Tony S. Daniel pulls double-duty in launching a new series for Slade Wilson with “Deathstroke” #1. As both writer and artist (as well as cover artist), Daniel is joined by Sandu Florea on inks, Tomeu Morey on colors and Rob Leigh for letters. While the profile for “the world’s greatest mercenary” is certainly elevated by his appearances on “Arrow,” this comic book launches independently of any other connections Slade Wilson has ever made: Teen Titans, Team 7, Green Arrow or otherwise.
Daniel doesn’t restrain Slade’s actions at all, allowing the readers into Deathstroke’s thoughts as he justifies his choices as “adventure.” The writer/artist doesn’t pretend to make Wilson an upstanding example of moral excellence, but he does make Deathstroke an interesting character all the way through “Deathstroke” #1. When Wilson’s secrets are tapped, we get a peek into Daniel’s music collection and beyond, as the writer/artist drops codes like “KWS” and “2112.” Daniel reminds readers that Deathstroke is an enhanced being, utilizing more of his brain (90%) than most. These are nice details to include, especially since Daniel skimps on some other details, such as taking readers to “one of Russia’s new mega cities.” The name might not be imperative, but as Deathstroke’s sphere of influence expands and his passport gets punched, readers might enjoy keeping track of his travels.
Beyond that Daniel adds depth to Wilson’s world in the form of additional characters, introducing readers to Tiggs, Wilson’s “broker,” and Angelica, a contact Wilson uses for information and other needs in Russia and beyond. The biggest contribution Daniel makes to the legend of Slade Wilson (considering Angelica’s “situation” in this issue and Tiggs’ cipher-like placeholding) is Possum, who appears to be set up a Wilson’s Joker.
With a gray complexion and a menacingly scowling visage, Possum looks every bit the maniacal foe Deathstroke needs. His introduction leads to a knockdown, drag out fight that fills the pages with action, explosions and blood. Possum uses Wilson’s swords against him and finds himself on the business end of them as well before “Deathstroke” #1 ends. Through all the mayhem and violence, Daniel’s storytelling is sharp and crisp, giving readers the very best, and bloodiest introduction to Deathstroke that a new debut issue can afford.
Colorist Tomeu Morey electrifies the cityscape of the double-page spread where Deathstroke leaps into action and takes out his marks. Where Daniel opens up the backgrounds for Morey, the colorist adds in atmosphere and texture, giving Deathstroke more engaging backdrops than simple gradient shapes or flat tones. As Deathstroke’s mind is assaulted, Morey digitizes the background, approximating to the reader the electric din of buzzing information assaulting the master assassin. Through the rest of the book, Morey handles everything Daniel can throw at him, including more than the requisite amount of explosions and grisly, gruesome, bloody deaths.
Letterer Rob Leigh amplifies the story beats with strategic sound effects, some of which border on ridiculous, but all of which play to the bombastic nature of “Deathstroke” #1. Further distancing this volume of Slade Wilson’s adventures, Leigh has concocted a telltale caption box for Deathstroke that combines his voice, technology and precision.
While this is the first solo title to be granted a second shot at success in the “New 52,” “Deathstroke” #1 is a strong showing with plenty of intrigue, action and promise. Daniel brings a whole lot of destruction and pain, making this easily one of the goriest single issues since 2011, but the mayhem suits Deathstroke, and Deathstroke suits Daniel much better than his other efforts within the New 52 to this point. This isn’t the be-all, end-all perfect introduction to Deathstroke, but it certainly is a great start for a new beginning, especially if you require blood and fire with your Deathstroke adventures.