*This review contains spoilers for Deathstroke #44*
Throughout his entire career, Slade never left an assignment unfinished. In the aftermath of his death at the hands of Red Arrow, one mission remains incomplete. In order to maintain the Terminator’s reputation, as well as honor his memory, a new Deathstroke has taken the mantle. Unfortunately, this new mercenary has some competition for the title of World’s Greatest Assassin from Slade’s competitor, Shado. Will the new Deathstroke be able to honor the mantle’s predecessor by completing his last mission or will Shado beat this mysterious individual to the punch?
“…To thine own self be true.”
Following the events of the previous issue, Deathstroke #45 finds a new bearer of the mantle on route to completing the deceased’s final mission. Although the issue does not contain a “battle for the eyepatch,” Priest does an excellent job infusing the conflict with meaningful sibling drama that should be relevant to every reader. A majority of this is due to the way each character deals with loss as well as the inevitable reveal of their dark secrets.
Given the ending to Deathstroke #44, it should be no surprise that it is Rose Wilson who has taken over the family business. She has achieved this using the suit that Hosun designed to make Jericho appear like his father. In contrast, Jericho spends his time preparing for a date with his significant other. Like the last issue, Rose has chosen to express her grief through what she believes to be honoring her father’s legacy whereas Jericho is repressing his emotion through enjoying the comfort of others. It is only once Wintergreen contacts Jericho regarding his sister’s behavior, effectively ruining Terrence’s proposal, that Jericho gets involved. These reactions to their father’s death are a true representation of coping for anyone who has experienced a similar loss.
One of the things that I find truly interesting is that so many characters are trying to prevent Rose from following in her father’s footsteps while others are encouraging the opposite in Jericho. Shado’s involvement in Rose’s mission serves only to prevent the character from following in her father’s footsteps and instigate trouble between the two siblings. Once Jericho arrives, Shado reveals that he has known the identity of Slade’s killer. The fact that he has done nothing with this knowledge to avenge their father’s death invokes Rose’s ire. However, it is the reveal that Joey actually played a part in their father’s death that truly sends Rose over the edge. Priest’s excellent character drama truly drives the issue forward as we see the two siblings battle with their full emotions on display above the city. Moreover, this is truly great because we can fully understand each of the character’s emotions. I am excited to see which of the two siblings will follow in their father’s footsteps.
“My name is Lex Luthor… and I’m here to make you an offer.”
Following Jericho’s defeat to his sister, Lex Luthor approaches to make him an offer. Oftentimes, I am concerned when an issue gets tossed into a line-wide event. Sometimes, its inclusion is dubious at best. Seeing that Lex Luthor’s offer only comes at the end of each issue, I was worried that these moments would feel tagged on. Priest does a good job of fitting this piece of the puzzle into the narrative through having Lex present the offer to Jericho in his lowest moment. This gives the reader the impression that the character may accept the villain’s offer.
Pasarin’s artwork with Paz and von Grawbadger’s inks and Cox’s colors has a cinematic quality. The art team does an excellent job conveying the action sequences as well as the tension between the two siblings. Although there may not be a panel that truly stands out, I feel that this is because every page has the same high quality of artwork.
One of my only complaints about this issue is that it never explains how Jericho goes from being surrounded by Deathstroke’s villainous procession to in Manhattan with his significant other. This feels like it is an important story beat given the last issue’s tense ending. Given his assault on the villains, wouldn’t he still be in their clutches?
Overall, Deathstroke #45 serves as a great exploration of how different individuals deal with loss. This is achieved through Priests wonderful characterization of each sibling. Additionally, Pasarin’s artwork will always be a selling point for this title, as he does a great job conveying the action and tension between each character.