“Deathstroke” #25 features a key moment in Slade Wilson’s life where the character attempts to redeem himself and qualify as an actual hero. His superhero team Defiance is trying to make a name for themselves but stumbling hard along the way. Over the past 25 issues, something interesting started to transpire with the make-up of the series. The slow and deliberate pace of the title started giving way to a faster, more focused approach that hit a high with Defiance. Thankfully, the interesting story structure and overall quality of the comic has sustained since that shift.
When compared with lots of other titles, “Deathstroke” is a lot slower with the narrative utilizing page space to introduce all of the characters and ideas. Defiance is the first astronomically huge shake-up for the comic which is still devoted to psychologically examining Slade Wilson’s new state of mind. Will the milestone installment of the series find a way to capture the wonder of the title?
Written by Christopher Priest
Penciled by Carlo Pagulayan
Inked by Norm Rapmund, Trevor Scott and Jason Paz
Colored by Jeromy Cox
Lettered by Willie Schubert
“The Society”! After betraying another assassin and violating an unwritten code of conduct, Deathstroke is kidnapped and brought to stand trial before the Secret Society of Super Villains! Will Deathstroke pay for his crime? And what of Slade Wilson’s recent turn toward heroism? Don’t miss this special bonus-size landmark issue guest-starring The Riddler, Black Manta, Reverse-Flash and more!
Slade Wilson’s huge change of character transpired out-of-the-blue when the villain found he could not revive his son towards the end of ‘Lazarus Contract.’ The exact reason, or set of reasons, for why he made this huge life-changing decision is just out of reach but this installment is another chapter of the series which tests Wilson’s resolve to a breaking point. Writer Christopher Priest continues his examination into why Wilson made the choices he did toward the beginning of the story by giving readers a flashback to the past.
Lots of other comics might be a little more obvious and on-the-nose toward scenes like this, but Priest throws up a title card and has readers attempt to piece together what in the story is happening. The scene gives just the right amount of the backstory into Slade Wilson’s character and doesn’t hang around too long. The way in which the juxtaposition cuts right to the next page where Slade is being held hostage is a pure stroke of comics magic that lets readers know they are in for something special.
In the next couple pages, the narrative tricks continue and coalesce until Priest is ready to place more of his cards on the table and show readers just what sort of status quo Slade is going to be in with this issue. Priest keeps readers at arm’s length in the comic but still shows a bevy of emotion when it counts as an impactful touch on the overall nature of the comic. When the writer opens up the story and unveils the full scope of the issue, the story depicts a side of the DC Universe that hasn’t been explored in a long time.
While “Deathstroke” itself is supposed to be a more self-contained series overall, this issue of the book opens up the floor to more of the characters in the title and explores the scope of Rebirth in a fascinating manner. Even for new readers, the book attempts to catch fans up to speed with flashbacks featuring the full cast and events which transpired over the past few chapters of the book.
Carlo Pagulayan explores lots of facets of the strange corner of the DC Universe here. The artist draws lots of pulse-pounding action and introspective moments. The choreography in the fight scene illustrates an epic sense of movement. Pagulayan manages his page structure and layouts exceedingly well with a highlight being a stirring page with Black Manta, carrying tons of kinetic movement between each panel of the page.
Pagulayan also gets the chance to draw lots of different styles of bodies and really flamboyant characters. The artist excels with each character and page and while the title can look slightly inconsistent to due to the absurd amount of inkers finishing off the story, this comic retains the strong visual qualities “Deathstroke” has carried since the beginning.Continued below
In addition to “Deathstroke” #25 being an absurdly fun comic, Priest has something really important to say about the character. The final pages of the story featuring the roundtable of talking heads add a tragic sense of depth and dimension to the comic that leaves Wilson’s future up in the air.
From the second Defiance surfaced, loyal readers of the book were wondering: “why”–”Deathstroke” #25 doesn’t have the answers, but it has one hell of a good anniversary narrative loaded with brutal action and a dark psychological examination of the darkness ruminating in Slade’s noggin.
Final Verdict: 8.5 – “Deathstroke” #25 is an anniversary issue loaded with fascinating story elements and action that make the issue and series prove why this milestone has been earned.