Deathstroke #20 review


I may have enjoyed covering all of these guest appearances earlier in this run, but Deathstroke is really starting to feel like a chore under this creative team. On a positive note, this is the last issue that we will be reviewing (until Christopher Priest’s run brings in Damian, anyway), so at least I can view this as a last hoorah for a few months!

Alright, now get ready because I’m about to tell you what happens at the end of this issue… I’m not joking…

This issue is officially titled “Spoils of War” but it should really just be called, “Everybody Leaves.” After spending months building up a long arc, the current story unfortunately comes to a close in this issue with absolutely no payoff. Through hordes of guest appearances, a hunt to rescue Rose, and a betrayal by his partner Victor Ruiz, Deathstroke has now reunited with his children and joined the ranks of Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Assassins. Knowing that Ruiz and the Deadly Bastards, along with Lawman, Snakebite, and Mystasia won’t stop coming for his family, Slade aligns Ra’s with his mission, but it comes at a cost – a lifetime of service with the League.

This issue starts with Deathstroke and Ra’s trading blows, as Ra’s claims that he was betrayed. It was a confusing start compared to where the last issue left off, and I found myself wondering if I had accidentally missed a chapter. After taking a moment to double check myself – and consequently confirm that I hadn’t missed anything – I returned to the issue rather begrudgingly.

After the tease of a fight with Ra’s, Bonny jumps the narrative around, refreshing readers that Deathstroke’s stipulations that Ra’s only take him and not his children, but as it turns out, this coup to recruit Rose and Jericho may not be Ra’s idea after all. Coming to an agreement that the entire family’s service is the best answer for now, together they set out with Ra’s and the League to finish Deathstroke’s quarrel. During all of this, Slade continuously repeats the idea that Ra’s is up to something and only working an angle… as if we couldn’t figure that out from the last two issues, or the opening scene of this issue. But for whatever reason, Bonny feels the need to beat us over the head with the concept. No, no… by all means, continue beating. Yep, do it another dozen times to make sure you drive your point home.

I would love to say that there’s something new, or of substance in this issue, but honestly, it’s the same set-up and execution that we’ve come to expect. You have your villains, you have your heroes, and you have your heavy handed, cheesy dialogue. Then, there are the fights, which are followed by another fleeing conclusion.

The worst part though, is that this is the last issue, so it’s not like you can tune in next month (granted, that still would have been annoying as hell considering this has been the trend for months now) to learn how the story ends. Nope, this issue is how the story ends… or it’s supposed to be anyway. I can’t find much of a conclusion anywhere in this book, and we are left with absolutely no resolve. Ra’s does, however, reveal his plan – which is partially what leads to the conflict at the beginning of the issue between Ra’s and Deathstroke – but even that has no merit to stand on, and will most likely go nowhere (unless it’s going to tie to something that was in this week’s Detective Comics… I highly doubt that though). But don’t worry, despite the crap ending, there’s still plenty of “tough guy” talk if that’s what you’re looking for. Other than that, I can’t really find a reason to tell you to pick up this issue…


The Art: Much like I’ve given up on this book, it looks like Pantelena has pretty much done the same. He doesn’t appear to have the focus or attention to detail that he did initially, and I can’t help but think he rushed as quickly as possible to just get through this issue. While I wouldn’t say the art is bad, it does look lifeless, give or take a few panels near the end of the issue. He did, however, appear to say screw it, and did draw a guy who had been cut in half though… That was interesting.


Breakdowns can be found in the spoiler tag.


The Good:  Deathstroke Rebirth is right around the corner, and I’m crossing my fingers that Christopher Priest is going to deliver something along the lines of Phil Hester’s Annual, because that was awesome!

Oh… and Slade stabs Victor, so I guess that’s a plus. The dude deserved it.



The Bad: The dialogue. Seriously… somebody call the Evil League of Evil and have them get Dr. Horrible to right some more dialogue for these bad guys. If there’s one thing I hate, it’s a villain that is bad just because he’s evil. I get these are comics, but I want to see some believable motivation, and dialogue that sounds like it’s coming from someone other than an evil “bro.”



The serum. The fact that Jericho conveniently figures out that Ra’s is lying about the serum Rose is taking, is a moment in this issue that I would like to throw my shoe at… I mean, seriously. How convenient is it that his powers enable him to become privy to this by reading Ra’s’ mind in this exact moment? I’ll tell you… It’s EXTREMELY convenient. Also, Ra’s is too smart to let this happen. The dude has been around for lifetimes! Do you really think he’s going to slip up and give his hand away when he KNOWS a teenage psychic is in his presence? No. Give me a break! Bonny doesn’t deserve all of the blame here though. Alex Antone (the editor) should have chimed in to say something… Somebody needs to be there to keep characters in check so that there’s some consistency.



The war. What war is Ra’s talking about? Who knows? I don’t. I’m certain you don’t either. But you know who does? James Bonny. You know who will know ten years from now? James Bonny. Unless, of course, this really does have some connection to what was mentioned in Detective Comics. Again, I think that’s a long shot.



Recruitments. Oh, look at that! Ra’s recruited all of the yahoos (Lawman, Snakebite, and Mystasia)… Somebody please have each of them pop up in a Rebirth title, and then promptly kill them just for the satisfaction of giving this book some closure. Thanks!



Everybody leaves. Seriously… They just leave the island… and that’s the ending… WTF?


Recommended if:

  • If you feel like you’ve been wasting your time with the last few issues, then be prepared because they have nothing on this issue.
  • If you’ve read the entire run, I guess you might as well read it…
  • You want to see Slade’s hair go from jet black to heavy salt-and-pepper within the course of a few hours.

Overall: There are times when books just suck, and you learn to come to terms with it early on. You expect nothing less from that title each month, and you’re able to brush it off, and move on with your day. Then there are books like Deathstroke. This book started strong, and held a solid quality for months, before slowly beginning a decline from good, to decent, to ok, to kind of bad, to meh, then bad, and then finally to this issue, which is “thank God there’s not another issue because I would cry if it got much worse.”

SCORE: 3.5/10