Deathstroke #44 – Priest, Writer; Fernando Pasarin, Penciller; Ryan Winn, Inker; Jeromy Cox, Colorist
Ray – 9.5/10
Corrina: Dead Or Just Mostly Dead?
Ray: Well, this title has certainly found itself in an interesting place. Last month saw Deathstroke killed – rather conclusively – thanks to a well-timed shot from teen vigilante Red Arrow. Well, if you thought that was going to be a quick fake-out, you don’t know Priest.
Obviously Deathstroke will come back sooner or later, but for now, Priest is proceeding as if he is VERY dead, and this issue is one of the best of the series as the various friends, enemies, and occasional allies he has encountered over his long and violent life come to pay tribute. It starts with a funeral being held by the villains of the DCU, mostly low-rent villains Slade had encountered over the course of the series. Red Lion, Raptor, Deadshot, Dr. Ikon, and Two-Face are all present to deliver their send-offs – but so are Superman, monitoring from above, and an increasingly unstable Jericho, who believes they should go in and destroy the villains while they have a chance. Jericho’s fragile mental state comes into play in a big way in the back half of the issue.
The Teen Titans are also struggling with the fallout of their actions, as Damian (still sporting a Slade-esque eyepatch) tries to get Emiko to realize that she crossed a line. Before he can talk to her, though, she suddenly attacks him – and it’s clear it’s not her he’s talking to anymore. Jericho wants a body for a mission, and he heads to Emiko and then to the superfast Wallace before making a bee-line for the funeral. Meanwhile, Rose is dealing with her father’s death in her own way – which includes beating up Deathstroke cosplayers in Times Square. While Jericho is aiming his anger at criminals, Rose’s seems to be more indiscriminate and leads her to possibly follow her father’s legacy down the rabbit hole. Jericho’s assault on the funeral and Superman’s involvement is interrupted by the Legion of Doom, moving another piece into play for “Year of the Villain”. I’m not sure what the long term plan is here with Slade dead, but this is one of the best fallouts from the death of a lead character in a long time.
Corrina: Of all the things I expected from this issue, Jericho hijacking Wallace in order to attack the villains’ at his father’s funeral was not one of them.
Which is a perfect encapsulation of Priest’s run: the story is never what you expect and yet it works perfectly.
Slade, yes, seems extremely dead, and so Priest takes this chance to show what he meant–the good and the evil–to those he knew. The story hinted over in Teen Titans that Slade might welcome death and that makes sense in the context of this entire run. He’s not a person to commit suicide but it’s been clear that Slade is unhappy with who and what he is, yet can’t find a way to change. He tried and failed, and he feels the failure of his parenting as well.
How far will Rose go in her slide to mercenary? Will Jericho be able to recover from his complex feeling for his father? I have no idea (see unpredictability of this story) but I’m sure it will be interesting. And it will be nice to take a break from Slade to focus on his children, to see if they can overcome the legacy of violence that he’s left them, despite his better intentions.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.