Writer: Christopher Priest
Pencils: Diogenes Neves
Inks: Jason Paz
Colors: Jeremy Cox
Letters: Willie Schubert
I’m often amazed at how popular Deathstroke has become in recent years. I remember his first go around in the anti-hero comic zeitgeist during the ‘90s where he fit in perfectly but didn’t think much of him. I enjoyed the character when Marv Wolfman and George Perez first created him in the New Teen Titans but outside that series I had little interest. I never picked up any of his solo series. He had a nice run in the ‘90s but the New 52 was brutal to him as he had two series in that span, one cancelled and the other ended with Rebirth, as well as a staring role in the Suicide Squad but again I had no interest. Then Christopher Priest sucked me in with his signature non-linear story telling with deep social and political undertones and made Deathstroke relevant in the DC Rebirth Universe. Over the course of 20 issues Christopher Priest has enthralled me with the stories of Slade Wilson, who is an absolute bastard but a bastard with a heart and an actual deep love for his family, even if he shows it in the most bizarre way. For example, putting a hit out on his daughter Rose Wilson, the Ravager, just so she would need to stay close to him for protection. Or sleeping with his sons fiancée to show how she was a spy working against his sons best interest. Love yes but dysfunctional love.
This brings us to Deathstroke #21. An issue that promises a brand new take on Deathstroke, which it does, with a good dose of the bastard Slade Wilson as well. Recently in the DC Rebirth Universe Deathstroke tried to harness the powers of Flash (Wally West) and Kid Flash (also a Wally West) to go back in time to save his son, Grant Wilson the first Ravager, from dying at the hands of the Teen Titans. Slade is not successful but once returned to the modern day he has a new take on life. He wants to be a hero and do good to save the world. And Deathstroke #21 begins this new direction as Deathstroke forms Defiance, a team of teen heroes that he will lead and train to be the next generation of hero. In the hands of a lesser writer this story might seem contrived, but with Christopher Priest guiding this tale it has heart, humor, and intrigue since not everyone is on board with Slade’s new take on life and his change in ideology is not going to be a smooth transition.
Diogenes Neves joins Priest as the title’s new artist on this issue as Deathstroke goes from a bi-weekly to a monthly schedule. Neves has a DC house style and his work fits in with every other artist that has worked on the title so far. It’s decent and does the job but don’t expect to be blown away. But honestly this isn’t a book you’re buying for the art. This is a book you’re buying because of Christopher Priest and the excellence he brings to a title in this vein and he will not disappoint you.
Verdict: Deathstroke has become a must read Rebirth title thanks to the writing of Christopher Priest who is doing for Deathstroke at DC what he did for Black Panther at Marvel many years ago. Deathstroke #21 begins a new direction; it’s a great jumping on point and a Buy in my opinion.