Written by: James Bonny
Art by: Tyler Kirkham, Arif Prianto and Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: April 28, 2016
I have been taking a bit of flack lately for being a Deathstroke fan (or Deathstork as somebody who thought they were more clever than they actually were put it) and I guess that is a fair and unfair thing to say. I say that because it has been pretty common for my introductory paragraphs to mention that up until a year or so ago, I could have cared less about Deathstroke, Deathstork, Deathdork or even Breaststroke. He was just a badass that would fight the Teen Titans, show up in Arrow, etc. have his fun and then be gone. So, when DC announced they were giving the character another solo go, I agreed to review it on a lark and because of our stupid mission statement of trying to review every book that DC Comics puts out each week. If you asked me then, I probably would have told you that I drew the short straw and laughed about it being my lot in life. How else would you explain my past review queue being filled with books like Stormwatch, Katana and Klarion?!? After a bit of a rough patch to start, however, I found myself enjoying Deathstroke for the simple fact that Tony Daniel and James Bonny were giving readers a straight up action movie style book that wasn't trying too hard to be something it wasn't. Is it the best book of the New 52? No, but if you like it, it has been one of the most consistently enjoyable reads month in and month out. Granted, if you don't like what this book is cooking, then you can change that "enjoyable" to "awful" and that is totally within your rights. Because of that, though, it's in my rights to like it. In conclusion, please don't fall into the trap of thinking you're better or smarter than me because you like Grant Morrison and I prefer James Bonny...at a fancy dinner party, we'd both be looked at as the "morons who read comic books" and that doesn't bother me one bit. As Pat Benatar boldly said at the Yalta Conference way back in 1945, "We are strong, no one can tell us we're wrong, searchin' our hearts for so long, both of us knowing... Love is a battlefield."
Speaking of battlefields, this issue opens up with a flashback of Slade and his buddy, Wardell, in the middle of a pretty awful one. I have said it before, but if you want to know the worst place to vacation in the DCU, Kandaq has to be on that list. Sure, the Fire Pits of Apokolips are up there, but it seems that every week, Kandaq is giving it a run for the money. Unfortunately for Wardell, shit goes very wrong and even though Slade tries his best to save him, there wasn't much he can do. Or was there?!?!
I'll admit that I had no idea what was going on with this Wardell (remember...morons who read comics) so luckily, James Bonny spells it out on the big slash/credits page...Wardell is Lawman. I can't say I was blown away by the reveal as Wardell just was introduced a page before, but as the story continued, I started liking the Lawman a bit more.
After Slade's initial shock of seeing his "dead" partner, we get to see what really happened. Again, it's pure action movie storytelling...left for dead, captured by the enemy, tortured, turned into a metahuman with mind control powers, escaped using those powers, vowed vengeance on his former friend who left him for dead even though the friend really, really thought he was dead. If I had a nickle...This has left one very pissed off guy who we see has gone through an elaborate scheme to get that vengence.
After the long buildup of this story, this issue does feel a little rushed and hurried. I don't know if it's because of having to set this book and character up for Rebirth, but things really fly along here without a ton of explanation. It's only a minor disappointment for fans, but it leads to an issue that is very far from being new reader friendly.
Lawman reveals that everything that Deathstroke has been dealing with the past bunch of issues was all his doing. Rose, Snakebite, Lexcorps, Red Hood...all part of the plan. Sure, some of the things didn't go quite as they were planned, but it all lead a tired and weak Deathstroke to Lawman so he could kill him. That starts a brawl to end it all and it is pretty exciting seeing these guys go at it, but it doesn't end so cut and dry. There are still a few wildcards left in the deck and the biggest one is Red Hood.
The fight continues and I really like Jason Todd and Deathstroke together. It is a partnership of convenience, but they end up saving each other a couple of times. The battle rages on for quite a few pages, but in the end, this is another thing that seemed a little bit rushed. There really is no resolution to it, just a big reveal that leads us to the next issue with some really cool characters.
While I mentioned a couple of times that I think this issue was a bit rushed, I still enjoyed it enough. We got the prerequisite dismemberments and I loved seeing Red Hood and Deathstroke together. I just wish that the Lawman reveal would have carried more weight and that we could have gotten another issue to resolve this arc a little bit better. Still, even though I am sure to get shit for saying it, James Bonny continued giving me most of what I come to this book for and I am looking forward to seeing where things are going and what hints of Rebirth he is going to give us.
Tyler Kirkham's art kicked complete ass in this issue. The action scenes had a great fluidity and his character models were just plain great. Arif Prianto certainly got to use a ton of red in this issue (and every other issue of this series) and while I usually am a jerk who doesn't mention letterers, I love the font Dave Sharpe gave Snakebite. It has really become part of the character for me.
Bits and Pieces:
This issue ties up the Lawman/Rose arc and while it felt a little bit rushed, it should be satisfying enough for fans. Tyler Kirkham's art is anything but rushed, however and I could recommend this issue on that alone. In the end, if you have enjoyed this run of Deathstroke, you will enjoy this issue. If you haven't been a fan, nothing here will change your mind. Just remember...Love is a battlefield.