I haven’t read any previous Deathstroke Books, I’ve only had exposure to him through the Batman Arkham games, animated TV shows, and in Arrow on the CW but there is one thing I’ve gleaned from all that, Deathstroke is an asshole. This book immediately shows you that yup, he’s still an asshole, but maybe he’s not all that bad. I’ll be trying to avoid spoilers, but since this is a Rebirth issue there isn’t very much active plot to spoil, only enough to catch you up to where Deathstroke is and what he’s doing now.
We start off the issue with some back story about Deathstroke and his two sons, which shows first and foremost that no one, especially his sons, particularly like Slade Wilson. The story tends to jump around from the past, to the present and from location to location in Africa while tailing someone from his past. The story is alright and focuses heavily on Deathstroke’s family and a conspiracy against Deathstroke himself. Fans of the previous Deathstroke books will be happy to see some returning characters they haven’t seen in a while but as someone who doesn’t know Slade Wilson’s back story the reveals haven’t done much for me.
The writing and dialogue take center stage in this issue with most of this issue focusing on Slade’s conversations with other villains, soldiers and an African Warlord. Written by Christopher Priest, after 10 years away from DC Comics, he presents the reader with the moral quandaries of Deathstroke’s work around the world and how this affects his family. Near the end of the book the dialogue takes a back seat and we see Deathstroke doing what he does best, murder everybody with precision and style.
As far as the art goes, I can’t say I’m very impressed with it, it sticks to a very traditional style and looks great but lacking a distinct or unique style to it. Some of the imagery is powerful early on, depicting bodies being trampled by bulldozers int he aftermath of a fight we don’t see. I don’t want to give off the impression that it was poorly drawn, colored or inked, but compared to the style I’ve seen in Weird Detective and the new Batman series this year, it leaves an average aftertaste.
Overall I liked Deathstroke: Rebirth #1 but it doesn’t feel as memorable as some of the books that have debuted this year. This book does setup a lot of plot threads, hopefully to be followed up in subsequent issues, that could present some interesting scenarios for Deathstroke. The writing and story stand apart in this issue, unfortunately as high quality as the art, colors, and inking are, it doesn’t add anything more to it. I can’t compare this issue to previous Deathstroke runs as I haven’t read them, but if they were like this one I wouldn’t be opposed to checking them out.