The fight you’ve all been waiting for is here—Deathstroke versus Batman! Who will be standing when the dust settles?
DEATHSTROKE (2016) #34 “Deathstroke vs. Batman Part 5 of 6: The Stormy Present”
Artist: Carlo Pagulayan
Inks: Jason Paz & Trevor Scott
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:
The stand-off between Deathstroke and Batman continues as the question of Damian’s parentage remains unresolved. Damian’s time with Slade in the last issue seems to have sparked something in Deathstroke—some sort of realization—and now he’s headed for a face-to-face with Batman!
What You’ll Find Out:
This is it! The moment you’ve all been waiting for—Deathstroke vs. Batman, one-on-one. After a few pages spent catching up with Slade’s traumatic experiences with fatherhood set against a fatherly moment between Bruce and Damian, Slade arrives at Wayne Manor. The two retreat to the cave for an epic fight you really need to just see for yourself, in which the two sides of the same coin debate each other’s potential and methodology until both are exhausted and wounded.
What Just Happened?
We came for the fight, but we stayed for the intrigue. The decision to put the actual fight sequence in the penultimate chapter was nothing short of brilliant here. It circumvents the problem often felt in these types of crossovers in which the fight is built towards but no room is left for resolution. The art team continues to be absolutely stunning in their execution.
What I found most striking in this issue was Slade’s continued resolve to not draw the conclusion that Bruce Wayne is Batman despite the overwhelming evidence. We watch as Slade carefully breaks down the science behind how he found the Batcave, but upon descending the stairs with Bruce, he consciously rejects the notion that Bruce could be Batman (also notice the excellent use of space and gutters to depict time and movement in staircase sequence of panels—flawless). It would appear that Deathstroke’s resolve is born out of a loyalty to an ideology, as he states “The minute you draw a conclusion your ego creates a kind of myopia [nearsightedness] which excludes evidence that doesn’t fit that conclusion.” Provable facts only for Deathstroke, but also the necessity to include all evidence even though it may draw away from the obvious conclusion. The mythos of The Batman, by its very nature, excludes the possibility that Batman could be only one man, and in a sense, Slade is right. Batman is not a one-man operation and the cover-up of the dual identity avenger always requires an army of willing accomplices. There seems to be a quiet admiration in Slade here for the elaborate ruse Bruce has crafted over time underpinning many of Slade’s actions, leading to the possible inference (which Slade would reject on the grounds of his personal ethos) that Slade actually looks up to Batman in a way similar to The Reverse-Flash and his mission to make Barry the best Flash he can be. Whether or not that plays into the conclusion remains to be seen, but it is food for thought.
Rating: 9/10 Final Thought: Next issue: “Maury reads the results!”
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