Review – Deathstroke #42: Caged Assassin, Warrior Child

Comic Books DC This Week
Deathstroke #42 variant cover, via DC Comics.

Deathstroke #42 – Priest, Writer; Carlo Pagulayan, Penciller; Jason Paz, Norm Rapmund, Inkers; Jeromy Cox, Colorist


Ray – 9/10

Corrina: Deathstroke the Mercurial

Ray:The Terminus Agenda” is one of the oddest crossover events DC has done in a while because it seems the two sides of the crossover are each written by the title’s main creator with little input from the other half besides comparing notes. That means the Teen Titans issues are predictably mediocre to bad – and the Deathstroke issues take the framework of the story and hit it out of the park with Priest’s unique handle on the lead characters. With Deathstroke trapped in Damian’s secret prison (just discovered by the rest of the Titans), Priest mostly ignores last issue’s cliffhanger and instead uses Deathstroke #42 to pit Slade and Damian against each other in a tense battle of wits. One of the oddest surprises of Priest’s three-year run on this title has been that he’s written Damian and Wallace West better than anyone else in the DC talent stable – despite neither of them being regulars in the title. Can someone explain to me why he’s not writing Teen Titans right now?

As usual for this title, Priest is juggling a lot of different plots. Slade is locked up in Damian’s cell, but he’s playing psychological games with his captor. Black Mask has found out they have a special guest and is planning a breakout and rebellion, but Slade might have no interest in playing that game. A scene where he reflects on his complex dynamic with Damian over the last few years is one of the issue’s best. Meanwhile, Jericho is struggling with his own role in this conflict and the issue makes great use of ASL. The Teen Titans feel like minor players this issue, with characters like Djinn and Roundhouse thankfully minimized. But everyone feels more human, less stereotypical than they do in their own book. By the end of the issue, a misunderstanding involving a villain has shaken the team’s confidence – playing right into Slade’s long game and setting up a compelling conflict. I’m sure it’ll be followed up on effectively – but not until two chapters from now.

Slade: Beginnings. Via DC Comics.

Corrina: I tend to ask, after reading Priest’s work, why he’s not writing anything he wants at DC? I can only imagine the amazing work he’d do on a Green Lantern or a Flash book, since he seems to have the imagination to write around the main difficulty of heroes with almost unstoppable powers.

Deathstroke is also mostly unstoppable, save by the heavy hitters of the DC Universe, but his main enemy is himself. And yet, he’s unique because he’s so complex. He doesn’t care about the rest of the prisoners. He isn’t particularly bothered by being captured. He does find it interesting that Damian built a prison, and has advice to offer Damian. Slade is capable of wanting Damian to do well. In his own way.

But, as Joe and Rose could tell Damian, attracting “fatherly” interest from Slade Wilson rarely ends well.

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

Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.

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