One of the tougher things about covering the 1990s-era Titans books for this blog (if you can believe that is difficult at all) is not having to reread disappointing storylines like “Terminus” (especially considering if I extend my reading all the way through to the late 1990s The Titans title, I am going to be looking at some extremely poor stories), it’s that I find it tough to determine in what order to read these books.
With the Team Titans and New Titans titles, it was always easy to figure out where things were going, especially because they would cross over into one another here and there, at least through Team Titans‘ first year and as the DC Universe as a whole inched closer to Zero Hour, a crossover I found intriguing from the very first advertisement on the DC Universe coming attractions page.
But Deathstroke? It was a good action-adventure book but always kind of the odd man out in the Titansverse. Slade Wilson and his supporting cast kind of kept to their own until it was absolutely necessary for them to appear in the main Titans books, and since this was a book I was getting through the mail via DC’s subscription program, I really didn’t pay much attention to it. In fact, I’m pretty sure when I first got the issues between the “World Tour” and the post-Zero Hour “The Hunted” storyline, I skimmed the books, bagged and boarded them and really never gave them much thought.
Rereading issues #35-40, you can kind of see why. They’re not terrible stories, but whereas the small group of stories between the end of the Cheshire storyline and the World Tour were decent adventure tales, these are serviceable at best. Over the course of these issues, there are several art teams and while there is a three-parter about Wintergreen fighting for the right to restore his family’s honor because his father was a Nazi sympathizer, it seems that Wolfman was asked to kind of plug along before giant editorial changes took place.
It is kind of odd, by the way, that Deathstroke did not have a Zero Hour crossover issue (and really neither did New Titans, although the issue that takes place around the same time as Zero Hour does at least put an ending to part of the Titans story). It would have been interesting to see a different version of Deathstroke pop up or maybe even one, if not both of his dead sons come back. Instead, there is the Wintergreen story, a team-up with Green Arrow, and Slade breaking up a mafia wedding. Wolfman does try to continue to build Slade’s character in some issues–in fact, issue #35 is basically a huge fight between slade and Wintergreen that winds up replaying the “No, go ahead! Kill yourself!” scene from Lethal Weapon. But even so, the “My family is dead because of me!” bit is starting to get tired.
I’m not trying to sound too negative here because it’s not like I didn’t enjoy Deathstroke’s title and it’s not like I didn’t like reading these stories, but I didn’t expect to have the same feelings I did nearly twenty years ago, which was these were the books I had to “get through” and that I was reading because they were associated with the Titans. In fact, it may have been a mistake to continually tie the title back to the Titans because Wolfman’s writing was pretty tight, and if this had been its own title that had its own continuity–something I think he was trying to do here but would be stopped with the next summer crossover–it would have worked a lot better.
Next Up: Back to the Team Titans and a look at that book’s change in creative team.