Thursday, December 06, 2007

Joe Casey Comics: Deathlok #2

[The second post in an issue-by-issue look at Joe Casey's Deathlok series. New posts every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.]

Jack Truman, a SHIELD agent is trapped in the body of a six-year-old named Billy. His body was severely damaged in a fight with Cable and rebuilt as a robot, the LOK prototype, which is currently rampaging through Las Vegas. Apparently, he used a Tibetian mind trick to put his consciousness in the body of a low-level SHIELD worker (Billy's dad) and he figures it must have bounced out into Billy at some point. He needs to get to Vegas and get his body back before SHIELD blows it up.

So, we get scenes of a six-year-old taking out grown-up SHIELD personnel. Because Jack Truman is just that damned good. We also get more of the air cav version LOK with them being held back by Nick Fury because fuck them that's why.

The issue ends with Billy in an air cav vehicle, heading for Vegas--and a group called Zero Company showing up to take out the LOK unit. Zero Company is full of punkish, S&M types, so we know they're hardcore.

A few things of special note:

1. The one-page introduction of the Clown, a supporting character for the entire series. We just see him escape from prison ala Shawshank. Not much, but enough.

2. Larry Young buying "a little confidence," leaving his men to contend with the LOK prototype alone. Oh, and he expenses it as it's work-related. A scene worth remembering for the end of the series.

3. Near the end, after Jack/Billy steals a flying car, there's one page that just shows him at the controls, while the narration is "a digression" about Jack's dad and cars. A strange little moment that steps outside the rest of the issue, but still works. It ties into what Jack/Billy is doing, but also gives some background on Jack. Strangely typical for a Marvel comic, but done in such an obvious fashion, which is very much like Casey. He doesn't just like to play with conventions, he likes the reader to know he's doing it.

With the Clown, Casey has four narrators this issue, adding to Jack/Billy, the LOK defintions and Larry Young. It all works as the Clown and Young scenes are a single page each, while the LOK definitions double as narration and dialogue, in a way. While we know the robot isn't SAYING this stuff, it's the only communication we get from it.

The use of definitions is also a way in which Casey plays with conventions, using captions that directly comment on what's going on. In a way, each definition tells us what's going on in the same way that thought balloons used to--but in a more abstract manner. Where thought balloons tended to be very literal in the "I'm punching this asshole with all I've got" while we see the hero punching the asshole with all he's got, these definitions are more vague. The definition of "plummet" is given as the air cav unit LOK is in crashes to the ground and then "consequence" as it leaps from the vehicle exploding.

Another dense issue that Leonardo Manco pulls off. His art here is really quite spectacular at times. His only problem is Billy, but it's hard to draw little kids--it's more that you can't tell how old Billy is just by looking at him. Otherwise, he handles very full pages with seeming ease.

On Saturday, the conclusion to the opening story.