When one's husband hands them a comic and says that this comic was one of his favorites from "when he was a kid", one assumes it will be light and, perhaps, even silly. One does not expect it to feature criminals engaged in homoerotically honest discourse about "The Place" where they were both incarcerated.
As you can see, that's what I got. I got Deadshot. And although on the cover, Deadshot looks like a cross between Shazam and C-3PO, the similarity ends in appearance.
Ha - I just now looked at the cover and caught for the first time that there's a box in the lower right hand corner that says "DC Comics Aren't Just For Kids!" I guess that would have been a clue, had I seen it. It's white letters on a white background, with only a shadow black outline, and it's on the bottom corner. If that was 1988's way (Wait. 1988? I just became painfully aware, again, of our age difference. Gulp.) of rating a comic "mature", I think it's sort of failed.
Anyhow - now that I got all of that off my chest, I have to say I really enjoyed this. The paper is newsprint-y, and I usually find that so irritating that I cannot really focus on the comic. But that was not the case here. I got so sucked in to this dark gritty tale of the ex-con-turned-narc-turned-suicidal-sociopath, that the pages didn't bother me.
It's a well written comic book. Just when you think you know what the story is, that these two guys who knew each other in jail are hooking up to do some crime, it turns out to be about a guy, our own Deadshot, on what is essentially a suicide mission offered to him by the Feds. One that if he survives - and they paint it like it's really iffy - he'll be a free man. And as it goes along, we come to learn that Deadshot just doesn't really give a fuck about anything anymore.
Or does he?
Because, yes, there's a love story, people. His ex-wife is trying to find him. His psychiatrist--who looks a lot like his ex-wife, of course--might have fallen in love with him. Another interesting twist. See, that's what's great about this writing. The story sheds light on the back story and history of the characters, but only in these flashes, and it makes it pretty clear that they're maintaining that delivery because that's what Deadshot is, a guy who lives in shadows and obscurity. There's no need for forced editorial narration to spoonfeed us the story, or the theme. It's all there in the way it's drawn--the deep, heavy shadows are where the action occurs, where all the choices are made and the difficulties are engaged. In the light, people just do things. It's a comic book that assumes its readers are smart. While it seems that a lot of today's comics like to assume that we are idiots who don't get things unless we're hit over the head with them.
Am I wrong? I'm sure there's exceptions. God knows that ya'll read more comic books than I do, you would certainly know better. But it seems to me that the trend has been in overtelling a story, and subtlety has been abandoned.
Speaking of things that have been abandoned: Columbia House ads?! Remember those? Okay, I liked them from a nostalgia point of view, sure. But I also liked them because they were clearly advertisements. They look NOTHING like the other pages. Whereas today, often, an ad page has the same colors, and lines and look of the comic book's page before it, and I've definitely gotten confused once or twice. I mean, not THAT confused. But still, in this case, I knew to just flip all three pages of "12 Hot hits for a cool Penny" - because it looked like an ad, not a comic. I'm almost embarrassed I'm complaining about this. "Even the ads used to be better, because they looked like ads!" Is that what I'm really saying? I guess it is. Have fun with that.
Oh, I should mention that, despite the weird C3P0-like costume, Deadshot is a total BAD ASS! He has no fear; no fear of death, or loss, nothing at all and it makes him one free and scary mother fucker. He'll get the job done, and then some. I have to throw in a shout out for how the artist drew the guys on the plane vibrating with fear after El Jefe says "the cabin is pressurized! One stray shot - one tiny hole in the fuselage -- and we ALL DIE! Yourself included." and Deadshot literally just says, "so?". And then, all hell breaks loose and Deadshot murders absolutely everybody. He doesn't banter with any of them--except for the one guy he used to get here--and he doesn't wait to figure a way out. He just kills all of them, immediately.
Yeah, this was a good comic book. What happened to this character? I've never heard of him, so I'm just assuming he and his comic book have been gone for a long time. But - wow. This was a good story. And it's a four issue mini-series - with SO much in just the first issue.
Kudos to Ostrander, Yale & McDonnell! They did nice work.
-Nina Stone, 2012