Or – “The Cover Does Not Fill Me With Hope.”

I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of Rob Liefeld, but even I have to say that it’s impressive to see him staying in steady work for over 25 years in the volatile comic industry.  A highly controversial creator, it seems everybody has an opinion on Rob, and his New 52 work has been no exception.  One thing that has become VERY clear that he has a deep love for Slade Wilson as a character, but will that translate into a good comic?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

DEATHSTROKE #0
Writer: Rob Liefeld
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Inker(s): Adelso Corona, Cory Hamscher & Art Thibert
Colorist(s): Juan Fernandez & Ross Hughes
Letterer: Travis Lamham
Editor: Brian Smith
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Deathstroke:  Slade Wilson, in the old continuity, was the greatest mercenary in history, even with only one eye.  Since the advent of the New 52, he has been more or less the same, fighting and fighting and mutants and fighting and stuff, but has discovered that his son Grant (aka The Ravager) may still be alive.  None of that matters right now, though, because we’re about to see the Origin of Deathstroke!

AS SEEN IN THE JUDAS CONTRACT…

The cover of this issue is almost spectacularly unattractive to me, with a massive, impossibly proportioned Deathstroke falling through the cover (reminiscent of Giant-Size X-Men #1, now that I think about it.)  But the first pages make it so much worse, as we see Slade Wilson in the army, learning his trade as a super-assassin.  (Not THAT Super-Assassin.)  If you’ve ever read ‘The Judas Contract,’ where we first read the origin of Deathstroke (as done by Marv Wolfman and George Perez) then much of this issue should be no surprise to you.  Rob is very respectful of that original story, to the point of using entire scenes and conversations in this story.  I can’t decide whether I like or hate this technique, because what they’re retelling is a VERY good story.  Of course, there are some changes, as one of his first missions is apparently to recover the Black Diamond of Eclipso from it’s Pacific Island hiding place, and his team includes Grifter, the future Black Canary, Amanda Waller and Alex Fairchild, the father of Fairchild from Gen 13.  Slade’s best friend Wintergreen gets aged down a few decades (as well as changing race), but we still see the first outing of Deathstroke trying to save him from captivity, but all in all, the backstory is mostly the same, save for some unnecessary bits of topical reference (Slade’s mission to knock out North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, for one.)

THE ANATOMY OF NO ANATOMY.

It should come as no surprise that the art in this issue isn’t very good, although Liefeld has improved somewhat since his heyday on X-Force.  The multiple inkers make for an inconsistent artistic experience throughout the issue, and the attempts to draw military weapons and clothing (notably the laughable army boots on display) are pretty giggle-worthy.  As with the story, there are visual references to Slade’s origin back in New Teen Titans as well, which work against the effect.  Most severely, the narration is done by Adeline Kane, Slade Wilson’s ex-wife, leading to the last page return of Jericho to the New 52, undermined for me by the fact that this also happened the LAST time they told this story.  By the end of the issue, my reaction was one of complete disinterest, as I haven’t been particularly interested in Deathstroke’s new solo series, and this issue is one of contrasts.  On the one hand, they’re trying to freshen up Slade’s Bronze Age origins, but on the other, they’re being almost TOO respectful of the source material, to the point where it feels like they’re not on the same page.  Are we all new, all different or not?  This issue has no idea at all…

THE BOTTOM LINE: PROBABLY AN EASY SKIP.

I don’t want to be harsh or cruel, but this issue was absolutely unnecessary.  The promise of Deathstroke’s origin was fulfilled, but that fulfillment was pretty much a retelling of a story from 1984 with a few new barnacles thrown on to make it feel different.  The art was sub-par from top to bottom, and the best lines of the issue were written by Marv Wolfman and not the current creative team.  Deathstroke #0 doesn’t get the job done in either story or art, and while it might be of interest to fans of the artist or diehard fans of the character, but I wouldn’t want to pay 3 dollars for it, earning a disappointed by not at all unexpected 1 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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10 Comments

  1. Randallw
    September 13, 2012 at 7:26 pm — Reply

    Although I dropped Deathstroke when I learned Liefeld was taking it over I was tempted to get issue #0 to see his origin. But as it’s done by Liefeld and I own the original first issue of the Judas contract I won’t bother. Thanks.

  2. Oldcomicfan
    September 13, 2012 at 7:35 pm — Reply

    I dunno, I think RL restrained himself mightily. He only gave Deathstroke one leg belt instead of 14 or 15 belts all over. Hate the mask though. I seem to remember Deathstroke having no mask but an eyepatch.

    • September 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm — Reply

      Deathstroke debuted with that split-face mask, but often appeared in his 1990s series wearing just an eyepatch…

  3. Slappy
    September 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm — Reply

    That is pretty much the classic Deathstroke mask.
    The rest of the costume on the other hand doesn’t hold up so well. I personally HATE the shoulders.
    I have not been rreading Deathstroke, but is he having sex with underage girls like the good old days?

  4. September 13, 2012 at 7:57 pm — Reply

    I haven’t read the issue and I don’t really plan on it but I have seen bits and pieces of the art in this. One artist I know of, who just happens to be on a D&D podcast I listen to, made mention of how horrible the firearms were drawn on the cover. I being someone who has to look at something when somebody says “Don’t look, it’ll make you go blind!” was indeed correct. The man couldn’t draw someone holding a simple futuristic pistol on a guy with thumbs. I mean come on here the main character has no thumbs for gosh sake.

    *rant over*

    • September 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm — Reply

      Notice also that Liefeld wisely elected not to draw feet on the cover figure.

      • September 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm — Reply

        Its almost like he watched too much of Muppet Babies then got a complex about people and now thinks that all people can only exist from the ankles up.

  5. Jess
    September 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm — Reply

    I wouldn’t characterize the changes as a few barnacles. The changes Liefeld made were not cosmetic. Liefeld destroyed some of the most essential aspects of Deathstroke’s origins. The things that made it so unique and created the fundamental dynamics for the entire family were almost entirely destroyed for utterly no reason.

    One of the most interesting things about Slade was the whole Adeline/Slade relationship. She was not just some wallflower. She was a soldier too and had a lot to teach him. Wolfman/Perez showed their attraction/love. They also had Adeline not know about Slade’s mercenary career, but only learn about it when Joey was kidnapped. That was a huge betrayal, but then Slade put his reputation above son’s life, which resulted in Joey’s throat being cut. That led to the story’s most shocking moment. Adeline wasn’t just Slade’s little wife, remember? She was a trained soldier and she was pissed. She turned around, tried to kill Slade and shot his eye out. What did Liefeld do? He glossed over that relationship, barely addressed Adeline’s discovery of “Deathstroke,” and then had Adeline/Joey be “killed” in an attack on the house. Of course, anyone with half a brain knows they weren’t really dead, though Liefeld was tweeting about the amazing “twist” at the end. As for Slade’s eye, it gets shot out by some random North Korean soldier who looks like he tosses some ketchup at Slade.

    Liefeld also completely misses the importance of Grant. Wolfman/Perez had Grant be the son who idolized his father, while Joey was the anti-Slade. But Grant didn’t have any powers, because he was born before Slade was given his powers. So out of a misguided need to live up to Slade’s expectations, Grand made a deal with the devil to get powers that wound up killing him. That, of course led Slade, out of obligation, to take on Grant’s contract to kill the Titans. It made Slade the consummate professional killer. Liefeld just had Grant inherit Slade’s power, be brought into his father’s footsteps, and die. Been there, done that.

    And then there’s Joey. What the hell is wrong with DC? I understand that the mute character is hard, but Joey was one of the most original characters in comics history. Against the violent/military family, he was an artist, a gentle, caring soul. In just a few panels in NTT 44, Wolfman and Perez managed to show enough of Joey as a child so that when his throat was cut and he lost the ability to speak and sing, it was shocking. And while they could have had that one experience make him a bitter, vengeful bad guy, they still had him be that same boy he was before the kidnapping. Liefeld’s generic, deformed villainous Jericho is such a bastardization of the character that you just wonder if he made the first half of the issue such a copy of the original origin issue just so he could make the final pages a total FU to Wolfman/Perez.

  6. September 14, 2012 at 10:51 am — Reply

    They lost me at Liefeld.

  7. Red Ken 10s
    September 14, 2012 at 3:43 pm — Reply

    The entertainment industry lost me at Liefeld.

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