Slade and the Raptor face off on a decommissioned aircraft carrier while Jericho is still coming to terms with his past. All that and a burgeoning family drama? Is this Deathstroke or Melrose Place?
Deathstroke #13 (DC Comics)
I just want to take a moment to think of how much better Melrose Place would have been if Heather Locklear had been fighting some rando to the death on a decommissioned aircraft carrier whenever she wasn’t sleeping with someone else’s husband (hey, the estate of Aaron Spelling, hit me up for more ideas).
After using his connections (in this case: a transparently palette-swapped version of Marvel’s Black Panther) to track down the copycat that had been killing thugs under the Deathstroke name, Slade faces off with up-and-coming-but-not-entirely-original vigilante The Raptor in an effort to reclaim his stolen battle armor. It turns out it was all a ploy to get both Slade and The Raptor together to set the nuclear rods that would power the stalled aircraft carrier back in place, since both had enhanced regenerative abilities. The ship once belonged to the Red Lion (told you it was a transparent palette swap), and he plans to use it to reclaim his country.
If that sounds unnecessarily complex, it’s because it is. That’s only a part of this circuitous issue, which also devotes a considerable amount of space to the continued ennui of Jericho. Thankfully, we miss another week of Rose spinning wheels in middle America, but even between the two more interesting plots, this issue is a lot to take in. It feels like Priest had too many ideas too throw into this issue and decided to use them all. The result is a story that often feels rushed and filled with half-born ideas that just didn’t come all the way through…at least for Slade’s portion of the story.
Jericho’s story, on the other hand, has a more down-to-earth and grounded aura about it. It’s a more subdued portrait of a man struggling with something he has done, and while it does ground a bit of the insanity that is Slade’s story, it also falls a bit off the rails with the soap opera style twist that ends the story. Not sure about the direction they’re taking Jericho’s story, but it is something a bit less obvious, which could potentially take things in an interesting direction.
An action-heavy but clumsily paced book, Deathstroke #13 reveals a challenge facing the writers of this series: pacing. There’s a lot of story to tell and three unique protagonists to follow through different stories. Though they sometimes nail the delicate balance required to spin so many plates at the same time, this issue kind of collapses under its own weight. They even made the effort to pare down the go-nowhere story following Ravager, but there was just too much to pay attention to in this one. With it looking as if Jericho and Slade’s stories may now become one, hopefully things will improve.