Deathstroke is a book that has very quietly been the best DC title in the last five months. Priest has constantly upped the stakes, motives and action in every issue. Issue 34 is heavy emotionally and at the center of it all are the children of our combatants.
This story does take place before Tim Drakes dramatic return in Detective Comics. We also learn that it is Drake who is the Robin in the flashbacks from previous issues. Batman has been dealing with the loss of one “son”, while simultaneously dealing with Damien possibly being Desthstroke’s son. We are used to Batman under pressure but this could really break a man and he hasn’t even been stood up at the alter yet. Just as he has done in earlier issues Priest breaks down just how similar Deathstroke and Batman are. From parenting techniques to detective skills we see that they are not that different from one and other.
We have all be waiting for it, the “big duke-a-roo” Batman vs Deathstroke. This fight did not disappoint. I won’t ruin the setting for you because there’s no fun in that but you will love it. As our skilled warriors pummel each other, for our enjoyment, pay close attention to the dialogue. With every bat-gadget and swipe of the sword the insults and banter are nothing short of tremendous. Priest has been breaking them down for issues. Now they do it to each other in combat. (That’s meta right?) The fight is almost half the issue so you get your money’s worth. Priest hasn’t cheated us yet in this arc and with one more issue to go it feels like he’s just getting started!
Carlo Pagulayan is the interior artist for this issue. Pagulayan did a fine job on the book with the fight taking center stage. Deathstroke and Batman get two wonderfully detailed splash pages as they charge into combat, poster material with out a doubt. Lots of fantastic action as Pagulayan’s panel placement lets you see everything glorious about this fight. His art complements Preist’s dialogue as Batman and Deathstroke trade monologues and left hooks. You honestly couldn’t have asked for better action sequences for these two. Pagulayan really knocked it out of the park. My only complaint is his Bruce Wayne. A small nitpick but I just didn’t like how Bruce looks in this issue, his Batman is damn near perfect.
Priest continues to keep us on the edge of our seats as we read this great story. Twists, turns, great action and heavy emotions this arc has it all. If Deathstroke is not on your pull list every month you really should reconsider. This is just a great comicbook, short and sweet. Any time Alfred and Wintergreen get together it’s almost as good as Batman and Deathstroke. Mix in Talia and Damein and we get one of the more entertaining and underrated stories featuring Batman in a while.
The final chapter of “Batman vs Deathstroke” comes out on 9/5/18. Until next time BOFers. – Pete Verra