Monday, November 3, 2014

Deathstroke #1

I'm already disappointed with this book.

I can't help but feel like I'm going to be reading one of the shittiest books of the New 52 in just a few seconds. And just to put Mr. Daniel at ease, only a small percentage of my doom and gloom attitude comes from knowing that he's writing the book. Also, Mr. Daniel, have you ever thought about just adding an "s" to your last name?

My pessimism lies mostly in what DC Comics did to Deathstroke during his first series. They changed his motivation, over and over again. They changed his family dynamic, and how his family died, and how his children related to one another. What was true in Higgins run was not true in Liefeld's run and changed yet again during Jordan's run. And then, to top it all off, the Villains Month issue rearranged Slade Wilson's life one final time. I guess the best I can hope for is that DC's editorial just told Tony S. Daniel to write Slade however the fuck he wanted to write him, and to just make up an entirely new history for him. Let's all just pretend that the previous versions of Slade were clones from the Marvel Universe and the real Slade Wilson has finally arrived to kick butt and slit throats.

Although I will allow for one story of Deathstroke's to remain canon! That was his appearance in the short lived Green Team. That may have been his best characterization in The New 52. Even his role in Forever Evil didn't make any sense!

Oh, and I hope Mr. Daniel doesn't just steal ideas from the television show Arrow! That's a whole separate universe and that Slade wouldn't work in this universe, okay?! Okay. Let's read this shit.

After page one, a significantly higher portion of my doom and gloom attitude can now be attributed to Tony S. Daniel's writing.

Fuck. I like Deathstroke best when he's an amoral mercenary, taking jobs to earn money and increase his reputation as the greatest killer for hire the DC Universe has ever seen. I don't want to see Slade Wilson as a good guy. Granted, if I respected Mr. Daniel's writing ability (although how can I after what he did to Detective Comics and Hawkman?), I might expect Slade to still do really horrible and reprehensible things while he believes he's acting toward the greater good. But I don't respect Mr. Daniel's writing enough to allow for that possibility. I think he plans on making Slade take jobs where he kills bad people but no evidence will exist that the people he kills are bad. So he'll still have a terrible reputation amongst the heroes that would love to put a stop to him while still feeling his actions are justified in his own mind.

I also predict at least two double-splash page spreads during this issue! It's highly likely I'll see my first one as I turn to page two!

Nope. Just a whole lot more Narration Boxing so that the reader can understand Slade's motivations clearly. Wouldn't want to make up our own minds on what side of the moral line we think he works on. Best to hear it straight from him so we know what we're supposed to think of his actions. He's a good guy!

More explanatory bullshit. Some might use the phrase "setting the stage." But when I go to the theater, I expect the stage to already be set when the curtain opens.

Three pages in and I'm wondering why I'm not playing Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare! Here's what I've learned so far in the most boring manner possible. Deathstroke is the world's deadliest assassin. Slade isn't going to hide from that. Slade loves his job. Dead men don't talk. Slade loves adventure. Slade thinks he's a good guy. Slade has friends all over the world. Slade knows a guy named Tiggs but won't tell anybody, ever, that Tiggs' name is Tiggs. Slade hates technology (although he probably loves weapon technology!). Putin hates Deathstroke. Deathstroke knows a woman in Russian named Angelica. Angelica likes to work hard and party harder. Slade is missing one eye.

That's a lot to have learned in three pages, right?! Sure. But that's what happens when 50% of every panel is composed of Narration Boxes.

And then Pages 4 and 5 have the Double Splash! Oh, I knew Tony S. Daniel couldn't resist a good waste of space during the credits! Although for once, he actually utilizes the space well by placing a number of panels over the top of the double page spread. So technically, it's not a double page splash since he still gets some panels in there to work on the story. But come on! It's still two full pages of a cityscape with Deathstroke jumping across the skyline. I guess he's falling out of a plane?

Is this a Dark Knight Returns homage?

Deathstroke kills a bunch of people and also says, "Location. Location. Location." Just so you know he's heard phrases that are often used as not really funny punchlines but recognizable enough that people think they just heard a joke. He also kills a lot of people at each location. But just so the reader knows he's not killing willy-nilly, Slade lets the last guy go because he's "not on Slade's list."

Here's one of the problems with writing a Deathstroke comic: he's the best at what he does. So it's very difficult to create tension and to find a conflict that truly challenges Deathstroke. It's very similar to the problem writers of Superman face. Now, the weaker writers challenge Superman by having him face a creature that is more powerful than he is. They slug it out for awhile until Superman, having said, "That actually hurt!", barely winds up on top. Deathstroke suffers from the same problem but usually somebody is shooting lots and lots of bullets at him and proves to be quicker in hand to hand combat. So then Slade just has to get a second wind and have enough heart and power his way to victory! Let's hope Slade's problem doesn't have to do with an opponent he can't beat in a fight. Let's hope things get a lot more complicated. I'm trusting you, Tony S Daniel! You pitched this story and it was accepted, so let's hope you didn't just walk into the editor's office and say, "Imagine this! Deathstroke takes an easy job only to find out that the not easy!"

Angelica fell asleep on her George Foreman Grill.

Since I highly doubt the two men that Angelica tortured "literally squealed their hearts out," I'm going to assume the idiom she meant to use just doesn't translate well to English from Russian.

Things quickly fall apart once Slade thinks he has his mark, Opossum, cornered. But Opossum isn't cornered at all! He's just playing cornered! Instead, he has a device that emits a sound that turns Slade into a useless jelly roll. I think Slade must have gotten his super powers in a different manner than the previous ways he got his super powers because now they can be hacked by a loud sound. Which is weird since Slade already mentioned that he hates technology because it is always being hacked by young kids getting paid in weed. He said that. I didn't make that up. And now that Slade is down, he gives up some kind of code to Opossum.

Why is Slade supposedly better than other people when he uses 10% less of his brain activity than we all do? I guess the 10% of the brain Slade doesn't use houses his doubt and self-loathing and constant desire to masturbate.

Slade manages to defeat Opossum by grabbing the blade Opossum is using to cut him up and shove the hilt of it back up through Opossum's head. It makes sense if you ignore the fact Opossum was holding on to the sword and would have needed to slide his hand through the hilt guard to lose that kind of control over it. Otherwise, he might have just banged the hilt up into his cheek or something. You know, at best. But that's okay! I understand from having read Daniel's early Hawkman and Detective Comics issues that Daniel's isn't really very good at telling a story using sequential art. He really does need a writer to get the best work out of him.

Opossum's back-up arrives in a VTOL and bombs the building down to its foundation.

And then it's Double Splash Page #2! Sure, there's a little panel down in the lower right but it doesn't really count.

Deathstork Deathstroke begins to kill every member of Opossum's back-up even thought they aren't on the list. I guess it's okay for Deathstroke to kill people that are actively trying to kill him. Then there's almost a third Double Splash Page! But I can't actually count it because it has six sequential panels along the bottom that continue the story. And that story is that Deathstroke killed everybody but Opossum. Surprise! He wasn't actually dead! Now I wonder where he got his name? From running between people's houses at night hissing like a maniac?

Deathstroke makes his way to some guy named I-Ching who owes him a favor. That's where he collapses with his brains falling out all over the floor. Well shit. Now he's only going to be able to use 80% of his brains.

Sixteen days later, Slade Wilson wakes up in a new body. One with two eyes and black hair and rippling, young muscles, and a tight, unsullied sphincter. Or maybe he's just much younger than he used to be. Who knows? It really just screams of a writer whose pitch for this book was, "Imagine Deathstroke suddenly being totally different without any connection to what made him Deathstroke when the comic book began! Imagine how freeing that would be to me, the writer! No more eye patch! No more old guy! No more family! No more bullshit, fucked up history with three or four different versions. And I'm only counting the versions after the Reboot! Imagine all the money I'll make!"

Deathstroke #1 Rating: Who the fuck knows?! Deathstroke got his ass completely kicked which should never happen except all of those times it always happens because the plot needs some kind of tension. And then Opossum gets his brains knocked out but he regenerates almost immediately and is just fine. So he's got better powers than Slade since Slade got some of his brains knocked out and it took him sixteen days to heal. And he didn't even heal from his own powers, apparently. I think he got dunked in a Lazarus Pit since he was covered in blood. That probably also explains why he's suddenly so much younger. Plus he has an enemy named Odyssey and he has a head that can be tinkered with by radio waves and he has a girlfriend named Angelica that is probably dead because her name isn't Opossum so she doesn't know the "seems dead" trick. I guess I'm starting this comic book in the middle of the rankings. And I guess I'm also starting a tradition of starting all non-Nocenti, non-Lobdell comics in the middle of the rankings!

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