It happened again, but Christopher Priest managed to top himself. Last issue was the end of an era of sorts for both writer and character. The last year was defined by the Shakespearean tragedy of the Wilson family’s machinations against one another, it was punctuated by it all coming out with Joey “Jericho” Wilson beating his father and his sister into a coma and ended with Deathstroke finding clarity and awareness inside the Speed Force at the end of last month’s Lazarus Contract crossover. The question is now what does an assassin who’s found God, a renewed sense of purpose and is now attempting to make amends do next? The answer is not entirely that different. Even on the side of angels, Slade Wilson is still a very shrewd and manipulative man.
Priest milks that premise for all it’s worth. While Slade is ostensibly attempting to do good, his methods for engendering those good deeds aren’t different from what he used to do for a living. What also ends up making this situation even more tense is that no one around him is necessarily certain if Slade’s change is even real, or if this isn’t another attempt to trick them into helping him with something. That unsteadiness, that mistrust and moral murkiness that defined the first year of Deathstroke continues anew here, some things simply don’t change.
Diogenes Neves also makes his debut on this issue of Deathstroke and there’s a lot to help establish him here. Between the opening action scene, Deathstroke’s final adventure and the debut of the titular Team Defiance (not Titans), there’s a lot to chew on here. Jason Paz continues with colors here and gives Neves a visual linkage to the artistic consistency that’s helped define the Rebirth era of this book. While the book has made subtle changes, that coloring also helps the new white and black costumes of Team Defiance stand out from the more usually garish superhero/villain costumes.
If you’re looking for a good jumping-on point for Deathstroke, this is it. It’s a great exploration of what happens when an unrepentant bad guy attempts to “break good” so to speak, as well as a delightfully toppling of what’s sure to be a tragic set of dominos. So, game on for this new era of Deathstroke, and I look forward to seeing where it goes next.
4 Defiances out of 5