Written by: James Bonny and Tony S. Daniel
Art by: Paolo Pantalena, Arif Prianto and Rob Leigh
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: December 23, 2015
I have said so in my reviews and on our podcast, Deathstroke is one of the most consistent books that DC puts out each month. If you like over-the-top action and a crazy amount of severed limbs, you can't go wrong with Slade's adventures and yet this book still seems to be flying under most people's radar. Maybe it's because Deathstroke is kind of a man out of time, an anti-hero that is more in tune with the action packed 80's and the extreme 90's than whatever you would call the times now. To that I cry "nonsense" and argue that this is the perfect time for a former supervillain and point to Deathstroke's fan favorite run in Arrow as well as a movies like the Suicide Squad and Deadpool coming to a theater near you. Anti-heroes are all the rage and Deathstroke is one of the best out there. I guess I should take off my public relations blazer off (it's bright yellow) and don my reviewer cap and get on with the job at hand. Does this issue continue everything I've enjoyed in the series up until now? Let's find out...
If you remember, Catwoman showed up at the end of last month's issue and I had a problem that Slade didn't seem to know her. I asked James Bonny (name drop count: 1) about it and he promised it would be resolved in this issue and it is, almost immediately. It wasn't that he didn't recognize her, it's that she showed up a bit early to the party. It's funny what hundreds of military commandos can do to even the best laid plans and I guess Selina figured that a dead Deathstroke equals no payday. She definitely provides some much needed assistance and her arrival also gives the reader a kick ass full page spread of her, Deathstroke and Harley Quinn kicking some Black Ops ass.
We then catch up with one of the main reasons I was looking forward to this issue...Snakebite. James Bonny did a good job introducing the villain last month and he's just as disgustingly bad this issue. The only problem I had here is that Tyler Kirkham wasn't on art this month and while Paolo Pantalena did an okay job with the character, I preferred Kirkham's version. It makes it harder with Kirkham doing the cover this month.
Snakebite immediately reminds everyone of his hatred of eyeballs and then gets back at the task at hand...Amanda Waller. On the surface, she is his ticket out of Belle Reve, but there is something more sinister at work here. The best part is that it sets up an awesome story down the line that could (and should) cross over with the Suicide Squad book. Fingers crossed.
It's now a race against the clock (and a bunch of villains) to get to Waller before she is killed. That's the fun part of this issue...if Harley is telling the truth, Deathstroke has to save Waller so that he can kill her to save his daughter. Of course, Harley hardly ever tells the truth and she finally comes clean with Slade. I half expected him to just shoot her in the face, but the fact that she's in about ten books right now kind of takes that off the table. That and a big explosion followed by a gang of escaped prisoners with pain on their minds. That pain is quickly replaced by bullets.
During this very brief distraction, Snakebite has taken Harley to add to his Suicide Squad collection and while Deathstroke tries to bargain with him, Snakebite has everything he needs already. The best part of this scene is Harley. As the two big bads go back and forth, Harley just gets more and more bored. She is a woman of action and her complaining gets her tossed aside which gives Deathstroke a window of opportunity. He may have tossed his guns aside, but any Deathstroke fan worth his salt knows that still leaves his katanas and the battle begins.
James Bonny uses the battle to give us more mysterious information about Snakebite and why he has taken Waller. It's connected to Deathstroke and while it doesn't appear to have anything to do with his daughter, you can't help but wonder. The actual fighting is pretty exciting with Deathstroke severing Snakebite's stingers (have to keep up with the severed limb quota), Snakebite poisoning Deathstroke and both of them proving how badass they are. It ends with Snakebite doing his best Hans Gruber impersonation and with Christmas upon us, it was a nice holiday touch. What, Die Hard isn't one of your favorite Holiday movies? You're all a bunch of Scrooges!
Snakebite might be gone (for now?), but his poison is coursing through Deathstroke's veins and even with his healing factor, it's kicking his ass. While it's taking effect, Waller calls in backup and when they arrive, Deathstroke continues the movie charades by pulling a Fugitive. The issue ends by giving us confirmation that the major players are still in the game and then drops a huge bomb. We see the mysterious man behind all of Slade's problems and also who is working with him. Fans of the book will be so pumped up to see a little behind the curtain, but I don't think Deathstroke is going to be as thrilled when he finds out.
Everything I said in my introduction is still true. James Bonny has given us another action packed thrill ride that reads fast and furious while still pushing the story forward. The mystery of what happened to his daughter, Rose, just got a bit more personal and whole lot murkier. It's all a day in the life of our favorite masked assassin and I wouldn't want it any other way. As far as Snakebite goes, I like him as a villain and love him as a Deathstroke villain. He is a threat to Slade and almost killed him here and I want a rematch!
I already talked a bit about Paolo Pantalena's art and while it may have came across as disparaging, I liked what he did in this issue. It's just that having a change of artist the issue after a big villain introduction gave Snakebite a little inconsistency and that's a shame. Like I said, I liked everything else in the issue and Paolo did a good job with the action scenes this book thrives on.
Bits and Pieces:
This issue is another action movie come to life and that's exactly why I like it so much. James Bonny sets up the situation and then lets the characters go at each other and it's all great fun. Gun fights, sword fights, missing daughters, military commandos, explosions...if that doesn't sound cool, you ain't no friend of mine.