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Before Rob Liefeld takes over the story and artwork of Deathstroke, Kyle Higgins, Eduardo Pansica and Art Thibert give us their last Deathstroke issue together.
The main reason to pick up this filler is to see Slade in action… and his life as a kid. After barely managing to survive the climactic fight against his son, Slade takes a small job and shows us why he is bad-ass. Or maybe that’s just code for being impenetrably stupid. In between his healing and small job, there are flashes back to Slave’s life as a kid, which includes such “wonderful” childhood memories as being hit by his father, who was a bottom-feeder of crime.
Going to his childhood opens a new dynamic in Slade’s character. He actually seems to have humanity as a child, shed a tearing, hurting both emotionally and physically.
True to characterization, Slade’s childhood hardens him in his adult life which leads to action scenes that are the most entertaining parts of this otherwise somber issue. The best moment is when Slade takes on a small job and runs up against Kill Switch. When Switch pulls out a bomb, Slade is more than happy for him to blow it. So he pushes the button himself when Switch gets cold feet. This shows how powerful and unafraid Slade is. But right after the building blows-up, Slade talks to someone close to Kill Switch and his stoic attitude makes sense and reflects his own childhood situation in a way.
Really, the tone is all over the place in this filler with a plethora of sad moments in Slade’s childhood juxtaposed with his current stoicism. Not to say it isn’t an enjoyable experience to watch Slade kill and also see his softer side, nor does it not make sense. The events in Slade’s past actually add up to how he is now.
The final moments in this issue are disturbing but also grimly satisfying. Without giving much away, let’s say Slade talks to an important person from his past.
Penciler Eduardo Pansica and inker Art Thibert have solid artwork. The faces of all the characters are very detailed. Sometimes too detailed with multiple shadowed spots and wrinkles – some more necessary than others. The expressions are drawn well. I can feel the venom from Slade’s crazy grin at the end. Slade’s Deathstroke costume still looks clunky in the pages and would have been better if it paid homage to the cover image of Deathstroke, but that clunky imagery is all too familiar by now in this series.
A filler issue that could be easily skipped without missing any story elements, this is one issue I recommend picking up or maybe even starting with if you’re coming late to the hack-and-slash father-son vengeance of the New 52’s Deathstroke.