Issue(s): Deathlok #17, Deathlok #18, Deathlok #19, Deathlok #20, Deathlok #21
It starts with Deathlok deciding to review his data on John Kelly, the person who was originally intended to be in the Deathlok body. Instead, he revives an AI copy of Kelly, raising the philosophical question of whether or not it is really Kelly himself. Kelly finds out that the Deathlok computer deliberately killed Kelly because Kelly tried to take control of it (we saw that in Marvel Comics Presents #62). Michael Collins was not similarly killed because that function was disabled after Kelly's death.
The core conflict of this book has been the fact that Collins is a pacifist that has been put in the body of a robotic killer. Kelly, by contrast, was a soldier and then a police officer, and in both roles he was considered to be too violent by his superiors, which is why he volunteered for the Deathlok program after his family left him. So the revival of Kelly means another voice in Collins' head. And while the Deathlok computer has been passively pushing for Collins to get more lethal, Kelly actively calls Collins "cowardly"...
...and pushes him to kill. There's also the simple complication that Collins now has two voices in his head besides his own.
Collins is contacted by his friend and former co-worker Jim Dworman, who in turn has been contacted by Roxxon exec Clayton Burr, who knows where Collins' body is. Burr first wants Deathlok to eliminate a rogue group of former Cybertek scientists, including a Dr. Hu and a Dr. Kimble, who are continuing their work of creating Deathlok cyborgs on their own (before it was closed down, Cybertek was a Roxxon subsidiary and the company that created Deathlok). Burr claims that Roxxon wants to continue the Deathlok program for the purpose of developing prosthetics, which is the reason Collins initially got involved with Cybertek. Despite the urging of Kelly, who tells Collins that Burr is lying to him and urges him to break one of his arms to make him tell the truth, Collins agrees.
Deathlok is subsequently contacted by Nick Fury, who tells him to not get involved. But Deathlok tells him that "I'm not one of your super-agents", and he doesn't listen. The rogue scientists are in Paris, so Deathlok first goes home to say goodbye to his family. Their acceptance of him almost makes him wonder if he really needs to do the mission.
But Deathlok has plenty of motivation for continuing. He does want his own body back, and he does want to stop the rogue scientists from creating any more Deathloks, and a part of him at least wants to believe that Roxxon will use the technology for good. And there's also the possibility of leaving John Kelly behind in the Deathlok body, possibly as a check against Roxxon.
Deathlok's first stop in Paris is an ULTIMATUM base, because ULTIMATUM have contracted with the scientists for some cyborgs.
The fact that Deathlok won't kill is a sticking point for Kelly, and it also is shown to embolden the ULTIMATUM troops.
Silver Sable has heard that Deathlok is in Europe, so she joins up with him to repay him for services rendered in her comic.
Sable's willingness to kill, and the violent nature of the rest of the Wild Pack, adds more pressure to Collins' ethos. Gregory Wright is laying it on pretty thick, but it is the theme of the series.
Sable and company get the information they want from ULTIMATUM and they all head to the scientists. It turns out that Harlan Ryker is with them, and they've also got Mainframe and Ben Jacobs, and an active cyborg program.
In fact, it will turn out that Ryker is in cahoots with Clayton Burr, and this is all a trap for Deathlok. Ryker has Collins' body, and he's even brought it with him.
Burr has even hired the Deathlok copycat Coldblood, who has been deceived into thinking that Deathlok is a bad guy.
Deathlok's refusal to kill even the braindead corpses inside the cyborgs continues to be a sticking point.
Deathlok instead tries to interface with the cyborg, and he winds up transferring Kelly into the cyborg body, which is how Kelly becomes Siege.
Note, though, that Siege doesn't feel as connected to his body as he should.
Siege of course has no compunction about killing the other cyborgs. Even Deathlok starts to wonder if it would really be wrong. And Siege does seem less inclined to kill living people than you might think.
When the fight with the cyborgs results in some tourists dying, Deathlok starts to seriously reconsider not trying to kill the cyborgs. But the scientists and the cyborgs teleport away for the time being.
At that point, Silver Sable considers her debt to Deathlok paid, so she leaves. And then Nick Fury and SHIELD show up again. Deathlok is in the middle of considering whether or not to kill Siege, on the grounds that he's a killer and he's really just a bit of AI replicating John Kelly's brain patterns. But Fury interrupts that, and even Fury kind of mocks Deathlok for not being willing to kill.
Fury also reveals that he's known all along that Ryker had Collins' body. He claims he was waiting to tell Deathlok until SHIELD managed to acquire it. Deathlok is obviously upset that Fury, who he thought was a friend, has been holding out on him, and he says that Fury only wanted the body so they could dangle it as a prize to make Deathlok do more missions for them.
Siege uses the distraction of their argument to try to escape, and the area they were arguing in gets buried in rubble, with Siege seemingly buried beneath it all. Deathlok notices that Siege wasn't trying to kill the SHIELD agents, and wonders if maybe Siege is really alive after all. Deathlok then leaves SHIELD to continue going after Ryker's group. But on the way there, he's attacked by Coldblood.
One thing about Coldblood is that his computer seems to have more of a personality than Deathlok's. It even has a sense of humor.
Deathlok and Coldblood get into a little fight, with Deathlok clearly being shown to be the more powerful cyborg. Coldblood is a better fighter, but Deathlok wins when he lets his computer run his fighting sequence. Deathlok then suggests they link computers to prove that he's not a bad guy.
They then team up to go after Ryker and his cyborgs. At this point Deathlok is willing to "kill" the cyborgs.
Siege has survived the rubble and also shows up.
Ryker kills Dr. Hu, who along with Dr. Kimble was one of the only scientists that could put Collins back in his body. He threatens to kill Kimble if Deathlok won't stand down. But Siege complicates Ryker's plans, threatening to shoot through Deathlok to kill Ryker.
There's also a nuclear bomb attached to Collins' body, so there's a lot going on. Ryker manages to teleport away, and all three cyborgs (Deathlok, Coldblood, Siege) combine their computers to try to stop the bomb.
Note that Deathlok thinks that Coldblood's computer has "as much" of a sense of humor as his; from what i've seen it actually has more.
The cyborgs manage to disable the nuclear portion of the bomb, but fail to stop the regular explosion that would have triggered the nuke. So Collins' body is seemingly destroyed (although at the very end we'll see that it actually survived, unclaimed, in the rubble).
The cyborgs then hunt down Ryker's group again. They're in Kuwait this time, bombing oil fields. The good cyborgs manage to stop the bad ones, in part thanks to Deathlok relaxing his restriction on killing (the cyborgs only).
Ryker is subsequently captured. Deathlok tells his computer to drop his no killing parameter for real, with the intention of killing Ryker, but Nick Fury talks him out of it. Deathlok still knocks Ryker around a bit.
Fury then uses Ryker to get Burr to confess.
Seige is allowed to go his own way.
The story can get a little busy with three similar cyborgs fighting a horde of other cyborgs, and Gregory Wright isn't exactly subtle with his examination of Michael Collins' pacifist nature. I also would have liked a explanation for why Coldblood and Deathlok are so similar. There had been a lot of clamoring in the lettercols for Coldblood to be used here which was not sated by his flashback cameo in Deathlok #4, and while he's definitely used here and a "bond is formed" between him and Deathlok, we don't examine the fact that he's essentially the same type of cyborg created by a different (?) company. Despite the "bond", Coldblood won't be used again in this series, and in fact this is effectively his last appearance aside from some cameos during Civil War.
Despite those flaws, this is a decent story. I like the origin of Siege and i feel like with the arrest of both Ryker and Burr there's some movement in the overall story. Wright's issues pale in comparison to Dwayne McDuffie's, and i wish McDuffie was the sole writer on this book (in fact, only three more issues will be written by McDuffie), but these aren't bad.
Fun fact: issue #19 was $2.25 instead of the usual $1.75 because of the foil cover (and no other reason), but due to a screw up, issue #18 also came with a $2.25 cover price. Marvel notified the comic shops to only charge $1.75 for issue #18, but i'm sure some people still wound up paying $2.25. It's hard for me to fathom having to pay extra just because of the cover in any event, so it almost seems like paying extra for issue #18 isn't any more arbitrary.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 228,975. Single issue closest to filing date = 134,300.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Silver Sable and the Wild Pack #6-7. It's shown in issue #20 that this takes place during the period where Nick Fury has stepped down as the director of SHIELD and that Dum Dum Dugan is in charge.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAlexander Goodwin Pierce, Amy Chen, Battlestar, Ben Jacobs, Clayton Burr, Coldblood, Crippler, Deathlok (Michael Collins), Doug Powell, Dr. Hu, Dum Dum Dugan LMD, Gabriel Jones, Harlan Ryker, Jesus Badalamente, Jim Dworman, Mainframe, N'Gami, Nick Collins, Nick Fury, Siege, Silver Sable, Stanley Cross, Tracy Collins
Fnord, you state that this issue takes place during the period when Dum Dum is head of SHIELD but you have it placed after Fury gets his job back.
Posted by: Michael | May 4, 2016 11:54 PM
Fury doesn't become director of SHIELD again until Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD #47.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 5, 2016 6:53 AM
Did Dr. Hu have a time machine stashed away someplace?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 5, 2016 10:50 AM
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