Deathstroke struggles to hammer his team into a workable squad, as the at-best complicated relationship between he and Rose begins to show itself in ugly ways. The team gets called to prevent an ocean liner under attack from pirates from being taken and seeking.
Meanwhile, Adeline, and Terra continue to scheme without Slade's knowing. Joseph and Adeline show how broken their mother-son relationship is. The time-displaced Chinese warrior princess subplot continues to be perplexing.
This was a character development-focused issue, and it serves the comic well. This is a bizarre team full of complex and big personalities trying to work out their own problems while learning how to cooperate. Almost everyone is scheming against one another, and the result is a lot of intrigue which spices up the overall plot.
One particularly appealing detail is that even the reader doesn't really know what Slade's end-game is. Deathstroke could have possible truly turned over a new leaf, but nothing is ever that simple with Slade. Maybe he is trying to somehow merge mercenary work with super-heroing as a long-term plan, but that's too surface-level, too. No one thinks that his intentions are truly altruistic; not even Wintergreen. Slade won't tilt his hand to anyone, if he is indeed hiding anything.
Christopher Priest has really put together a complex and absorbing narrative here where the endgame is nigh-impossible to predict. I'm not even sure he knows where he's going with this (and I mean that in a good way; sometimes you need to let the story take you where it wants to take you).
The weird ancient Chinese princess subplot, which I suspect will be a main plot soon, is remaining perfunctory and confusing when paired with the rest of the plots in the comic. It's actually taking and odder turn here, as the girl is slightly animalistic, doesn't speak English, and walks around in a sports bra and tight shorts. She's starting to feel like the child-like cat-girl fantasy of far too many anime fans.
Diogenes Neves continues to be an excellent artist for this title, with highly detailed and textured scenes, expressive characters, and high-impact action sequences. The scene wherein Defiance tackles the ocean-liner crisis is visually very cool. Jeromy Cox's color work is very stark and high contrast without too much playing around, which fits the gritty and grounded story at hand.
It does throw me off how much Adeline looks like Rogue of the X-Men, though.
Deathstroke #23 is a great continuation to an already fantastic series. It builds character, maintains tension, and is paced better than most comic books. I dig the hell out of it, and I think many others will too. Pick this one up.