Deathstroke #27 – Priest, Writer; Diogenes Neves, Penciller; Jason Paz, Inker; Jeromy Cox, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: What Happened Between Terra and Slade?
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: A lot of this run has been about Deathstroke’s frankly horrific past coming back to haunt him, and there are few corners of Deathstroke’s past more awful than the Terra affair. He seduced a teenage girl, turned her into a living weapon, and used her to destroy the Teen Titans from within before essentially letting her die. This issue does a bit of a saving throw on that, giving her a lot more agency and letting her finally tell her story. The illegitimate half-sister of the Prince of Markovia (the future Geo-Force), she was spirited away to safety as a child to hide her from harm. From there, an orphaned girl with mysterious powers, she was lured into a twisted partnership with Deathstroke. While his treatment of her was still monstrous, this issue at least lets her have her own say in the choices she made – and her current attempt to escape them.
Of course, this is still a Deathstroke comic at its core, and while he may be trapped in a church forced to confront his demons, it’s a testament to Priest’s writing that this winds up being as compelling as any other segment involving the character. Alone with a Priest sent by Isherwood to test him and a psychic projection of Wintergreen, he’s at first focused on escape, but soon his demons – and his son – catch up with him. There’s a lot going on in this issue, including a guest shot with Kenan where Chinese forces are trying to extradite Slade for his past crimes against the country, and the subplot involving the mysterious Willow finally comes to a head. The issue’s packed with action, drama, suspense, and lives in the balance.
It’s just another issue of Deathstroke, and as always has more going on than most books have in an arc.
Corrina: Slade’s seduction of Terra and his use of her to undermine the Teen Titans is one of the most controversial aspects of the original Marv Wolfman/George Perez run on Titans. In the cartoon show, she was reimagined as someone corrupted by Slade and the sexual element removed. And, yet, making her a true pawn also takes away her agency to have chosen to be evil. She was meant to be someone who looked out for herself and cared little for being anything resembling good, though with some attachment to Slade.
Priest’s reworking of Terra borrows from both sides of that coin. His version allows Terra to have chosen to betray the Titans because it was a job, she was selfish, and because she seemed to want Slade–or, at least, believed that sexual interest from him meant she could control him. (One could read that several ways.) Slade is shown as knowing Terra wanted some sign they could be a couple and played on that attraction that for as long as it was valuable for him. He seems to have stopped at kissing and manipulation, while Wolfman/Perez chronicled a full-blown affair. (Note: Slade is not a nice person. Or a good person. At all.)
Where does this leave Terra now? Grown-up with some of her temper in check, with a grudge (understandably) against Slade, and with many choices in front of her. I believe she was brought into this arc to either show how damned Slade is and always will be or, on the opposite side, show that he can be redeemed by helping her (and the other members of Defiant) choose the right path. I’m not rooting for Slade to be redeemed, exactly, but I am rooting for the members of Team Defiant.
But Ikon’s manipulation seems to be the wrong way to go about changing Slade’s mind. I suspect the Good Doctor will pay for that.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.