Deathstroke Vol. 1: Gods of Wars (New 52) by Tony S. Daniel

Deathstroke Volume 1 collects comics 1-6 and pairs them with some line drawings and variant covers. Our eponymous antihero is given a bit of a cosmetic makeover here, throwing him off his game as he attempts to save his son and daughter from, of all people, his own father. Fans of Deathstroke will likely find the new youthful, two-eyed, dark haired Slade disconcerting. Those not versed in Teen Titans lore may not mind it as much and can enjoy the title more.

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Story: After a battle leaves him so damaged even his superhuman healing powers are barely enough to keep him alive, he wakes up to find he’s been rejuvenated – giving him the appearance of a 20 something buff young man (complete with two eyes). As he rushes to save his son, whose powers are sought by his father, he will team up with Harley Quinn, battle Batman, and otherwise learn to compensate for having an eye.

Deathstroke has always been a singularly driven figure – he gets the job done and doesn’t think twice about doing so. But in turning him into a Superman look alike, I feel the authors did him a bit of a disservice. The characters’ gravitas and maturity are jettisoned in favor of someone doubting himself constantly and ‘off his game’ due to the sudden use of two eyes. I wanted more mask and less Superman clone, to be honest.

There’s a lot of action and so much gory bloodshed (as well as a gratuitous sex scenes) to make this fully an adult title. Because everyone seems to have the ability to cheat death and heal, the authors/artists decided to go full out and kill people in spectacularly bloody ways. All the same, it got old seeing people alive again in the next few panels after being eviscerated or their head chopped off.

The illustrations were fine. I felt that too many of the characters were just too beefy to realistically be able to make the moves as shown in the panels. Deathstroke’s father, especially, has a thin old man face but an Arnold body that really seemed silly. As well, there’s enough half naked or naked men in here to nearly qualify this title has homoerotic.

The scenes with Harley were the best – gotta love her craziness and humor. You’d think she’d be a good foil for Slade’s single-mindedness – and she really is. But the fight with Batman felt pointless; we know he’s not going to beat the Bat nor the Bat beat him, so it was just a matter of waiting to see what plot device the writer would use to separate the two.

In all, Deathstroke kept my interest but I was admittedly really put off by the ‘new’ Superman-clone Slade. It just felt so pointless to give him a new face and weaken him.  Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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