Paul Jenkins and Carlos Magno's "Deathmatch" #11 takes the competitors down to the "final two" as our heroes battle it out in this fascinating series. Strong work by Jenkins and Magno manages to keep things interesting, even as the narration gets painfully thick.
To be honest, a lot of Jenkins' explanation in this issue is well over my head (not to mention pay grade), and there is a lot of it to wade through. The issue is fair amount of talking heads, explaining the mysteries behind the plot up to this point. That's not usually an optimum track for a book to take during this stage in the game, but there are a few reasons that this works better than I feared.
Jenkins doesn't backtrack and say that the characters that have died are not actually dead. That was a fear I had all along and while there is still room for it to be reversed (we are messing with time at this point, so all bets are off), so far Jenkins is holding the line. Also, while there is perhaps an unreasonable amount of explanation via naked exposition, the explanations are both earned (i.e. this has clearly been planned all along) and Jenkins makes a real effort to intersperse the narration with the action in a way that makes for compelling reading.
For his part, Magno has done a phenomenal job with this series from issue one as he has created a believable and rich world from scratch and been effortlessly consistent in his execution of said world. This issue is no exception as he does his level best to make the talking heads portions of the book as visually engaging as possible, while hitting it out of the park when it comes to the action scenes. Magno's storytelling is strong throughout with smart pacing, clear action and powerful acting. His level of detail, whether it be the special effects of a super power being used or the fine stitching on a costume, is exceptional.
"Deathmatch" has been a great surprise. While this issue lays it on thick, and not everyone will feel satisfied by the complex explanations, it's still a fascinating book with excellent stakes that feel earned. As a reader, I'm anxious and excited to see what Jenkins and Magno will do next month, and the future beyond that is rife with potential.