Deathstroke #12 “Blood in the Water”
Written by Tony Daniel and James Bonny
Art by Tyler Kirkham
Colors by Arif Prianto

We’re covering Deathstroke again, and it’s round two of Deathstroke versus the Suicide Squad! If you didn’t tune in last month, Slade infiltrated Belle Reve Prison after clues led him to believe that his daughter, Rose, was kidnapped by Harley Quinn and other members of the Suicide Squad. The only problem with this: Harley’s kind of crazy, and it’s not clear if she actually did kidnap Rose, or if she even knows where Rose is. But Waller might… Oh, and there’s another problem… Slade just put himself in a position where a number of people want to kill him.

Using an EMP, Slade infiltrated Belle Reve prison, but as a result of the power outage, also freed all of the prisoners from their cells… including his former teammates. As the prison moves into its lockdown protocol, Slade maneuvers through the prison in search of answers pertaining to his daughter’s whereabouts. Last month left off with a potential altercation between Slade and Deadshot bubbling up, but Deadshot wasn’t the only one who wanted a piece of Slade. Black Manta wanted in on the opportunity to get revenge, and didn’t hesitate to take a cheap shot from behind, dragging Slade into his tank.

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This issue picks up with that altercation, as Slade battles to get out of Manta’s water tank so he can even the odds a little. And if he’s going to get the upper hand, then he needs to do it quickly. At the moment he’s on the losing side of a fight, and he has a limited amount of time before Belle Reve goes back online. Outside of Manta and Deadshot, he still has Harley, the Belle Reve prison guards, and the freed prisoners.

One of the prisoners, Snakebite, is particularly dangerous, and is after Waller. Knowing that she’s his only hope at finding Rose, Deathstroke alters his mission to try and get to her first. When his window of time runs out, Slade is forced to make decisions pertaining to what is more important to him: his daughter, ending Waller/ the Squad, or his own life. Lucky for him, he brought in a secret partner to help him on this little mission – a reveal that really has me looking forward to the next issue!

 

The Art: Last month I mentioned how impressed I was with Kirkham’s art, and my outlook hasn’t changed. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that my favorite thing about this issue is the art! Yeah, the story is a fun, action packed romp, but it’s the spectacular art that really carries this issue. I also give Kirkham and Prianto most of the credit for making Snakebite such an intimidating presence. This is a character that conceptually should be really freaky and intimidating, but could easily become laughable if executed poorly. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. Snakebite is every bit as intimidating as he should be, and ultimately has me wishing he would pop up in Suicide Squad from time to time.

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Breakdowns of this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.

Spoiler

The Good: As I previously stated, the art is spectacular. But considering how much action is in this book, I want to tie the two together. The art in and of itself IS fantastic, but the action panels are so strong, that I’m curious as to how good this book would be without it. I would be weary of reading this book without Daniel or Kirkham covering art.

It’s fun. Despite some of the flaws this book might have (specifically the script at times), it’s a hell of a lot of fun! And once you throw in characters that we’re familiar with (Deadshot, Harley, Waller, Manta, and Catwoman), it becomes even more fun! Each character is also represented well, with believable characterization, and considering how some writers butcher characters (I’m looking at you Sean Ryan), this carries more weight for me than it probably should.

Snakebite. I’m not going to lie, when I first saw the cover for next month’s issue with Snakebite on it, I rolled my eyes. Now that I’ve actually read the character and seen him in action, he’s kind of cool. Over the top? Yeah. But he’s freaking brutal! He’s leaving a trail of bodies behind him, and it excites me to see the coming altercation between Slade and Snakebite.

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The Bad: Catwoman. Ok, so aside from looking a little odd, Catwoman isnt’ really bad here. She’s only there for one page, but since her presence in this issue was ruined in the solicitation, it pretty much destroys the fun! Slade meets with someone in Gotham City to hire an accomplice to help him escape Belle Reve. We never get to see the woman, but it’s clearly Selina Kyle. Then there’s a tease of Catwoman ¾ of the way through the issue, and finally the big reveal in the last page… except it’s not a reveal since she’s in the solicitation! Come on DC! You’re literally reading fans the last page of the book, then handing it over with a smug grin on your face saying, “Here you go!” Stop it! Tease aspects, don’t spoil them!

Less focused. This issue was slightly less focused than last month’s. There didn’t appear to be a driving energy that propelled the narrative forward as strongly as the first issue of this arc. I’m honestly not sure if this is a bad thing though, because if we’d rushed through, this story might already have been finished… We’ll have to wait and see.

Catwoman’s costume. I know I praised the art, but seriously, she does look a little weird… right?

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Recommended if:

  • You’re a fan of the Suicide Squad.
  • You’ve been waiting to see the outcome of Deathstroke and Task Force X’s reunion.
  • Snakes terrify you.
  • You’re looking for a book where the art is well worth the cost of the issue.

Overall: Most of the issue is action, so the book is a fast read. As we’ve come to expect with Deathstroke, the creative team doesn’t hold back in regards to graphic violence. But considering the character it features, it needs that edge to keep from feeling like a watered down version of Slade, so the violence is welcomed. Add in the craziness of Harley Quinn and other Suicide Squad members, and it’s one fun ride – even if it is a slight step down in quality from the previous issue.

SCORE: 7.0/10