Review – Deathstroke #40: Out of Arkham

Comic Books DC This Week
Deathstroke #40 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Deathstroke #40 – Priest, Writer; Fernando Pasarin, Carlo Pagulayan, Pencillers; Trevor Scott, Jordi Tarragona, Jason Paz, Inkers; Jeromy Cox, Colorist


Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Do We Have Answers??

Ray: Deathstroke in Arkham has been the twistiest issue of Priest’s Deathstroke yet, combining the series’ ongoing espionage thriller with an added dose of surreal psychological horror. The last issue saw Deathstroke, manipulated by Hugo Strange, kill the one person who had been helping him during his time in Arkham. That was a mistake, because now Slade is on the warpath, and this final issue of the arc sees him tear through Arkham like few people have. We’ve seen Batman take on the inmates of Arkham twice in recent months, but neither time had anywhere near the power of these scenes. With Slade convinced that he couldn’t have actually done this, that it has to be another trick of Strange’s, it’s a wild battle through the destroyed halls of Arkham as Slade takes on his son (in Grundy’s body), the various villains, and eventually Strange himself. Eventually, he winds up tearing down a reinforced door holding the staff of Arkham inside, convinced they have the answers.

Slade out of control is something we rarely see, and seeing him pushed to his breaking point adds a great element to this story. But he’s not the only one who has a fascinating storyarc this issue. Rose’s strange walkabout with Two-Face concludes this issue, as she seemingly gets cured of the possession of “Willow”. But her interactions with Two-Face have added some great wrinkles to both characters, although this issue casts some doubt on whether the Two-Face in this story is actually Two-Face. Then you have the character of Death Masque, whose ongoing alien subplot takes on a huge new level in the finale of the issue and leads into the upcoming Teen Titans crossover. Is Slade still insane? Has he uncovered a massive alien conspiracy? We don’t know, and that’s a big part of what makes this series so great. I can’t even describe half of the twists in this issue, and you need to read it to believe it. It’s easily one of the most inventive and unpredictable books in DC’s stable.

Deathstroke #40 interior page
Slade’s last stand. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: I’m not sure what’s going on. Usually, that doesn’t bother me in Deathstroke but, this issue, I wanted some answers. Instead, I’m still not certain what’s real and what isn’t, and Rose still isn’t cured. Or maybe she is. Hard to tell.

And yet…it’s a compelling story and I could not look away.

I, too, was thinking the death of the doctor was a fake-out by Strange but I fear she’s quite dead. Unless she’s not and Slade is still stuck inside his head, attempting to move past whatever drugs that keep him compliant. I think it’s the former but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the latter.

I also wonder if this whole arc is a commentary on how asylums and prisons fail their patients/inmates. Slade had no chance to improve inside and neither did anyone else in Arkham. Or perhaps it’s a meta-commentary on how DC Comics itself uses Arkham and how badly this fictional universe portrays mental illness.

These are the things I think about reading this series.

To find reviews of all the DC issues, visit DC This Week.

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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