DEATHLOK #1-11 (1999-2000)

Emerging out of his excellent run on Cable, Joe Casey offers a modern reboot of Deathlok.

The series was part of Marvel’s “M Tech” line of comics, which also included a Douglock book and one about X-51. It was short-lived: 11 issues.

Casey’s vision of Deathlok focused on the science fiction aspects of the character–and it was quite experimental. For one thing, this Deathlok doesn’t even look like Deathlok…

The robot pictured above goes on a rampage. Nick Fury is trying to control it, but is competing with upstart SHIELD agents along the way.

Meanwhile, SHIELD Agent Jack Truman–who was critically injured during his attempt to capture Cable–has transferred his mind into a six-year-old kid. In that body, he is able to become the perfect agent…but finds that, despite his ambition, he misses having flesh and bones.

Casey creates an entire world within the 616 for this story, and it barely touches the main 616 narrative. (Notably, Clown from Circus of Crime appears looking as creepy as possible.)

Deathlok also throws down with Puff Adder, but the villain is out of costume.

Ringmaster is also dealt with in a new and fascinating way–he runs for President and hypnotizes people into voting for him.

I love Casey’s take on these villains, who have never been major characters.

The conclusion, sadly, is a little rushed, with Truman being restored to his human form.

Dare I say this? I think this was a GREAT series, highly underestimated and cancelled way too soon. It’s the obvious precursor to Casey’s Automatic Kafka indie book, which similarly explored the use of machines to overcome human limitations and the tension between that and being human.

I don’t think I’m alone in seeing how forward-looking this book was. In addition to Leo Manco’s incredible art, legends John Buscema and Bill Sienkiewicz contributed to the series.

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