by Jason Aaron (writer), Ron Garney (pencils), Jason Keith & Matt Milla (colors), and Cory Petit (letters)

The Story: We peek into the mind of the most successful Deathlok and his creation before Miranda and her commandos attempt to complete their desperate sabotage mission.

What’s Good: Opening with an intense monologue and moving on to depraved narration throughout, Aaron does a fantastic job with the voice of the serial killer turned Deathlok who takes center stage for much of the issue.  I’ve always appreciated it when a writer puts so much into what would otherwise be an incidental character.  The murderer’s voice feels authentic and very unsettling.  There’s also a definite cool factor to seeing what thought processes rest behind the automaton behaviour and dialogue we’ve been getting from the Deathloks thus far and it’s wonderfully horrific to learn that what lurks behind that cold droning is something very, very evil.  It imbues the Deathloks with a very nice sense of internal conflict and it’s sickeningly enjoyable to see how for a serial killer, being a Deathlok is like a video game.

Aaron shows us that what hides beneath the surface is often far more disturbing than what we can see, even if what we can see is violent and awful enough already.  It puts the Deathloks into a whole different light, making them even more menacing when we aren’t privy to the narration, now that we know what’s going on behind those dead eyes and robotic statements.

There are other little demonstrations of Aaron’s twisted imagination as well.  The machine the rebels in the future use to convey their psychic messages to the present day Miranda is guaranteed to give rise to plenty of ghoulish grins.  Meanwhile, the book’s ending is a wonderful twist in that it involves present-day Miranda turning the tables on the Deathloks by effectively using their own tactic against them; the most innocent character thus far looks to get just as brutal as the Deathloks themselves.  Then there’s the implied identity of the rebels’ “general,” which looks to be another inversion.

Garney’s art is a joy on this title, as it has been throughout.  The man is clearly made for a Wolverine book, particularly one as gritty as this.  His Deathloks continue to look great and his facial expressions are expertly done.

What’s Not So Good: While the focus on that individual Deathlok is very well done, it also subtracted from some of the attachment I usually feel towards this book.  Perhaps it’s because it takes valuable page space away from Wolverine and Cap, who can barely even be counted as present this month.  Indeed, I think Logan has all of one line.  As a result, despite a bevy of cool moments, I didn’t feel as emotionally involved as I usually do, even though I can’t really dispute the quality of the book too heavily.

It doesn’t help that a good chunk of the pages spent on this Deathlok involved a scene of Roxxon executives explaining their takeover of the future and the Deathlok project.  This felt a little too heavy on the exposition and, as a result, wasn’t a particularly engaging read.

I will say, however, that things do get a little confusing once people in the present start getting killed, affecting the future.   I had no problem with following the replayed/altered action for the most part, accept towards the end, where it seemed like the time-traveling serial-killer/Deathlok we’d been following was in two places/times at once.

Conclusion: An interesting issue, though not quite up to the ridiculously awesome standard set by this arc thus far.

Grade: B

-Alex Evans