Deathstroke #31 – Priest, Writer; Carlo Pagulayan, Roberto Viacava, Pencillers; Larry Hama, Breakdowns, Jason Paz, Inker; Jeromy Cox, Colorist
Ray – 9/10
Corrina: Such a Terrific Bruce Wayne
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: “Batman vs. Deathstroke” continues in Deathstroke #31, a wild, action-packed issue with a split narrative as the war between the DCU’s two smartest warriors kicks into high gear. The issue picks up with Deathstroke and Wintergreen flying over Saudi Arabia making plans when a missile takes out their plane, forcing a hasty evacuation – and crash landing, for Deathstroke. They’re met on the ground by Batman, who is not actually what he appears to be – this is one of the oddest moments of the issue, as I don’t usually expect to see Batman sending random doppelgangers to intimidate the most dangerous people in the world. But then, this war is new territory for both men, and as this segment makes clear, Deathstroke isn’t even quite clear why Batman is doing this. One of the best little touches of the issue is the narration provided by Jericho and Robin (Dick Grayson, in a flashback) that gets to the core of their screwed-up dads.
The Batman half of the narrative is actually dominated by Bruce Wayne, as Slade makes his move against where his rival is most vulnerable – corporate espionage. Waynetech’s new cell phone prototype is stolen, holding a chip with proprietary technology that the government has a massive investment in, opening Bruce to legal and financial ramifications if it’s not found. Bruce tracks down the robber and gets on Deathstroke’s trail soon after. Deathstroke, meanwhile, is still stuck in the Saudi desert, battling to survive against a mysterious assassin – who turns out to be Talia, who has her own secrets to tell him. It’s an action-packed, suspenseful story that really excels now because of the superheroics but because of the small moments. The interactions between Alfred and Wintergreen, where they both try to keep their wayward bosses under control, is easily my favorite part. It’s another great chapter in a run that’s quickly turning into one of Priest’s masterworks.
Corrina: So you know sometimes a story has something that’s just so awesome that no matter what the rest of it is like, you love it anyway?
This issue has two of those moments, one a follow-up to the other. The first is when Bruce tracks down the thief and claims to have found him via Sherlock Holmes-style detective work, then Bruce is later called out on that lie, because he really tracked the thief a much simpler way. Then Batman gives a similar Holmes-like explanation to Deathstroke, and Slade calls him out on it. It’s funny and insightful, and probably one of my favorite Batman character things in the last few years.
But, hey, the rest of the story is good too! There is the narration from Jericho and Dick Grayson, there is the action sequence as Slade’s plane is attacked, where the art shines (see above), and the reveal with Talia at the end.
About the only niggle I can find is that it was unclear to me at first if the Wintergreen in the plane was physically in the plane or a figment of Slade’s imagination. (It’s getting hard to tell the AI Wintergreen from Real Wintergreen.) And, contrary to Ray, I thought that Talia hired the Batman to face Slade in the desert but I could have read that wrong.
Dammit, I need Priest to write a regular Batman comic and I NEED IT NOW. This was my favorite Bruce Wayne in ages.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.