Deathstroke the Terminator #1 (August, 1991)
“Full Cycle, Chapter One: Assault!”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Penciller – Steve Erwin
Inker – Will Blyberg
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Tom McCraw
Editor – Jonathan Peterson
Cover Price: $1.75
Gonna be talking Deathstroke today… which is pretty cool, because I’d never read this issue before! This was always one’a them “wall books” growing up… however, didn’t quite share the same “quarter bin” fate as other “wall books” of its era.
Sure, we can find stacks of Youngblood, Reign of the Supermen, and Knightfall books that were once pinned to the walls of our comic shops in the cheap-o bins… but, Deathstroke the Terminator? Not so much. Least not in my neck of the woods.
Which is exactly why I immediately jumped when I happened across this one in the dollar bin not too long ago! So, without further ado, let’s get right into it!
We open outside Stuttgart, Germany where a teeny-tiny helicopter fast approaches a moving train. Well, actually several helicopters make the approach, but the larger choppers are actually trying to stop the teeny-tiny one. There is a “Lady A” on board the train, who we quickly learn is Adeline Kane, Slade Wilson’s ex-wife and the mother to Jericho and Ravager. The teeny-tiny chopper man boards the train… shoots Addie in the gut, then tosses her from the moving train!
A job well done, he hops off the train just before it derails… and, naturally, explodes! Now, lemme tell ya… that’s how you open a comic book! That’s how you open a volume!
We shift scenes to join the man of the hour, Slade Wilson… just as he’s hunting down a Bull Elephant. He turns the pursuit into a sort of dance, before popping the beast right ‘tween the eyes. At first I was like “hmm…”, then we learn that the beast “deserved” it. I guess your mileage may vary on that… turns out the elephant destroyed a local village. I dunno, elephant’s gonna elephant, right?
Back at the Deathstroke Chalet, Slade takes a shower… and Wintergreen fields a phone call. It’s the news of the attack on Adeline… she’s alive, but in critical condition.
Outside, Slade and Wintergreen are attacked by that same fella in the teeny-tiny helicopter. The baddie makes it clear that he’s the one who shot Addie… he then goes on to ‘splode the Chalet… and the Strokemobile.
Slade and Wintergreen walk the thirty-plus miles to the nearest airfield and catch a flight to Stuttgart. Their “inside man” Lockhart brings them to Addie’s side… and it’s made pretty obvious that there are still some feelings lingering inside ol’ Mr. Wilson.
We hop into flashback mode as Slade recalls how he met and fell in love with Adeline. Of course, we’ve been there, and done that… but this is mucho helpful for new readers who nabbed this for it’s number-one-iness. Addie wakes up and informs Slade that this teeny-tiny helicopter man knew both of their names… and then passes out again.
Slade realizes that Addie was hired to protect the train’s cargo… and so, he and Wintergreen head a few hours north to visit her employer and find out just what was on board. As he watches Deathstroke climb the side of a castle, Wintergreen flashes back to how Slade Wilson became the man that he is… super-serums, super-sons and what-not.
Inside Castle Waller… we meet, well… a fella named Waller (no relation, I’m sure). Dude doesn’t seem to be in the mood to chat… but Deathstroke manages to persuade him to at least “step aside” while he does some digging.
He discovers some checks sent from a Willem Neustadt with an address in Baden, Germany… and so, that’s our men’s next stop. They stake out the address from a cafe across the street.
Finally, a car returns home… it’s Mrs. Neustadt, and her armed chauffeur. Deathstroke does some Deathstroking… and learns that the Neustadt’s son had been kidnapped. Mrs. N. even mistakes Deathstroke for the kidnapper! Turns out the family made a deal to exchange Plutonium for their son’s safe return… and it just so happens, that was the cargo Adeline Kane was protecting!
Oh, and there are armed men watching this chat go down from a closet… they’ll probably play a part later on.
We wrap up the issue in Adaam, Qurac… where the Plutonium is being delivered by the teeny-tiny helicopter man… who is finally revealed as being… The Ravager?!
Well, well, well… this was one helluva fine comic book.
From the bombastic opening to the last-page reveal… I had a great time finally getting to read this one. I mean, this has a sorta-familiar tone to other Wolfman works… while at the same time feels completely fresh, new, and different.
Let’s talk about that opening. Amazing job from all involved… it really felt like the opening to an action movie, or the opening cinematic to a video game. Instantly drew me in, and perfectly set the tone for things moving forward.
Slade the “Game Hunter”? Well, I’ll just leave that alone. It does fit into his established character-history… however, I can see it rubbing people the wrong way. It’s funny how we (myself included) can not be phased by people killing other people in media… but, when it’s an animal… it kinda sticks with us. I mean, this issue would have been just fine (better?) without this scene… and unfortunately, it’s one of the first things I think about upon reflection. We’ll just leave it alone (he says, a hundred words later).
The brief Addie/Slade reunion was pretty cool… and it’s confirmed that Adeline is aware of the events of Titans Hunt. I didn’t wanna spoil it in the synopsis… but, Jericho figures quite heavily into it… and hasn’t really recovered, even to this very day in 2018!
I love the idea of Slade and Wintergreen globetrotting like a suped-up Holmes and Watson. Though, maybe I’m just projecting since I feel like Watson and Wintergreen might be the same person. I think I’ve already shown y’all that I’m no “Holmesian”… if that’s even the word for it, so I could be completely off base here. Still like their “buddy-globetrotter” shtick.
The reveal at the end… was a good one! I know I’ve joked in the past about how Deathstroke has been the “last page reveal” more than any other character in DC history… so, it’s fitting in a way that we get a Ravager reveal on the last page of Deathstroke’s initial outing. I’m not sure how this all pans out… but I’m definitely interested enough to track down the rest of the arc!
The flashbacks here were handled well, and didn’t really interrupt or intrude upon the ongoing story. Gotta remember that this was a “New #1” in 1991… there were going to be a ton of folks grabbing this “sight unseen”… which is to say, not have the faintest idea who or what a “Deathstroke the Terminator” is. Then again, many of those folks probably wouldn’t think to open the thing to find out. Either way, I didn’t need the flashbacks… but I’m glad they were there for those who might.
Overall… had a really good time with this, and I think most DC (and comic) fans would too. This issue (and series) is available digitally… and this arc has been collected in the Deathstroke the Terminator, Volume One: Assassins trade paperback.
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