Death’s Head: Clone Drive – Tini Howard, Kei Zuma, Felipe Sobreiro & Travis Lanham (Panini / Marvel)

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It’s been a while, yes? While I’m hardly an expert on such things, I know that it’s been some time since Death’s Head, the meanest mechanical bounty hunter in in the known Universe last appeared as a marquee name and the star of his own book.  Even though I’m far from being the world’s biggest Death’s Head fan, I do have a soft spot for the robotic rogue who is hell-bent on self-improvement and becoming the absolute best at what he does by wiping out his unsavoury competition and constantly adding bigger and better weapons and implements of destruction to his personal armoury.  And his habit of ending every sentence with a rhetorical question to throw his chosen foes and adversaries off their game and give him an additional edge has always been one of those marmite jokes that you either love or hate. Me, I’m in the former camp and it’s one of the main reasons I’ve always enjoyed his  homicidal antics and adventures.

 And now Death’s Head is back with a bang and Clone Drive doesn’t waste any time or hang around and drops Marvel UK’s most famous home-grown creation straight into the deep end. After being set up and betrayed by his employer Yondu (yeah, that Yondu, the one and only enemy and ally of Quill and company) Death’s Head finds himself on Earth mixing it up at punk rock show with former Young Avengers Hulkling and Wiccan. It’s an altercation which, following the discovery of one of Wiccan’s many secrets, lead to an uneasy alliance that see’s the trio embark on a quest to liberate updated and alternate versions of Death’s Head.  While the set up may seem relatively straight forward and simple, Clone Drive is actually a lot more complicated and involving and throws evil scientists and all manner of mayhem and chaos at the would-be heroes before tying everything up in neat, incredibly well executed bow.

Tini Howard lays the smack down in Death’s Head’s first outing in goodness knows how long and not only leaves the door open for further outings for its central character but also teases a possible Young Avengers reunion and return.  Clone Drive questions established ideas concerning, and mainstream understanding of, identity and individuality though a combination of rapid fire storytelling, humour and spot-on characterisation and thanks to Zuma and Sobreiro’s hypnotic art and retrotastic colours, looks and feels like a period Death’s Head story that could have rolled off the production line and into comic book shops during the bounty hunter’s heyday. It’s fast, it’s fun and it’ll put a smile on the face of even the most cold hearted, four colour cynic. Which is exactly what it’s supposed to do, yes?  Tim Cundle

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