“I am a warrior, in the tradition of the greatest. It’s in my bones. From the knights of Charlemagne to the samurai of the Daimyo, we are the purest representation of true human nature. Predator vs prey, the hunter vs the hunted. Throughout time, we have been honoured and praised, love and feared. But above all, we have been respected. And that’s what’s most important to us. The greatest warriors that fought for the greatest kingdoms had the greatest respect. And I am the greatest of them all.” – Deathstroke
When the DC Universe was rebooted with the New 52, it changed the history of a lot of characters. Some of it was good, some of it was terrible. A character that was done justice during this period was Deathstroke. Deathstroke: Legacy, written by Kyle Higgins, is a story about respect, reputation and what it means to be the deadliest assassin in the DC Universe. Slade Wilson takes no prisoners in this violent graphic novel, and here is my review.
The story begins with Deathstroke being given a contract by his partner Christoph. The contract involves him working with a group of young mercenaries called April, Quinn and Hughes to take down an arms dealer. When Deathstroke meets the group, he’s far from impressed. Slade infiltrates a plane and fights mutated soldiers until he gets to his target. The dealer gives him a message and Deathstroke answers by blowing up the plane.
After the job, Christoph is celebrating with the team. Deathstroke decides he doesn’t need a team and slaughters the mercenaries in brutal fashion. This sets off a chain of events that leads to a price being put on Deathstroke’s head by April’s parents. Meanwhile, Slade has received intel that his son Grant might still be alive and starts searching for him.
“The world is all about perception, Peabody – what the proverbial ‘they’ think you can and can’t do. At the end of the day, reputation and respect are all that matter – because they’re all you have. Friends die, family disappoints, but a legacy…a legacy lasts forever.” – Deathstroke
It’s revealed that Grant faked his death and is working against his father. The two of them have an emotional reunion at the manor house of April’s parents. In a weakened state, Slade is almost killed by Grant. He’s stopped at the last moment by April’s parents, who paralyse him and offer Deathstroke a deal: murder his son and keep his reputation.
Slade says he doesn’t have a son and kills the parents before passing out in a pool of blood. Grant stands over the body of his father and considers finishing him off. In the end, he lets Deathstroke live.
The story finishes with Deathstroke contemplating a lesson his own father, Nathaniel taught him. Slade visits and elderly Nathaniel in the hospital and claim’s he’ll always be better. In a flashback it was revealed that Nathaniel sold a young Slade to a gang of mobsters to clear a debt. As Slade walks away with a grin on his face, it completes a picture of a family destined to repeat the same mistakes again and again.
Higgins’ crafted a compelling narrative and portrayed Deathstroke as the cold and calculating badass he was meant to be. He’s a complicated man obsessed with his reputation and kills anyone who gets in his way. There are very few sentimental moments, but in flashbacks, the reader gets to see what made Deathstroke who he is.
The art is vivid and pulpy, containing splashes of red and orange to emphasise the violent action scenes. If you’re a Deathstroke fan and want to see a great character study, then read this graphic novel. It can be bought from Amazon now.