Monday, August 26, 2013

Deathstroke: Legacy (comics)

Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artists: Joe Bennett, Art Thibert
Collects: Deathstroke (vol. 2) #1-7

It seems like no one ever manages to do a book centered around a villain properly. There's several reasons for that, but the main problem is the fact that it's difficult to make the audience care about an irredeemable scumbag. If there's nothing to latch on to or make you care, there isn't much reason to read, is there?

Final Crisis Aftermath: Run manages it by making the central character a loser who stumbles into good things and promptly blows it. More often, the writer will smooth out the rough edges of the character, making them more of an anti-hero. If they're not total scumbags, it makes it easier to root for them and to care.

Deathstroke actually had a prior book in this vein. In fairness, it wasn't a betrayal of character; Deathstroke was never flat out evil even when he'd tussle with the Teen Titans. He even helped them on occasion afterwards. But that was a long time ago; somewhere along the way they decided a mercenary who played whichever side was convenient wasn't cool enough, so they had him drop Chemo on Bludhaven. He's been a villain ever since.

Hence, we're back to the original problem; how do you make the reader want to keep up with a character who is, frankly, a douchebag? Kyle Higgins gives it his best shot and the results are surprisingly readable. Slade is not a nice guy at all, but he's interesting; we see how his choices often end up creating the problems he faces. Slades pride in his reputation causes him to do some pretty drastic things when he feels no one respects him anymore and each action he takes to rebuild it has a reaction that costs him.

The last issue - which is sort of a denouement - is pretty good too. It goes into his backstory - which, if I'm mistaken, is all new - and serves to give context to his life choices and the way he turned out. It ends up as a fitting end to the volume and shows us just how Slade ended up getting the last laugh.

Legacy contains seven issues total. Overall, it's a pretty self contained arc. Good thing too, because Deathstroke is another of those titles that had its creative team for all of one volume before a change. It's a shame; I would have liked to read a couple more volumes of Higgins Deathstroke. But then, maybe it's for the best; books like this tend not to have the sales figures to support them for long periods, so perhaps its better we get a pretty self contained seven issue arc instead of a long form story that ended up cut short by cancellation.

Rob Liefeld took over next. I won't be reviewing it. Liefelds work is... not for me. It's best to leave it at that and not even bother reciting the list of criticisms. The rest of the net has that one covered in exhausting detail.

My Opinion: Read It

I'm not sure how long Deathstroke could have continued in this vein, but what we got is well worth a read. Take it out at a library at least. It was fun while it lasted.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for putting this one on my radar. Kyle Higgins only came to my attention recently (from his New 52 Nightwing series), and I've never read much of Deathstroke, but this seems like a good, self-contained story.