Deathstroke #32 // Review
Deathstroke #32, written by Christopher Priest, with pencils by Carlo Pagulayan, Roberto Viacara, and Larry Hama, the inks of Jason Paz, and the colors of Jeromy Cox, delivers another top notch issue of the Deathstroke vs Batman arc. These two characters have circled each other for years, and even squared off on a few occasions, but no one has ever put them together in a major confrontation like Priest has. If he doesn’t get a Batman book out of this, it will be criminal. Previously, Batman and Deathstroke realized they were being played against each other, when a paternity test revealed that Damian Wayne may actually be the son of Slade Wilson.
Both characters are on point, each doing their best to disable the other. Priest’s take on Batman is perfectly stubborn, refusing to allow Deathstroke to conduct his business (murder). Instead, he has been following Wilson around the world, interrupting his attempts to kill people at every turn. Wilson, on the other hand, has been disinterested in engaging with Batman up to this point, and has even warned him to back off several times. Now, it seems, Deathstroke has gotten fed up with Batman’s meddling, and boy, when he strikes back, he strikes hard. In keeping with Deathstroke’s ruthless mentality, he does not go after Batman, but rather strikes at Bruce Wayne where he lives. It doesn’t seem likely this will permanently unravel any of Wayne’s life, because DC would save that kind of big change for his own book, but it sure is fun to speculate on how he will get out of this mess.
The bulk of this issue revolves around a mission of Slade’s that has him trying to kill an older, Cold War-era superhero named “Human Dynamo,” with Batman trying his hardest to foil him. The action scenes are well-paced and aren’t just there for fun, as Priest leads it all up to a twist that proves Deathstroke’s world isn’t all black and white. When faced with this turn in the plot, both Batman and Deathstroke react in accordance with their established character traits, with Batman refusing to accept a loss and Deathstroke uncaringly delivering his final blow. It would be easy for the writer of “Deathstroke” to deliver a showdown between these two characters that was skewed in the title character’s favor, but Priest has done an excellent job of showing how evenly matched these characters are, only giving Deathstroke a slight edge because he is willing to go further than Batman to destroy his enemy.
As stated before, the greater part of this issue is devoted to action, and the art team handles those scenes with great skill. Pagulayan and Viacara are on pencils, but the legendary Larry Hama provides breakdowns, and the results are high-flying action involving Batman and Deathstroke fighting on a flying car over a city as they chase down a super-powered hero with his own flight capabilities. The team provides fun angles and a cinematic scope that lends itself well to this kind of action, and their take on the Human Dynamo’s design is pure fun. Additionally, Paz’s inks pull the three artists’ work together into sharp, well-defined visuals. Cox’s colors are also invaluable in this issue, as he adds a stunning glow to the powers of the Human Dynamo in an otherwise darker book. The contrast between two street-level fighters taking on a man that literally glows with energy when his powers are activated is greatly enhanced by his work.
In the end, if you’ve been enjoying this story, you know it’s been great and there’s no reason to jump off now. But, if you’re just a fan of Batman and Deathstroke and you haven’t been picking this story up, there is zero reason you shouldn’t be reading this book. Priest looks to have no interest in holding back anything when it comes to this epic showdown and he only keeps upping the ante with every issue, such as the stunning ending to this issue that might make you want to re-read the previous issues to see if you missed something. This is one of DC’s better books out right now, and it’s not getting nearly enough buzz for the quality of its content, so it’s highly recommended that you run out and pick it up.