Art by: Mirko Colak, Roberto Viacava, Michael Spicer and Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: June 29, 2016
It's funny saying this, but I am a fan of the Deathstroke book while not considering myself much a fan of the character. Sure, I've grown to like him more and more with each issue I read, but it's more of the action movie vibe that makes me come back month after month. That is the reason I was looking forward to this Annual. Whether Phil Hester knows it or not (it is definitely the "not"), I am using this issue to gauge if I am indeed becoming more of a Deathstroke fan. So, am I? Let's find out...
This Annual takes place after James Bonny's run and while it doesn't spell it out, I'm assuming that also means before the upcoming Rebirth. To me, that also means that it's the typical Annual that will mean nothing a week after it comes out, but that has never been an issue with me when it comes to Annuals. In fact, I kind of like it that way.
The issue starts with Deathstroke heading into the country of Rhapastan and right away, Hester and Mirko Colak set a gritty tone that is a bit less action adventure than I have gotten used to. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, just different.
The tone gets even darker as Deathstroke agrees to his latest job and Hester does a pretty good job of making Deathstroke the most likeable guy in a sea of awful people. It's a matter between clans and while it's not interesting in and of itself, it also involves another assassin who is very interesting...The Balkan.
The issue continues with an escalating series of battles and then after almost dying in a sneak attack, we find out Deathstroke's worst kept secret...he is the Balkan. Yep, Deathstroke is playing both sides to bring the country down from within.
There isn't much to take down as Deathstroke travels through a country ripping itself apart and we learn that even that is all part of the plan. We finally get the whole how and why of Deathstroke's real job and it kind of puts Slade in a more honorable position, but not by much.
The issue ends with a country in ruins and Deathstroke with at least the knowledge that he accomplished what he set out to do...but at what price? By this time I realized that this was not the issue to make me a fan of Deathstroke the man, but that's also the reason I liked this issue. It was a personal and unflinching look at a guy who causes death and destruction for a living and also the damage he leaves in his wake. Sometimes that is a lot worse than the dead bodies and burning buildings.
If you are looking to have some goofy fun with this Annual, you'll be very disappointed. If you want a more realistic look at the life that Deathstroke chooses to live, then this may be what you have been waiting for. I am somewhere in between, so I liked this issue, but did not love it. It was a bit too heavy handed for my tastes, but Phil Hester gives readers a story that will stay with them for a bit after reading the last page.
I art in this Annual was dark and gritty, fit the story well and was pretty damn awesome! Mirko Colak and Roberto Viacava give everything a run-down realistic look and while there wasn't any big splash pages that will make your jaw drop, that's not what this was all about. The art is brutal, personal and 100 % appropriate.
Bits and Pieces:
Phil Hester uses Deathstroke to tell a story of war, revenge and bloodshed. The fact that this is a Deathstroke book seemed inconsequential, but that's not really a bad thing. If you are looking for an issue filled with fantastic art and a moral that goes deeper than throwing aliens into the sun, you will probably really like what Hester is cooking. I tend to like the action movie vibe of the regular Deathstroke book, but even I can't deny the quality here.