Comic Book Review: Deathstroke #30

Deathstroke #30 Cover - Art by Lee Weeks - DC Comics
Deathstroke #30 Cover - Art by Lee Weeks - DC Comics

“Our benefactors began as boys with the best of intentions. And now seem ready to lose the plot.”

Deathstroke and Batman have always had a major rivalry. While Deathstroke isn’t always the typical villain, he does get paid to kill people. An occupation Batman takes issue with especially when he does this particular job in Gotham City. Christopher Priest has been on Deathstroke for a couple of years now. He’s created all kinds of havoc for Slade Wilson to create across the DC Universe. But Priest’s run hasn’t been that…simple. Deathstroke has had to deal with political conflicts, family, and being an anti-villain. But he hasn’t had many encounters with his rival, Batman. That changes in the pages of Deathstroke #30, the beginning of Deathstroke vs. Batman.

Priest starts the story out slow. The most famous butler ever, Alfred Pennyworth, is having a drink when he makes his acquaintance. None other than Deathstroke’s very own Alfred, William Randolph Wintergreen. The simple conversations between similar men sets the tone for the entire series. Reminding fans that both Deathstroke and Batman are going to make it out of this, and probably not as enemies.

While the point of conflict between the two is a little…weird. It’s very intriguing. The parentage of Damian Wayne is in question. Could Deathstroke be the father? Probably not, the mercenary says. But it’s enough to get the party started in a fun way for Deathstroke vs. Batman Part 1. 

“I retired once. Didn’t stick.”

Wintergreen and Pennyworth have a lot in common. They’re both English, veterans, and happen to be assistants to super-powered characters. Enough to form a bond. But there’s clues that there’s more to this friendship than meets the eye. Writer Christopher Priest is always a fan of good conversation. Which has been one of the more surprising aspects of his Deathstroke run, the quality of the writing. Slade Wilson’s stories haven’t simply been about the next contract kill.

The same can be said for Deathstroke #30. Priest could write a straightforward conflict between the two, but that would be too simple. Instead, it’s a story of confused parentage. Someone wanted Batman to find a positive paternity between Damian and Slade. While it seems a little…easy, that’s the point. Damian is the son of Bruce Wayne. He knows it and Slade knows it. But a mysterious force wants to start a fight between the two. There’s easier ways to do it, but not necessarily easier ways to make Batman pissed off. He’s got a soft spot for Damian, after all.

While the two do exchange blows for a while, Deathstroke #30 is a slow starter for this new arc. There’s a little too many conversations; there’s not a lot of fighting. But it’s more than enough to make Deathstroke vs. Batman Part 1 a great comic.

“There’s a line. Cross it, and he’s coming for you.”

Carlo Pagulayan creates an intricate and exciting world for Batman and Deathstroke. Everything from his facial expressions to his costumes look incredibly crisp. Though the fight between the two is brief, Pagulayan and inker Jason Paz create a beautiful landscape for the two heroes to help destroy. As Deathstroke enters an abandoned building ready to find his hit, he finds the Dark Knight instead.

Pagulayan does a wonderful job of bringing both Slade Wilson and Bruce Wayne to life. In this issue, readers will get to see both characters in and out of their costumes. Creating unique faces in the pages of a comic can be a difficult task for some artists, but not this team. Every character looks distinctly themselves, especially Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. The artists perfectly capture the tired, but determined faces of Batman and his loving Father Figure.

Action is an incredibly difficult thing to illustrate. Making sequences seem exciting and fast-paced all while trying to organize panels and characters. Pagulayan, Paz, and colorist Jeremy Cox make it look easy. Every landed punch or crash is captivating and explosive. Capturing the reader’s attention, even if the script is a little wordy.

The Verdict

One doesn’t expect the pages of Deathstroke to be filled with political intrigue, great dialogue, and lots and lots of conversations. But that’s how writer Christopher Priest has made his run unique. Deciding to show that Slade Wilson isn’t just a mercenary for hire. He’s a warrior trying to navigate his way through the DC Universe. Not an easy task. Especially when Batman isn’t particularly fond of you. Such is the life of Deathstroke, and the beginning of the conflict in Deathstroke vs. Batman: The Burning Wall Part 1. 

Someone left a paternity test for Batman to find. One that states that Slade, not Bruce, is Damian’s father. Leading Batman to hunt and trap the famous mercenary. But Priest doesn’t make things that simple. This arc isn’t just about a fight between Batman and Deathstroke, it’s about a conflict. It’s about a war. To sew the seeds of aggression someone has made this personal by bringing Damian into it. An intriguing story, even if there’s a bit too much dialogue for the first issue.

The art team captures the action in an incredible way in the final pages. While the figures and characters seen throughout are perfectly captured, it’s the action that the team excels at. Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz and Jeremy Cox are a great team to bring this story to life. Making the pages of Deathstroke #30 look as tense and expensive as any 80’s Action Movie. Plenty of reason to pick up Deathstroke #31. 

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