Deathstroke 9

Today, Peter and Shelby are discussing Deathstroke 9, originally released May 9th, 2012.

Peter: With the release of issue 9, Deathstroke gets both a new writer and artist, who turns out, is the same person. Rob Liefeld takes the reins of the Terminator and sends him on a new adventure. However, I feel that DC should have gone ahead and called this issue #1, since, well, that’s pretty much exactly what it is.

This issue opens with a secret gathering of rich people who have decided that they need to kill Slade — not too surprising — he does things that they don’t like and without him they can be more evil. The story continues with Slade visiting his wife’s grave, where he is attacked by a gaggle of metas who want to hire him for a recon job. Before they can talk business, they fight (and before they fight, Slade presumably stashes his 8×10 away). It is revealed in this battle that Slade has purchased the entire hillside his wife is buried on, created false tombstones along with hers, and rigged the others WITH EXPLOSIVES. I wish there was a backup feature in this issue which went through Slade purchasing the plot of land, and then explaining his plan to the cemetery officials.

So, after the fight, we find out that Lobo has escaped from prison, and is planning on destroying the Earth. Slade is hired to hunt him down. Slade will be accompanied by Zealot (jumping over from the WildStorm universe) and a gang of the Omega Youths (not an early 80’s post-punk band, but the aforementioned metas). We are then treated to a Lobo sequence, where we see how he escaped the prison. We also get to see that he was, apparently, one of the Flying Czarinans (and that everyone in this Omega operation wears the same sunglasses like they want to be the agents from the Matrix.)

The most interesting thing about this issue is that it takes Deathstroke pretty much out of the New 52 and back into the old DCU. This new issue takes Slade’s costume backwards a bit, as well as the reintroduction of older DC characters like Sister Zealot make this book now feel more catered to a select group of people that I’m not sure I’m a member of. This group includes, A.) People who really like Rob Leifeld; B.) People who liked Deathstroke before the New 52; or C.) People who don’t like the New 52. I have not been happy with the books I have read by Leifeld in the past. I mean, it’s not that they are bad, I am just not sure they are for me.

One of the problems I have with this book is Slade’s newfound inner monologue.

In previous books the action just spoke for itself. Now Slade has a roving inner monologue that detracts from the action, but doesn’t do much to add to it. These panels don’t really do much for me, because they read like a series of of kung-fu-style freeze frames. In fact, I think that Leifeld is trying to turn Slade into an older, more serious version of his most popular creation, Deadpool. Deadpool is famous for constantly talking to himself and breaking the fourth wall.

Leifeld’s art doesn’t really do it for me either. He is all over the place with his pencils, and rather inconsistent. Also, the extra marks on the faces take away a lot. Everyone looks pretty much the same; almost all the men in this book have goatee-style facial fair and are extremely hard edged. His design for Deathstroke’s new costume is also really similar to Zealot’s.

Note that they both have similar styled shoulder pads. They both carry two swords on their back. Couldn’t come up with something more original. I think I want the New 52 armor back, it was much more believable and interesting.

Leifeld also threw out any of the previous problems Slade was having with getting old; the tremors/shakes, slowing down, etc. He essentially took Higgins’ work, and threw it out the window. Higgins made Slade seem a little more human, and gave another side to his character. Now Slade is back to being just another mercenary badass.

Leifeld introduces Lobo as the villain, which I guess I am okay with. Except so far, there isn’t much going on in terms of his character, he just beat the shit out of a bunch of people with his bare hands. Lobo has always had some comedic factor for me, but maybe that’s because I really know him best from the animated Superman cartoon. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.

As of right now I’m rather skeptical about the future of this book. DC gave Leifeld two other books as well, Savage Hawkman and Grifter. I would imagine that is because they aren’t really selling that great at this point. Maybe they’ll make way for a Third Wave later on?

Shelby: You know what I thought was interesting? For all the hype I was seeing for the “return of Lobo, supercrazybadass,” his name is not mentioned in this book. He is referred to as: the greatest predator in the galaxy, the Czarnian, the E.T. Even when he’s monologue-ing, he refers to himself as “the last son of Czarnia.” If I was just a casual reader, I would have finished this book wondering when this Lobo I’ve been hearing so much about is going to show up. It’s details like that which lead me to completely agree with you; Liefeld is not writing this book for fans of the New 52. I’ve come to LOVE the new Deathstroke; to have that glossed over in favor of what appears to be a step backwards is disappointing as hell.  You were also right in calling this issue #1; the amount of expository dialogue in this issue was frustrating. Reading it left me wondering if Liefeld had read the first 8 issues.

Now, I am not familiar with any of Liefeld’s other work. I knew there was going to be some adjustment after loving so dearly the work Higgins did on this title, so I remained open-minded as I read. I wanted to make sure I was giving this title a fair read, instead of just throwing a tantrum because it was different. I’m just not a fan of the voice Liefeld has given Slade. He was a man made enigmatic in his simplistic drive to be the best murderer in town, a man whose actions were governed by a code of honor and respect. Now he’s just whining about his long lost love, and how he can’t go on with out her unless he can kill something. I don’t buy it. It’s boring and kind of trite.

Sadly, the art doesn’t really wow me either. I don’t have any problems with the style of pencils or anything like that, it’s the characters themselves. They just don’t have a lot of expression. I’ve taken my share of drawing classes, I know that it is not the easiest thing to do, to capture not only someone’s features but also their expression. It’s got to be even harder when you’re dealing with non-humans and humans wearing masks. But come on, Zealot looks like a fucking zombie!

I’m obviously going to keep reading this title. Hopefully this is just a hiccup of a transition between two creative teams… In the meantime, though, I’m going to put on a black hoody and an Omega Youths album, and just wallow in my sadness and pain over my lost love.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to DC’s website and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

22 comments on “Deathstroke 9

  1. Liefeld taking over the character he’s most famous for knocking-off is a bit like…man, I can’t think of any knock-offs that are as obvious as Deadpool. What do you practice in the pool? Your strokes.

  2. I didn’t like this issue very much, for 2 reasons:
    1) Too many dialogues;
    2) Lobo’s characterization. I’m a huge Lobo’s fan, and I own every single comic book he appeared in (even as a guest star), so I think I can say that Liefeld never read any of them. If he had read at least an issue of Lobo, he would have known and respected its characteristic traits: black humour, creative language, easygoing attitude, and so on. I didn’t see any of this in Deathstroke # 9. In this issue Lobo was so one-dimensional that he could have been replaced with any other DC villain, and there wouldn’t have been any difference.
    I don’t know what to say about Liefeld. Sometimes he writes very good and enjoyable stories, and sometimes his tales are terribly inconsistent. For example, if you compare Deathstroke # 9 with Grifter # 9, you couldn’t believe they are written by the same writer: Grifter is brilliant, while Deathstroke… it’s not bad, but it has the big flaws I just mentioned. I had already noticed Liefeld’s changeableness during his short run as a writer on Hawk and Dove: the 6th issue was embarassing, while the last 2 were very good.
    Grifter is one of the best New 52 titles, in my opinion. Edmonson’s run was amazing, especially from the 4th issue on, and Liefeld’s one got off on the right foot, so I’m very satisfied with this series so far.

    • I’m not at all familiar with Lobo, I didn’t take his characterization into account at all. Maybe we’ll see more from him in issue 10? Who knows.

      What did you think of Kyle Higgin’s run on Deathstroke?

      • Lobo is totally like a character from a different age of comics – at once campy and dark as shit. I mean, he’s an outerspace biker with a killer-space dog. THAT’S HILARIOUS. I liked seeing him in the Green Lantern Brightest Day stuff – but didn’t read DS. The character doesn’t retain his trademark goofiness? That’s a damn shame.

        • Yeah, the only thing he’s done so far is break out of the lab holding him in an extraordinarily bloody fashion. It’s like Liefeld applied the hard-edged ruthlessness of Higgins’ Deathstroke, but applied it to the wrong character. It ultimately comes off as pretty hollow.

      • I don’t have much to say about Kyle Higgins run on Deathstroke. I bought only the 4th issue, and I found it was good, but it didn’t push me to go on buying it. Anyway, I read some New 52 comics that were far worse than Deathstroke # 4. I’ll name them in a decreasing order of quality: Hawk and Dove # 6 (inconsistent, but not irritating); Green Arrow # 7 (silly, inconsistent and irritating); Wonder Woman # 8 (simply unreadable).

        • We haven’t been covering Hawk and Dover or Green Arrow, but we’ve been really liking Wonder Woman (and issue 8 was no exception). I’m curious what you disliked so much about it.

        • While we liked WW8, I think it’s mostly because he like the series as a whole. On it’s own, WW8 would be a frustrating, borderline-pointless read. WW has a lot of things going for it – self-contained stories isn’t one of them.

        • I can give you 2 reasons also in this case:
          1) I’m in love with greek – roman world, and I think that Azzarello approached it in a purely pedestrian way.
          2) I enjoy super hero comics when they are as realistic, down-to-earth and plausible as possibile, so Wonder Woman definitely is not my ideal kind of comic book.
          Maybe patrickjehlers is right, when he writes that I would have appreciated WW # 8 if I had read the previous issues. Unfortunately I bought every single issue of only 2 of the New 52 series, the ones I am enjoying more (Grifter and Nightwing), and ordered only a few issues (or even nothing in some cases) of the other 50. I usually understood their plots anyway, because DC stories are (almost) always intelligible after a couple of pages. That’s the big difference between DC and Marvel: each DC comic can be read as a stand – alone story, even when it’s part of a huge crossover; on the other hand, to undestand a Marvel comic, you must start to read the series it belongs to from a very far point. Anyway, Marvel is printing some good series as well, so I can turn a blind eye to this.

        • Yeah, this sounds more like a matter of taste than anything. I’ll contend that Azzarello has a much more idiosyncratic approach than you’re giving him credit for (and definitely different from most modern takes I’ve seen), but we can agree that Wonder Woman is far from realistic. I’ve really been digging those fantasy/mythological elements, but I can see why that would be a deal breaker if you weren’t.

  3. Pingback: Deathstroke 10 | Retcon Punch

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