It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Hunger Games-like comics are big these days. After all, it’s a framework that many younger readers are familiar with. Well, BOOM! Studios has successfully moved this idea into the superhero/villain realm with Deathmatch.
Here’s the comic’s description for the second issue, in stores as of Wednesday, January 30: “The battle royale continues as the world’s greatest superheroes are forced to fight each other to the death in a mysterious, otherworldly, prison. Who will be crowned the victor in this month’s grudge match? More importantly, who will be the loser? And will the cabal of Sable, Meridian, Sol Invictus and the Manchurian be able to decipher the mysteries of the prison before one of them is selected to enter the arena? Written by industry legend Paul Jenkins (Sentry, Inhumans) and drawn by comics superstar Carlos Magno (Planet of the Apes, Transformers), Deathmatch is a dark, psychological deconstruction of the superhero genre that can’t be missed.”
The story is largely viewed through the eyes of Benny Boatright, a younger “supe” named Dragonfly. In the first issue, Benny kills another hero named Apex when forced to battle him. Turns out he’s being manipulated by the ones running this contest. He can’t remember how he was captured or who is in charge. In fact, during his battles, many of his morals seem to disappear, making him a killing machine.
We learn Dragonfly’s origin and review some of his previous run-ins with bad guys. What puzzles me is that he’s not in his armor, but in civilian clothes now, unlike the rest of the people. They all are in their costumes. What’s up with that?
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the book is seeing new heroes and villains. My favorite so far is Sable, a blue-cloaked heroine and compatriot of Benny’s. We also are introduced to Truman, Nephlim, the Manchurian, Electronika, Sol Invictus and Rat, who reminds me a little of Rorschach from the Watchmen. Who’s that bug-eyed guy we see at the end of issue one? We meet more “supes” this month, including Monkey and The Cube. I like discovering new heroes and villains!
The pacing varies from battles to aftermath, but the tension remains high at all times. The characters are clearly different from each other, and that helps us get to know them quickly.
Magno’s art is strong and clear, working well with the story. I found that helps move things along nicely.
This book has lots and lots of surprises and shocks, making for another quick read I’m sure you’ll enjoy!
The first issue came out last month, costing only $1.00. From here on, they’ll be $3,99, but they are well worth the money! Don’t miss Deathmatch!
Below you’ll see the cover from the second issue: