Saturday, July 30, 2016

Deathstroke #20 Review

From the Cradle to the Grave

Written by: James Bonny
Art by: Paolo Pantalena, Arif Prianto and Dave Sharpe
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: July 27, 2016

I have to thank James Bonny for making me a Deathstroke fan.  Actually, maybe I should curse him because I already have enough books to worry about without throwing another one into the mix. However, without trying to sound too much like Ice-T, I Care Now!  While I am still not sure that that caring will extend with Slade into the future, I do know that it is with a bit of a heavy heart that I review Bonny's last issue of Deathstroke.

One of my favorite things about comics is the upfront naming conventions...if are a comic book character whose name is Jim Pyre, it really doesn't matter what you do in life, you will get fire based powers eventually.  That goes with place names as well.  There is a good chance you will see dinosaurs on Dinosaur Island and if you go to Gorilla Island looking for hippos, you will probably leave disappointed.  So, when this issue opens on Danger Island, it's no shock that dead bodies are everywhere and Deathstroke and Ra's al Ghul are fighting to the death.

Wait a minute.  Why are those two a fussin' and a fightin'?  We last left them and Deathstroke's kids, Rose and Jericho, in a happy place, right?  WRONG!  Deathstroke had already agreed to join the League of Assassins in exchange for Ra's saving Rose's life, but in a "this deal is getting worse all the time" moment, the membership seemed to extend to Rose as well as Jericho.  As a father of five, I am always happy when I'm offered the family plan, but Deathstroke is cut from a different cloth. Different strokes...

From Deathstroke's monologue, it is pretty easy to figure out why they are fighting, but we go back seventeen hours to shed a bright light on it.  Deathstroke is furious at Ra's for bringing the kids into the League, but they joined on their own free will...or they were blackmailed.  It's really all semantics at this point since they roll tonight to the guitar bite, and for those about to rock, we salute you. Actually, they are heading to Danger Island at dawn and are really saluting nobody.

We next see the Nova Council and Dead Bastards getting ready for war and everyone but Snakebite seems like they are having second thoughts.  Before you can laugh too much at Snakebites gung ho attitude, though, the fight is on.

I may have mentioned a couple times in passing, that I wasn't so fond of Jericho.  Actually, I've yelled that I hated him every chance I could get.  That is not the case here...damn you, James Bonny!  As they approach Danger Island, he tries to tell his father something (it's obviously about Rose and Ra's secret serum that's keeping her alive), but is interrupted by a rude missile that downs their ride. Jericho saves everyone on board with his mind powers and then subdues a soldier with his mind powers.  Yep, Jericho has mind powers!

At this point, Danger Island is a bloody mess and it looks like it isn't going to change anytime soon. However, when Deathstroke and Gang find Victor Ruiz, Ra's wants him taken alive.  James Bonny has already shown us Ra's disregard for the lives of the enemy in this battle which really nails an exclamation point on this little tidbit.

This is where this issue takes a turn to the awesome for me.  I'm not sure if James Bonny wanted to give a little underhanded finger to the powers that be or just has a really good sense of humor (or both), but Deathstroke goes through scene after scene where he interrupts the major villains of this story and shoots them, slices off limbs and just treats them like the b****es they are.  The only thing that would have made it better would be if he would have killed everyone!

He didn't kill them, though, and that allows them to join the League of Assassins.  Pretty clever, James!  Hopefully someone will use them in the future and you can live off the Snakebite checks showing up in your mailbox every month.  Hey, it worked for Macaulay Culkin and yes, I am talking about that Uncle Buck money he's living off!

The issue ends with truths revealed, parties parting and the Deathstroke book ending in a way that again, shows that James Bonny has a sense of humor.  I would not be surprised if James had a big, red reset button that he slammed with a sly smile while writing this ending.

I have made apologies for liking this book in the past, but as it went on, I stopped because it really did go from a guilty pleasure to something that I enjoyed guilt free.  I am pretty sure this Rebirth thing took Bonny by surprise and derailed a book that was selling well and made him feel like yesterday's news overnight.  You're not yesterday's news, James and I loved the way you ended your series.  If anything, his run on this book made me a fan of his and that may not be the best consolation prize, but it's something, right?

Paolo Pantalena does another great job on this issue and I still think that his Ra's is one of the best I've seen.  During this entire run, the art has been really good and has combined with James Bonny's scripts to make it so much fun to read...just kick ass action movie goodness each and every month.

Bits and Pieces:

James Bonny ends his Deathstroke run by hitting the reset button on the character with a wink and a smile.  Bonny has made me a Deathstroke fan by giving a character known for killing a sensitive side while having everything around him bloody and on fire.  In the end, though, we are all alone...and older...with graying hair...and an eye patch.  At least that's what I've been lead to believe.


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