By Dustin Cabeal
If you had told me that Deathstroke was taking on the gun violence issues of Chicago, well I probably would have skipped this issue. It’s a good thing I read comics, not solicits.
That it exactly what this issue is about, gun violence in Chicago. Sure the Creeper is on the cover and his inclusion not only works for the story incredibly well, but it also gives it a sense of being a true comic. What I mean by that is that superhero comics used to have the characters doing one thing on the cover and then something completely different inside. It was never a bad thing, but at some point, the industry moved to “iconic” covers that could be reused over and over on t-shirts and promotional material.
Some might argue that this comic is tone deaf. It could be, it could be that I’m tone deaf in defending it, but I don’t think writer Priest is trying to say “this is the problem, this is how you fix it.” He’s not so arrogant to try something like that. Instead, the issue focuses on highlighting aspects of the problem and solutions that seem valid. The Creeper and his alter ego, Jack Ryder, act as the counter voice to all this. For every solution offered, Ryder has a long list of reasons why it won’t work and will likely add to the problem. All of this happens during his quest to find Deathstroke who has been hired to seek vengeance against those that have killed the children of a mother’s group.
This issue is fantastic. Usually, I don’t go in for “hot topic” comics because they’re so late to the conversation that they seem dated by the time we get them. It occurred to me while reading Deathstroke #11, that Priest isn’t attempting to be on time with the conversation. He’s just adding and continuing it, and if that’s all this issue does, that’s fine. That’s something we should have with all the other distractions happening. The other thing that occurred to me is that rather than trying to make timeless stories, Priest is just writing good stories that are a snapshot of the world we’re currently living in.
Perhaps that’s why his work has been so damn good on this series and stands out from the rest of DC’s line-up and the rest of the superhero titles out there. He’s not like the bevy of superhero creators out there that are trying to influence the future of comics nor is he trying to make the next Watchmen or notable run on anyone character. Possibly because Priest has realized what the creators of all those notable works already knew, if that’s your goal, to make the next iconic run or classic story, then you’ve already failed. Priest is connecting with society right now, making comments on society right now and if you look at what all the classic standout creators did in their time, it’s the same. They just connected to people and from that came some incredible stories. I’m not going to be so bold as to say this is one of those moments in comics because that requires the test of time.
It would be impossible for me to not mention the art on this issue. It’s quite simply the perfect fit for the story and added to the tone and mood of the story. It also made me feel like a kid again reading comics, those early days in which you’re picking and buying your own titles. Quite frankly, the art team of Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Jeromy Cox is fantastic. I’m becoming a huge fan of titles that have an artist and an inker because there is something special there. Something that makes the book stand out and look different than anything else out there. Maybe it’s just nostalgia catching up to me, but I enjoyed the art in this issue because of how great it looked. There’s hardly any action, but the team manages to make all the dialogue interesting and moody.
If you read my “Best of 2016” list Deathstroke was on it. This issue further assures me that I made a good pick and that there’s a strong potential that the series will end up on this year’s list. The best part is that you don’t need to have read any other issues of Deathstroke to pick up this issue. You can jump on here and join the conversation.
Artist: Denys Cowan
Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Publisher: DC Comics