Review: To The Death #1 (FBF Productions)

Deaths Head creators Simon Furman and Geoff Senior reunite for To The Death, and  explosive new comic series thats sees a group of off world soldiers return to earth as heroes, but the manipulative corporation in charge of earth have other ideas.

Publisher: FBF Productions
Writer: Simon Furman
Artist: Geoff Senior, Jim Campbell
Price: £4.99 from Get My Comics

As you would hope in a comic with a title like ’To The Death’ the action begins hot and heavy, on a battle ravaged planet as a group of ass-kicking, tech-ed up soldiers battle alien monsters armed to the teeth with cutting edge weaponry. If you like your comics to start with a bang, then you couldn’t ask for more as the opening pages are a relentless series of explosions and fight scenes as the soldiers take on alien after alien to devastating effect. However there is more to this battle than simple alien destruction. As well as waging war for a giant corporation, the whole thing is being live streamed to a blood thirsty public back home, evoking The Hunger Games or Running Man with it’s media and corporate satire.

As the smoke clears on the battle we are introduced to the team in more depth, from leader Aleksy to team mates Kraken, Flynn and Leone. It’s your usual rag tag bunch of intergalactic soldiers, with echoes of the classic Aliens spaceship scenes when the mix of banter and bravado gets going.

As the team return to earth we begin to learn more about the world with Furman drip feeding us back story via various conversations. We learn about the giant corporation who runs things, the fact that the soldiers are TV stars who perform these daring feats for ratings, and also that Aleksy is about to return home to his family (who he hasn’t seen for years) as a conquering hero and head into retirement. But as you can imagine, the corporation have other ideas which is the impetus for the second part of the story arc.

To The Death is a fantastic slice of all action high energy sci-fi, but with a satirical edge running through it’s battle scarred heart. At the beginning it’s not at all subtle and starts with one hell of a bang, but the way the story begins to take shape and expand is really interesting. The concepts all feel quite familiar (giant corporations, a soldier away from their family, ultra violent entertainment etc.) but Furman expertly weaves these elements together to make something really interesting amid the action packed chaos.

Furman’s long time collaborator Senior also brings his A-game to this series. The artwork has the mixed media approach of Bill Sienkiewicz, the ink splats of early Jae Lee and the high energy action of Frank Miller’s 300 that creates this unique collage of destruction that sets out the world and makes a comic with a very strong visual identity – unfortunately this is an identity which the cover doesn’t quite manage to convey and we’d have liked to see feel less generic.

While the artwork is frenetic and hyper-coloured which works brilliantly for the action scenes, It can be a bit too garish in places though, with digital colours and collaged background making some of the quieter scenes feel more chaotic than they should. However there is usually an explosion or two around the next corner and so it is not too much of an issue for now, but as the story develops we may struggle with this side of things.

As a whole To The Death is a fantastically visceral high energy debut that has exceptional production values (this first issue is a whopping 52 pages!) and looks set to be one of the most interesting and action-packed new British releases of the year.