This book has been all over the place for the length of the Godkiller arc, from high to low and back again, things haven’t been very consistent in a book that NEEDS consistency. I mean, Deathstroke has already been cancelled once in this current DC continuity- does it really need a second?
But with this arc ending, and the larger-than-life finale, I think things could be moving in the right direction, as long as the creative team has the foresight (hah! Eye jokes for a character famous for his eye patch) to really keep this ship on an even keel going forward.
Now, if there is anyone who feels like a very logical successor to Tony Daniel’s artwork- it is Tyler Kirkham. His style feels like he was taught at the Tony S. Daniel School for Drawing Massive Guns, Swords, Explosions and Bloodspatter (or TSDSDMGSEB, for short). This book looks like an over-the-top 90’s book on a LOT of steroids, but is written in a much more contemporary style. I like the way the book feels, and in this issue- the incorporation of Superman fits a bit more with his character profile. Seeing Superman fall prey to some high-power magic blasts from Lapetus was a good touch, reminding us all that Supes ISNT infallible, and to remind us all that he is weak against magic.
I really liked the look of Lapetus in his full power for this issue, his hyper-masculinity and pitch black skin, wrapped in those thorny red vines really gave him a unique and OBVIOUS “bad guy” vibe. I love how Kirkham draws Wonder Woman (maybe the team over on WW currently should take a few notes…) making her strong and beautiful, without relying on too much of one over the other, but striking a delicate balance.
The second half of this issue felt a bit rushed- but I didn’t mind as much, because I think that this story could benefit from distancing itself from the mystical and getting down to some more grassroots shoot-and-stab action for Slade Wilson, and soon. I think that incorporating Slade’s kids into the story (last we saw them was in the Annual) was a nice bit of mental warfare for Lapetus to use, trying to play on the mortals’ weaknesses. What I thought was the weakest part of the issue **SPOILERS**, is probably the only way to cleanly end the story, when Slade starts mentally manipulating Lapetus to cause him to become emotional and irrational and allow Slade to kill him.
From that point on, the book takes a pretty logical step forward- Hephaestus, the god who armed Slade, betrays him and the pantheon of gods comes to demand a blood sacrifice for the murder of one of their own. I thought the look of the gods was interesting, not actually showing any of them clearly- but making them bright white silhouettes. I thought that the final page, being a massive (and gory) splash page was a great way to finish off this story. I think that moving Slade back to work with his Suicide Squad teammates (using the term loosely there, I know they aren’t a real “team”) will ground the story, and allow for the book to feature a revolving door cast of supporting characters that should help to bolster sales of the book.
As I have talked about many times before, Harley Quinn is everywhere, and I am assuming that any time she is featured in ANY DC book, that those books sell more. So, this next arc- seeing that Harley is everywhere, getting her THIRD book, AND a variant cover run- should mean that more and more people will jump back on the Slade-Train and ride for a while, helping to keep this book alive.
I really like the way things have shaken out with the creative team on Deathstroke, and I think that it will give this book a lot of longevity that it needs (REALLY needs…) and that things will really get back to “Business as usual” for Deathstroke and DC at large. This book has been a really fun, violent read- and it harkens back to a lot of the 90’s and early 2000’s books that are still held so fondly in my memory, but I am willing to bet that this book will hold up better in the long run.
I think that if you were onboard for Deathstroke before, that this new arc should be a GREAT point to jump back in, because if this first ten issue arc is any indication, things should be headed in the right direction, AND should keep going that way for quite some time. DC needs something to compete with Deadpool, and Slade Wilson and Wade Wilson have a lot in common. I think that this should mean big things going forward with the book- because for Slade Wilson, business as usual means that there will be a lot of blood, viscera and plenty of Death to go around.