Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Deathstroke, Volume 2: Lobo Hunt Review (Rob Liefeld, Justin Jordan)


It’s been nearly 18 months since the first Deathstroke volume came out and I was wondering why it’d taken DC so long to release the second. As soon as you pick it up, you realize why: DC have crammed in issues #9-20 plus the #0 issue into this second and final Deathstroke volume. They waited until the series had ended before bundling them all up into one massive book because they don’t want to string this out into another volume, they just wanted it over and done with – and I can see why! 

The main “story” arc is Deathstroke fighting Lobo, a space biker with the standard range of unimaginative superpowers: strength, speed, healing factor, etc. He fights him here, he fights him there, he fights him everywhere - the end! Next up is: Some Guy! Once Deathstroke defeats Lobo, they run out of name characters for him to fight so it becomes arbitrary villain of the week from there on out. The villains, or targets really, aren’t so much characters as superpowers with a face: there’s a guy who can’t be killed in some Eastern European country, there’s a Japanese mafia dude with cybernetic implants which makes him ultra-tough, and so on. 

The problem with this series is that it has no direction. Initially Kyle Higgins set up a father/son storyline that was explored somewhat in the first volume and in the second is ignored until the final two issues where it’s rushed to an unsatisfying and overblown conclusion (Higgins left the title after the first volume). In the interim you just have Deathstroke fighting random dudes with the occasional half-hearted attempt at a storyline. There’s something about the Nth Metal armour Deathstroke wears, meaning of course a cameo from Mr Nth Metal himself, Hawkman (and if you know anything about New 52 Hawkman it’s that he’s the kiss of death for a series once he appears!) but that “story” fizzles out in no time and is promptly forgotten. 

It doesn’t help that the title had a revolving door of writers and artists. After Higgins left, Liefeld stepped in and completed his Lobo arc then left DC quite bitterly (google Liefeld leaving DC for some interesting tweets from the Rob – he even went after DC golden child Scott Snyder! No one was safe!), then another writer stepped in and left, then Justin Jordan, writer of Luther Strode, stayed on for the remaining issues. I’d say Jordan’s writing is maybe the best this book has but it’s still of a remarkably poor standard and nothing like his work at Image. Plus Jordan ties his issues into his godawful Team 7 series so the book ends with a final calamitous crash straight into a brick wall. 

I’d say you get value for money with this volume purely for the ton of comics included but it’s really a clear case of quantity over quality. Sure there’s a lot of pages but it’s basically the same boring nonsense repeated over and over until it’s done. It was nice to see some Liefeld art again purely for nostalgic and comedic value – the guy’s crazy but he’s the Rob, and kudos to him for not putting up with DC’s bullshit – but this whole book was a flatline for me. I couldn’t wait until it was over. 

New 52 Deathstroke proves that while he’s a good supporting character and a decent villain for the likes of Batman, he’s far too limited and not interesting enough to sustain his own series.

Deathstroke Volume 2: Lobo Hunt

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