TITLE: Deathstroke #50
COVER DATE: August 1995
COVER PRICE: $3.50
WHAT I REMEMBER...
I remember really liking Deathstroke: The Terminator quite a bit back in the day. Of course, it was the 90's and you couldn't throw a stick without hitting a gun-toting, vigilante type anti-hero, bridging the gray area of murky morality. Even so, this was one of the better ones. Or at least that's how I remember it. I've never gone back and reread any of those, so maybe I just have my exceptionally rosy-colored glasses on.
With that in mind, this was one of the titles that I've been waiting for to pop up on this site. But if we've learned nothing over the last seven months, it's that the Randomizer is a cruel mistress. I have the first three years of this title, featuring tales by Marv Wolfman and Steven Grant, with some rock-solid art by Steve Erwin.
So which Deathstroke book is the first to pop up? Why it's the one issue I bought a year and a half after I stopped reading to check in on the title. This was also the last issue of this title I ever bought, so I guess that tells you what I thought of it.
This issue's only plotted by Marv Wolfman, so we missed out on the character being written by his co-creator. The art is by Sergio and Octavio Cariello, and I'm only briefly familiar with Sergio's work from his work in the Bat titles some years ago. It's not exactly a stellar line-up for a fiftieth issue, but let's plunge in anyways and see what's up.
- Plot: Marv Wolfman
- Script: Dale Hrebik
- Pencils: Sergio & Octavio Cariello
- Inks: Will Blyberg, Keith Champagne & Ron McCain
- Letters: John Costanza
- Colors: Chris Matthys
- Assistant Editor: Keri Kowalski
- Editor: Pat Garrahy
Chapter twenty-nine opens up with Deathstroke atop a genetic research facility owned by Steve Dayton and Daytech Enterprises. It would appear that there is a nuclear bomb hidden somewhere in the building. It's Deathstroke's responsibility to find and disarm it, as he is working for Sarge Steel and Checkmate on this particular assignment.
For those of you not steeped in DCU history, Steve Dayton is the same guy who used to run around with the Doom Patrol, named Mento, and is also the adoptive father of Changeling (a.k.a. Beast Boy) of Teen Titan fame. How this version of Steve Dayton ties into the current version of Mento kicking around the latest iteration of the Doom Patrol is a question better left to the real DCU historians. Besides, this blog doesn't pay me enough to attempt to figure it out.
So in this continuity, Mento is still mentally unbalanced and has decided to forgo his mind-control helmet and insert the Mento Chip directly into his hypothalamus, adopting the nom de guerre Crimelord. This will apparently allow him to control the world through the internet. How that makes any sense is anybody's guess, and hopefully it was explained somewhere in chapters one through twenty-eight.
Still, this was not only the time of comic book speculation, but also of dot-com mania where anybody with a catchy name could name their price on the internet. He probably had investors lined up around the corner for the IPO of mentoworlddomination.com.
This isn't the only nuclear bomb set to go off however, so Sgt. Steel has also recruited the likes of the Outsiders, Steel, Hawkman, and others to span the globe and disarm those as well.
It's all an elaborate plan by Crimelord to distract the other heroes so that he can personally destroy Deathstroke, who he has a particular mad-on for. All of the nuclear bombs are fakes, except for the one that Deathstroke has been sent in to disarm.
Exploring deeper into Dayton's genetic research facility, Deathstroke and is partner in crime Wintergreen find some disturbing experiments being conducted. Among the abominations that soon attack the two silver-haired warriors are duplicates of political figures and world leaders.
It doesn't take long for the two to realize that Steve Dayton is far from an innocent bystander in a potential nuclear blackmail scheme by the Crimelord, but that he actually is the Crimelord!
At the same time, Checkmate is able to come to the same conclusion by tracking the Crimelord's communications to one of Steve Dayton's facilities. The same facility where Deathstroke now finds himself held prisoner as Mento, well on his way to being fully integrated into the internet, has sealed off all the exits and has released the rest of his Hybrates to destroy Deathstroke once and for all.
With Deathstroke trying to escape, Mento goes into his (always premature) villainous monologue about how he has already won and the world will soon be his. The clones of political leaders that they had found earlier were but early failures. As they speak, the real clones are taking advantage of the chaos orchestrated by the nuclear bomb scare to take their place. They will all be his to command from the safety of the internet, and the world will be his to control.
It turns out that Deathstroke wasn't actually trying to escape earlier, but in fact going deeper into the facility as there is still a bomb to be disposed of. Fighting Dayton's abominations at every turn, they eventually make it to the location of the bomb.
Wintergreen used to be in the bomb squad during the war, so he takes a crack at it first. Bombs have changed a lot since the glory days of WWII, and it's not long before they only have mere seconds on the counter with the bomb still active.
Deathstroke, never one to worry about cutting the wrong colored wire, disables the detonator with two seconds left to spare.
While all of that drama has been going on, Checkmate has been successful in gaining entry to the facility and have located the body of Steve Dayton. It's not much of a body, being more of a dry husk laced with circuitry. There's no mental activity from his body, as he has just now become fully integrated with the internet.
It's right about now where you figure he'd have won, but Checkmate had severed all lines of communication leading into and out of the building, leaving Mento trapped and unable to tap into the world wide web.
I wish Mento would have called me up before he started this whole world domination via the internet scheme, as I would've told him how often my connection was interrupted with a dial-up modem and AOL back in the day. He probably should've waited a few years for the wireless technology to come into usage.
All doesn't end so nicely for Deathstroke however, for as he and Sgt. Steel compare notes outside, he is beset upon by a sniper on the rooftops. After separating himself away from Wintergreen to draw away the fire, he confronts the sniper. It's none other than Ravager, the villainous identity originally adopted by his son way back when. A tussle ensues and Deathstroke is successful in unmasking the imposter.
After all this time, he finds out who the latest version of the Ravager really is...it's his half-brother, Wade! Ravager takes advantage of Slade's hesitation at finally knowing the truth and gives him a bullet right to the brain.
Is this the end of our intrepid anti-hero? I guess we'll all have to read the Deathstroke Annual #4 to find out.
SO, WHAT DID WE LEARN
If you're going to take over the world using cutting edge technology, make sure that it's been fully beta tested and always...and here's the important part...always make sure your master plan can't be defeated by simply pulling the plug.
It's almost like reading the old silver age books and looking at what wonders they thought computers were capable of. I guess in the mid-90's the internet was still new enough to mysterious and crazy powerful. Hell, these days you can't even get the internet to crack in half, much less use it to rule the world.
The story was all right, once you get past the Tron-level technology. It seemed a little padded out, and I'm sure that's what all of the other heroes chasing down bogus bombs were for. After all, we had thirtyfive pages of story to fill out for about ten pages worth of stuff.
The art was a mixed bag as well, as the second half takes a noticeable downturn in quality. Maybe that's a little harsh, as it's more of a looser style that doesn't quite mesh with the first half.
It was a fun, if not fully enjoyable, trip down memory lane with Slade Wilson. I just wish we had an issue from earlier in the run, but I suppose that's just going to make the next Deathstroke pick more enjoyable.