Deathstroke #23 Review
Written by: Christopher Priest
Pencils by: Diogenes Neves
Inks by: Jason Paz
Colors by: Willie Schubert
Cover by: Ryan Sook
Deathstroke took his new Defiance out on their debut mission, fighting to stabilize a country that he secretly destabilized in the first place. While the young team fought a bunch of hard light projections, Deathstroke met with his old friend Dr. Light and had a conversation about the values of heroism and villainy.
The issue opens with a brief flashback of Deathstroke in the past taking on a contract to protect two men helping him with an assassination. We then jump to the present in which Deathstroke is giving his version of a pep talk to the young members of Defiance. He challenges his daughter Rose to spar, taunting her to make her angry. This works easily, and in her anger Rose gets the upper hand and stabs her father in the stomach. They were both confident his Ikon suit couldn’t be punctured by a sword, but for some reason the blade goes through and Deathstroke collapses.
We check in on Willow, the strange Hmong girl hiding in Chinatown after killing and old mob boss in the past issues. We learn that a good samaritan found her on the street and named her Willow, and has been taking care of this lost woman. Back at Defiance HQ, Deathstroke is getting patched up, his healing factor having saved him from death or any lasting damage from the stab wound. Power Girl tells him that the Ikon suit was pierced because of a synthetic element that hasn’t been invented yet that somehow was on Rose’s sword, which she became familiar with when she traveled to the future back when she was on the Teen Titans. Slade goes to ask Rose for her sword to investigate whether or not it’s from the future, but instead finds Hosun in her room, as she arrives to tell her father that Hosun is her husband now.
Elsewhere, Jericho confronts his mother, Adeline, accusing her of killing his fiancee Etienne. She lies, telling her son she had nothing to do with her death. The two are prevented from arguing further by a call from Deathstroke telling Defiance that they have a mission, and the team heads off to save a cruise ship that’s being attacked by pirates. As the team gets to work, Terra and Rose discuss Deathstroke’s choices of what missions to send the team on, and what his other agendas might be. Turns out their concerns are warranted when we see Deathstroke lecturing the pirates, who happen to be the two men from the flashback in the beginning. After a job well done the team heads back to HQ, and muse over the conflicts of the day. Jericho and Adeline tentatively reconcile while Slade and Wintergreen discuss Slade’s struggle with his urge to kill again.
Thoughts on the issue:
Even though this issue is packed with content, very little actually happens in it. This is emblematic of just how many threads are going in this series by now. Since the first issue the book has been adding layer after layer while resolving very few. We’ve got Rose and her issue with her dad, we’ve got Tanya, Wally, and Terra trying to figure out their spot on a new team. Jericho is trying to figure out who killed his fiancee, Wintergreen and Adeline are plotting something against Deathstroke, Slade was “sent for” by The Society, and there are ancient Hmong personalities killing each other in Chinatown. That’s a ton of stuff to keep track of. Priest’s writing is as strong as ever, and the series is still compelling, but as the series goes on 20 pages feels less and less satisfying.
One last thing: Priest is writing Tanya Spears, the current Power Girl, better than anyone has so far. It’s great to see her being well utilized.
Final Score: 7.5/10