This review was originally published early on Friday December 21, 2012.
Boom! Studios is releasing one book this coming week. It's always great to see a new series being offered at a low price (one dollar). Being a new series, you can jump right in and not have to worry about what happened before. It should be said that there are a bunch of different characters here. We won't immediately know who they are but they will be introduced in a way that we'll find out everything we need to know without it interrupting the flow of the story.
By the title, you can imagine what DEATHMATCH might be about. Looking at the cover, you can see we have some super powered individuals fighting…to the death. There will be some unfortunate comparisons to the new Marvel NOW! title,AVENGERS ARENA. While we do have super powered folk having to kill each other, these two series have plenty of differences to set them apart.
Paul Jenkins throws us into the story just after a death has occurred. As we're introduced to a great and noble hero of this world, we find out what he's been forced to do. Again, based on the title, you can probably imagine what that is.
The main difference in this title is, those involved don't know how they got into this deadly situation. We have heroes and villains from this world in a strange facility, forced to kill each other for an unknown audience. The possibilities are endless. With the AVENGERS ARENA, there are the 'popular' characters that are most likely safe from dying. With DEATHMATCH, you can bet no one is safe. Even if a lot of character development is put into a character early one, we could easily see them meet their end in the next issue. That's the fascinating thing about this comic, you simply have no idea what is going to happen next.
For those concerned about suddenly being faced with so many new characters, at the end of the issue we do get a brief summary of four characters' origin, powers, enemies, affiliations and miscellaneous facts. There's also a list of all the 'contestants' and a bracket display so you can keep track of who fought who and who didn't survive their round.
The art is by Carlos Magno (PLANET OF THE APES, COUNTDOWN TO FINAL CRISIS). He has the task of presenting a large number of new characters, each with a distinct and different look. What of the things that stuck out was the detail in the background. Too often we see plain or blank backgrounds. Each scene has a gritty or textured scene which adds a layer to the art and makes it feel less static.
The one thing going against this title is the lack of familiarity with the characters. It is an advantage that they aren't pre-existing one since that means no one is safe but we're mainly introduced to one character and we see a few other ones in this issue. I'm almost afraid to get attached to the character whose origin we do see since he could end up dead soon.
One of the compelling factors is the unknown aspect here. We don't know who is responsible or what the end goal is. That's a great driving force but hopefully we'll continue to get details with each issue rather than simply witness multiple deaths. There is a little twist towards the end that does suggest something more.
Looks like Boom! Studios might have their next break out new series. DEATHMATCH is an idea we've seen before but what makes it really work here is the presentation. We are thrown into the action and are finding out what's going on. It almost puts us on the same level as the characters since they are also unsure how they were transported to this place and who is responsible.
Paul Jenkins gives us a bunch of new characters and even though we're just starting to find out who they are, there is a big sense that anyone we meet could be the next character to die. The underlying plot of the good and bad guys in this situation and trying to figure out who brought them here and if they can escape is what makes this issue stand out. Carlos Magno has a great style to his art and there is a lot of attention and detail put into the background to give the art a more distinctive feel.
The biggest problem is not having any attachment to the characters jumping in but that's also an advantage because it means no one is safe. There aren't any 'popular' characters that you'll automatically feel can't be killed because of who they are. With the introductory price of one dollar, you definitely don't want to miss out on what could be the next big series from Boom! Studios. We're off to a great start.