DC This Week Roundup – Let’s Get Violent

Punchline: The Gotham Game #2 Cover, via DC Comics.

Punchline: The #2 Gotham Game – Tini & Blake Howard, authors; Gleb Melnikov, Will Robson, artists; Luis Guerrero, colourist

Beam – 7/10

Beam: Punchline is by far the most popular character to emerge from DC in recent years, but is she a main character? This series is sending mixed signals so far. With no other characters to bounce off of, Punchline is all chaos and violence and very little else. We see her taking over Gotham’s drug scene, forcing retired criminals out of retirement to help her, and declaring war on Gotham’s queenpin Eiko Hasigawa for no other reason than that she wants things and doesn’t care who she has to kill, to enforce their will. Batman guest-stars in this issue, drawn into battle by her reign of terror but surprisingly incapable of resisting her chaotic attacks. It looks and reads well, but it’s missing a catch, and the most interesting part of the issue is Bluff’s return and his manipulations of Cullen Row. Harper and Cullen really were the core of the previous Punchline story, and I’m not sure there’s a fitting equivalent here.

Cover of Deathstroke Inc. #15, via DC Comics.

Deathstroke Inc. #15 – Ed Brisson, writer; Dexter Soy, artist; Veronica Gandini, colourist

Ray – 8/10

Beam: That title ends with this issue, although in many ways its main narrative ended with Shadow War and that Deathstroke: Year One story was a completely different book. It’s a compelling read, showing how Slade went from being a common soldier to the monster he is today. In the last issue, Slade and Wintergreen were captured by their rival assassin, the latest in a line of genetically enhanced assassins. It’s no surprise that this ’90s-inspired villain is a paper tiger, and when he pushes Slade too far, he meets a horrific end and Slade sets off for a showdown with the man who hired them both. While these scenes are good, it’s the final scenes with Adeline and the rest of Slade’s family that really sell this installment. We see Slade slowly becoming a series of masks, a man devoid of anything human at his core, and he can take on any of them – even the mask of a decent husband and father. Of course, we all know the truth, and this creeping horror is what makes this problem work.

Sergeant cover of Rock vs. the Army of the Dead #3 via DC Comics.

DC Horror presents Sgt. Rock vs. Army of the Dead #3 – Bruce Campbell, writer; Eduardo Risso, artist; Kristian Rossi, colourist

Ray – 8/10

Beam: Campbell and Risso’s odd historical-horror hybrid reaches half-time, and with that, the heroes begin to turn the tide against the Nazis. Hitler’s doctor and the mastermind of the zombie project have them in their sights, but to get there they must blaze through enemy territory, breach a fortress and take on a platoon of undead soldiers. The zombies – which actually function more like ghouls or “Frankensteins” – don’t play the biggest role in this edition, but they are used effectively. The mushy war comic feel here is what really works, and the prelude hints at something even more ridiculous – Hitler and Eva Braun themselves could be undead and using the same treatment, and they could turn into zombies from their increased doses. This is a fun comic that never quite feels horror, but it’s something Campbell is familiar with in his most famous franchise.

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