Writer: Tini Howard, Art: Kei Zama, Colours: Felipe Sobreiro, Letters: Travis Lanham
"Death's Head #1" cover by Nick Roche & Felipe Sobreiro
When the dimension-hopping, intergalactic mech merc Death's Head wakes up on stage at a punk rock show, after finding that he has ironically become a Robot in Disguise having been disassembled and recycled into a sound amp, he's left wondering how the hell he got there...and who he is going to have to kill.
A quick glimpse through his data banks reveals that Marvel UK's most famous bounty hunter found himself with a price on his head for debt evasion and failure to complete work. The hunter had become the hunted...
It transpires that Death's Head just isn't as fast or effective a killer as he once was. It's hard to sneak up on a target when you're made of clanking metal and stink of diesel, and Death's Head's employer no longer sees a reason why he should keep paying for his repairs and upgrades with no return on his investment when he can just hire more modern mercenaries who are sleek, sexy, deadly, get the job done — and smell nice whilst doing it!
Yes, Death's Head is yesterday's mechanoid or so it seems, and after being thrown into a displacement chamber by his now former employer, he finds himself literally discarded in the trash on present day Earth, where some canny sound engineer has made this particularly peeved piece of heavy metal part of the musical show.
Thankfully former Avengers Wiccan and Hulking just so happen to be at the same show, and one quick containment spell later, Death's Head finds himself deactivated once more and in a place where they can better keep an eye on him — their bathroom.
No mere latrine door can stop the galaxy's greatest soldier of fortune though, and when Death's Head breaks out, intent on handing out some free samples of his wares via the barrel of his gun, the ensuing firefight reveals a very surprising secret hidden under the bed, that suggests that Death's Head isn't the only one currently struggling with feelings of inadequacy, and leaves Wiccan with a lot of explaining to do!
Death's Head is pretty much royalty over here in the UK, so after a wait of more than thirty years, it's great for an '80s kid like myself to see the original character once more in his own series (even if it's only a four part mini-series). Writer Tini Howard does a excellent job of creating a story that is not just action-packed and containing of plenty of Death's Head's signature deadpan comedic delivery, but is also clearly going to involve a level of development and introspection that the character has never previously displayed.
Artist Kei Zama is probably best know for her work over at IDW on their recent Optimus Prime series, so illustrating big fighty robots is very much in her wheelhouse. Her art here is very impressive and also involves several amusing first person perspective scenes involving Death's Head that I'm convinced must have been a very deliberate attempt to emulate another '80s classic, The Terminator.
Nick Roche, another mainstay of IDW's Transformers, meanwhile provides an excellent cover that is absolutely crammed with hidden Easter eggs that only a true fan of the character is going to find.
My only complaint, and it's a trifling one, is that Death's Head willingly refers to himself as a bounty hunter, which is something he always actively avoided doing throughout his history (prefer "Freelance Peacekeeping Agent", yes?) and any person who referred to him as such was likely to find themselves facing the business end of a blaster!
Other than that, what you have here is an incredibly fun first issue that gives Death's Head fresh relevance, and makes him enticing and accessible for newer fans, whilst remaining faithful to everything existing fans know and love.
Buy it and stay healthy, yes?
Transformers UK Fallen Angel #113-120 (1987)
Transformers UK Legacy of Unicron #133-135 & 146-151 (1988)
Death's Head (vol 1) #1-10 (1988)