New 52 Review: Deathstroke #1

Twenty years ago, Deathstroke got his first ongoing series that reinvented the character as more of an antihero than an outright villain. The direction of that series was charted by Marv Wolfman — the co-creator of Dethstroke — and Slade Wilson was even aligned with the New Titans, his longtime adversaries. Identity Crisis helped bring Deathstroke back to his villainous roots, but Slade was squandered in the most recent Titans reboot that saw Deathstroke lead a team of villains and co-opt the Titans name.

In the new 52 relaunch, it's not clear which parts of Deathstroke's history actually happened. But it doesn't matter. Kyle Higgins has a strong take on Deathstroke himself that overrides everything else. Although there's not much development for Slade Wilson outside of his Deathstroke identity, Higgins delivers a version of the character that could believably take on the Justice League himself.

Joe Bennett's art features some strong action sequences and good facial expressions from Slade as he reacts to being improbably teamed up with three young mercenaries calling themselves The Alpha Dawgs… or Harm Armory. Higgins wisely uses Slade's silence to convey his contempt for his support team and Bennett carries the rest with subtle lines on his face.

The Alpha Dogs themselves are pretty damn annoying and cliche, but intentionally so. The audience is meant to dislike them as much as Slade so that when he finally demonstrates how he feels about them it's a moment that we really want to see.

As part of his assignment, Deathstroke breaks into a plane during mid-flight and finds himself fighting soldiers infused with Clayface DNA. Instead of smuggling nuclear secrets, Slade finds that his target his carrying something related to him, although we don't learn what it is. Slade actually asks his target if it was meant as a threat and it's implied that the target's associates set up the job just so they could meet with Slade face-to-face. Not that it stops Slade from killing his target and finishing the mission.

Higgins' primary weakness is that he constantly repeats things in the script that are apparent on the page. We get that Deathstroke is a badass, we don't need to keep seeing people saying it out loud. Slade is also the only character in the book who seems interesting. His agent, Christoph is a death scene waiting to happen. I was actually a little disappointed that Slade didn't take him out in this issue. Somewhat improbably, Slade's reputation is that he's lost several steps. Seems to me that's the best time to find a new agent.

Like most of the new costume of the DC reboot, Deathstroke's outfit in this issue seems overdesigned with a lot of '90s style pouches, shoulder pads, a bulky belt and big guns. It still resembles Deathstroke's classic look, but it's not an improvement.

However, this is the first relaunch title other than Action Comics or Batgirl that has me looking forward to the next issue.

Crave Online Rating: 7.5/10