Deathstroke #34 – Priest, Writer; Carlo Pagulayan, Penciller; Jason Paz, Trevor Scott, Inkers; Jeromy Cox, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Ray: The penultimate issue of Batman vs. Deathstroke, Deathstroke #34 brings the slow-boil conflict to a brutal final showdown as Batman and Deathstroke’s gambits against each other explode. The issue opens with a flashback to Jericho’s near-death, and Adeline’s brutal revenge on Slade, before cutting to Wayne Manor. There, Bruce, Dick and Damian finally have it out over Deathstroke’s manipulations. Tim Drake is still “dead” at this point, but this issue very much roots a lot of Damian’s doubts in the conflict between him and Tim from way back in 2006. It even reminds us just how close Damian came to killing Tim back then. Bruce does his best to put Damian’s mind at ease – in a not particularly friendly manner – but before the family can bond, hell comes raining down on them. Deathstroke and Adeline have unleashed their contacts in the government on Bruce, targeting every level of Wayne Enterprises and eventually bringing them to the door of the manor. Bruce is trying to stop the blood loss for his empire – but before he can, he finds out that Slade is far closer than he expected.
Once Slade shows up in Wayne Manor – despite Alfred and Wintergreen’s efforts to stop the conflict from exploding – the issue takes on a very different tone. It becomes deadly serious, as Bruce is off his game for the first time in a long time. A man with all of his skills and none of his scruples is loose in his house, and has no problem threatening his family to get him to cooperate (although, again, not including Cass in the Bat-family? Tsk tsk). Deathstroke marches Bruce to the basement and the Batcave, and that’s where the final showdown erupts. Not only are these two attacking each other physically, but psychologically as well – taking shots at each other’s weakest personal points and the issues they’ve repressed for a long time. With the Batcave as the battleground, it becomes one of the most brutal fight scenes in comics in a long time, and the issue ends with both their fates in question. I’m excited to see how this story comes to a close, and glad to see that Priest is continuing on Deathstroke past this arc. It continues to be one of the best books DC is putting out.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.