If things weren’t already personal between Deathstroke and Batman, they certainly are getting that way in the latest installment of “Deathstroke vs. Batman”!
DEATHSTROKE (2016) #32 “Deathstroke vs. Batman Part 3 of 6: The Seven Waynes”
Artist: Carlo Pagulayan & Roberto Viacara
Breakdowns: Larry Hama
Inks: Jason Paz
Cover Artist: Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques, & Brad Anderson; variant by Francesco Mattina
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Willie Schubert
Publisher: DC COMICS
What You Need to Know:
Batman received a mysterious envelope containing DNA evidence that Slade Wilson, Deathstroke, was Damian Wayne’s biological father. Batman has demanded Deathstroke stop all business until the two can get to the bottom of the situation, a proposition that Deathstroke wants no part of.
What You’ll Find Out:
As to be expected, Slade continues to take contracts while Bruce continues to try and stop him from executing said contracts. The new target is Ace Masterson aka The Human Dynamo, an aging cold-war superhero who, in a late twist, took out the contract on himself due to his fear that his aging will eventually cause him to lose control of his abilities and endanger innocents.
Prior to the battle for the life of Human Dynamo, two key events occur. The first of which is that Talia claims to have lied to her father and Batman, yet maintains her claim that Slade is Damian’s father and that she is telling Slade the truth. The second is that Slade enacts an anti-Wayne protocol, designated “Plan Six”, which executes a FISA court order that freezes all Bruce’s assets. Despite Slade’s claims that Wayne is only a mask, and apparent reservations to believe that Wayne is Batman (hence the subtitle), Slade still enacts the protocol, causing readers to question if anybody, from Talia and Slade to Jericho and Robin, is telling the truth.
The network of lies and misdirection continues through the final panels, as we see the video-Robin—the one who has been telling his interpretations of Batman as a father alongside Jericho’s mirror narrative—reveals himself to be a modern-day Dick Grayson, dressed as Robin for maximum effect, delivering the video narrative to Damian. Dick reveals that he has been able to find no DNA link between Damian and Bruce, perhaps further helping prove that Slade is indeed Damian’s father.
What Just Happened?
In the middle chapter of this six-part event, there is a subtle shift away from a clear narrative of fathers and sons and instead towards a story of makers. Talia and Adeline’s roles in the narrative are too central to discount, as Talia is responsible for the creation of Damian and Adeline for the creation of Deathstroke, if not Slade. So too is the question of Dick’s role in making the legacy of Robin. If the story is not, then, exclusive to fathers and sons, then the shift of exclusivity opens a world of possibilities that seem to veer into the direction of morality. By this statement, I mean to say, the question on the table, beyond who is Damian’s real father, may instead be “what does it mean to be a father?” or even broader, “what is it to be good or evil?” and what factors are involved in making that assessment? Throughout his vast canon of texts, Priest is known for living in gray areas of morality and social mores, none more exemplified in this arc by Deathstroke’s assessment that Talia “drugged and raped Batman”, a shocking moment for many fans.
Final Thought: Carlo Pagulayan & Roberto Viacara’s artwork on this series continues to be stunning. I wanted to make sure I didn’t leave that out, even though I didn’t have any particular revelations associated with it this month.
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