Review: Destroyer #1 (of 5)

by

Or – “This Feels Familiar…”

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So. Bob Kirkman. Marvel Universe. Weird corners, unusual things. Why am I having Deja Vu?

Previously, on Destroyer: First appearing in Mystic Comics #6 (1941 or thereabouts), this incarnation of the Destroyer (and there have been many in the Marvel U, from Alex Power to Thor’s robot nemesis) is a man named Keene Marlowe, and is also one of the Des2.jpgearliest characters created by Stanley Lieber after he was hired by his cousin’s husband, a man named Martin Goodman, to work at Timely Comics. As with many of the creators of the time, Lieber chose to change his name to remove any traces of ethnicicity. It wasn’t for a couple of decades that he became the powerhouse of the industry that he is known as today, with his creations successfully crossing over into other media and earning millions for other people. Many believe that comics today would not be the same (for good or for ill) without the creations of Lieber, now known as… Stan Lee. And NOW you know… the REST of the story. As for the Destroyer, aside from some super-stripey stretchy pants, he wasn’t all that interesting, nor was he as popular as the Human Torch, Captain America or the Sub-Mariner, despite horking the majority of Captain America’s origin and schtick. Adding to the confusion were retcons that Roy Thomas created during his 70′s run on “Invaders” that created TWO more Destroyers, both of whom have appeared in recent years, while this version, the original has been nowhere to be seen… We’re about to find out why.

First thing we see of this Destroyer is his fist punching CLEAN THROUGH an opponent’s head, spraying brain, blood, teeth and eyeballs everywhere. While more terrorists pepper him with bullets, Destroyer takes a moment to remind them that they’re slipping in terms of recruitment, crushing a skull with a rifle butt, and another with a boot before turning on the last terrorist who continues to shoot him over and over. “Let me fill you in on a little secret, son,” he says paternally. “Guns are for pussies!” Destroyer puncuates this sentence by impaling the faceless moron on a stolen rifle. Heh. Destroyer kills the last two terrorists, but can’t stop their bomb from going off (thankfully, his support staff have cleared the area of all civilians.) Left in the rubble, his costume burned away by the blast, a naked Destroyer is revealed to be… my father-in-law. Sort of. AS his supporst staff arrives, Destroyer starts barking orders. “Get me to a K-Mart, and get me home, dammit. I’ve got a previous engagement that I can’t attend with my ball sack dangling in the wind.”

We see him return home to his family (“Grandpa’s home!” cries one of his grandkids), meeting his daughter, her husband, and his wife (who wears a bionic arm.) His wife asks about his upcoming doctor’s appointment, and Keene waves it off, choosing to enjoy his family picnic instead. The next day, his doctor tells him that his heart isn’t going to take much more of this sort of lifestyle, and lays it out for him old-school. “Could be one day, could be one month… If you keep doing what you’re doing, I wouldn’t be surprised to be at your funeral next week.” Keene lies to his wife again that night, explaining that he’s fine, and the next day, we travel with him to a very special prison, where he meets a very special inmate: his older brother. Keene explains that, since he is probably dying, he intends to tie up loose ends, dealing with anything that might threaten his family after he is gone. Putting on his mask, he tells big bro that he wants a fair fight, and watches as his sibling turns into a monstrous Clayface-like form. Destroyer leaps into action, shoving his hand down his brother’s neck, AND RIPPING OUT HIS BEATING HEART. Covered in his own brother’s blood, Destroyer then thanks the warden for his time, and sighs. “I lied to him… It WASN’T a fair fight.” Destroyer stalks off to find his next target…

It’s fun to see Robert Kirkman working in the Marvel Universe again, and Cory Walker’s art is always a joy, but this whole book feels an awful lot like Kirkman’s OTHER invulnerable geezer book, “Brit,” right down to the tough-guy dialogue and terseness of the main character. Still, it’s not an unenjoyable ride, the comic book equivalent of walking after missing the first half hour of a decent action movie. The opening gives us a clear picture of what the Destroyer is about, and the scenes with his family are well-handled and (in some places) quite touching. I like this book a lot more than I should, even if I have a vague feeling of Deja Vu, and Destroyer #1 earns a quick run-and-gun 3 out of 5 stars. I added this to my pull list before I even left the store, and I think it’s a good read for the grown-ups in the audience who aren’t bothered by cursing and a little of the old ultra-violence…

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