork. The visuals are similar to that in Mark Millar’s Nemesis and are just as violent/gory in places.

My main issue with the book is that Azzarello’s writing is not up to his normal standards, most likely due to it not being noir in any way at all. It is clearly born out his previous Deathblow attempt, Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire, but it quite doesn’t live up to that title.

While the plot isn’t up to his normal standards it is still one of the best Wildstorm titles I have read so far. It’s a shame this series only lasted for the 9 issues.

For under $10 you can get yourself more than 200 pages of vibrant, modern artwork as well as an explosive and exciting story with one the few characters strong enough to even get their own solo series in the Wildstorm Universe. If you are new to the imprint, this trade is a good pick as it requires no previous reading to follow the plot.

Deathblow: And Then You Live! is well worth a read, especially for fans of violent and weird espionage.

4 stars. A quality collection of the entire second Deathblow series, it stands on its own as a satisfying story within one volume.

Essential Continuity:
Almost certainly not – the Wildstorm Universe has a habit of not paying much attention to continuity from progressing stories. It does act as a nice introduction to the character.

Read first:
You may decide you want to read the 1993 Deathblow series, what little of it that has been collected, to give yourself an idea of who Deathblow is.

Issues 1-12 are in Deathblow: Sinners and Saints.

I would say this isn’t really necessary, since the latter book contains everything you need to follow the plot.

Read next:
Next up you could try Azzarello’s other attempt at the character, set while he was ”dead”, Batman/Deathblow: After the Fire.

Alternatively, you might want to try his critically acclaimed hardboiled crime series 100 Bullets.

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6 Comments Post New »

  1. Dirt55 wrote on at January 21, 2011 9:29 pm:

    I LOVED We3. Even mentioning that book in this review makes me very interested. The art looks pretty interesting as well. Thanks for the great review!


    Simon replied on January 22nd, 2011 at 7:47 am:

    We3 is one of the books that I have played with reviewing but can never seem to get it right, I never seem to do it justice as it sounds corny but it’s so far from that. Check this out sometime, even if not a Wildstorm fan it is good; and thank you for the kind words.


    Ian replied on January 22nd, 2011 at 9:04 am:

    It’s a tough one. I might take a shot at it at some point.


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