Publisher: DC Comics
Script: Christopher Priest
Art: Carlo Pagulayan
Release Date: 10th August, 2016
Despite being one of the constant big bads of the DCU since his introduction in New Teen Titans #2 (in 1980!), Deathstroke has always been a hard sell for a solo title.
His first outing in 1991 was a clear attempt at grabbing some Punisher dollars, while more recent attempts in the New 52 have felt unfocused, with creators like Kyle Higgins, Tony Daniel and Rob Liefeld all failing to make something happen.
Thankfully, by the looks of this first issue, Slade Wilson will finally have a book befitting his status, as this looks like nailing what makes him so interesting. Christopher Priest’s Deathstroke is a real terror, a violent and (on the surface at least) amoral killer but with a cold, calculating mind that sets him apart from your average villain. Thus isn’t someone you want on the other side.
Told in a non-linear style through flashbacks to his previous life as a parent and husband, Slade’s failings and regrets are laid out in harsh detail. His relationships with his sons Joey and Grant (who would grow up to become Jericho and Ravager pre-New 52) are tragic, with Wilson’s occasional presence in their lives and lack of any love when he us actually there driving a huge wedge between them. Back in the present and Slade is doing what he does best in Africa, murdering for money and generally being terrifying. There’s a morality in there somewhere there though and it’s here we see the effect his family actually has on him, whether he will admit it or not.
For those interested in the big picture at DC, there’s possibly something going on here too, with Slade’s target being a time-displaced Clock King. An older and more powerful version than we seen in the New 52, is this another pre-Flashpoint character who has slipped into the new reality? And is his time-displacement a result of a certain big blue characters manipulation of time?
Carlo Pagulayan’s crisp, clean art is a perfect fit for a story like this. Coming over like a cross between Gary Frank and Rags Morales, Carlos nails it here. His designs of a grizzled, aging Deathstroke give the character more gravitas than he’s ever had before, while his more mundane characters feel like they live and breathe, something that is going to be essential of this title is as dependent on family dynamics as it looks it’s going to be.
I’m not sure if we need yet another fortnightly DC title, but this is a very, very strong effort and I’ll be along for the ride anyway.
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The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy