The New 52: Deathstroke and Grifter

Two more books in “The Edge” group of DC’s New 52:

Deathstroke

Marv Wolfman and George Pérez created Slade Wilson, AKA Deathstroke, as the primary adversary of the Teen Titans back in the early 1980s. Although featured in a number of comics since then, Deathstroke has become somewhat overshadowed by Marvel’s mercenary Deadpool. This new series apparently aims to bring back Deathstroke’s status as the premier metahuman mercenary in the comic book world.

To a large extent, I think that writer Kyle Higgens and artists Joe Bennett and Art Thibert were successful in the first issue by establishing Deathstroke as a wholly unredemptive villain who is nevertheless an engaging protagonist. However, can they meet the challenge of keeping up interest in a sadistic monster like Deathstroke over the long haul?

Deathstroke’s brutality is shown in the first couple of pages, with a double-page splash panel that is literally splashed with bloody decapitations. The rest of the story involves Deathstroke being forced to team up with a trio of mercenary wannabes who variously call themselves the Alpha Dawgs and the Harm Armory. It’s pretty clear they will end up as red shirts; the only question is how. Filled with crosses and double-crosses, the first issue sets up some intriguing mysteries. This could be a book to watch, but I’d wait for the collected trade edition.

Grifter

The improbably named Cole Cash is a former special operations soldier turned con artist extraordinaire. On his way to rendezvous with his partner Gretchen in San Juan after a big score, Cash is accosted in the airplane by what seem to be inhuman creatures in human form that are bent on his capture. Cash eventually wakes up with 17 minutes unaccounted for, the telepathic demons still after him, and his brother, from his former military unit, assigned to make him “go away” for what his superiors perceive as an act of terrorism.

One of the characters from the Wildstorm imprint imported into the DC Universe, Grifter has the potential to bridge the supernatural, military, and espionage genres. Cash is not a traditional superhero—just a guy trying to understand a world that is suddenly out to get him. Depending on how writer Nathan Edmondson handles it, this could be a fun romp—a supernatural version of The Fugitive starring a Sawyer-esque con man. Cafu and Jason Gorder provide a serviceable, but unremarkable style of artwork. The first issue is not enough to really tell how this series is going to evolve, so I would wait for the collected edition before getting too involved with it.

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