Deathstroke the Terminator joins forces with Black Canary and T.R.U.S.T. in a striking debut issue that mixed odd-couple relationship dynamics with surreal horror. An entertaining read with stunning art from cover to cover.
Deathstroke Inc. #1 is a somewhat misleading title, as the titular terminator is part of a larger seemingly black ops government-type group T.R.U.S.T. (Transparent Researchers United for Strategy and Technology). An organisation that by the end of this dynamic debut issue, we realise, is somewhat ironic titled. But, certainly sets up the series for plenty of espionage and double-dealing, no doubt.
But, make no bones about it, this is very much Slade Wilson’s book. Even if Black Canary makes a damn good case for this being an equal opportunities title. But, from the opening page, it’s a book that will be focusing on Deathstroke. And besides, Canary has the Justice League these days too. And Ollie Queen.
And so the stage is set with an opening page comprising of 16 equally sized panels that silently brushes through the various highlights of Slade’s infamous career as we relive his origin; being injected with an experimental serum that heightened his physical and mental abilities to something approaching superhuman. In artist Howard Porter’s more than capable hands, it’s a wonderfully realised montage that is expertly executed before we cut to the present day and Deathstroke’s first mission for T.R.U.S.T. hunting down the new Queen Bee of H.I.V.E.
This mission is set in a far-too-perfect town. Think The Stepford Wives, Village of the Damned, or even the more recent parody of such films, World’s End. Mix in the surrealism of The Prisoner and you’ll get the idea. A town that is soon revealed to have a dark and terrifying secret to it. White picket fences that only act as covers for the true horror, which Porter tackles with aplomb. The scene of family disharmony around the dinner table with the children all sharing the same bug-eyes while the dad’s head has been transformed into a beehive. All sitting in a dining area dripping in honey. This one scene is the quintessentially perfect example of the surreal horror of this entertaining issue. I do hope we see more of this kind of bizarro storytelling. And judging by the teaser page that closes out the issue, I think it’s safe to say we will.
And all the while we get a great dialogue from the master of ceremonies, writer Joshua Williamson who delivers a killer script as well as some great back-and-forth spiky dialogue between Deathstroke and Black Canary establishing their mutual dislike for one another. The new Queen Bee may be the object of the mission, but it’s really the establishing of the various dynamics of the team members of T.R.U.S.T. that’s Williamson wants the reader to focus upon. After all, they’ll be tackling some all-new mobster/monster of the month in the next issue, but they’ll still be fighting side-by-side. It may not be the first odd couple set up in history, but it certainly has legs when this first issue delivers so much and promises even more down the line.
A very different kind of team book with an intriguing premise and more than enough chutzpah for this reader to be won over after just one issue. Will you be persuaded too?
Deathstroke Inc. #1 is available now from DC Comics