Deathstroke Vol. 1: The Professional By: Christopher Priest
Genre: Mystery/Action Comic Book
Reading Time: One hour
Summary: Slade Wilson is the deadliest assassin in the world, with some serious family problem. He goes on a cross-country road trip with his daughter to hunt down and kill the people who put out a hit contract on her. While a series of flashbacks reveals his past and helps to piece together the story and trap the reader in an interesting storyline.
Rant: Christopher Priest has made a modern masterpiece with his revival of Deathstroke. The Eisner Award-nominated series is truly one of the best pieces put out by mainstream comic distributors in recent years. A book that is so good, I would argue it is in the same league as Marv Wolfman’s legendary Judas Contract. With a minimal amount falters along the way, this Deathstroke is one of the must reads for the iconic assassin.
So many things make this book an incredible read. The look is a very strong point, one thing that stood out to me was a nice mix of empty backgrounds that emphasize how good and detail-filled the characters are, and nice, rich backgrounds. The art itself is pretty basic modern DC work, but basic doesn’t mean bad. Just because there’s no special twist on how the book looks don’t mean that it is inherently not good. There are several factors that push the art to the above average status. One being some really eye-popping pages, with the cover pages and their variants nearly all being stunning. Another is the colorization, one example being white hair, that in particular looks very good, and has a nice realistic color, and texture, like many other colors in the book. And many colors look really beautiful, like the shade of orange and black used on Deathstroke’s suit. Which brings me to my personal favorite thing about the art design: the costumes. Deathstroke’s outfit is easily one of the most recognizable in comics due to his one-eyed mask and orange and black color scheme. While his older costume is beloved by many, it does not translate into the modern incarnation of the character or modern comics as a whole. This version of his iconic outfit has been innovated just a tiny bit while retaining the instantly recognizable aspects of any proper Deathstroke costume. It’s less bulky, has a red trim outlining some parts of the suit, and the orange and black parts of the suit have been broken up a little bit with an entire left arm being silver instead. I can’t express how beautiful I find this outfit, how well it fits the character, and how much I love it. Another costume I find stunning is Dr. Ikon’s. Nothing too special about it, it just pleases the eye. It’s mostly white with gold and black detailing and a Doctor Strange-esque cape. The artists and colorists of this book need to be commended for their work. Now that my rant about how great the art is done, I can move on to the most important part, the writing and story. The dialogue is very fluid and feels real, especially between the main character, Slade, and his partner, Wintergreen. I also enjoyed how well the characterization was, personalities were well defined very early on in the story, and stayed consistent throughout. But that’s not to say there was no character development in the beginning of the story. Slade is portrayed as callous, and cold, even uncaring towards his own family at times. But at the end, Slade is shown to have been trying to bond with his daughter throughout the story, albeit through his own twisted way, but with sincere intentions. The pacing was another good thing about the writing, the book stays inconsistently high tempo, with little time if any character doing “nothing”, it seems like there is always something interesting or a fight scene going on. Another wonderful aspect of Priest’s brilliant writing is the inclusion of other DC characters in the book. Nightwing, Batman, and Robin are all included in the story and it feels very natural, like they are there for a reason, not just to cameo so more copies will sell. It also serves as a way to interconnect the universe of all DC books more fluidly. And finally my personal favorite thing about the writing: Slade’s History. Christopher Priest tells the tale of Deathstroke’s life perfectly. I find his origin story to be one of the most interesting in all of comics, especially because of Slade’s children, who all grow up to be mercenaries or vigilantes and also become interesting characters in their own right. I don’t want to spoil anything from his origin, in case anyone reading this doesn’t know yet, but it is perfectly retold in this book, and it is just so, so cool reading it again through different artists and author’s eyes. My one and only complaint about this book is how confusing it can be at times, the issue is less prevalent now that this is my second read through but it is still annoying. The book can have a weird flow to it in some parts or jump around between present and flashbacks too much, but in the end, the problem isn’t that large, as only minor details can be lost in this confusion. My overall verdict is 4.2/5 stars.