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Do you guys remember that Manga from years ago, Battle Royale, in which high school students got bombs strapped around their necks and were forced to fight each other to the death? Yeah, it was kind of messed up. Well, BOOM! Studios has something fairly similar… only not quite as insane. Deathmatch pits an assortment of heroes and villains against each other in superpowered fights to the bitter end. Issue number five, touted as a perfect jumping on point for new readers by BOOM!, is the first issue we’ve ever picked up. Will we pick up another? SPOILERS BEYOND THIS POINT!

Starring an ensemble cast of heroes and villains that come across as homages to more popular heroes from DC and Marvel, there is a lot that goes on in this issue. The heroes, when the power in the prison they are being held in goes down, are organizing their plan to escape. Omni-Engine teams up with Lightspeed in search of Meridian, leading to Lightspeed’s end. Sol Invictus and Mink head off to find Nephilim in order to fight The Fears. Sable, Rat, and Dragonfly begin searching for a way out of the prison. And George Truman (aka American Champion) goes in search of Manchurian in order to hack the prison’s systems before the power comes back up. Things do not go according to plan though and soon Manchurian is trying to get the power back on before Meridian gets out of hand. Lost? Yeah, we were too.

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The writing by Paul Jenkins is not to blame here. The dialog and plotting keep the story moving without providing a whole lot of exposition. Captions deliver some sort of inner monolog throughout the issue from Omni-Engine that talks about some as-of-yet unrevealed secret and again, there is no boring exposistion. Normally we enjoy this, but without it we were completely lost this issue. Who is this guy that knows Dragonfly? What did Meridian do to Berserk? How did everyone get in the prison? Again, this is not Jenkins’ fault, but that of BOOM! Studios for proclaiming this an excellent jumping on point. This series is set up as a bracketed tournament and the first round is already over. That said, these characters already have a history together and we don’t know that a jumping on point can actually be created.

On to the art. Despite these characters being homages to other characters, Carlos Magno does an excellent job at giving them unique appearances. What’s more, they are nicely detailed and their expressions come across very nicely. Action panels come across as animated with excellent poses and scenery. Our hat is off to him.

Michael Garland provides the colors and, as with our review of Jirni #1 yesterday, we are pleased to find better colors than you will in many of the books from the comic mills. The colors themselves are used to shade the pictures instead of just putting up flat colors on the page. Thank you for this BOOM! and Garland.

If you want to get into this book, and it seems like a good one, we suggest going back to get the previous issues. Just check them to make sure they provide a cohesive story. We’ve decided not to let poor marketing affect our judgment of this title. We give it 