Deathstroke Annual #1 Review: An Unnerving and Brutal End to Defiance

Deathstroke Annual #1
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Summary
Writer: Christopher Priest, Artist: Denys Cowan, Inker: Bill Sienkiewicz, Color Artist: Jeromy Cox, Letters: Willie Schubert, Cover by: Ryan Sook, Editor: Alex Antone, Assistant Editor: Dave Wieglosz, Group Editor: Brian Cunningham, Deathstroke created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, Publisher: DC Comics, Release Date: Out Now, Price: $4.99

Deathstroke has been spotted by a local police officer doing something illegal. Slade prepares to kill the officer, who is ready to accept his fate. The question becomes whether Slade can bring himself to kill the officer.

A few days before, Tanya, aka Power Girl, takes issue with Adeline and Joseph Wilson while Deathstroke gets ready to take down another target with Defiance. Only Terra and Jericho show up for the operation, signaling that Defiance is crumbling from within.

Deathstroke Annual #1 cover by Ryan Sook
Deathstroke Annual #1 cover by Ryan Sook

This issue brings a conclusion to the “Defiance” arc for Deathstroke. All of the internal problems with the team come to a head at once, as the internal distrust and animosity explodes.

We also learn how sincere Slade was about the team, and the answer is genuinely satisfying.

The conflict between Tanya and Joseph is pretty interesting. Tanya is a Christian, and she thinks she catches Joseph hooking up with a guy in his room. This bothers Tanya, as she owns the building.

Kid Flash returns to the team, too, and that results in some interesting conflicts between he and Tanya as well as Slade himself.

Christopher Priest plays with the interpersonal drama very well, and the story takes a lot of turns. In can seem a little disjointed for a while, but the finale does tie it all together very well.

There is one twist that is… heavy, to say the least. It was a gutsy move on Priest’s part, but there are some angles to it that don’t entirely make sense. Without giving anything away, this is one of those plot points that could have been resolved with even minimal communication. That being said, you can also see why the communication didn’t happen. It was a bold and shocking move, and it was gripping enough so that the flaws in its execution didn’t completely ruin it for me.

Deathstroke Annual #1 art by Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Jeromy Cox
Deathstroke Annual #1 art by Denys Cowan, Bill Sienkiewicz, and Jeromy Cox

Denys Cowan takes over the pencil work for this comic. It’s grittier and less clean-looking than Diogenes Neves’s work, and it fits the comic well given that this is one of DC’s relatively darker offerings. Slade’s costume gets a really good full-page spread that looks pretty badass too. Bill Sienkiewicz’s inking solidifies the art well. Jeromy Cox’s color art is colder and matches the harsher tone of the comic very well.

Deathstroke Annual #1 brings a satisfying and aptly dark conclusion to the “Defiance” arc. The comic provides more insight into Slade’s psyche, and the other members of the team make their own dramatic choices. The art team puts in some solid work to boot, and this comic gets a recommendation. Give it a read.

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.