Characters Appearing: Deathlok (616 Luther Manning), Deathlok (alt. Luther Manning), Deathlok (Michael Collins), Justice Peace, Nick Collins, Patricia Collins, Scorpion, Siege, Timestream, Tracy Collins
Issue(s): Deathlok #31, Deathlok #32, Deathlok #33, Deathlok #34
We already saw the start of this story as a prologue in Deathlok #29, but while that story promised to continue "next issue" it was interrupted by a fill-in. These issues begin with one of the Deathloks, Luther Manning, being chased by another - our Michael Collins - through an Escher-like dimension. It turns out to be a precognitive dream of 616 Manning's, facilitated by the villain Timestream. This has turned Manning into a Deathlok.
Meanwhile, "our" Deathlok (Collins) and Siege are stopping the Scorpion from hijacking a shipment of Italian sportscars.
When Deathlok returns home, he finds that his wife has left him and taken the kids (he learns this from his wife's sister Arlene). Deathlok's son Nick is unhappy with his mom's decision, and he leaves a message for Deathlok on a cyberspace bulletin board.
Meanwhile (so to speak), Godwulf has been brought to the Time Variance Authority, where they pressure him into helping them deal with the time-traveling Timestream ("*heh* an unoriginal name").
Probably the most menacing depiction of Mark Gruenwald ever.
Timestream's plan is to collapse all the alternate realities, leaving only one of his own design. Timestream brings in the alternate future Deathlok (who is referred to as just the Demolisher in this story) to help. Demolisher is initially unconvinced and unwilling to work with 616 Manning, but Timestream proves that he can restore his humanity, so Demolisher agrees.
Godwulf, meanwhile, approaches and recruits Collins and Siege, explaining about the alternate reality Deathlok and all Timestream's schemes.
Timestream sends his two Deathloks and a few other cyborgs through time to kill Captain America and the past version of Deathlok circa Captain America #286-288, the pivotal point in the timelines for Timestream.
But Godwulf brings Siege and his Deathlok to stop them.
The good guys drive off the bad guys and (after several fights, over the length of an issue) make sure that the past versions of Cap and Deathlok continue their journey unimpeded. A final fight between the teams gets everyone sucked into the timestream. The good guys are then met by Justice Peace.
Godwulf is supposed to be working for the TVA, but they've apparently become impatient and Godwulf and his companions are arrested. Siege was badly injured in the fight with the bad cyborgs, and a sudden realization of his mortality has caused him to withdraw. Deathlok enters cyberspace and tries to convince him to return. So neither of Godwulf's companions help him with Justice Peace's troops and all are nearly captured. But Siege eventually wakes up and fights the troops off. Peace decides to let them go. Godwulf says it's both because they've worked together before and because Peace has a soft spot for the 616 reality.
Meanwhile, the bad guys are squabbling among themselves, with the Demolisher beginning to realize that 616 Manning is nothing like his own former self (616 Manning is too loyal to Timestream, who Demolisher thinks is a "snake"). Then the good guys show up and the messy fighting continues.
Collins tries to get through to 616 Manning.
Manning commits suicide.
Justice Peace then shows up again to provide more exposition.
Peace then sends Collins to the past to eliminate Timestream before the TVA decides to just wipe out the entire timeline. We learn Timestream's origin; he was a Roxxon employee who was caught in the surge of an Nth Projector explosion. He subsequently seems to have been responsible for the alternate future of the original Deathlok's.
I think that's meant to be the big revelation of the storyline, although (as i suspect was the case of most readers in the 1990s) i am not too familiar with the original Deathlok stories and i can't say for sure how much of this is new information (and, again, there are no footnotes).
This revelation causes the Demolisher to switch sides when Collins catches up with him.
Meanwhile, Operation Purge is getting executed.
At this point i've just about checked out in terms of following the plot. But everyone converges on the younger version of Timestream and there's a big fight.
The current version of Timestream is defeated, and Godwulf convinces the Demolisher to not kill the younger version of Timestream (or else it will cause a paradox and the TVA will wipe out the timeline). The Demolisher uses one of Godwulf's time gauntlets to leave, stranding the rest of the group in the past. But Justice Peace shows up and sends everyone to their respective timelines.
Collins gets his son's message when he returns.
And there's a brief funeral for Luther Manning.
A little weird to end the series by saying that this Deathlok hopes to live up to the example of the alternate reality version of the original. I mean, if nothing else, it's a little late, considering the series is cancelled.
This series started out promising thanks to Dwayne McDuffie's use of socio-political issues and strong character development. These final issues are a far cry from that; it's pure continuity porn. It was probably inevitable due to the introduction of a new Deathlok; questions about how he related to the original and requests to see the original abounded in the lettercol. And continuity porn is great, but (as sadly seems to be so often the case around this time), it's not a good use of continuity porn. Issue #31 is largely a huge backstory dump, delivered half by Godwulf and half by Timestream, the latter of whom speaks in bizarre inverted sentences ("Returning to own time, destroyed Nth Projector generator complex and thusly Operation Purge did Captain America.") And the "continuity" continues to come in big exposition dumps throughout the remaining issues. Combine that with the fact that this is confusing alternate reality stuff to begin with, and a dearth of footnotes (in terms of references to things older than this series, the only footnote is to the Deathlok Lives! trade, which reprints Captain America #286-288), and the big exposition dump in Deathlok #31 is a hard slog. And there's little payoff since things just devolve into a cluttered mess of cyborgs running around shooting each other. I was wishing that Justice Peace would show up sooner and just shut the whole storyline down.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 106,938. Single issue closest to filing date = 54,385.
Quality Rating: D
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
In classic time travel irony, Timestream's defeat is what gives his younger self his powers.
Posted by: Michael | September 18, 2017 11:26 PM
Deathlok lasted over 30 issues. God bless you, 1994.
Posted by: Bigvis497 | September 19, 2017 12:54 AM
Like fnord, I enjoyed the early issues, back when I read them in the '90s. It's too bad the series ended like this, and without resolving the plot about Michael's body.
Posted by: Mortificator | September 19, 2017 3:56 PM
My main takeaway from all this, is that there are way too many Deathlocks
Posted by: Berend | September 20, 2017 1:53 PM
Oh... there will be more
Posted by: cullen | September 20, 2017 2:09 PM
I wonder if these issues were running late and the artists had really tight deadlines, because there's almost no backgrounds in any of the artwork.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 20, 2017 9:27 PM
Comments are now closed.
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