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Deathstroke #1 Review: Gods of War

After months of waiting, the world’s greatest mercenary, also known as Deathstroke, has finally returned to having his own ongoing series in DC’s New 52 lineup. Tony S. Daniel (Detective Comics, Superman/Wonder Woman) has taken to the writing and art for the new series, and he does not disappoint. After such an epic issue, I felt it best to tell you all about the good, the bad, and the shocking. But first, a glimpse into what’s happened with the character of Deathstroke since DC’s 2011 reboot.

When DC Comics decided to change the formula for their comic lineup with their New 52 reboot, Kyle Higgins (Nightwing, C.O.W.L.) took to writing the title for the famous mercenary known as Slade Wilson A.K.A. Deathstroke. After Higgins wrote an incredibly fun and violent first seven issues for the series, a man by the name of Rob Liefeld stepped in to take over both the writing and art for the title. If you know Liefeld, you probably know he doesn’t have the best art or really even the best storytelling. He turned Slade Wilson completely around basically ignoring everything Kyle Higgins had made him into for the New 52. Now fast forward a few issues, and sales for the title had plummeted and Liefeld decided to leave DC Comics “for good.”

After Liefeld left, a talented writer by the name of Justin Jordan (Green Lantern: New Guardians) took the reigns of writing the famous mercenary. His run was great, but short lived as the sales for Deathstroke were down from the get go. After that, DC cancelled the title. Fortunately for fans of the character, he was such a hit in the TV show Arrow, in which he was portrayed by Manu Bennet, that DC decided to give the mercenary another shot with the talent of Tony S. Daniel. And so now here we are, the all new Deathstroke #1 finally hit shelves this Wednesday and I didn’t hesitate to pick it up.

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The issue opens up with a monologue from Slade Wilson himself while he stands inside his base of operations, or at least where he keeps all his gear. It was incredibly cool to see all the different swords and various other weapons Deathstroke has at his disposal. Also keep in mind here for the moment that Slade is old with grey hair and an eyepatch.

After he gets his gear together and leaves, he goes to meet a guy named Tiggs, who is the man he trusts most in his life. Tiggs gives Deathstroke the assignment of finding and killing a man named Possum, who he obviously has a past with. After arriving in Russia for his newly assigned mission, Deathstroke deals with some.. ahem.. errands with one of his “loveliest and best contacts,” Angelica. She provides Slade with the leads that he needs to find his targets and take them out.

What I really found interesting from the first few pages of this issue was that is wasn’t just violence. While I do enjoy that, and am not disappointed with what happens after he gets his leads, it was really cool to see all the operations behind Slade’s mission. I think Tony Daniel pulled that off really well.

Next comes the really good stuff with a two page spread dedicated to first showing off Deathstroke’s awesome new suit, second for him to talk more on how much he trusts Angelica and whats she does for him, and finally… to kick some ass. It’s shown that many people know his reputation and that, when they see him, they know it’s over. An interesting thing to take away from this two page slaughter.. I mean spread.. is that Slade does not kill anyone that he’s not payed to.

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After Deathstroke and Angelica capture Possum, she tells him that she was payed a hefty sum of cash to lure the mercenary into a trap. She obliged, naturally, but then decided to stick around and help Slade out of curiosity. Given the end of this issue, Slade looking at Possum and saying “time’s not been kind to you,” is an obvious foreshadowing of what’s to come. However, almost instantly after that, the trap set for him goes off, and Deathstroke is rendered useless leaving Angelica to be killed by Possum in possibly the coolest death so far in the New 52. Keep in mind, I said “so far.”

Slade, who is still writhing in pain and unable to move, vows to kill Possum who then begins hacking and slashing at Slade with his own swords. After an alarming amount of slashing Deathstroke (I counted nine), Deathstroke grabs the blade of one of the swords and delivers what IS the coolest death so far, as he blasts the hilt of his sword through the skull of Possum.

After that, it’s time for Slade to get the hell out of there since he’s severely wounded and knows there will probably be backup on the way. He was right, as the moment he left, backup came. Slade, even being so badly wounded, manages to easily take out all the men who came after him and get to safety.

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After Slade manages to find the man that hired him for the job he accomplished, he collapses on the floor in front of him. That’s when the shocking conclusion to this amazing first issue comes to light as he wakes up in some sort of castle on a hilltop. It shows the man who had hired him tell him that he brought Slade back from the dead and that he’ll be back to collect when the time comes. However, Slade feels there’s something off, and the next and final page shows the mercenary young and hip again with dark hair and both eyes intact.

Overall, this first issue was an incredibly violent and fun thrill ride delivered to us by a great writer and artist who does not disappoint. The end was very shocking, and what I gather from it is that DC maybe wants Slade to look a little more like the Manu Bennet version from Arrow. Or maybe not. Whatever the reason, it was an exciting conclusion and I can’t wait to read the next issue in November which is why I give Deathstroke #1 a 10/10.