After renouncing the identity of Deathstroke in the wake of his failed attempt to go back in time and save his son, Slade Wilson has had something of a religious experience — which has led him to try to reform.
With this, his ex-wife, Adeline, enlists Slade to form a team of superheroes called Defiance.
This issue is primarily there to set up the team and the players. Adeline is controlling Slade on this. Kid Flash and Power Girl are a couple of kids who have lost their mentors. Rose and Jericho want to know if their father has really reformed. Terra is there as a plant for Adeline.
This is the poster-boy comic for, “where are you going with this?” a question that has to be leveled at veteran writer, Christopher Priest, who really is throwing the readership for a loop here.
That’s not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination. I’m always up for being surprised.
The black-and-white costumes look pretty cool. Kid Flash’s and Deathstroke’s look particularly great. The cape for Slade is so fitting, because it fits his tendency to add little flourishes to his costume and work.
Adeline is being set up to be quite the foil to Slade. This is a person who will not be pushed around. She is just as conniving, backstabbing, and frightening as Slade himself. I very much look forward to whatever clashes they are going to have in the future.
Her terseness is something of a reflection of Priest’s writing style. He doesn’t beat around the bush. He lays is ideas out there for you and explains them as they go along. That is what made him a good fit for Black Panther, and it definitely fits Deathstroke too.
Also, we finally have the return of Deathstroke’s Energy Lance. I’ve been waiting on this thing to make a return since the beginning of the New 52. It’s so good to see him wielding that thing once again, especially since it was always one of his most iconic weapons.
The art is quite good, with Diogenes Neves and Jason Paz putting together a really gorgeous-looking comic. The characters look imposing and threatening, the faces are really expressive, and there is an air of mystery to the whole aesthetic. The colors by Jeremy Cox lean more on the dark end of the spectrum and help complete the style.
The issue opens on a narrative that plays out quickly, involving a millennia-old Chinese warlord and a warrior princess, both existing in the present somehow. It’s not apparent how this connects to the “Defiance” narrative. It feels a bit out of place, especially when there are far more interesting and confusing things going on that are advertised by the cover and ads.
Deathstroke #21 is a genuinely intriguing play by Mr. Priest, and it really leaves me excited and curious about what will happen next. Give this one a read. I have a feeling one of the more interesting early Rebirth stories is about to play out here.
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