With Deathstroke being announced as a villain for the DCEU, I thought I’d write about the new Rebirth series starring Slade Wilson. Last week, Deathstroke (2016- ) #2 was released. The series is written by Christopher Priest and penciled by Carlo Pagulayan. I had never read any of Priest’s work before, but when he described the series on an interview on YouTube I was interested. Spoilers lie ahead for Deathstroke Rebirth #1 and Deathstroke (2016-) #1.
The first issue, which is actual Deathstroke: Rebirth #1, starts with an introduction of Slade’s sons, and then moves to his mission. Jazaki or The Red Lion is the “For-Life President” of an African Nation. He’s allows Slade to hunt down The Clock King, who is at death’s door. The Clock King knows that a loved one of Slade is being held nearby, so in exchange for his life he tells him one word, Kenilworth.
With that, Slade heads back to the men Jazaki loaned him to complete his mission. They are worried that Jazaki will kill them because Jazaki was tasked with protecting Clock King. Slade has them give him whatever money they have and said that they made a contract with him to protect the men’s children. They agreed to bring him to the camp. Intercut is a flashback to Slade with his sons and Wintergreen. At the camp, the men present Slade’s body saying that Deathstroke is dead, only for him to kill all the soldiers and find Wintergreen held in a cave.
In Deathstroke #1, the issue starts with a Congressman receiving an envelope filled with blackmail pictures. He walked right off the balcony and fell onto a car. A cut to Slade and Wintergreen in a car looking at a map of Kenilworth, NJ. After a brief conversation, the story cuts to a young Clock King with Jazaki. He’s figured out the warlord’s plan. He double-crossed both Clock King and Deathstroke while the Congressman who would stop military intervention in his country dies.
The story cuts to Slade and Wintergreen in the cave. Wintergreen had videos and pictures of Slade and his family which he brought with him when he was kidnapped. He also had Slade’s Ikon Suit. They escape and Jazaki’s men bring them back to the President’s home. Wintergreen goes in to work out a deal with Clock King, but he sent Wintergreen back to a time before Slade and his wife got divorced. He comes back to the present as Slade comes in for the attack. The young Clock King is a time echo, but Slade set the room on fire where the older Clock King was connected to his oxygen tank. He makes sure Jazari won’t harm the men’s families and they left. Wintergreen talked about being in a dream. Slade punches him to wake him up. They exchange words and walk away together. The tag showed Jazaki talking on the phone, saying that Deathstroke found the Ikon Prototype suit.
This first arc was well written and a good introduction of the character. You learn about Slade’s family and his relationship to Wintergreen. It also gives you an idea of who is Slade Wilson. He’s a mercenary with a conscience. The Clock King has ruined people’s lives and Slade intends to keep his promise, even if it means going against Jazaki. Christopher Priest’s writing style is very good and has an easy flow to the story structure. The cuts back and forth make for an interesting arc.
The art is also great. For me, art is usually secondary to the story. This is not because I think less of the art, but more because I get bored if the story doesn’t make sense. The artist, Carlo Pagulayan, was terrific over these two issues. With the bi-weekly schedule of the Rebirth line, you would expect these to feel rushed. Fortunately, they aren’t.
If you are a fan of Deathstroke, I strongly suggest picking up this series. It’s not as good as Wolfman’s take on the character, but enjoyable nonetheless. I will be looking in Priest’s other work. The DCEU version of the character will probably not be like this given the strangeness of Snyder’s characterizations so far. Another great arc is City of Assassins featuring Batman from the 1990s Deathstroke series by Marv Wolfman and The Judas Contract from The New Teen Titans series in the 1980s. Issue #2 starts a new arc, so I’ll review the whole arc when that is over. Until next time, thanks for reading.