Slade Wilson wants to be a good man, but his past won’t let him. He may have put on a cape and started the Defiance superhero team, but he’s still a member of the Society Of Supervillains, and when the Society calls, you best answer. Slade has been ignoring his summons from his old colleagues, but they’re tired of waiting for his response. After being blown up and abducted, Slade is in the clutches of the Society for Deathstroke’s extra-sized issue #25, and even though drain cleaner is being pumped into his veins, his memories are causing him the most pain. Christopher Priest’s run on this series is the high point of DC’s Rebirth initiative, and in a year and a half he’s completely reinvigorated Slade Wilson’s character to make him one of the great tragic figures in superhero comics. Slade was a relentless asshole who pushed away everyone he’s ever loved, and now that he’s trying to make amends, he’s haunted by all the bad he’s caused in his life.
This exclusive preview of next week’s Deathstroke #25 shows that this issue will be delving deep into Slade’s past, beginning with a page that gives readers their first glimpse at a young Slade’s relationship with his own father. It puts Slade’s antagonistic, severe relationship with his own sons in perspective, but it also reveals that this issue will be deeply connected to what has come before in this series. The first page of this preview is a callback to the first page of Priest’s first issue, which had Slade calling his son, Grant, “an effing nancy” when he chose to sleep in the car during their camping trip. Slade’s hallucination is going to be a devastating trip down memory lane, but Slade needs to fully come to terms with the wrongs of his past if he’s ever going to be truly redeemed.
This issue features the return of artist Carlos Pagulayan, who drew the first issues of the series and established a more grounded visual sensibility compared to recent Deathstroke runs by creators like Rob Liefeld and Tony Daniel. Current artist Diogenes Neves is bringing in more superhero spectacle because the book is moving in that direction with the longer Defiance arc, so the return of Pagulayan indicates a tonal shift in Priest’s story for this issue. The splash page of Slade in his current trap radiates a sense of defeat that doesn’t seem like the typical Slade, and that body language informs his character. Slade is enlightened now. Does he view this as just another cage he has to break out of, or does he see the metaphor in being captured by the world’s greatest devils and being put in his old supervillain costume just when he’s finally seen the light? His body indicates the latter, but it’s only a matter of time until Slade accepts his past sins and regains the drive to push forward into a new future.