Thursday, 27 November 2014

Deathstroke #1 [The New 52] - DC Comics

DEATHSTROKE No.1, December 2014
The character of Deathstroke has always proved to be something of an enigma. Originally created in 1980 by Marv Wolfman and George Perez as a villain for the Teen Titans, Slade Joseph Wilson has evolved into one of the most popular anti-heroes in the “DC Comics” universe; actually attaining the 2009 title of Imagine Games Network’s 32nd greatest comic book character of all time. However even his publisher has struggled to work out any lasting direction for ‘the Terminator’, having rewritten his origin not once but twice in recent years as part of their ‘The New 52’ line-up.

This latest attempt to create a sustainable “Deathstroke” solo series comes just a year after the cancellation of the mercenary’s last title, and already looks set to be ‘ringing in the change’ for the assassin once again. As opening issues go, the first few pages of writer/artist Tony S. Daniel’s “Gods of War” storyline is pretty good, and certainly sees the former metahuman super-soldier at his contract killing best, dispatching a number of targets simultaneously whilst sparing one “lucky b*stard” who is “…not on my list.” However once the ‘hit’ on the self-regenerating criminal Possum goes awry the plot starts to take something of a bizarre twist for the worse.

To begin with Slade’s healing factor suddenly appears to have taken on Wolverine-like proportions, as the anti-hero survives being sliced and diced repeatedly by Possum with his own katanas; which presumably can penetrate Slade’s full Nth metal suit? A few bandages later and ‘the Terminator’ not only survives repeated bombings and being flamed alive but having half his brain blown away as well. Clearly the long established limitations of Slade not being able to heal significant physical trauma such as his missing eye would get in the way of Daniel’s writing.

Ultimately however the conclusion to this story reveals just how fatal the assassin’s injuries actually are… and that this title could well take Deathstroke in an entirely different direction from what has ever gone before. For no longer is Slade shown as a white-haired, bearded one-eyed mercenary, but through the ‘magic’ of the mysterious old man I-Ching, he has been transformed into a much younger, brown-haired blue-eyed specimen of manhood.
Variant covers to "DEATHSTROKE" Issue 1 by Andrea Sorrentino and Kevil O’Neill

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