Cover by Bill Sienkiewicz
One of the bigger themes that tends to float through Christopher Priest’s work is people being trapped within their own lies. Lies made with the best of intention, but always and inevitably backfiring. The Ray, The Crew, Quantum and Woody, and the most prime example being Black Panther. The final arc of Priest’s initial run on Black Panther dealt with the consequences of an endless sea of lies and manipulations finally coming down to punish T’Challa’s soul when he was unable to discern between lie and truth anymore, thanks to his brain tumor. While that isn’t necessarily the same, given that Slade Wilson is an unrepentant assassin for hire, but the idea of lies plays a big part here.
Slade Wilson is unable to form relationships with anyone he loves, thanks to his having driven almost everyone away with his lies and manipulations; Jericho is trapped by the metaphorical telltale heart (a reference the issue itself makes) of what he did to Dr. Ikon to hide his relationship with him from his father, or Etienne whose upcoming marriage to Jericho is marred by her spying on him for someone else. All those lies finally begin to crash down in spectacular fashion in this issue, it also reinforces that while Slade does indeed care for other people, he’s still a complete monster. It also tests the virtue of Joey Wilson. While he’s a superhero, he’s still someone poisoned by two terrible parents, both of whom have attempted to control him for their own reasons. All of which led to one young man trying to escape his parent’s shadows being trapped by his parent’s actions along with his own.
The book also continues to close in on the Red Lion plot brewing since the Rebirth issue. While that’s now drawn in Raptor (late of the Nightwing book), it’s continued Slade’s being consistently drawn into a really bad crowd, in this case the Red Lion’s attempt to take back control of his country and get his revenge on Slade for betraying him. While the book continues to be an accumulation of continuity like a game of Jenga, and of underhanded betrayal, it’s a testament to the attention to detail that’s characterized this run.
Joe Bennett also deserves accolades for continuing to push out consistent home runs. There’s a variety of notes that need to be hit in any comic, and the range of storytelling: from fights, to emotional moments, and the beat panels of a Priest comic tend to require both exaggeration and nuance. And Bennett’s pencils are given a remarkable amount of upgrade from Mark Morales’ pencils and Jeremy Cox’s colors. It leads to an impressive overall comic that certainly deserves recognition, both as a product of the Rebirth line, and what can come from allowing a comic to explore the outer limits of what it can do without hobbling itself.
4 Confessions out of 5