Deathbed #1 – Joshua Williamson, Writer; Riley Rossmo, Artist; Ivan Plascencia, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: The third of three new Vertigo miniseries by prominent DC creators in recent months, Deathbed #1 brings Williamson’s unpredictable style and a great artist in Riley Rossmo, and feels like it just might be a breakout hit – a wholly unpredictable tale of what it means to live a full life, what it means to be a writer, and mummy assassins.
It’s a tale of two characters – one, Antonio Luna, is introduced first, in a segment where he is held up as a baby by his father, in a scene that whiplashes from adorable to terrifying. The second, Valentine Richards, is a struggling journalist who has been trying to recapture childhood glory for years, and is on the verge of losing her job when she takes a job interviewing the reclusive Antonio Luna in his giant mansion. The first half of this issue can feel a bit stock at times – the “creepy old man in a haunted mansion” tropes are so clear that Valentine frequently lampshades them.
Then Valentine meets Antonio, now a dying old man in a hospice bed, and he is clearly still sharp and rather disturbed, full of ideas and demands. And that is where this issue goes completely insane in the best way possible. Mummy assassins attack. Antonio reveals the truth of his condition, and proceeds to dismantle his enemies in graphic fashion, before revealing his actual plan – he intends to chase death, targeting the many enemies he’s made in his life as an adventurer until one ends his story in epic fashion. Part Doc Savage, part Kraven the Hunter, Antonio Luna is easily one of the most fascinating characters in recent comic book memory. You’re not sure if he’s a psychopath, a visionary, or both, but I’m leaning both. Valentine’s not quite as dynamic this issue, but her more normal point of view feels essential to giving the story a human touch. The issue takes a little while to get going, but once it does, it launches like a rocket. This feels like a must-read for any fans of Williamson’s previous creator-owned work.
Corrina: Riley Rossmo’s work, most recently on the Batman & The Shadow miniseries, has been one of the joys of reading DC comics over the last few years. In Deathbed #1, he combines action, creepy visuals and a certain swashbuckling sensibility that perfectly suits Antonio.
As for our immortal, I’m a total sucker for immortals. Not vampires, those are too angsty, but I do love stories about immortals and how they’ve survived through the ages. Some become villains, like Ra’s Al Ghul, and some become detached. Antonio, whether he’s a visionary or a lunatic, definitely is still enjoying his life. It was impossible for me not to love that scene where he reveals he’s not dying after all. (Also, dude, pants! Hah!) Williamson’s tone veers from creepy to horror to flat-out fun in this series, though Antonio steals every scene he’s in.
So, yes, highly recommend.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.