Friday, April 17, 2020

Deathstroke: Rebirth #1 (2016) Review


Written by: Christopher Priest
Art by:Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, Jeromy Cox and Willie Shubert
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: August 10, 2016

This is one of those books that is getting a little less hype than some of the other titles.  I get it, Deathstroke is not really a household name and being an anti-hero is a tough sell.  Unlike a lot of people, I really enjoyed the New 52 Deathstroke for it's over the top action movie vibe.  However, this is Rebirth and I am going into it with an open mind.  Will Christopher Priest continue sending me down the road to truly loving Slade Wilson?  Let's find out...

 The issue opens with a flashback to the good, old days...actually, they aren't that good at all.  Christopher Priest throws us into a cold opener that's colder than most.  A young Slade has been camping with his two young kids and he is not going to be receiving any Father of the Year awards anytime soon. It does have a nice shoutout to Deathstroke's past and clicks in with the whole "legacy" thing that Rebirth has been pushing. All in all, it's a quick scene that gives you a little background and a whole lot of hate towards Slade Wilson as a person.

These Rebirth issues have mostly been about setting the tone of the upcoming series and I can truly say that Priest sets a tone right away here.  Deathstroke has always been an anti-hero, but I can say that as this issue started, I wanted to slap him upside his head.  He is a dickhead and that's exactly how Christopher Priest wants to write him.  Is that a good thing?  I'm not really sure just yet.

That continues as we head off to the present (?) where Slade is involved in a deal with Ja Zaki, the Red Lion.  It's not about the who or the where or really even the what here.  It's all about Slade getting the job done...but what job and what does it mean to "get it done".

I'll admit that this part was a little bit confusing.  I am a moron, so maybe it was just me, but I think that Priest is keeping things from the reader to present a bit of controlled confusion.  We see a young boy working with Slade (MAybe the legacy character?) almost in an Oracle capacity and the cross and doublecross going on is hard to get a full grip on without really knowing who is involved.  That does not make it bad, however, as it feels like we are watching Slade go about his "usual business" and he doesn't have a lot of time to stop and explain things to us.

After another flashback that introduces another character close to Slade, we again see him to be an uncaring ass.  Maybe it's more the case of tough love, but I'll stick with ass.  We then head back to see who he has been contracted to kill.  I won't spoil it, but it's a character I love, but find very odd to be in his current situation.  Again, Priest is keeping the cards close to his vest and not telling us much, but what we do get is trippy and bizarre and pretty damn cool.  It also leads us off to the book's ending with a word that might as well have been "Rosebud" for all the mysterious importance it seems to have.

That ending is where most of this issue's action takes place and it's pretty  fun in a brutal way.  The cliffhanger is a surprise ending, but more in a story wrapping itself around itself like a literary Ouroboros than a "holy shit, I can't wait to see where this goes" way.

I do want to see where this all goes, but right now, I am not even sure if I like this book or not.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but I just don't have a grip on what Christopher Priest is doing here. This issue certainly didn't make me like the character at all, but yet, I want to continue following him around to see what he's going to do next.  I guess that's what an anti hero is all an accident that I know I shouldn't look at, I end up staring at even more.

Luckily, Carlo Pagulayan's art make it a pleasure to look at.  It is gritty and realistic and while Priest made me not like the character of Deathstroke, Pagulayan made me love the character model.  We don't get a ton of Deathstroke here, but what we do get looks incredible.

Bits and Pieces:

For me, the jury is still out on whether I am looking forward to Christopher Priest's Deathstroke, but I am intrigued.  It's a weird combination of kind of liking what we get here and wanting to know what the hell I just read.  I do know that I really like the art and will be back to hopefully get more of a gage of what's going on and whether I like it or not.



  1. In interviews, Priest talked about making it clear that Slade is a selfish and unheroic merc. There will probably be a lot of morally gray to cover.

  2. No disrespect to Sinestro or Red Lanterns, but this might be the best anti-hero/villain book that DC has put out in a long time. A superhuman merc in a world influenced by real-life politics? Yes, please.

    1. that is a bold statement after one Rebirth issue...but we shall see. One thing I really hate in comics, though, is real life politics...I avoid that in real life!

  3. Not a huge fan. I thought this would be much more fun. I didn’t care for the political part of this. I come to comics to escape the real world. All I really got out of this was that Slade is a POS and that Wintergreen is important to Slade. Hope this gets better and has less politics in the future.