Review: Astonishing Tales #35

Astonishing Tales #35 cover
Cover by Rich Buckler and Klaus Janson

Astonishing Tales #35
Published and © by Marvel, May 1976

Title: “… And Once Removed From Never”
Synopsis: Deathlok faces off with Maj. Ryker in a virtual reality “Mind-Lock,” then attempts a mind transference to a clone.

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

Review: Deathlok is comics answer to television’s “The X-Files”: A series so full of cool concepts and inspired moments that it takes a good long while to figure out that the creators have no idea where the overarching story is going. As with the previous issue (see review), the addition of inker Klaus Janson has stabilized things on the art front. But the story continues to pile on concepts like it’s some kind a sci-fi layer cake. An LoC in this issue notes the need “at the very least, to have the background, the locale explained.” Sorry. Maybe next issue.

Grade: B

Second opinion: “This book is a delight to ‘get into,’ even though it is often times hard to comprehend where we are being taken. … 3 1/2 out of 4 stars.” – Marvel Art Review #1, 1976 … “In a finale credited as having ‘concept, plot and art’ by Rich Buckler and inking and colors by Klaus Janson, could the results be anything but spectacular?” – Pierre Comtois, “Marvel Comics in the 1970s: An Issue By Issue Field Guide to a Pop Culture Phenomenon: Expanded Edition,” 2021 … Recommended by The Slings & Arrows Comic Guide (second edition), 2003.

Cool factor: It’s the climatic showdown!
Not-so-cool factor: But readers still have no clue what’s going on!

Collector’s note: According to the Grand Comics Database, there is a 30¢ variant and a 9p British variant of this issue.

Character quotable: “Dictator and god all rolled into one! You’re mad, Ryker! YOU’RE INSANE!!” – Deathlok, voice of reason
A word from the writer/artist/co-creator: “Another thing that came up was the matter of Simon Ryker, Deathlok’s nemesis, appearing in the final battle completely naked. … How it finally passed the Code is still a mystery. But they did require us to slap a ‘bathing suit’ on Ryker for the cover.” – Rich Bucker, from the “The Origins of Deathlok” introduction in “Marvel Masterworks: Deathlok Vol. 1,” 2009

Editor’s note: This review was written May 19, 2023.

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