Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Christopher Priest
Artwork: Joe Bennett, Norm Rapmund
Release Date: 19th April 2017
It’s just quietly burning away in the background, but Deathstroke might, just might be the best book DC is currently putting out.
Christopher Priest is spinning a tale that’s as complex and as dark as its protagonist, full of double and triple crosses, conspiracies and extreme violence, but with a traditional family drama at its very heart.
Slade Wilson has always had a little more depth to him than your average villain, ever since his introduction in New Teen Titans back in the early ’80s, but nobody has ever given him as much as Priest is doing here.
Wrapped in another beautiful cover by Bill Sienkiewicz (it’s worth buying for that alone, tbh), Priest’s latest big arc “Twilight” comes close to its denouement here when Power Girl discovers her new ally is actually the world’s greatest assassin, Rose confirms her worst fears about her long-lost family, and Joseph’s past comes back to bite him on the eve of his wedding to Etienne, who has not only been sleeping with his dad, but is also on the payroll of his mum. Ooft.
It’s complicated stuff, with pretty much every character playing off against each other, but Priest balances it all beautifully so you’re never lost. Instead, what you are is regularly blown away by every revelation, no matter how outrageous.
Right at the heart of it all is Slade Wilson himself. He’s a flat-out supervillain, no doubt about it, but there are layers here that just bring him to life. His dysfunctional relationship with his children is brilliantly realised, for example. He wants to spend time with Rose so puts a hit out on her. He wants her away from the assassin life so… well, that’s something to find out in this issue. Put it this way, Slade Wilson has a unique approach to parenting.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s never any shortage of intense, violent action in this book, and rightly so, but it’s Slade’s interactions with everyone around him that really make it sing.
Speaking of action though, Joe Bennett and Norm Rapmund absolutely nail it here. The pair have a real knack with the kinetic side of storytelling, running the fight scenes from panel to panel so well you can almost see the movement, with a good eye for when to close in and when to pull back, while still managing to feel equally at home during the intense talking head scenes. They’re just the perfect team for the story Priest is telling here.
Saying that, those Sienkiewicz covers are outrageously good, so you can only imagine what he could do with an issue all to himself.
Anyway. Deathstroke. The best DC book on the shelves right now? I think it just might be.
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The Writer of this piece was: Jules Boyle
Jules tweets from @Captain_Howdy