Astonishing Tales #27
Published and © by Marvel, December 1974
Title: “Dead Reckoning!”
Synopsis: After battling War-Wolf, Deathlok tries returning to his pre-cyborg home and finds only rejection and despair.
Writers (plot): Rich Buckler and Doug Moench
Writer (script): Buckler
Inker: Pablo Marcos
Review: Three issues in and things seem … off. Writer Doug Moench steps back from scripting, leaving Rich Buckler to serve up the text. The young artist was already the driving voice behind this series, but lacks Moench’s refinement as a writer. Buckler’s extra duties also seem to impact the art; while his visual storytelling remains mostly solid, the rendering is hit and miss. Far worse is the lettering (by Desmond Jones), which makes the book look more like a fanzine than a professional project. Deathlok feels a bit like a series stumbling under the weight of its own potential and aspirations.
Second opinion: “(Pablo) Marcos outdoes himself in lending not only form and substance to War-Wolf, he succeeds in making the reader believe that he could be a real challenge for Deathlok.” – Pierre Comtois, “Marvel Comics in the 1970s: An Issue By Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon: Expanded Edition,” 2021
Cool factor: Mad props to this series for reaching …
Not-so-cool factor: … even if it ultimately exceeds its grasp.
Notable: The “Mindlocks” letters page includes an LoC from future Eclipse publisher Dean Mullaney.
Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 8p British variant of this issue. … According to MyComicShop.com, there is also a Mark Jewelers variant. … Beware, this issue contains a Marvel Value Stamp (Series A) #22 (Man-Thing).
Character quotable: “That’s what cyborgs are built for, right? Die hard, kill efficiently, right? Right?!” – Deathlok, cyborg
A word from the artist/co-creator: “Luther (Deathlok) was married to a black woman. As far as I know, this was the first instance in comics of an interracial marriage for a main character.” – Rich Bucker, from the “The Origins of Deathlok” introduction in “Marvel Masterworks: Deathlok Vol. 1,” 2009
Editor’s note: This review was written Jan. 25, 2023.