Review: Astonishing Tales #34

Astonishing Tales #34 cover
Cover by Rich Buckler and Klaus Janson

Astonishing Tales #34
Published and © by Marvel, March 1976

Title: “And All the King’s Madmen … Couldn’t Put Deathlok Back Together Again … or Could They?”
Synopsis: After being damaged by Hellinger’s explosive, Deathlok is rebuilt by the CIA and sent back on the hunt for Ryker.

Writer (plot): Rich Buckler
Writers (script): Bill Mantlo
Penciler: Buckler
Inker: Klaus Janson

Review: This is probably the best the Deathlok feature has looked. While Rich Buckler has toned down the experimental cinematic flourishes, the addition of Klaus Janson as inker has provided much-needed consistency to the visuals. Unfortunately, that doesn’t address the book’s biggest issue: What exactly is going on? Buckler has kitbashed concepts with reckless enthusiasm: We’ve got dueling megalomaniacal brothers with a fetish for tech battling for control of dystopian New York. Oh, and clones. And powered exoskeletons. And revolutionaries. And the CIA. As always, there’s plenty of potential here, but what Buckler really needs is to find a coherent story.

Grade: B-

Second opinion: Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: This is a visually striking comic.
Not-so-cool factor: So. Much. Going. On.

Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 9p British variant of this issue. 

Character quotable:We’re alive! [Negative. But we exist.]” – Deathlok [and Deathlok’s onboard computer]

Editor’s note: This review was written May 18, 2023.

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