Review by Ian Keogh
Nathan Edmondson and Mike Perkins introduced Henry Hayes as a caring father with an artificial leg believing he works for Medics Without Borders. As shown in Control. Alt. Delete, the truth is considerably different. Flip a switch in his head and he becomes a controllable killing machine sent on missions around the world with an absolute success rate. Following an assassination attempt on him, though, Hayes’ two personalities have integrated, and he’s aware of his alternate identity. He doesn’t like the situation.
Edmondson plays these circumstances well. The previous volume showed us the person directly controlling Hayes as Deathlok, while her employers remained anonymous, and despite what she does, efforts have been made to convey her as someone we want to survive the apocalypse that’s surely heading her company’s way. It’s key to maintaining some tension. Older readers may recall a previous Deathlok, Michael Collins, and he features as does mutant assassin for hire Domino.
As was the case before, Mike Perkins provides page after page of superb art in a pseudo realistic style, making sure to include at least one full page pin-up of Deathlok every chapter, one of them neatly homaging the 1970s Deathlok, and the best of them Deathlok diving from a plane. Even without those the action sequences are memorable. A succession of panels of Deathlok on a motorcycle in Greece are about the best. With some artists this would be enough to sell the book, but Perkins also invests time with the characters, ensuring the human moments are equally well supplied.
This is important, as Edmondson’s plot straddles a fine line. The human scenes have to work to supply Hayes with a sympathetic personality. The horror of Control. Alt. Delete was Hayes being unaware of what he did. The horror of Man Versus Machine is awareness. It’s a neat contrast well extrapolated, and Edmondson maintains the quality to the end, offering the apparent big action climax, an epilogue and a final page surprise.
Over two volumes Deathlok provides a neat action thriller plot, first rate art, and leaves us wanting more. Job well done.