Deathstroke #26 – Priest, Writer; Diogenes Neves, Penciller; Jason Paz, Inker; Jeromy Cox, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Take Me To Church
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!
Ray: Priest continues to deliver the densest, suspenseful comic in the Rebirth stable, as Deathstroke’s past sins come back to haunt him (and there are a lot of those) and he faces off against his most powerful enemy yet. As the issue opens, Slade is missing in action, leading his oddball team of teen heroes, plus Hosun, Adeline, and Wintergreen to mobilize to track him down. Slade, meanwhile, is in the process of being beaten within an inch of his life by Dr. Isherwood, now transformed into a massive Hulk-like being filled with an endless rage by the virus that saved his life. And when Slade wakes up, having been captured by Isherwood, he’s in…a church? It seems Isherwood has other plans for him besides death. Isherwood has been one of the most complex characters in this run, both a conniving villain and a tragic victim, and this issue finally gives him his spotlight.
Priest always makes great use of flashbacks, and this issue shows us moments like Jericho’s first day as a superhero, Isherwood’s early days with Slade’s team, and what led to the relationship between Jericho and Isherwood. The title’s unique in that we’re essentially coming in twenty-five years into this story, so there’s a lot of stories yet to be revealed to us. The confrontation between Slade and Isherwood over the latter’s relationship with Slade’s son is unique in its context, of course – and yet, it also somehow feels completely in character with any discussion between a parent and a paramour for their child that they’re completely opposed to. This issue draws back to events that we learned about at the beginning of the book, continuing to slowly peel back the onion – and then it drops an unexpected and very welcome surprise guest star in our lap. You never know what to expect from this book, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Corrina: One thing this series has made clear is that Slade Wilson chose the people around him, and in that choosing, found people whose personalities lean toward violence. Oh, not as much as Slade’s capacity for violence but close, in some cases, such as Adeline and Isherwood and even Wintergreen. (Wintergreen is the closest thing this title has to a good guy but Slade is his closest friend, so, clearly, Wintergreen has some issues.)
While Slade is dealing with the results of his being an assassin, Adeline is dealing with her own violent background while trying to “lead” the Defiance team, except her choices are nearly as warped as her ex-husband’s, such as deceiving the team about sending them on a mission. Joseph has kinda figured his parents out and expects the subterfuge but the other team members are catching on as well.
Isherwood, however, gets the spotlight this issue, showing his own descent into bad choices, possibly the worst of all being his relationship with Joe Wilson. We see that he wasn’t the best choice for Joe, especially with the age difference and his standing as Joseph’s mentor. Isherwood was kinda of a father figure to the boy and it was a somewhat sleazy move for him to become involved sexually with the man Joe became.
Which all leaves Slade stuck in a church to contemplate his sins. The problem is that Slade’s created a world around him that demands he use violence to survive. One wonders if there isn’t an element of a death wish in this turn away from killing, a way to punish himself.
Yes, these are things I think about when reading this brilliant book.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.