Thursday, December 27, 2007

Joe Casey Comics: Deathlok #10

[The penultimate post on the penultimate issue of Joe Casey's Deathlok run. Saturday will finish up this issue-by-issue look at the series, which means, on Tuesday, I'll begin looking at another Joe Casey run. It will either be Automatic Kafka or his Cable run (depending on whether or not I'm able to find the last five issues of said run while out buying comics tomorrow).]

Before I get into things, I hope everyone's been having a nice holiday season. I just want to point you in the direction of a review I wrote of Charlie Wilson's War over at Geoff Klock's blog. I don't know if you read Geoff's blog, but it's a really great read, updated every day and is one of my favourites.

Joining Casey on this issue are John Buscema and Tom Palmer, which would be nice if it were a one-off story, but this is part three of four, so it doesn't work too well. Particularly how Truman was in his full-out robot look at the end of issue nine and here he is looking mostly human again with the odd patch of fake skin missing. I'm not going to blame Buscema for this as who knows what info he was given. The art is decent and does the job, but it just doesn't fit. While Casey is playing with old Marvel toys, he's doing it in a very modern manner and having an older artist on board here messes with that a little.

One serious misfire artwise is the character of Dennis Dubois, a new campaign strategist on Martin Thraller's team. He is obviously meant to be a James Carville rip-off, which is fine, because is there anyone more entertaining in politics than James Carville? If you want to know how fantastic Carville is, watch Primary Colors where Billy Bob Thorton's character is based on Carville (although, as always, allow for some dramatic license). (Fuck it, just watch Primary Colors, because it's a damn fine movie. It's probably my favourite political flick and would be my favourite politics book were it not for Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72. I highly recommend picking up those three items as soon as you can, especially Thompson's book. I read it every four years during the US election season--which we're coming up to!--and it runs down the primaries better than anything I've ever seen. Go get it. Spend some of that Christmas cash/gift cards on it. You won't be sorry.) The only problem with this James Carville rip-off is that he's drawn fat, wearing red suspenders, a blue shirt that says "New Orleans" and is mostly bald except for the red tuft of hair sprouting from the middle of his head. He's a fucking cartoon character and I don't know if this is Buscema's fault or how Casey described him, but it's horrible (I'm thinking that it's Busceme because in issue 11, Dubois' appearance is altered to look more like Carville).

The plot of this issue progresses the story, but not by much. Nick Fury and Truman fight the Clown, who eventually gets away. Thraller is on the fast track to gaining the power he wants, which includes brainwashing a reporter who accuses him of tax evasion. In the end, the Clown sees Thraller on TV and heads off to kill him, while Fury remembers that it was Thraller who wiped his memory, leading up to next issue where all of the loose threads get tied up.

Now, despite the art that doesn't quite fit, I really like this issue because of all of the politics. Little bits of speeches and behind-the-scenes stuff, I eat this shit up. The introduction of Dubois where he gives a speech to the campaign staff about how Martin Thraller is what America needs and blah blah blah is great, because you can tell, somehow, that he doesn't believe a word. He's a political operative who probably is in step with the message Thraller puts forth, but is too cynical to actually buy into the rhetoric too deeply.

There's a scene where Thraller does phone interviews and discusses strategy with Dubois and another staffer and you realise that Thraller has no personality. He's relying on his powers so much that he hasn't taken the effort to actually create a full persona, but has instead thrown together random bits of what seems like a good politician. He's boring, which is perfect, because it will (hopefully) keep people off his back.

To carry on with this type of personality, we're given a scene from an event where he's speaking and the crowd is dead--until he uses his powers. That's when he abandons the selfless talk and shifts into supervillain mode, demanding they serve him, except in a way that wouldn't seem out of place were you to read a transcript later. Casey really walks a fine line here and it works.

Next issue wraps things up and we'll see what's coming up next week.