Deathstroke #1

Deathstroke #1

B

I picked up Deathstroke for two reasons. First, the DC Reboot had me wanting to try something new, something I wouldn’t have read before, and this definitely took the cake. Two, Kyle Higgins bought himself a lot of good will in my book with his excellent Gates of Gotham miniseries (co-written with Scott Snyder), so I figured if anyone could turn Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke into a character I’d want to read about, it would be him.

After reading this book, I’m still not sure it’s the kind of comic that’s for me, but I’m reasonably sure that Kyle Higgins and artist Joe Bennett did a great job with it. Deathstroke takes the approach of a modern action movie/widescreen-style comic, perfected in books like The Authority and currently in use over in Justice League, among other places. The book’s got all the trappings of a heist/con job film, from mysterious back room deals to cocky teams of young criminals to bloodbaths by the boatload. If that’s your kind of film (I’m specifically thinking of something like Smoking Aces or Don’ You Go Rounin’ Roun to Re Ro), I think you’ll really get into this book. Gates of Gotham did not steer me wrong; Higgins is a strong writer with a great understanding of pacing, suspense and general plot structure. To my knowledge, he’s also the first/only creator to write a “done in one” story as part of the New 52. While there are certainly elements in this book that lead into other stories, it’s also a self-contained unit that serves to properly introduce the ultra-brutal Deathstroke, who apparently is someone you don’t want as an enemy or a friend.

Joe Bennett’s art compliments the story skillfully. His characters have the chiseled chins and sunken eyes that come from living in a tough world, and that’s essential to establishing the tone Higgins wants (or at least the one I imagine him wanting). Colorist Jason Wright also deserves a special shout-out; his ample use of blacks casts Deathstroke‘s world in the perfect amount of shadow, an especially powerful tool in establishing shots. And of course props must go to classic cover artist Simon Bisley (Lobo), whose menacing front-piece should do a lot to sell people on this book, and showcases the title character’s awesome new costume.

I don’t really have a lot of negative criticism for this book. It strikes me as something that could’ve been published by Wildstorm a few years ago, maybe, but of course this is a New 52, and there’s enough here to connect the book to the DCU at large anyway (I love the idea of Clayface soldiers). Be warned that the book is super violent, and if that’s a turn-off for you you may want to stay away. If you like edgy action with badass anti-heroes, I think you should give this a go.

Pull list verdict: KEEP IT

tags: deathstroke, joe bennett, kyle higgins, the new 52

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