Deathstroke #37 // Review
Slade, still in Arkham Asylum, can’t tell what’s real and what’s not anymore, and he’s taking the readers along with him. Deathstroke #37, written by Christopher Priest, with pencils by Fernando Pasarin, inks by Jason Paz and Sean Parsons, and colors by Jeromy Cox and Carrie Strachan continues the mind-bending look at Slade’s stay in Arkham, but don’t expect answers, because there are none to be had. Previously, Wilson was set up by those closest to him, and sent to Arkham Asylum. Inside, he was still hearing the voice of an A.I. program he should have been disconnected from, hinting that he might not be totally sane after all. He eventually used the A.I. program to escape, along with another inmate named Devon, only to be abducted by aliens. Now, Slade is back in his cell at Arkham, believing he’s been gone for weeks, only to find out that the Arkham officials think he has been hallucinating his escape, given that Devon doesn’t exist.
Whereas the first issue of this story ended on such a random note, leaving it feeling disjointed and a little goofy, this chapter works to re-ground the arc, and mostly succeeds. Priest does a fine job of turning all of Deathstroke’s perceptions of reality upside down. He’s not only unable to contact his A.I. anymore, but he’s learned that he’s been having full conversations and adventures in space with an inmate that supposedly never existed. Slade knows something is wrong and he’s trying to piece it together, but, when you can’t trust anything you’re seeing or hearing, that’s a nearly impossible task. There is definitely something strange happening to Slade, as the readers know he’s not delusional, but Priest has turned this story into quite the mystery with this issue. Clearly, the virtual reality therapy has something to do with Slade’s imagined space adventures...or is it the meds the Arkham staff have been pumping into the air in his cell? Priest hints, but never fully gives away his hand.
Another improvement over last issue is the B story following Slade’s kids, Rose and Joseph. Rose has been experiencing what she is calling a possession, but everyone else believes she is having some sort of delusion onset by all of the family stress involving her dysfunctional relationship with her dad. Last issue felt like this was just a weak side story tacked onto the main one just to include Wilson’s supporting cast, but this chapter brings it all together by the end--albeit in a truly head scratching moment. It’s still the weakest part of the book, but at the very least, Priest will have you wanting to come back for the next issue just to make sense of the final scene. Again, everything you’ve been reading is called into question, and you have to wonder if anything on the page in either story can be trusted.
As usual, the art on this book is top notch. It’s really saying something that DC would have this team on a small (but great), solo title about one of their villains, because they could definitely be providing the visuals for Superman, or the Justice League, just as easily. Pasarin is one of DC’s best artist, hands down. Most of the scenes of this book are people just standing around talking, but he still makes a visual feast of every panel. And the inks and colors are equally great. Paz, Parsons, Cox, and Strachan all work well together to make mostly dark scenes set in Arkham seem visually interesting. Lesser inkers or colorists would make this issue look drab, as it lacks brightness or color in every way, but this team stepped up in a major way.
All-in-all, this was a pretty solid issue. Despite a lack of action or adventure, Priest is telling a mystery story that really grabs the audience and pulls them in. If he can stick the landing on the reveal of just what is going on with Arkham and Slade, then he just might have a classic Deathstroke story on his hands. Only time will tell, but, as of this issue, it’s quite a ride.