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When you launch a crossover involving the Titans/ Teen Titans and Deathstroke, and you title it “The Lazarus Contract” (a clear pull from the incredible “The Judas Contract”), you’re automatically giving yourself some extremely large shoes to fill. Rather than just needing to be good, “The Lazarus Contract” has to face, and ultimately live up to, comparisons of its predecessor. Will this story accomplish that task? Possibly… but it will need to improve over the coming issues.

 

For those of you that don’t know, “The Lazarus Contract” is a crossover event taking place between three separate titles: Titans, Teen Titans, and Deathstroke. Titans delivers the first chapter of the story, and most of the issue is set-up. Abnett has the difficult task of bringing these three titles together, so I don’t want to discredit him, or this issue, too much because of that; however, it does result in quite a bit of exposition.

Out of the three titles involved in “Lazarus Contract,” Titans and Deathstroke are the two dominate titles represented for this first issue. Teen Titans doesn’t come into play until the end of the issue, and even then, it barely plays any role in the plot. I would recommend being familiar with the current runs of both Titans and Deathstroke before jumping into this arc. Is it required? No… But it definitely helps. Abnett tries to give new readers as much of a heads-up/ recap of current events as possible, but experiencing the lead up makes this story more impactful… For Deathstroke anyway.

If you’ve been following Deathstroke, then you know about the twisted plots he’s had involving his kids (Rose and Jericho) as well as his psychotic approach in caring for them. A separate element of Deathstroke has been flashbacks focusing on one of his other sons, Grant – who happens to kick of “The Lazarus Contract” in… (you guessed it) a flashback. Slade’s motivations for this story tie heavily to this opening scene, as well as his flashbacks of Grant and his character arc from his own title. Without this foundation, Deathstroke’s role can feel a little out of character here. Hell, even with the backstory, he still feels a little off.

If you’ve noticed, I haven’t really mentioned the Titans much. That’s because Deathstroke takes up most of the issue. When we do see the Titans, they’re following up on the discovery of H.I.V.E.’s involvement in the Fearsome Five’s plans to steal metahuman abilities (“Made in Manhattan”). There’s more here than meets the eye though, and it becomes clear that some of the Titans may be hiding information. What they’re hiding, and why, remains to be seen though.

This, unfortunately, is one of the more interesting aspects of this issue…. Until Wally disappears of course. Granted, Wally’s disappearance isn’t that interesting, nor is the three to four page setup of where he went/ who took him, but the reason for his disappearance is interesting. I know all of this sounds vague, but not much happens in the issue. And the few moments that are noteworthy, classify as spoilers (which I will, of course, cover in my breakdowns).

When all is said and done, this is just an ok start for “The Lazarus Contract.” I’m still excited for the future of this story though. Despite the shortcomings of lack of exciting aspects in this issue, there’s still loads of potential for what’s to come.

 

The Art:

I kept thinking this was Deathstroke while reading it, but it is, in fact, Titans. Brett Booth covers the art, and while I typically enjoy his work, this issue wasn’t my favorite. He’s reverted back to using awkward layouts, and the panels didn’t resonate with me like they have recently. In no way is the art bad, I just thought that there were some interesting choices made. What I’m mostly interested to see, is how much the rotating artists will impact the story. Having three distinctly different styles could be more distracting than any individual shortcomings.

 

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

Spoiler

The Good:

Lies. The one moment that I’m still circling back to, is Nightwing lying to Lilith. Knowing Dick as well as I do, I know he’s doing it for a reason, but it’s such a Batman move that it surprises me. What I’m hoping, is that he didn’t lie because he knows (or strongly believes) Deathstroke is the villain behind this. I can’t see that as a reason to lie. So hopefully there’s more to this moment than that. If not, I’ll be severely disappointed.

 

Bad Dad. We all know Deathstroke will never win the “Dad of the Year” award. He’s a terrible father. BUT, he has moments where he lets down all of his walls, and you can see how much he cares – even if it’s done in some weird, twisted way. You get to see that here when he comforts Grant in his death, but also in what he’s willing to sacrifice to have his son back. It’s a nice moment, and even more impactful if you’ve been reading Deathstroke to understand how Slade must feel based on his flashbacks with Grant.

 

The Bad:

Why the Suspense? Nearly four pages were spent in an attempt to build suspense around who kidnapped Wally… Maybe the point was to tie back to Dr. Manhattan, or maybe we were supposed to question a number of possibilities, but I felt it was obvious that it was Deathstroke because of the story being told. Maybe it’s just me, but these four pages could’ve been utilized a little better… Plus, there’s NO explanation as to how Wally was kidnapped.

 

Wally & Wally. Why is Wally the leverage to get Wally to fulfill Slade’s contract? I dropped The Flash a while back, so I’m not sure what’s gone down in that book, but as far as I know, these two haven’t met. There’s no emotional connection here, right? I could be missing the point, but I feel like using Wally as leverage is as emotionally effective as using any other random person. I also think it’s just a means to an end to get the Teen Titans involved.

 

Recommended If:

  • You’re down to read anything involving the Titans/ Teen Titans going against Deathstroke.
  • You enjoy stories with a strong father/ son dynamic.
  • “The Judas Contract” is one of your favorite comic book stories.

 

Overall:

The debut of “The Lazarus Contract” is a hard one to judge because there’s so much set-up for the coming issues. In no way is this a bad book but some moments are executed much better than others, while others are just painting by numbers to set the plot up. There’s still great potential for this story though, and I’m excited to read the remaining issues.

 

SCORE: 6.5/10

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