Deathstroke the Terminator has been the ultimate Teen Titans villain since his introduction in 1980. He’s got a cool costume, he’s ultra-violent, and his powers are basically to kick ass at fighting and killing people and shit.
Over the years, and especially lately, his profile has been raised a bit, and I think it’s probably fair to say he’s one of the more prominent villains of the DC Universe. He’s a little bit like Marvel’s Sabretooth in that he’s occasionally played as a dark hero or anti-hero, but while he may not always be 100% evil, he’s definitely not a good guy.
Despite his long history, I admit I don’t have a ton of familiarity or fondness for the character. I read his classic arcs in Teen Titans, but I was always more of a Trigon kind of guy, and I’ve forgotten most of what I’ve read of this character beyond a general sense of his history.
Higgins’s script does a good job of presenting Deathstroke for new readers. It’s easy to cover the basics of your main character when those basics consist of “this guy kicks ass at fighting,” but it’s competently done. Deathstroke is a badass. Deathstroke doesn’t like working with partners (but seems to tolerate his agent, Cristoph). Deathstroke is a comedic genius with his stern looks in response to naivety.
Cristoph feeds Deathstroke a mission to assassinate an evil scientist while he is in transit to sell nuclear secrets to Iran, and assigns him a team of three young mercenaries who alternatively refer to themselves as the “Alpha Dawgz” and “the Harm Armory”. They’re played for laughs, mostly, and Deathstroke predictably hates them.
It’s a trap, though, and the scientist and his allies wish to deliver a message to Deathstroke. The scientist gives him a briefcase with something horrible in it, and Deathstroke returns the favor by blowing up the plane and killing him anyway. Dethstroke carries around the case for the rest of the comic and shows it of to Cristoph, but the reader never gets to see what’s inside. Think the briefcase from Pulp Fiction, and then try not to be too disappointed that the script used such an obvious swipe.
Then, after the mission is over and the Alpha Dawgz are hanging out with Cristoph, Deathstroke arrives and shoots all three of them dead before scolding Cristoph about how he doesn’t work with partners.
Because Deathstroke is a badass, you see.
The drawings are pretty cool and the narrative makes sense, but the story itself is paper thin, with a mystery based on an overused gimmick. The ultra-violence with Deathstroke killing his partners makes me like the character less, not more, and I just can’t see myself reading this very much longer.
Status: On the Bubble.