SYNOPSIS: Forced to team with Deathstroke, a man he loathes, Damian Wayne must discover the truth of his lineage. Is he really Bruce Wayne’s son, or is Slade Wilson his true father? As Batman draws closer to finding them both, Deathstroke must complete a hit, while Robin shadows the killer for hire.
The fourth part of Batman vs. Deathstroke left me with vibes of Lethal Weapon 3. Christopher Priest presents a Deathstroke and Damian tale that keeps with the similar-but-different formula of the story thus far. With two comparable characters, Priest again subtly shows you their differences. Age, experience and cockiness separate these two born assassins and create an adventure story centered around the Boy Wonder. Watching Damian work, brood, and run his mouth in this issue was quite enjoyable with a good payoff at the end.
Earlier in this arc, I praised this story and even compared the team of Batman and Deathstroke to Riggs and Murtaugh of Lethal Weapon. As I mentioned, issue #33 is more in line with the third installment of that series. The characters in the story are great, and the dynamic is there; it’s just the mission itself that falls flat. Priest takes his idea and mixes it up further, pairing Damian with his “father,” Deathstroke. Their banter is great; the back and forth is as you would expect from know-it-all Damian and overall grouch Slade. The two do share a moment where Damian tires to impress his “dad,” but you can actually see that even Deathstroke feels for a kid as messed up as Damian.
Legendary artist Ed Benes draws this issue of Batman vs. Deathstroke. What can I say other than the book is gorgeous from page one. From the opening page with the Cadillac, you can just see the wonderful detail in each panel. The best panel in the book—a stormy night on a rooftop, pouring rain, with Damian kneeling before Deathstroke—is simply stunning. The skyline in the background, the water dripping, so many amazing details. I cannot complement it enough. There are some great panels of Robin that any ELTD fan can’t help but enjoy. The moment I mentioned above is sold on their facial expressions in the last two panels. Damian’s focus and determination, the concern and despair from Deathstroke. Even Slade Wilson—a mercenary of thousands of contracts—feels bad for the life this kid is living. Well done on all ends from the creative team.
Priest nailed personalities and actions perfectly. The characters in the story are written top notch, but this might have been a bit too “comicbooky” of an issue, although seeing Deathstroke team up with Damian did deliver some great character highlights for both. While this is the weakest issue of the story thus far, it does not leave you unsatisfied. You will enjoy the back and forth and seeing Damian just being typical Damian. Ed Benes will not leave you disappointed; just flip through the pages and enjoy. For those of you who buy digital, there are more than a few great lock screen shots for you in this issue.
The next issue—Deathstroke #34—goes on sale on 8/1/2018, in which Slade seems to think he’s figured this whole mess out! What do you think? Sound off in the comment section below with your fan theories! Until next time, BOFers! – Pete Verra