The Things I Do For Comics – Deathstroke (2014) #1
Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in…
A few weeks back I stopped into my local comic shop to grab my weekly pull list and a friend of mind recommended I take a look at the shitshow that is the newly relaunched Deathstroke series. You see, he knows that I love awful movies and tacky art in an ironic sort of way, and this one seriously took me by surprise. So here I am , suited up once more to dredge through the sewer line that is the New 52.
Presumably in response to the success of the CW’s Arrow, DC has relaunched Deathstroke, after having previously done so in 2011 along with the rest of their line of comics. Now, this volume is not written by Rob Liefeld, but it may as well have been. This time, writing chores and pencils alike are being handled by Tony Daniel. And by the way, I really do think he considers writing to be a chore, a boring task that he has to address before he can draw people getting sliced by swords or executed with pistols. Writing is Tony Daniel’s meatloaf and drawing gory shit is his chocolate cake.
I’ve never been a big fan of Daniel’s Art. His pencils were, in my opinion, the low point of Grant Morrison’s Batman run. I know that’s kind of a bold statement for those who have read it, some really weird shit went down but there was method to the madness. Also, I realize that these positions make me a comics snob. I don’t mind being a snob in a world full of Harley Quinn and Deadpool ‘shippers, if the line that separates that and me is snobbery, then so be it.
So I don’t like the guy’s style of art and I most goddamn certainly don’t like his writing style. I swear that DC found Marvel’s 1990s playbook and are following every step toward failure. When you have a fantastic artist and they demand to write a book, you have to let them do it so that you don’t lose the artist. Alex Ross has made that demand and its been met by loads of companies. No one really cared for the majority of the books he’s written, but at least they had Alex Ross covers on them! But when Tony Daniel, a fairly generic artist, comes to you with that same request I would hope you would send him back to the drawing board with a slap mark on his insolent face. You don’t let the Liefelds and the McFarlanes of the world write comics and you SURE AS HELL DON’T LET TONY DANIEL.
So anyway, this book is about Deathstroke, not Tony Daniel. I need to remember that.
Deathstroke is a grizzled old one-eyed assassin who can tap into 90% of his brain’s potential whereas most folks can only access 10% (although that theory is actually bullshit). He’s got a healing factor (he lost the eye before he gained that skill) and he was traditionally all about killing Dick Grayson and the Teen Titans. That’s actually a pretty cool idea, right? He’s got a mask that’s split down the middle, and since he’s only got the one eye the mask follows suit. Add in some chain-mail and bandoleers and shit and you’ve got a pretty striking character design right? And I’m certainly not saying that Deathstroke hasn’t been used well in the past, as a supporting character he’s arguably one of the coolest in DC’s entire universe. But he’s an assassin and he’s kind of a dickhead and he’s pretty much an invincible killing machine so he’s better left as a supporting character. He did had a very long-lived series in the 1990s and I’ve never actually read a single issue, so for all I know it was great. But that was the 1990s when a Ghost Rider book made it to nearly 100 issues. I’m not saying that everything was better back then, I’m just saying that we should have learned our lesson.
So let’s get this shit over with. Deathstroke is an assassin, he takes a job to kill a guy named Possum. He kills a whole bunch of guys on the way to killing Possum and there’s some woman who helps him kill people I guess? Then Possum kills that woman and wounds Deathstroks, but luckily Slade gets the upper hand and stabs Possum in the face. With the HILT OF A SWORD. NO LESS.
In his escape, Slade kills a bunch more people. We find out that Possum wasn’t dead after all… although in real life Possums pretend to be dead, they aren’t immortal. If you stabbed an opossum through the mouth and out the back of their head I’m pretty sure they’d stop faking. After shit calms down a bit, Deathstroke makes his way to the lair of I Ching and falls to the floor, revealing that the his noggin is agape and about 1/3 of his brain is missing from his skull.
It’s okay, though. Sixteen days later Deathstroke rises as a young hunky black-haired dude with two eyes.
Now, I’m legitimately not sure if I’m the one who doesn’t understand what’s going on or if it’s Tony Daniel. Is this supposed to be young Slade Wilson? Slade Wilson had blonde hair before it went gray, so that doesn’t seem to be the case. What it looks like it is happening here (and it might just be a shortcoming in the artist’s range) is that Deathstroke has been transformed into Bruce Wayne. It doesn’t make any sense, I know, but neither does the rest of this book, and the drawing of Slade on the last page is a dead ringer for Tony Daniel’s Bruce Wayne (or any other male with dark hair, I guess). Seriously, though, I suppose I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if DC were trying to squeeze yet another Batman book, they’ve already got over a dozen. (Note: I’m told the Deathstroke at the end of the book looks more like the actor who plays the character on Arrow, so perhaps that’s the rationale? I just hope that they don’t keep him in a mask with one eyehole.)
Here’s the thing about this book. I have found an overwhelming amount of praise for it on other review sites. They basically say all of the things that I just said and then tack a five star rating onto it. Well, here’s my official verdict:
If you like hot garbage, you’ll like Deathstroke #1. It reads like an eight-year-old’s satirical take on a Hostel movie, the graphic storytelling is unclear, and it’s got absolutely worthwhile to say. But you don’t have to take my word for it…
The best page in this whole comic, by the way, is the ad for The Mike Tyson Mysteries. Check that show out if you haven’t yet.
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Posted on November 26, 2014, in COMICS!, Reviews, The Things I Do For Comics and tagged arrow, Batman, DC, Deathstroke, New 52, Teen Titans, The Things I Do For Comics, Tony Daniel. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.