Saturday, August 27, 2016

"Either kill me, or gear up." Deathstroke #1 review

When did I last purchase a DC super hero comic? That is, a brand-new book? It was before the New 52. It was before Flashpoint. Was it around Brightest Day? It's been so long; but that magic name "Christopher Priest" brought me back.

Priest has essentially been in self-imosed exile from comics (barring Q2: The Return of Quantum & Woody) until editors offered him an assignment outside of the "black book" ghetto. It only took 12 years for someone to consider him as writer for a white super hero! Progress! Paired with artist Carlo Pagulayan (who is apparently not yet a big name despite drawing Planet Hulk, one of the best super hero comics of the 21st century), Priest is back with... Deathstroke #1!

So DC Comics is offering their comics for less than any of their competitors - $2.99 when almost everyone else has upped the price to $3.99. I like saving money, so that gives Deathstroke a lot of rope - which is good because I can't muster up much affection for the character. He was the breakout villain of Marv Wolfman & George Perez's New Teen Titans, but beginning in the 2000s he became ridiculously overblown, seeming to have a major fight with the Titans every calendar year and suddenly becoming a man who could go toe-to-toe with Flashes and Green Lanterns.

So what we have here is continuing from whatever DC's been doing with the character since the New 52. Based on this, Deathstroke is a superhuman mercenary who accepts a job in Africa to kill the super-villain Clock King. En route, Deathstroke remembers how he treated his sons while they were growing up (fun fact: Deathstroke is historically better at ruining his own children's lives than he is fighting the Titans; he's basically Doctor Light with a sword). When Deathstroke learns his old friend Wintergreen is being held nearby he switches plans to rescue him.

Priest is back to the non-linear style with sections introduced by "chapter" breaks, first seen in Quantum & Woody. He used this during his first year of Black Panther, but only because editorial asked him to; one wonders if DC is likewise responsible for him reverting to this style. I won't complain - it's distinctive. At the same time, it makes his comics a little more challenging to comprehend than your typical fare. I fully expect this first issue will read differently once the first storyarc is completed and more details about what's going on surface.

Pagulayan's art looks great, with the colouring by Jeremy Cox helping to set scenes apart through blues (flashbacks), oranges (exposition) and greens (story). There's not much of Priest's trademark humour to be found, but I'm pleased enough with this book and elated to finally have Priest back in comics on a regular basis.

No comments: