So, here's a book that might have flown under your radar over the past few months. Penned first by Tony Daniel as writer and artist, before the talents of Tyler Kirkham, James Bonny, and Paolo Pantalena came on board, it’s been a wild ride for arguably the deadliest mercenary on Earth. Issue 20 caps off the series, before Deathstroke: Rebirth begins, and it’s as bloody an end as one would expect of a Deathstroke series, but the ending was also… heartwarming. Yes, we’re still talking about Deathstroke the Terminator here.
Let's recap on the events leading up to Wilson coming to blows with Ra’s Al Ghul. An old friend-turned-foe of Slades’ going by the name Lawman uses Rose to get to her father. Joining with another new villain from the series named Snakebite, (think Copperhead 2.0) under employ of the Nova Council, who “take care” of metahumans who use their powers for gain unrestricted, Lawman and Snakebite are stopped by Jericho and the League of Assassins, who have offered him sanctuary since his earlier appearances.
The League assist, and as Lawman tries to use his mental powers on Rose, Jericho counters and damages his sister in the process. Ra’s offers a potion that requires a daily dose, but in exchange makes Slade pledge loyalty to him and The League. Resigned to their fate as the son and daughter of Deathstroke, Jericho and Rose do the same, as Ra’s claims a war is coming and he will require their aid.
Which brings us to the final hour. The Wilson and Ra’s begin their assault on the base of the Council members and their army, with Slade already considering breaking his oath to Ra’s. Breaking away from their forces, Ra’s, Rose, Jericho, and Slade attack Victor Ruiz, head of the mercenary group called the Dead Bastards, and former friend of Slade turned target. (Seriously, Slade is not the best judge of character.)
As one would expect, Slade isn’t one for taking orders and after another personal offense from Ra’s, Slade defies the Demon’s Head. The battle comes to an end when Jericho uses his powers to reveal deception on the part of Ra’s, and after threatening to destroy them all, Ra’s backs away, taking with him more forces for whatever war he’s planning for.
In the aftermath, Slade finally gets to reconcile with his children, claiming he never wanted the life of a Meta for them, as he starts to age into the grizzled, silver-fox assassin most are familiar with. Jericho and Rose leave their father, as Slade reflects on the path before him as The Terminator.
Paolos’ art is quite impressive, especially on an armored character like Deathstroke, who receives a nice sheen under his hand. Likewise, every fight and every swing of every sword comes across fluid and smooth. He was a prime artist for the book.
James Bonny writes Deathstroke as a perfectly done Anti-Hero. Whether he was teaming up with Red Hood or Wonder Woman, the edge, attitude, and voice of Slade always came across. This series did a lot of world building for Slade and offers a lot of follow-up potential for Rebirth, though with a totally different team, it’s up in the air if it will be followed.
This is the kind of series I would recommend if you’re ready for a new take on Deathstroke. If you want an honest to goodness anti-hero Deathstroke, this series did it. It expanded on his character in ways that haven’t been touched on before and that’s what really got me into this series and what can probably get some of you out there interested to.
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Deathstroke #20 Writer: James Bonny Artist: Paolo Pantalena Publisher: DC Comics Price: $2.99 Format: Print/Digital