Deathstroke: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)

Deathstroke

CREDIT: DC Comics

Rating: 4/5 – The Perfect Mix of Backstory and Forward Story Momentum.
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this comic and I really shouldn’t have been.  Christopher Priest has been writing comics since 1980 and has done highly acclaimed runs like Quantum & Woody & the 1998 run of Black Panther.  I’ve not really been a big Deathstroke fan since the days when Marv Wolfman was writing the character, but now I hope I can add another writer to my singular list of writers who put a Deathstroke I enjoy onto the page.

Priest mixes backstory to set the stage for people unfamiliar with the character, as well as reminding lapsed readers about who the major players are, along with action scenes and forward story momentum.  The story shifts back and forth between multiple time periods.  These kinds of shifts in time can be disorienting and take me out of the story trying to figure things out when handled by journeyman writers.  Handling this story structure is not a problem for Priest as he deftly switches back and forth keeping my attention and comprehension on point at every turn.  We see the kind of man Slade Wilson is in his interactions with his two sons  and in how he performs his job as a mercenary. Carlo Pagulayan & Jason Paz do a nice job on art.  Getting Deathstroke’s mask off certainly helps sort some of the timeframes out as we move from “Slade with both eyes intact” to “blond hair & an eye-patch” to “white hair and an eye-patch”.

We’ve got Pagulayan on art until issue #2, and then it switches over to Joe Bennett with #3.  I think their styles are similar enough that it should not be a jarring visual shift, but the rotating art teams that change mid story arc continue to be my biggest gripe about most of the DC bi-weekly series.

Priest’s Deathstroke is definitely not a good guy, but he has a sense of honor and does what needs to be done.  There is a conflict because his sense of honor drives him to do what he feels needs to be done, though through the lens of what is nominally considered ‘civilized society’ his actions are often what would be considered to be bad.  This makes the character interesting to me.  There are layers of complexity that Priest has built into the character and the story that make it more than a simple “Deathstroke is a bad-ass mercenary who is out doing what he does best” tale.  If this kind of layered storytelling continues, I’ll be sticking around for the long haul.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
(bob@comicspectrum.com
)
https://comicspectrum.com/ Covering the full spectrum of comics culture

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