Nov 23, 2016
The 40 Years of Comics Project - Day 637: Deathblow #2, August 1993
Okay, I lied yesterday, though it was unintentional. Issue #2 has a flip cover as well. The back of this issue has a short missive from Jim Lee, detailing how Deathblow is set to become a quarterly comic, rather than a monthly (though the August cover date suggests thirdly, not quarterly), and in which he cites Frank Miller as an influence on the story. No surprise there. It gets me thinking about the differences between tribute, or inspiration, and direct copy, and Deathblow skirts the edges of these categories a bit dangerously. Having read the last couple of issues, I really would not have been surprised to find out this was actually produced by the horrendous Frank Miller (seriously, look him up - he's probably an Orange Man supporter). That's how closely this comic mimics the style of The Dark Knight Returns. To be inspired by an artistic style is one thing, but to simply offer pastiche does little to further the cultural conversation that art represents. Perhaps, later in the series, Lee brings his own brand of storytelling to the character, while retaining influence from Miller. But these early issues are direct mimicry.
Cybernary, on the other hand, continues to look like little else that I've seen in the Image universe, and in superhero comics more widely. There's something of Chris Bacchalo's early style to it, and it occurs to me now that Generation X was being published around the same time as Deathblow/Cybernary. One letter complains about the overuse of black in the art on Manabat's story, but the whole thing, from those pervasive shadows to the blue-tinges on everyone's skin, gives a real feeling of a story happening at night, away from the bright lights of the superhero universe the characters inhabit, somewhere deep in the shadows, almost unnoticed. Which, considering the pomp and circumstance of Minotaur's arrival on the scene, is ironic.
A couple more issue of the flip book, and then we're on to Cybernary's series proper. I looked up Nick Manabat yesterday on the GCD, and he's got a scant 6 issues credited to him, two of which are pin-ups (in Backlash and the Wetworks Sourcebook). I'm curious if he did any other work before getting into Image comics, though that doesn't appear to be the case.