This is Kirkman without the human relationships angle that he employs to great effect with the Walking Dead, and a lesser extent Invincible, but look! Destroyer has lots of blood and fighting, made pretty by the clean lines of Cory Walker! This issue (the third of five) is just one big fight scene for Destroyer, and the big showdown with Scar, with Marlowes (aka Destroyer) Daughter kidnapped and in peril to add spice to the proceedings. There is a ton of blood and guts and smashing fists and pulverized bodies and heads. It ends up as a cross between the Sin City series ‘That Yellow Bastard‘ and something Peter Jackson would have done in his pre-Lord of the Rings days. It’s fairly mindless and fairly entertaining, and very violent and very, very gory. Oh, and there is a big explosion because that gives them an opportunity to do the ‘KA-BOOM’ lettering all pretty like what they do in Invincible – you know, like this sort of lettering;
Hey, you probably know if you like this sort of thing. Minimal exposition, minimal dialogue, just lots of fighting that degenerates into a bloodbath, all pretty much done with super-powered fists. The premise, as you may know, is about an old superhero from the Golden Age, called Destroyer, who is dying and so he feels obliged to take out as many bad guys as he can before he dies. That’s it. It is no frills, lean, mean storytelling. A high concept committed to the comic book medium. I like it, but I don’t love it. Its not bad, its just not really good – it doesn’t really draw me in to Marlowe’s world and make me want him to succeed. It will just about justify its 5 issue run. That is no bad thing in itself, but maybe I was expecting this to be more than the sum of its parts. But not everything can be as good as The Walking Dead, can it?
Robert Kirkman seems to revel in the one-two of emotional explorations of characters and realtionshipsall-out violence and gore. Although the gore is slightly toned down this issue, there is still plenty of violence to gasp at, and it isn’t without it’s humour – the battle depicted in the cover art has a neat punchline.
The fallout from the Destroyer’s battle with his failing health is not as funny – and there are some fairly believable conversations between husband and wife on that subject.
The art, by the way, is lovely. Cory Walker cannot draw a bad panel anyway, but his clean and impressive visuals really shine here, aided by the warm colouring of Val Staples.
With his life coming to an end, his health a constant battle, his singularity of purpose – to bring down Scar, his nemesis – causing his loved ones to be caught in the crossfire, this issue starts bringing all the plot strands together. The final issues should prove to be explosive, and no doubt heart-rending. Kirkman excels at that.
My only criticism is that I do not really understand the determination to bring down Scar. Who is he? Why is he so hated by Destroyer? This actually opens up to be a wider criticism – although I understand the motivation of the Destroyer to an extent (ie kill all the bad guys), I do not understand the specific motivation for Destroyer to target X, Y and Z. Maybe a bit more back story would have helped.
This was an issue that ‘moved the pieces around’, to an extent, setting up the final issues for what will no doubt be an extremely satisfying conclusion. There was enough action, enough violence and blood, and enough of the human drama to keep me interested.
Robert Kirkman has a distinctive style of telling a story, whether dealing with the zombie apocalypse of The Walking Dead, or the Spiderman / Superman / superhero love letter that is Invincible. In these stories, there is a real human drama ever present (though with Invincible it always feels a bit more of a soap opera). The new Kirkman offering, with Invincible artist Cory Walker, is closer in feel to Invincible than the peerless Walking Dead, but that it is no bad thing. The premise is this – Destroyer, a Golden Age superhero (see below)
is an old man, and he is dying. With this news, Keen Marlow (aka Destroyer) has a simple plan – to take down as many of the bad guys as possible before death. This first issue establishes the main characters, and lots of gore and viscera (including a bloody finale that has characters curiously matter-of-fact about murder). It all flashes past in an instant, but it is an enjoyable instant. The art, as you would expect from Cory Walkerm is never less than excellent – all clean lines and dynamic action.
This is the vigilantes wet-dream, taking out as many bad guys as possible before it all comes to a stop and death catches up with you. It could have been the final film of Paul Kerseys life, the ultimate Death Wish kill ’em all slaughter festival, but instead, the Destroyer got there first. 4 more episodes to go, and it promises to be a short, bitter-sweet journey. Go get ’em, Keen.