You know what I like about Deathstroke? I can always count on it to be entertaining! That might sound odd considering this book is about an assassin that does his fair share of dismembering people, but it’s always fast paced, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Yeah, there are times that it kind of reminds me of action flicks from the early 90’s – I mean, the main villain at the moment is a guy named Lawman – but who doesn’t like heavy action with a side of cheese every now and then?
Since the beginning, Deathstroke has placed a spotlight on Slade’s family. Much like his life has been up to this point, his focus is career first, family second. Now that he’s older though, Slade is attempting to put more of a focus on his children. The problem is, that’s not exactly what Rose and Jericho want. Despite making attempts to become the father they deserve; they’ve chosen to continue a life without him. Unfortunately, fate doesn’t always care about your wants.
The current arc started with the abduction of Rose. Deathstroke practically took a skip around the DC Universe featuring one guest appearance after another. With heroes and villains such as the Suicide Squad, Catwoman, Lex Luthor, and Red Hood, popping up, it’s practically been a who’s who of DC’s finest… or maybe DC’s second string. Regardless, I’m more of a fan of the “underdogs,” so I’ve been satisfied.
Eventually, Deathstroke discovers that the person behind all of this is an old acquaintance that he believed to be dead, Lawman. To make matter worse, one of Slade’s informants and friends, Victor Ruiz, has been double crossing Slade this entire time. All of Deathstroke’s fights and battles leading up to this point were strategically mapped out to wear him down… and they were quite successful in doing so. With Deathstoke in a weakened state, Lawman saw this as the perfect opportunity to kill Slade, and with the likes of Snakebite, Ruiz, and a mind-altered Rose on his side, there appeared to be no hope for our favorite assassin. Fortunately, he has a few tricks of his own an puts up a worthwhile fight after breaking Rose from Lawman’s control. Although their efforts are valiant, the two aren’t able to top their adversaries, and are done for… until Jericho arrives with Ra’s al Ghul!
This issue jumps forward eight weeks. Slade, Rose, and Jericho are taking shelter in Nanda Parbat with Ra’s blessing. Deathstroke knows that Ra’s is working an angle, but he also knows that this is the best option to insure he’s family’s safety. As Rose continues to recover from Lawman’s mind control, Slade makes it a mission of his to take out every single person working under Victor Ruiz and Lawman. But while Slade makes his moves, Lawman is also making his, and believe it or not, he’s answering to someone as well!
Although this issue dips a little in quality compared to the previous chapters, it is still a fun, action packed delivery from Bonny. I will admit that Slade’s adversaries are starting to feel less threatening with each issue, but other elements keep coming into play, and that is holding my attention for now. The best part about this book, is Slade’s mission to win back his kids though. The weight of this arc gives this book enough depth to prevent it from being a shallow, emotionless, action adventure of the month!
The Art: Paolo Pantalena (Red Hood/ Arsenal) covers art duties for this issue. I thought the art was strong, but it does have a heavy anime feel to it, and that’s not something I’m too fond of. There’s just something about the pointy noses and eyes that bugs me, but again, that’s strictly personal taste. And while I did notice a difference in the art, it wasn’t distracting by any means. Despite my dislike of certain elements of Pantalena’s work, other aspects are good. Prianto also remained on colors, so that helped provide a consistency from issue to issue, and allowed the transition of artists to feel more streamlined.
Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.
World’s Greatest Assassin. A while back, Jay and I were joking about how Deathstroke is often referred to as the world’s greatest assassin, but most of the time he’s featured, he’s getting his butt kicked… Even in his own title, he tends to lose quite a few battles (granted, he comes back to win the “wars,” but still). Because of that, it was nice to see him completely own a couple of low-life muscle at the beginning of this issue. It took me back to this books debut, it just wasn’t as good as Tony Daniel’s work.
The arrangement. If Ra’s al Ghul is written well, throwing him into any equation will make that situation more interesting. The best thing about Ra’s, is that he’s often understated in his actions. Usually it’s because he’s working a long game, so anytime he’s offering services that don’t directly benefit him, you should be weary. This situation is no different, and Slade is fully aware. While Slade is compensating Ra’s for the shelter, he knows that Ra’s wants Rose and Jericho for his league. This is causing Deathstroke to tiptoe around Ra’s recommendations, and is preventing him from completely focusing on his mission.
The Puppeteer. As it turns out, Lawman’s abilities have a lasting effect on the people he controls, and it allows him to gain control of them even when they’re separated. I didn’t foresee this, so it makes Lawman and his abilities a little more interesting. It also sets up an obvious plot point though… More on that later.
Opportunities. Ah… as expected, Ra’s waited for the perfect opportunity, and is making his move. Yes, this was completely predictable given the lead-up, and I would typically place something so obvious in “The Bad” section, but I’m curious to see what the outcome is, and how Slade navigates it, so it’s up here in the good.
Who comes up with these names? I mean, really? I previously mentioned that I couldn’t take Snakebite seriously, but after seeing him in action, I warmed up to him. Now we have Lawman, and I’m having a lot of trouble viewing him as an actual threat. Part of it is probably because every time I read his name, I verbally say, “Lawman” with a gruff, country/western draw… I’m going to mention another character from another company, so don’t kill me, but I can’t help but think he’s a cheap, knock-off of Killgrave from Marvel, but with a bad western cliché… I mean, the dude operates out of an old courthouse… Oh, and to make matters worse, they’ve now introduced a new player, Mystasia… I rolled my eyes when I reached that point. I think the letters had a role to play in that though.
On a side note, I’m not sure if you noticed, but there’s someone else sitting with Lawman, Mystasia, and Snakebite while they talk to Victor Ruiz via a video conference. That’s either a grunt, or we’re going to have ANOTHER villain revealed soon. And take a look at that dialogue in the image below. Remember when I said 90’s action flick? Yeah… They should just call themselves the “Evil League of Evil.”
The Puppeteer (Part 2). I mentioned Lawman’s control over Rose would be obvious… here it is. They establish Rose can still be controlled by Lawman. Rose almost hurts her dad by accident. Slade refuses Ra’s assistance on numerous occasions. So OF COURSE Lawman is going to turn her against Slade and Jericho during the fight… I mean, seriously, everybody should’ve seen this from a mile away. What’s bad, is that while it was predictable, it also had a feeling of “been there, done that.” That’s not a winning combination, kids.
- You think Deathstroke is more interesting when his kids are involved.
- You’ve enjoyed Bonny’s fast-paced run so far.
- Ra’s al Ghul.
Overall: This is easily one of Bonny’s weaker chapters as his narrative suffers from predictability and a rehash of problems, but it’s still a fun book. If you’ve been following this arc, and enjoy it, don’t let the dip in quality discourage you. Bonny could easily bounce back next month, but he’s going to have to keep from falling back on some of these bad habits.