*Part of the Lazarus Contract Crossover
Deathstroke is easily one of the greatest DC Comics villains. He's fast, cunning, deadly, yet not evil for simple reasons. He's no greedy thief, no world conqueror, and not just some avatar of all that is wrong. He believes in the importance of legacy, and the circumstances of his life have made it so that his greatest talent is killing. As a result, he has chosen that as his legacy.
For many people, legacy is also about the people one leaves behind, especially one's children. As a result, Slade Wilson's three kids, Grant, Rose, and Joseph, are among the most important things in the world to him. This concept is the focus of the Titans/Teen Titans/Deathstroke crossover, the Lazarus Contract.
For those who haven't kept up with this story, Deathstroke kidnapped the two Flashes of Titans and Teen Titans, Flash and Kid Flash respectively, for a plan (also both Flashes are named Wally West to keep things confusing). That plan is to use their super speed to go back in time and prevent the death of Grant Wilson, the one-time Ravager, whose death he blames on the Teen Titans (who are now the Titans). At the end of the last issue, Slade somehow attained the super speed of the Kid Flash.
This issue serves mostly to contextualize the titular "Lazarus Contract." We see how it was made between Deathstroke and Dick Grayson, back when he was Robin, and we see the tumultuous and semi-abusive relationship Slade had with Grant when he was growing up. Some events do take place in the present, such as older Wally West seeking aid from Joseph Wilson, aka Jericho, and the Titans and Teen Titans regrouping while discovering that Kid Flash has lost his powers to Deathstroke. However, this comic is mostly about the past, and much of it is flashbacks.
Often, readers are understandably turned off by comic book stories that focus on flashbacks while still jumping between them and the present. However, this comic makes it work.
As previously stated, Deathstroke is a fantastic villain and has been fleshed out more than a vast majority of his peers in both DC and Marvel. This comic aids in that by giving us a bit more of his history and his relationship with his kids. It wasn't good, and he was very abusive. However, seeing him trying to make amends for it in the present almost makes one want to see him succeed, even if making amends means changing the past itself.
Time travel stories are no new thing in comics, and this one is working because it's keeping it simple. There are no convoluted explanations and no over-elaborate changes. Admittedly, it does very little to advance the story in the present, leaving something of a holding pattern until the big Annual finally in Teen Titans.
That being said, this comic keeps what it does have very character-driven and emotional. And none of that even mentions the art.
The penciling by the tag team of Carlo Pagulayan and Roberto J. Viacava is phenomenal, opting for a pseudo-realistic and detailed style that keeps the flare of the superhero genre aided by the fleshing of details by inkers Jason Paz and Sean Parsons and the coloring of Jeremy Cox. It plays a lot with lighting and shade in many scenes to give itself a very distinct visual style. This is an absolutely gorgeous book through and through.
This really gets put to the test when we get to see Deathstroke do his day job at super speed. Within a minute, he assassinates four targets across the Western Hemisphere. The best of this is a racecar driver whom Deathstroke outruns and takes off his hand. He even refers to himself as the "Fastest Killer Alive" in a rather amusing parody of the Flash's title.
The super speed suit's design is pretty cool too. It has a sleek design, and the prominence of yellow as well as the lightning patterns make it look vibrant. Yet, it is still undeniably a Deathstroke uniform.
The Lazarus Contract has been a good story so far, but it really hits its stride in this issue. With great art and an emotional tale, Deathstroke #19 does a lot to impress. This comic comes highly recommended.