By Hervé St-Louis
April 7, 2018 - 15:39
Writer(s): Christopher Priest
Penciller(s): Carlo Pagulayan
Inker(s): Jason Paz
Colourist(s): Jeremy Cox
Letterer(s): Willie Schubert
Cover Artist(s): Lee Weeks, Brad Anderson; Francesco Mattina
The tables are set, Batman is about to confront Deathstroke and Alfred Pennyworth and William Wintergreen are taking bets on whose sponsor can win, or are they? Is Damian Deathstroke’s on? Who would plant such a thing to pit Batman against Deathstroke?
I remember the first time Batman faced Deathstroke in the first Deathstroke series by Mamrv Wolfman and Mike Zeck in 1991. At that time, I felt that the storyline was great and an epic moment between two apex figures. I’m not sure but it must have been the first time that Batman directly confronted Deathstroke in a comic. Prior, Deathtroke was just a Teen Titans’ villain. Meeting Batman made him a top-tier villain. And then, he went on fighting Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League. It wasn’t special anymore by the time he faced Wonder Woman but that was him being elevated in the villainous ranks.
Over a decade later, Brad Meltzer made him again a foil for the Justice League. Deathstroke’s ascension has been cemented ever since. Finally, Christopher Priest is pitting the two enemies against one another after showing us a non-fight with Superman earlier in the series’ run. The story is satisfying. Priest seems to keep the secondary plotlines and hints to a minimum and to simply forge ahead with a story that new readers unfamiliar with his style will pick up on quickly. That is a good decision. We know that someone is pulling the strings, as long as it is not Deathstroke who planted the evidence for his fatherhood of Robin, all is fine.
This story has echoes of the previous confrontation between Batman and Deathstroke but also of the Death in a Family which explored the second Robin’s parenthood. For the first time, Wintergreen meets Alfred. It’s love at first sight! I love it. There is nothing wrong with this comic. Priest has set up everything to make it a great epic. There are strong hints that like in the Marv Wolfman and Mike Zeck story, Deathstroke knows who Bruce Wayne is. By now, who does not?
Carlo Pagulayan is strong this issue. I wonder why he was given assistance on the layouts earlier in the series’ beginning. In terms of storytelling, there are a few things that I would adjust but it’s a strong visual representation. I like his effectiveness at showing the bravado between Batman and Deathstroke.