God, this book somehow maintains the tense atmosphere that was cultivated in the Deathstroke: Rebirth one-shot, and it’s all thanks to Christopher Priest, joined this issue by legendary comic vets Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz.
In this issue, reporter Jack Ryder is investigating a story about a string of murders in Chicago – apparently, a group of mothers whose children had been killed in gang-related activities pooled their money and hired Deathstroke to come and take care of those gang members. This opens the door to an absolutely fascinating look at gun violence, human ethics, and black violence.
The story, told through the narrative of Ryder’s interviews, is incredibly sharp, and Priest really goes in depth with the choices made concerning violence, examining what repercussions a family of victims should experience for trying to gain closure, or how something like this affects an entire community. It’s layered and incredibly thoughtful. Is it a cynical viewpoint presented here by weary humans, or is it a painful window into situations most of us may not relate to?
The artwork by Cowan and Sienkiewicz is powerful despite action sequences maybe lasting up to only three panels. It’s the work they do with the facial close-ups during conversations that really resound: the mother’s faces are emotionless as they explain to Ryder what they’ve done and why they’re doing it. It’s scary in those moments, yet understandable. Jack Ryder is depicted as being unable to accept what is happening when talking to the mothers or the police or the pastor, but it’s when he’s assaulted that he becomes calm…and it’s haunting.
And here’s where the whole team deserves kudos: they brought back the Creeper in an organic way. Unlike the New 52, where the Creeper was this strange foreign spirit, unfamiliar and award in the universe, now it more resembles the classic version and erupts from a wounded Jack Ryder. The dichotomy between the two presented here is fascinating.
Also worthy of praise: cover artist Shane Davis has been bringing it full force every issue. His clean pencils evoke dynamic tension, and his creative setups bring back fond memories of classic DC covers. Here's hoping he sticks on this title, as his covers -- especially the striking one he produced for this issue -- are some of the best on the shelves.
It’s a slick story in a slick series, and it’s an absolute treat having Priest consistently deliver such nuanced narratives, not to mention the crazy-good comic veterans he often manages to corral. This is arguably one of DC’s best books, and this issue demands that the reader takes a cold hard look at society and think.