"And Then You Live!"
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Carlos D'Anda
Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm
Wildstorm's World Storm "event" is reinvigorating the entire line. While having new #1 issues is all well and good, you also have to produce good books. And Deathblow is an extremely good book. This title quite possibly has the chance of being the best title of the line, especially if it can keep its schedule and the quality of this issue. I had high hopes going into reading this book, based on the creative team of Brian Azzarello & Carlos D'Anda, and they did not disappoint.
I might as well get this part out of the way first: The first 6 pages of this issue are confusing as hell if you no idea who the characters are, and such was the case with me. I have no idea who General Ruckus, Ivana or even Candy is, as well as no idea if the torturer in the beginning of the book was supposed to be someone "nameless." However, despite that and once you get past some of that confusion, you're able to get into the story. And upon a second reading, things really come together. It's the confusion of those first 6 pages though that gives this book about a half of bullet rating less than what it probably deserves.
On page 7 this book really kicks into gear. From here we follow a Military rescue mission to save an important war hero who is being held at some Middle Eastern prison. Of course, the rescue mission fails because the person they're there to rescue has died from being tortured. Now while that doesn't seem to be too exciting when you read those two sentences, it's the dialogue and the situations involved that drive this story. How Azzarello shows the reader how similar people are in two different parts of the world. How something as simple as showing a picture of a loved one to your compatriot ties us more together than we might think. Azzarello uses all of this as a way to draw us more into the story masterfully.
Make no mistake about it though, this is a violent book. The opening torture scene involving Michael Cray shows you what to expect from this title. No, the violence is not entirely gratuitous, but Azzarello and D'Anda do not hold back in showing what we're going to get from this book. Despite the violence though, the way Cray is reintroduced to the reader is classic. While the rescue team is there to save someone else, they hit the biggest jackpot they could possibly hit without realizing it in finding Cray. It's unknown at this time, however, if anything (i.e. Cray's brain tumor or healing abilities) from the previous series is going to mentioned or dealt with in this one.
If there was ever a book that Carlos D'Anda was "designed" to draw, it's this one. He strikes that perfect balance between realism and extremism, between light and dark. As if the story itself wasn't doing so already, D'Anda's art pulled you in further. What I found to be amazing is D'Anda got better as the issue wore on. You could see that page 22 was better than page 1, and that bodes well for this series. D'Anda is pouring everything he has into this book.
As I stated at the beginning, this is an extremely good book. While it started off a little shaky, it picked up steam quickly. I'm looking forward to seeing what future issues bring us. Azzarello & D'Anda have found the right character at the right time to work on together and that's gold for the reader.
What did you think of this book?
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