Writer: Christopher Priest
Artist: Larry Hama, Carlo Pagulayan, and Jason Paz
Cover: Bill Sienkiewicz
Deathstroke has been on a roll lately. Each issue has more or less been from strength to strength, but the overall story has beens fascinating. While in some respects its resembled an inversion of the arc Christopher Priest used during his run on Black Panther (i.e the title character having a condition that renders them unable to act and is increasingly isolated from the people they care about.), it’s also a great vehicle to show just how much Slade Wilson has thoroughly ruined his own life by being a supervillain. One of the only people who care about his safety is someone who doesn’t know who he is, while his children want him and his influence out of their similarly ruined lives. The Shakespearean influence is palpable, and it comes home to roost when Slade is struck blind for his deeds in life.
In a continuing effort to create simultaneously the most disorienting and engaging book on the stands: Priest adds one of DC’s most recent characters into the mix: Tanya Spears aka Power Girl. While it’s odd at first blush to add a character that’s essentially a close analogue to Ms. Marvel, to a book that’s essentially Sopranos but with supervillains, it works as a counterbalance preventing Slade from becoming too dominant. She’s someone who he can’t intimidate or actively manipulate, and worse yet needs her help in order to function now that his body has turned against him. The only thing stranger than a bubbly church-going superhero featuring in this book is seeing Slade from a place of physical vulnerability. Like with Black Panther, Priest has built up Slade as a force of nature only to tear that down, and even if “Twilight” is a great punchline, it’s still fascinating to watch.
As usual a lot of respect needs to be given to the litany of great artists that have graced the pages of Deathstroke. Larry Hama returns for breakdowns, as do Carlo Pagulayan on pencils, and Jason Paz on colors. Together they form one hell of a storytelling machine. A Priest script wouldn’t work half as well without a well-oiled team like this, the beats are as funny as ever, and there’s some truly brutal visuals with a brooding Jericho at the nadir of his vitality, as well as Slade Wilson as vulnerable as a remorseless assassin can be. Paz’s colors in particular work with the black and white superhero world of Joey Wilson beginning to literally bleed into the grays of his father’s, as well as the strange visual of Slade Wilson with a seeing-eye dog. Altogether you’re getting what’s most definitely one of the best books on the stands, and at a price that’s beginning to become a curiosity in comics. Get on it now.
4 Seeing Eye Dogs Out of 5