Deathstroke in armour, brandishing a sword and riding a unicorn? I am intrigued.
And with the splash page, I’m all in. This is obviously going to be something different. Turn over, and we see that Deathstroke and new associate Black Canary are… negotiating with one of my favourite DC villains.
Slade and Dinah are on a mission for new bosses T.R.U.S.T., to capture the Cheetah. Which seems a tad hypocritical on Deathstroke’s part, given how often he’s worked with her, but he’s currently trying to be a better man. Not such a good man that he’s willing to serve time, apparently, but certainly less murdery.
Unless you’re a member of Cheetah’s Guard in her fairytale kingdom, which Slade enters…
… while Dinah takes the Queen back to her employer, where ally Hiro, aka Toymaster, finds her looking at a painting featuring her mother, the first Black Canary
And yes, Slade does find Cheetah.
Three issues, three missions… this series is in no danger of getting boring. The varied A plots are complemented by an ongoing B plot – can T.R.U.S.T. be trusted by Dinah, Slade and Hiro? – capture the attention, while the dynamic between our three leads is a lot of fun. Writer Joshua Williamson reveals just what Dinah is doing working with Slade, while we find that T.R.U.S.T. head Juliette Ballantyne is a legacy character. Put a bow on proceedings with a killer cliffhanger and we have a satisfying chapter in what I’m confident will be a terrific whole.
As for the art, it is spectacular. Howard Porter draws like no one else, his people have life on the page, they’re full of attitude, while the layouts shriek excitement. One of my favourite scenes this time involves the Cheetah’s fairytale crumbling around her, it’s so inventive, so right. The storybook aspect allows the always excellent colourists Hi-Fi to go to town with beautiful jewel tones and letterer Steve Wands to set the mood with his work on that fabulous first page, while his default font is wonderfully no-fuss. The only blips in a terrific issue are the apparent ease with which the insanely powerful Queen of Fables was captured off-panel, and a miscoloured Dick Grayson (did Hi-Fi mistake him for Hiro?).
I wasn’t expecting a book headlining Deathstroke to be anywhere near this good, but the creative team is clicking, and firing on all cylinders. If you’ve not yet tried Deathstroke Inc – cheesey last line coming that I didn’t plan, but can’t resist now – T.R.U.S.T. me