By Matt Johnson
One of the best experiences being a comic book reader is picking up something you know practically nothing about. If it’s good then you’ve just found a brand new series to follow and if it sucks then hey, at least you only spent a couple of pounds on it! Deathmatch is one of those books where I knew it was coming but I didn’t know what I was going to get. All I knew was the premise: a group of super heroes and villains fight it out to the death. I know, sounds a little brainless. But I decided I wanted to take a chance on it, mainly since Paul Jenkins wrote it. I was a big fan of his Sentry mini-series a few years back so I was hoping for some good character work, despite the apparent simple setup. I was not disappointed.
For a comic book all about fighting this issue actually doesn’t have a whole lot of fighting in it. Instead the issue has a lot of interesting dialogue and brief introductions to some truly compelling characters. I was reminded of Mark Waid’s Irredeemable in that we’re introduced to a lot of new super powered characters at once, they all look fascinating and leave you guessing just what’s the story with each one. The crazy thing here is that any of them could die at any minute. The fact that I want to know the background of every character really shows how strongly written and designed these characters are. If the book was made up of a weak disposable cast then the whole premise would fall flat. Who cares if Mr. Bland and Dr. Boring beat each other to death in a fight? But when it’s two characters who you’re pining to learn more about then you’re on the edge of your seat hoping someone doesn’t get torn in half.
On top of the fights themselves there’s extra tension in the fact that nobody knows just who has assembled them all to fight in the first place. Although it seems the core of the series will deal with the one-on-one arena battles the mystery of who’s behind it should provide some good content in between and, hopefully, beyond.
I’ve already mentioned how the characters’ designs are great visually so I have to hand it to artist Carlos Magno for doing a great job on making everybody look unique. Even though everyone here is a fresh creation you won’t struggle to tell them apart because they’re all so strikingly different. Another nice touch is that his artwork makes everything look a little dirtied and dark, it fits the grim tone of the book perfectly.
All around this is a great book. I have no idea what’s going to happen next or who’s going to survive another issue but I’m dying to know. Do yourself a favour and check Deathmatch out.
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