“Arkham” – Part Two
Artists: Fernando Pasarin, Jason Paz, and Sean Parsons
Things go full on “Inception” in Deathstroke #37, as Priest and Pasarin produce another excellent issue in this avant-garde run on DC’s deadliest assassin.
Deathstroke #37 continues to chronicle Slade Wilson’s time in Arkham Asylum. Last month’s issue ended on a cliffhanger, as aliens abduct Deathstroke upon his attempt to escape Arkham. As this month’s episode opens, Deathstroke’s shrink, Candace, calls into question this supposed abduction. Slade explains how he and Devon – a character who may or may not be a figment of Deathstroke’s imagination – supposedly broke out of Arkham right before the aliens beamed them up to their spaceship. As he walks her through each step of the breakout, Candace confronts him with the impossibility of his narrative.
The narrative then shifts to more virtual time with the Arkham inmates. Apparently, Batman’s rogue gallery spends their days in Arkham hooked into a VR system that allows them to act out their fantasies of capturing and killing the Dark Knight. During this VR escapade, Deathstroke encounters and bonds with Two-Face, who eventually takes center stage in the cliffhanger ending of the issue.
Will The Real Slade Wilson Please Stand Up
Throughout the two issues of this arc, Priest has set up an interesting dilemma for Deathstroke and the reader, as both struggle to parse what is real and what is a psychotic delusion. Last issue’s events were presented as fact: Slade Wilson tried to escape and was abducted by aliens. However, this issue calls into question the basic facts of the story, and therefore, collapses the binary between the reader and the character. Both Deathstroke and the reader experience the same narrative disorientation, as each question the viability of their perception.
Priest brilliantly compliments this story with a subplot concerning Jericho – Slade’s son Joseph Wilson – and Rose, his daughter. Jericho decides to pose as his father by wearing Deathstroke’s uniform, to help Rose out of her psychosis. Eventually, someone else steals the costume to pose as Deathstroke – again leaving the reader to continually question identities and narratives.
Penciller Fernando Pasarin is incredibly consistent in terms of his quality. Stylistically, Deathstroke #37 looks identical to the previous issue… and the one before that… and the one before that! You get the picture (pun intended). While the art is by no means groundbreaking or even stylistically unusual, the issue looks great. Deathstroke #37 is beautiful, crisp, and amazingly consistent with its predecessors.
Deathstroke #37 is confusing but in the best way possible. It forces its reader to think and read closely. Priest pens a brilliantly bizarre story that challenges the conventions of normal storytelling. Pasarin, as usual, delivers some solid lines. For a medium that is often dismissed as peripheral spectacle, Deathstroke #37 is a fantastic retort, showing how comics can be intelligent art. This issue is a cerebral delight. Give this one a shot.
Images Courtesy Of DC Entertainment