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Why did I bother holding out hope that Rob Liefeld, a man known for terrible artwork and storylines plaguing the 90s’, would have any success when he took over both story and art for this title? This may be one of the most poorly written New 52 titles I have ever read, and I suffered through the first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws with Starfire acting about as virginal as Pamela Anderson.
Oh yes, get ready for a rant.
Deathstroke has caused a lot of heads to roll, and because of this the mob is putting their heads together and pulling a ton of money out of their wallets to hire the most dangerous people around to off Deathstroke once and for all. Then, on a seemingly unrelated note, Slade is offered a job from the Omegas, who want him to track down Lobo, a galactic bounty hunter who’s favorite words are frag and bastich.
Deathstroke’s characterization falls apart in this issue as we feel Liefeld grapple with how the character should be. He does physically act the same, but one particular long-winded monologue that he has is a huge jolt of exposition – and I didn’t feel like getting shocked. He also goes on and on throughout the issue about how “strong” he is, that he’s an “experiment” and he has all kinds of “abilities.” This quickly becomes repetitious and makes Deathstroke look like a narcissist in all the most unlikable ways.
Ironically, the biggest problem of this issue is the exact opposite problem the first couple of issues of Deathstroke had: too much dialogue. And rarely is any of it relevant. Multiple lines seem like they have no point since they go nowhere and only seem like muddled attempts at humor, like when the mob boss at the opening complains about “The Deathstroke” and is immediately corrected by one of his cronies that it’s just “Deathstroke.” This is a completely pointless line. Another dialogue issue is Deathstroke’s constant narration while he is fighting. In previous issues, fighting scenes had little more than grunts and ahhs! to them. Adding a little dialogue would have been better. But this issue takes it too far. Rarely is Deathstroke being introspective, which may be interesting while he’s fighting (though not the entire time since then it would just be distracting). But in this issue, Deathstroke’s narration takes the reader through a play-by-play of the fight. We can see it happening, we don’t need a description.
But the worst dialogue – oh yes, we haven’t even gotten to the worst of it – is at the beginning. There is a mob meeting in full swing at the beginning of this issue, but the dialogue makes you wonder if these aren’t just a couple of guys trying to act the part. Their dialogue is laughably bad and unbelievable, with some of the grown men saying things like “S.O.B.” I didn’t know grown men sounded like teenage girls on Facebook. I definitely don’t expect this from a Deathstroke comic, which up to this point has been pretty gritty and action packed with little dialogue to speak of. Actually, if the dialogue had kept up this laughably bad quality I may have enjoyed this issue based on how bad it was, but then when Deathstroke starts fighting the Omegas the dialogue just becomes boring and never ends soon enough.
I trudged through this issue with only one hope in my mind: that Lobo and Deathstroke would have an awesome fight. Well, it looks like I’m going to have to simmer a whole other issue to see that. Yes, the selling point of this issue, seeing Deathstroke and Lobo duke it out, is of course put-off until the next issue.
Though the few moments of carnage Lobo is given are mindlessly entertaining, and the artwork from Liefeld is actually at it’s best when we see Lobo violently killing some guards.
Ironically, despite making my blood boil with the dialogue and Slade’s chaarcterization, Liefeld answered my wishes about Deathstroke’s design. His costume is much more like the original he wore in his previous series, which I much prefer to the clunky looking mecha-like armor adorning him in previous issues. This does make him look more vulnerable, but since Deathstroke is sooooo badass, he shouldn’t need the armor anyway.
Then I see what he did to Lobo and every other character in this issue and almost forget my nostalgia for Deathstroke’s costume. Every character has an eye problem. It looks like they all have black rings around their eyes, to the point where they barely have pupils – if their eyes aren’t just one solid color. But Lobo looks all around terrible with way too many lines used to try and show the rippling muscles threatening to tear his shirt apart.
This issue would have actually been a lot of fun for a laugh if the dialogue kept up the terribly bad tone used during the mob meeting. But the dialogue quickly becomes monotonous – it’s overly long, boring and repeats the same things over and over again, usually about Deathstroke being a badass. The artwork is also usually poor with the characters sporting darkened eyes and unrealistic muscle-structures. So, Deathstroke #9 can not even become a guilty pleasure.