Death's Head & Die-Cut #1-2
Issue(s): Death's Head & Die-Cut #1, Death's Head & Die-Cut #2
Honestly, the character's name is so bizarre it took me a while to come to grips with the fact that this really was an in-continuity comic and that Die-Cut was an actual character name. It doesn't help that the full title of this miniseries is the unwieldy "Death's Head II & the origin of Die Cut". Like, wuh? But Die-Cut is indeed a character's name, and after this two issue miniseries he'll star in the two issue Die-Cut vs. G-Force series and then his own four issue mini. We're into the phase of Marvel UK where they were foregoing regular ongoing series in favor of random minis. Even with the benefit of time and the internet i have trouble keeping track of the various books; i can't imagine how disjointed it must have felt in realtime (on the off chance that anyone was actually making an effort to follow these characters).
A minor housekeeping note: as quoted above, on the cover of all the books where he stars, Die Cut is written as two words (one above the other) and no hyphen. The indicia for this series also spells Die Cut without the hyphen. But the other two series both use a hyphen in the indicia, and even in this series his name is written in the interior with the hyphen. So i'm definitely using the hyphen for his character name, and i'm also using it in this entry's title, for consistency (e.g. in case some strange person wants to run a title search for "Die-Cut" and get all his books returned).
The reason why Death's Head II gets top billing on this series isn't just to help with sales. Die-Cut's origin involves him being one of the many personalities that Death's Head II absorbed back when he was working for AIM 2020 as Minion. It still would have felt more organic for these issues to be the first part of a Die-Cut ongoing or for this origin story to take place in regular issues of Death's Head II, but Death's Head II's role in Die-Cut's origin makes this series feel a little less arbitrary (as opposed to the random mix-and-match of other Marvel UK minis).
Death's Head II has been hired by Lady Anula, a noble from the planet Lionheart. Lionheart was Tuck's planet of origin, and it's a world that has banned artificial life, so it's unusual for Death's Head II to be summoned there for a job. But the reason is that the rulers of the planet have unleashed a plague - called Perfection - that only affects organic replicants. That includes Tuck, and it also turns out to include Lady Anula, who is already infected. Death's Head II is to go to Matricca Scorpio, a planet run by cyborgs where "time jumpers" have said a cure for Perfection will be found.
On that mission, however, Death's Head II and Tuck are attacked by cyborgs and they are more trouble than anticipated (particularly surprising since Death's Head II rarely has trouble at all), and on top of that Death's Head finds that one of the personalities in his head is attempting to assert itself. When Death's Head II and Tuck get cornered and things seem hopeless, Tuck suggests letting that personality take over. And Death's Head II gives it a try.
That personality is Czorn Yson. He knows the layout of Matricca Scorpio ("from my nightmares... from memories we stole from corpses... from stories my mom told me when I was a kid"). He leads Tuck to the Black Museum of the Cyborgs where all of their technology is kept.
But he uses the technology not to find the cure for Perfection - he uses it to build a new body for himself, instead, allowing him to escape the prison of Death's Head II's brain.
Meanwhile, Tuck realizes that she's been infected with Perfection.
Once he has his own body, Die-Cut isn't interested in helping Death's Head II and Tuck.
Here is Wikipedia's description of Die-Cut's blade:
Die-Cut has a blade, called the Pscythe, attached to his left arm. Drawn from his memories when he created a new body, the Pscythe can cut through virtually any matter or energy. It has the ability to open portals through space and other dimensions. The Pscythe can also be used to erase memories.
It may just be the way it is written, but the description sounds like the way a 9 year old would make up a super-hero. "This is Power-Guy, and he has a cape, and the cape lets him fly, and he can turn invisible, and no one can hurt him, and he can read minds, and it shoots fire."
Die-Cut's new body is organic, organic enough that the cyborgs of Matricca Scorpio consider him to be human and therefore a prime threat. Death's Head & Die-Cut fight for a bit, but Die-Cut realizes that he needs Death's Head's help against the cyborgs. Die-Cut whips up an "enviro-ball"...
...and then uses his "can do everything" blade to cut a whole in reality that they can escape through.
They then take a moment to recap Czorn Yson's history. It turns out that he was a prisoner at the time that Minion assimilated him. So he doesn't have as much of a grudge against Death's Head II for killing him as it first seemed. And the reason that he was a prisoner is because his planet had been fighting a war against cyborgs (said to be related to the ones from Matricca Scorpio).
Czorn was captured, and to avoid being interrogated he faked insanity...
...but eventually his insanity became real ("By the time you appeared I guess I had gone crazy"). Die-Cut retains his hatred of all things cyborg, though.
After taking the origin break, the characters return to Matricca Scorpio. At this point the enviro-ball has wiped out all the cyborgs. Die-Cut reprograms one of them and makes it take them to the "cure" for Perfection, but the cure turns out to just be a place where the infected are put into stasis.
For some reason the stasis is lifted and the infected attack, having been driven mad by their long stasis. But after fighting them for a bit, Death's Head & Die-Cut instead free them and send them after the heads of Matricca Scorpio.
When they get back to Lionheart and tell Lady Anula that there's no real cure, it turns out that Tuck isn't really infected. Anula had her afflicted with a fake version to motivate Death's Head.
Death's Head suggests that Die-Cut remain on Lionheart where the populace shares his hatred of cyborgs, but he says he needs "aggravation" and heads off.
As far as origins go, this isn't terrible. I mean, Die-Cut doesn't have much of a personality and his Pscythe is a bit much and there's nothing special about his design. But the basic mechanics of his origin are kind of fun. I find myself resisting him just based on the way Marvel UK was trying to make him "happen", though. If Die-Cut had appeared in the ongoing Death's Head II series, maybe once for this origin story and then a couple more times - i could see him being both antagonist and friend depending on the plot - i'd then be more accepting if he broke out on his own. But to have him appear in a Death's Head II sponsored origin mini and then immediately start starring in other books -- it may not be rational but it makes me want to reject him. The name is also a hurdle. Yes, "die cut" implies that he was created artificially, but a) that's still a dumb name and b) it doesn't even make sense: he was actually grown in a vat out of organic material and an explicit point of the story is that he "reads" as human to other cyborgs.
Overall, basically a shrug. More interesting as an illustration of the haphazard way that Marvel UK was publishing things than anything else.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
This Tusk character has the flossiest thong I've ever seen.
Posted by: Vincent Valenti | February 1, 2017 12:05 PM
If you're going to cut something, cut it with a die, I say. But imagine the disappointment of the die-loving kids of the '90s who bought this issue and found out the titular character uses a lousy scythe. This isn't agriculture, granddad.
Posted by: Mortificator | February 1, 2017 1:42 PM
All it took was seeing the "Pscythe" spelling for my eyes to roll, and the rest of that description just confirmed the sense of being something 90s Kid would come up with.
Posted by: Morgan Wick | February 1, 2017 6:14 PM
His name is German for "The Cut"
Posted by: cullen | February 1, 2017 9:35 PM
Unless you know something about Die-Cut that we don't, the name would contain the masculine "Der".
Actually, it would be "Der Schnitt."
I know you were making a joke. I just can't control my OCD sometimes....
Posted by: Andrew | February 2, 2017 1:04 PM
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