this entry covers issues 17 through 19 of “Deathblow” volume 1.
Reporter Karl Woodbern has info on Kaizen Gamorra. It’s information that Kaizen does not want to get out, in fact, the Gamoran leader wants him dead. Who’s a hotshot reporter supposed to turn to for protection? Why Rayna Masters of course! Not that Woodbern wants Rayna to protect him, or even her main dude the Sergeant-Major. Nope, Woodbern wants the protection of Micheal Cray more than anything! Here’s the kicker, Cray and Woodbern have a past and in the past Woodbern’s actions resulted in the death of one of Cray’s soldiers. Thusly, Cray hates Woodbern and does not want to work for him. Woodbern gets Cray to come around once Woodbern mentions that the information he has concerns Cray and is tied into files about Project Genesis.
Alright, then we get into some business with Woodbern needing to get his computer disk of information, but it’s all kind of too much. I mean there’s a strip joint and a stripper involved after all. And then Kaizen’s goons show up to shoot up the joint and kidnap Woodbern. While the goons get away Frank Colby and the Black Razor’s show up to spoil the fun. Rayna manages to intimidate Cobly into leaving them all alone, and the stripper hands off Woodbern’s info disk to Cray. Cray hits up his information buddy Henri Rothchild for help reading the disk, and finds more information on it than Woodbern let on! Not just information on Project Genesis but also about an organ harvesting program, Gabriel Newman and Cray’s Pops! Uh oh! Time to high-tail it to Gamorra!
Rayna and the Sergeant-Major get into Gamorra by plane as Cray parachutes in, because that guy is bad ass always takes the hard road. Rayna pretty quickly gets taken in by more of Kaizen’s goons. And while the Sergeant-Major thinks he’s hot on the tail of these kidnappers, it turns out he’s been faked out too. Time to break into Kaizen’s compound. Not that he’s alone in that action.
As Cray descends down into the ocean to then swim to Gamorra after the skydiving (see, dude’s bad ass!) he recounts a previous mission in Gamorra where he met up with a freedom fighter named Mai-Li and took on a round of Hunter-Killers. Wouldn’t you know it that twenty years later, Cray’s contact for the compound infiltration happens to be Mai-Li! And damn if they don’t have to hunt down some more Hunter-Killers! While breaking in Cray and Mai-Li come across the Sergeant-Major. Ou boy Kaizen, trouble is headed your way!
So the Sergeant-Major, Mai-Li and Cray are hacking into Kaizen’s system to try and find exactly where Woodbern and Rayna are being held. First hurdle, they’re not together. Second hurdle, they’ve been noticed and the chief of security is throwing his big guns at the three of them. The Minotaur, Borgia, and Gila have been dispatched. They are the toughest of the tough, and come with their own Hunter-Killer army!
While things are looking dire for all our heroes, at least the Sergeant-Major has gotten Woodbern, and they’ve all converged on where Rayna is being held, the problem is the same as it has ever been. Mainly these: Kaizen, Kaizen’s goons. After the Minotaur kills Mai-Li, who was sacrificing her life for Crays, Colby and the Black Razors show up again. Seems as if they were sent by Craven, who was instructed to save Rayna and her employees by the First Lady of the United States. Rayna and the First Lady were old college pals, and Rayna used her influence to help wrap the mission. Though it could’ve gone sideways at any point, everyone is really lucky that Colby can get a job done. Too bad Woodbern is so brain damaged from his torture during his kidnapping that he can’t remember a bit of the information he wanted to protect.
- While it doesn’t weigh on our main character much in this story, we see Craven getting in trouble with Senator Killory about Project Genesis being reactivated. We’ll see more of Senator Killory later in the pages of “DV8.”
- We clearly see that Trance is in the shadows of Craven’s office. Posed much like when we saw him during “Gen13” Vol. 2 issue 2. And just like in that appearance he’s willing to give out information on the whereabouts of John Lynch. This time he’s seeking information about Kaizen Gamorra from Craven, where as before he was asking for information on Craven from Defile. Because he is in silhouette I’ve never really put together it was Trance before, but yeah, it’s totally Trance and I’m totally dense.
- We’ve had a few references to some big operation that went down in Gamorra years back in a few past issues and here we have some flashbacks to it. Cray is with his Seal Team 6 team, so Tom Archer is accounted for, but I don’t see Armand Wearing at all! Maybe he was one of the kidnapped scientists?
- No word if Mai-Li Tsung is related to the Tsung family we meet later on during “Fire from Heaven” but I’m going with a pretty strong “maybe” and am thinking it probably goes back a few generations. Third or fourth cousins at best for Mai-Li and the Doc.
- We have a small cameo by Cybernary in this run. While it was originally intended that when the “Deathblow/Cybernary” flip-book was coming out, they were occurring at the same time (this was in the letter pages) we now see that that cannot be the case. Those issues open with a Cybernary free of her creators running around before being captured by other curious parties and having her origin recounted. It’s not until her proper series begins that we even see the conclusion of her story concerning her escape from her creators. She recounts the escape story as happening in the not too recent past, which means for best reading, we should still put her books off a bit more to build some time between this appearance and the next. But how cool was it to see her and Cray in the same book again?
- I like to keep this story line near the start of this section, just because it starts laying out a lot of what is to come in the WildStorm Universe. We learn about Kaizen and Craven working together. We also see that they’re working on a project concerning Gen-Actives. And we have Craven laying out his plan to hunt down the Team 7 members as well. Not to mention the first hint of what happened to Cray’s parents. We even have a doctor examine Cray and then start to refer him to genetics expert Dr. Tsung! There’s a lot of set up that slowly starts to pay off in the pages of “Deathblow,” “Gen13,” and the “Fire from Heaven” crossover.
NEXT: “StormWatch” Vol. 1 issues 23, 23.5, 24 and the Despot & Strafe “Homecoming” short story by Ron Marz, H.K. Proger, Renato Arlem, Darryl Banks, Robert Jones, John Lowe, Art Thibert and Dan Panosian