Deathstroke has been around, as I said in a recent review, since the New Teen Titans series of the early 1980s. He’s an assassin, a mercenary, a psychopath, but he isn’t a mad dog killer like a lot of similar characters that you find. He actually has reasons for what he’s doing and even though he’s very good at what he does, even though what he does isn’t very nice, he’s still a bad guy, but at least you can look at him as an anti-hero. And yes, he has a mutant healing factor like Wolverine, you pretty much have to if you want to survive in his line of work.
So let’s delve into Slade Wilson’s solo book and see how he fares in his first arc called Gods of War.
Someone is out to get Slade Wilson, he’s attacked in Russia where his contact and occasional lover is apparently killed, then he gets knocked out and wakes up… young. And with two eyes. But who is his mysterious benefactor, the masked man called Odysseus? What does he want and how does this impact the revelation that Deathstroke’s son, Jericho, is still alive?
This is really a reboot of a reboot, they already had a Deathstroke title in the New 52 but it failed and now, Tony Daniels is rebooting the reboot, although he isn’t spelling it out like that, he says he’s getting rid of things from the first series that “didn’t work” and he’s “not disregarding his past, just changing his future”. Well, in the first series, Jericho was an adult and Slade killed him. Now he’s back and he’s seemingly a teenager. That’s pretty much the definition of disregarding the past, isn’t it? Since the past sucked, I don’t mind, but at least be honest.
They’ve really tried to make Slade Wilson more like Punisher in a lot of ways, at least the modern take on Punisher where he’s not really a mad dog killer, he’s a guy with a mission and a willingness to kill to get the job done. That’s not a bad thing, in fact, when they made Punisher a mad dog homicidal maniac that was shooting people for littering, I lost all interest in reading his books. To be honest, a lot of this series comes off feeling very Marvel. You’ve got the healing factor, which pretty much everyone seems to have. You’ve got a distinct Deadpool aspect, especially the part where Possum, chopped up into little bits, comes back to life and starts attacking people. You know, if I was going to read Marvel, I’d just go read Marvel.
They also went a bit guest-appearance crazy, with Harley Quinn and Batman making an appearance and I didn’t think either of them were necessary, they were just to get the Batman crowd to buy into the book. That’s not to say the book isn’t fun, it is, but they’re doing things aimed at getting readers and not necessary aimed at earning them. It’s like screaming “Hey! You over there! There’s a lot of stuff in this book that you already like so come buy it!” instead of “Hey, we’re telling some great stories, come see if you like it!” I’d much rather see the latter than the former.
Deathstroke, like the rest of the DC line, took a break during the Convergence event (which I entirely skipped) but is supposed to come back afterwards so we’ll have to see where things go. I’m interested enough to keep going, assuming the tone of the book doesn’t change. So far in the New 52, Deathstroke hasn’t run into the Teen Titans, I’m really hoping that happens in the very near future. That’s where he started, that’s where he needs to go, it’s like saying Joker never meets Batman or Lex Luthor never meets Superman. There’s something very wrong with that. Come on DC, get them together!