Just Out And Admitting It In Deathstroke #40

by Josh Davison

[*Mild Spoilers Ahead!]

Two-Face and Rose Wilson part ways in Northern Vietnam after Rose was “cured.” Meanwhile, Jericho is trying to help his father escape Arkham Asylum with the help of Solomon Grundy’s body. However, Deathstroke wants revenge on Hugo Strange for playing him. Hugo escapes deeper into the Asylum with the help of some escaped inmates like Mister Freeze and the Mad Hatter. Slade won’t let this one go though, and he needs to know if Candace is still alive.

Deathstroke #40 cover by Tyler Kirkham and Tomeu Morey
Deathstroke #40 cover by Tyler Kirkham and Tomeu Morey

Deathstroke #40 brings “Deathstroke: Arkham” to its expectedly insane and slightly confusing conclusion. Slade is ready to kill Hugo Strange, and he won’t let even his own son stop him.

We learn what Hugo Strange wants from Slade, and you realize the mess of ego and humiliation that makes up the minds of both Slade Wilson and Hugo Strange. That is, of course, why Slade is so intent on killing Hugo.

The Rose and Two-Face plot is surprisingly tranquil and arguably comes to the cleanest ending out of any of the plots of “Arkham.”

The late-comer that almost steals the whole show is Death Masque’s return in the finale. Remember how he’s clearly riffing on Deadpool, who was already a shallow recreation of Deathstroke? Well, Christopher Priest is at it again, and he makes a more entertaining commentary on Deadpool than Deadpool himself has had on the comics industry in years. “All right, let’s admit…it would be freaking ironic if they sued us.”

I was worried that Death Masque would be Deathstroke’s Deadpool and might stick around longer than he should. In reality, he’s Deadpool’s Deadpool, and he entertained me thoroughly.

Meanwhile, the mixture of psychological manipulation and metanarrative commentary does leave the conclusion confusing and far from neat and clean–I’m not even sure if Death Masque was ever really there. That ambiguity is obviously the point…and it actually gels pretty damn well.

Deathstroke #40 art by Fernando Pasarin, Carlo Pagulayan, Trevor Scott, Jordi Tarragona, Jason Paz, Jeromy Cox, and letterer Willie Schubert
Deathstroke #40 art by Fernando Pasarin, Carlo Pagulayan, Trevor Scott, Jordi Tarragona, Jason Paz, Jeromy Cox, and letterer Willie Schubert

Fernando Pasarin and Carlo Pagulayan continue to provide impeccable artwork in this issue. The book is action-heavy, kinetic, and downright gorgeous throughout. Deathstroke has perhaps never looked better. Trevor Scott, Jordi Tarragona, and Jason Paz ink it excellently. Jeromy Cox’s color work is perfectly-balanced and dazzling.

Deathstroke #40 brings “Arkham” to a violent, confusing, and slightly meta conclusion. Slade and Hugo sharpen their grudges, Two-Face and Rose Wilson connect, and Death Masque instantly becomes a better Deadpool than Deadpool ever was. This one earns a recommendation. Check it out.

Deathstroke #40 comes to us from writer Christopher Priest, artists Fernando Pasarin and Carlo Pagulayan, inkers Trevor Scott, Jordi Tarragona, and Jason Paz, color artist Jeromy Cox, letterer Willie Schubert, cover artist Tyler Kirkham with Tomeu Morey, and variant cover artist Francesco Mattina.

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