Review – ‘Deathstroke #33:’ Father and Son Road Trip?

DC This Week
Deathstroke #33 Variant Cover, via DC Comics

Deathstroke #33 – Priest, Writer; Ed Benes, Penciller; Richard Friend, Inker; Dinei Ribeiro, Colorist

Ray – 9/10

Ray: Priest always packs a lot of different genres into his books, but it’s rare that he manages to weave comedy and high drama as effectively as he does in this issue. The moment I opened this issue, and saw Slade and Damian in disguise as a grumpy old man and a normal all-American boy, I knew I was in for a good time. Last issue put more doubt into Damian’s mind about his parentage when he found out that Red Robin left him a mysterious videotape with the evidence that Slade is his real father. (This story was revealed to take place shortly after Tim’s “death” early in Rebirth, which kind of throws a lot of things into question – so is this happening before previous Deathstroke stories?) Now, Damian is seeking answers from his father’s nemesis, even though Slade himself also agrees that this is nothing but a fake-out by someone looking to set Batman and Deathstroke at each other’s throats. The best material in this issue comes from Deathstroke and Robin playing off each other, with both being so genre-savvy that they can spot each other’s tricks a mile away.

Not your average father-son road trip. Image via DC Comics.

Priest always loves to pull from obscure DC continuity, but the addition of Nightshade – a former Suicide Squad member and magical anti-hero who hasn’t appeared in a long time – still took me by surprise. She adds something new to the story that Slade can’t really plan for – magical powers that his IKON suit is near-powerless against. Slade has agents everywhere, and the way he puts Robin to the test throughout the issue is fascinating. You can see how he would be very good at training a fellow mercenary – if a terrible father, natch. Good Damian writers like Priest (can we just give him Teen Titans already? The kids deserve better) know how to write him as playing with the dark side without ever quite crossing over. One thing that’s interesting – this issue breaks from the rest of the storyline by not having Batman in it at all, and barely following up on his side of the story. It’s all about Slade and Damian, and that works because they need the focus. There’s a two-part finale featuring Batman vs. Deathstroke that’s coming soon, and I can’t wait to see what surprises Priest has up his sleeve.

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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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