Recently, Deathstroke decided to give up being a villain and formed a team of young superheroes. Called Defiance, the team consists of Ravager, Jericho and the second generation Powergirl and Kid Flash. Deathstroke #22, written by Christopher Priest and drawn by Diogenes Neves and Jason Paz, sees Slade take his new team on their first mission to retake control of a US Embassy, held hostage in a foreign country. Is Slade genuine is his redemption, or does he have something sinister planned for his children and their team mates?
The story starts off with Defiance battling the mysterious Radiant Men and Deathstroke being absent. The team are able to handle their own for a while, but the Radiant Men begin to overwhelm them. Meanwhile, Deathstroke has slipped off to confront an old friend, Doctor Light, who’s constructed the Radiant Men. Their interaction immediately made me think back to Identity Crisis, when Doctor Light hired Deathstroke to protect him against the Justice League.
The two of them manage to have a civil conversation over a drink. Light is sceptical about Slade’s change of heart, while Slade insists he’s tired of seeing his family pay the price for his mistakes. Their dialogue is the best part of the comic and the similarities between the two are shown clearly. Doctor Light has retired and Deathstroke is trying to undo an old life.
“And what have I got, Arthur? A dead son. My other boy got his throat cut and can’t speak. My ex-wife hates me. My daughter’s half a nut job. This is the treasure my lifestyle has earned me – millions in the bank but an empty soul. Enough already.” – Deathstroke
Even though Slade is determined to be a ‘hero,’ he’s not lost any of his arrogance. He deliberately leaves his team to fend for themselves and makes the Radiant Men stronger when Defiance start to get the upper hand. Priest is skilled at capturing the complexity of the man.
Ravager is also given the chance to shine, stepping up to attack the most powerful Radiant Man alone. Before the Radiant Man can strike, Terra appears out of nowhere and crushes it with her powers. Given her history with Deathstroke, it’ll be interesting to see what kind of role she plays going forward.
Priest has a good grasp of his characters and throws in plenty of surprises to keep the story engaging. Paz and Neves’ art is dynamic, especially when it comes to the light that the Radiant Men give off. If you’re a fan of Deathstroke then you really need to check out this issue.