Before IDW’s acquisition of their licenses, Marvel was the main locale for most of Hasbro’s licenses for their toy properties, publishing comics for Transformers, Rom: Space Knight, and even Team America. These comics lasted for a while and Marvel eventually ended up creating new villains, which they were allowed to keep when the rights to the licenses reverted back to Hasbro. One of these new villains was Death’s Head, a robot assassin created for Marvel’s Transformers comics. Death’s Head has enjoyed a bit of a resurgence recently, as he appeared during Infinity Countdown in 2018, but that could not have prepared anyone for his solo series the following year. Tini Howard and Kei Zama do an excellent job bringing Death’s Head back into comics, and especially do a wonderful job connecting him with the rest of the Marvel Universe.
The book has a fairly comedic tone throughout, but is not a comedy book. It opens with Death’s Head waking up in the middle of a rock concert, where it quickly becomes clear that his body is being used as an amplifier. While he reboots, Death’s Head restores his memory from his last backup, which reveals that his employer Yondu has replaced him with sexy new robot assassin models. After a brief fight, Yondu drops him out of his spaceship all the way down into a dumpster on Earth.
After this embarrassing backstory, the issue proceeds into its second half, which introduces Billy Kaplan and Teddy Altman — fan favorite Young Avengers Wiccan and Hulkling. Howard is a fan of these two characters and it shows, as their interactions and dialogue feel perfect from the very first panel. There are a lot of small inside jokes and references that would be incredibly rewarding to longtime fans of these characters, but also serve as exposition for newer readers, allowing them to get acquainted with these beloved characters. After Billy and Teddy contain Death’s Head, the book spends a little time letting them breathe and showcasing their relationship, and it’s absolutely delightful. The issue ends with Death’s Head escaping again, and revealing a very surprising secret in Wiccan’s home.
Kei Zama’s art is absolutely incredible throughout this issue. Zama got her major start working on IDW’s Optimus Prime series, which made her a great fit to draw a solo book for a former Transformers villain. Her style mixes perfectly with the grimy robotic style that Death’s Head requires, and she does an excellent job depicting and choreographing the action scenes. Death’s Head emotes just as much as the organic characters do, and Zama does a great job using the art to give each character a personality beyond the writing.
For a solo series about a character that many fans would be fairly unfamiliar with, Death’s Head is incredibly easy to get into for beginners and longtime readers alike. It’s a very fun book with excellent character writing and plot and gorgeous art. Fans of Death’s Head, the Young Avengers, or just Marvel in general would do well to pick this series up.