Deathstroke: DC Rebirth #1 Comic Book Review/Recap

Deathstroke: Rebirth #1 – Kenilworth

Deathstroke: DC Rebirth #1 Comic Book Recap

In the past, Slade Wilson once took his sons Grant and Joey out camping.  Grant was particularly resistant, saying that he hated camping and his father always just showed up out of the blue to beat them.  Slade affirmed this and prepared to kick his son’s ass before Grant told him to piss off as the young boy fled into the woods.  Hardly reacting at all, Slade told his other son Joey to leave him, and they headed out in the opposite direction.  The young boy was shocked, but followed his father, leaving his brother behind.

In the present, Deathstroke wakes up in a luxurious room.  He heads out to meet with his current employer – a local despot named Matthew.  Here, he has a different name among his people – Ja Zaki – the Red Lion. Slade wants to be paid for his services, though Matthew is in no rush to do so.  Instead he comments on the mercenary.  Last night, Wilson took nine bullets.  Today he is recovered like it was nothing.  Those genetic enhancements really are something.

[Related: Click Here To Read DC Rebirth’s Deathstroke Comic Book Online]

Again, Slade is not interested in talk, only wanting what he earned.  First, however, Matthew demands assurances that American forces won’t come after him.  Wilson contacts his hacker associate named Hosun, who arranges for a political figure to get major donation money in exchange for keeping any repercussions against the Red Lion from getting through congress.  In exchange for this favour, Deathstroke wants something else, too – access to a target that Matthew has granted political asylum.  The Red Lion says this is delicate… there are certain ethics, even among killers.  Slade should know that more than anyone.

Nevertheless, Matthew is able to arrange passage to Deathstroke’s target.  The men taking him there ask for mercy when they arrive at their destination.  The Red Lion vowed to protect Slade’s target.  No one must know he has broken their word, so whoever escorts Deathstroke must die.  They beg to be spared, saying they have children.  Slade thinks back to that camping trip.  While fleeing, Grant ran into a bear and was nearly killed were it not for the timely intervention of his father.

Chastising Grant for running right into this beast and forcing Slade to kill her, the family was approached by Deathstroke’s old contact, Wintergreen.  The man suggested that Slade show more affection for his son, but Wilson brushed this off.  Wintergreen has a job for Slade, but first, he had to take care of the bear’s cubs.  It would have been cruel leaving them without a mother.  In the present, Deathroke admits he had children once, too.  But he killed them the second he put on the uniform, just like these men have killed their sons doing the same.  He promises to be back in ten minutes.

Inside, Deathstroke finds his target – an old villain named the Clock King.  The villain’s many victims over the years managed to cobble enough money together to hire Wilson, who is happy to fulfill the contract.  But there’s a problem – the Clock King has protected himself in a special timestream.  They can talk, but Wilson can’t hurt the villain.  The Clock King says it is alright though.  Nobody has to know the contract went unfulfilled and the villain will be dead soon enough anyways.  Besides, Wilson is about to give his word that he won’t harm the Clock King, to protect a loved one.  Slade demands proof, and the Clock King says only one word: “Kenilworth.”

Deathstroke: Rebirth #1 – Kenilworth

Outside, Wilson demands that his escorts pay him everything they have.  He says this money serves as a contract, and that they just hired him to protect their families from the Red Lion.  They have two choices – they can try and kill him – or gear up.

In a cave, an old man watches Slade play in the snow with his sons, before losing his temper at the sight of Deathstroke.  Meanwhile, the escorts travel to a camp of rebels hiding from the Red Lion.  They announce they have killed the legendary Deathstroke, with his mask and body as proof.  The escorts demand safe passage, and offer up one word that grants it – “Kenilworth.”  That night, Slade breaks out of the car and begins stealthily killing everyone in the camp. He eventually makes his way into the cave, and finds his observer – Wintergreen.

Deathstroke: DC Rebirth #1 Comic Book Review

So, I really wasn’t sure what to expect out of this comic.  I didn’t really bother looking up much about it ahead of time, so finding out that Christopher Priest was writing this issue was the first good sign, as I’ve liked some of his past work.  He does some impressive work here.  Deathstroke is a great character but can be tough to write for in a solo series.  Too often writers opt for an anti-hero vibe, when really, he’s a mercenary at best.

This comic seems to embrace that.  Slade isn’t presented as a good person whatsoever, ambivalent to the mass grave he encounters and clearly abusive to his children.  And yet, there’s something about this character and the way he is written that leaves me still wanting to follow the character.  It’s all about striking that balance, and little things like showing Slade sometimes being a bad father but not always means that this comic hits that balance perfectly.  It’s very impressive and this comic really hits the mark with the right tone needed for this kind of story.  I also like how this comic sets a new era for the character quite nicely.  It blends the old, with the return of Deathstroke’s children and the Wintergreen character, with a new mystery and direction for the character.

[Related: Click Here To Read DC Rebirth’s Deathstroke Comic Book Online]

The art team also does a great job here, and on the whole, I really liked this comic.  By the way, for those wondering, yes, Wilson does have two sons.  Grant has powers similar to his father while Joey has mind control abilities.  What they and Wintergreen have to do with this story is a mystery right now, but I like how they are being used here.  It should prove to be an interesting story overall as it unfolds going forward.

Happily, again, I get to make another recommendation for a Rebirth comic.  Kudos to DC on this, they are really bringing some solid material so far.

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