Warning: Spoilers for Deathstroke #46 ahead.
Left to bleed out in an alley by his sister, Rose, Jericho awakens to find Lex Luthor standing above him. The villain promises a gift that will enhance his abilities to their full potential. With his Rose on the hunt for Red Arrow, will Jericho make a deal with the devil to prevent more bloodshed?
“Yes, the junkie gets his first fix.”
With Deathstroke #46, Priest explores the themes surrounding power and its ability to corrupt despite our best intentions. Accepting Luthor’s gift, Jericho uses his heightened abilities to kidnap Emiko, the Red Arrow, as a means of protecting the two women from one other. Although his intention to protect each of these two individuals is good, it is his plan’s execution that shows his slip to the dark side. Kidnapping someone against their will is never okay, and despite Emiko’s pleas for freedom, Jericho insists that he is doing what is best for her. This notion echoes the sentiments of many tragic villains as their motives are pure, but their actions are less than heroic.
It is in Jericho’s fall that this issue truly shines. Here Priest is slowly making Jericho out to be a tragic villain as he discovers the extent of his enhanced abilities. Before his recent upgrade from Lex Luthor, Jericho was able to transmit his consciousness into others via eye contact. Now, he can control the minds of other individuals. This new power is utterly terrifying as we witness Red Arrow crying from her mental imprisonment. However, Jericho cranks the terror up a few notches as he uses his new mind control abilities to change his fiancé’s mind about leaving. Left unchecked, Jericho’s new power will become insurmountable for anyone wishing to stand in his way. It will be interesting to see if Jericho will succumb to his new power or overcome it.
Jericho’s failure to manipulate Rose during the conflict does give some hope that his newfound power is not limitless. However, this sequence can be a little confusing for anyone not familiar with Deathstoke’s history. I think that this is intentional, as Jericho also appears to be confused as to what is happening. I am excited to see if any of these moments are explored in upcoming issues. Additionally, the reveal of an unconscious, feminine Deathstroke at the end of the issue makes me wonder if Rose has accepted her own offer.
“Something’s happening to me. Not sure how good it is.”
Pasarin’s artwork with Cam Smith’s inks and Jeromy Cox’s colors are a highlight of the issue. The use of the green hues to illustrate that Red Arrow is completely under Jericho’s control is excellent. Additionally, the panel depicting Jericho’s tumble down a green tunnel after attempting to control Rose is beautiful. This page serves as a wonderful visual representation of Jericho succumbing to this dark gift.
Deathstroke #46 is a great tie-in to “Year of the Villain” that provides interesting twists for the Jericho and Rose. Priest’s exploration of power’s ability to corrupt despite our best intentions helps give this issue weight. It will be interesting to see if Jericho continues down the path to darkness or finds a way to use this gift for the greater good.