In the New 52, DC had a tough time with an ongoing for one character in particular, Deathstroke. At his core Deathstroke is a tough character to build an ongoing around as by nature, he’s not easy to connect with. Yet with the right set up, Slade Wilson as Deathstroke can be a compelling read. I remember when the DC Rebirth announcements hit and Christopher Priest on Deathstroke surprised me. Deathstroke became a comic for me personally to get excited about because if this character is where Priest returns to an ongoing series, this has got to be good. Quietly I’ve been awaiting this comic and I’ve been waiting to see what Priest has in store for us as readers. I am surprised that they’re doing a Rebirth rather than going into a #1 but from reading this issue, I can see why a Rebirth issue was needed here. So does Priest have the magic touch once more to get readers hooked into Deathstroke? Well there’s only one way to find out, let’s dive into Deathstroke: Rebirth #1 and go back into the brutal world of Slade Wilson once more.
First off with Deathstroke: Rebirth #1, you can tell that this is a Christopher Priest comic from the get go. The black box with white text giving you the slightest hint of what you’re in for is that instant sign that this is a Priest book. You see Slade Wilson being a Dad, an awful Dad at points, but a Dad nonetheless. On the other hand you see Slade as Deathstroke and what mission he’s on right now. You get many sides of the character, Mercenary, Dad, and altogether a complete character study of sorts. Best part about Deathstroke: Rebirth is you don’t need to know that much about Deathstroke going into this. Priest is making a point to show all the sides of Slade Wilson and how he operates. For every moment that Slade has that second where he might not be so terrible, he immediately becomes terrible again. Slade Wilson is not a good person and Priest doesn’t shy away from that. Priest is starting off his run on Deathstroke by doing some amazing character work with him from the start. There’s a lot of action and intensity here but the character work here is top notch.
You get a slow intro to Slade Wilson’s supporting cast in the book too, mostly Hosun his tech support, eventually Slade’s Kids, and another character I won’t mention because of spoilers. This isn’t a slow burn book by any means, yet Priest is making it clear, Deathstroke is the major focus and everything else is forming around him. This isn’t a light book either, some humorous moments yet but this book is dark without a doubt. Which shows in the art of the series, Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, and Jeromy Cox, make for a powerhouse art team here. It’s realistic, and tough as nails art and I like it. Pagulayan has a style fit for Slade’s world, it’s tough and suited for the fluid action scenes here. Paz’s inks add a tight line to the work, giving extra emphasis to Pagulayan’s art making it that much stronger. Jeromy Cox’s colors are muted for this, this is not a bright and shiny world that we’re in here and the colors show it. I would say the brightest coloring in the comic is the desert as Slade Wilson is talking to his current employer in the bright desert but the horrors around him are shaded in hushed and dark tones. The art for this series fits the character and sets the mood for darker things to come.
Deathstroke: Rebirth sets up Slade Wilson as a genuine bad guy and that’s amazing. No gimmicks, nothing fancy, just Slade Wilson being Slade Wilson. This is a back to basics for Slade Wilson and it’s been sorely needed. Now this may not be a series everyone will end up digging, this isn’t a light read by any means but it is good reading for sure if you’re into it. It adds more than a couple cool ideas into Slade’s world and I can’t help but like that. If you’re a big Deathstroke fan or just want a good tough action series, look no further than Deathstroke: Rebirth.