If there is any one good thing that came out of Deathstroke having his own series in the 1990s, it’s that he had unknowingly fathered a daughter, Rose, who would eventually go on to become The Ravager during Geoff Johns’s run on Teen Titans. But in 1995, Rose was still in her early teens and under the care of the latest version of the New Titans. She’d just survived an ordeal where The Ravager (the Wade DeFarge version) killed her mother. The climax of that storyline was earth-shattering, as most of Deathstroke’s supporting cast was dead and Adeline was revealed to not only have gone completely nuts but had also inherited some of Slade’s immortality.
So where do you go from there? Well, apparently, you go into the future.
Deathstroke #51 and 52 are a two-part story where after she gets knocked out in a training exercise by Damage, Rose has a dream. But it’s not a dream, it’s a vision of the future and one where her father’s immortality has helped him achieve some sort of world domination, or at least be a Doctor Doom type of villain. His main enemy is Hawkman, or the latest version of Hawkman, and Hawkman fights with Deathstroke in some sort of virtual reality world. There’s a hint that maybe somehow Steve Dayton as The Crimelord had somehow possessed Deathstroke but Rose wakes up from her vision before we can really see who he is in the future.
And then in the next issue, Deathstroke and Hawkman team up to stop a villain named Ebrax, even though the two of them spend most of their team-up time griping at one another. There’s some implication that the possibility of Slade becoming some sort of huge villain and fighting with Hawkman will come to pass and perhaps they will become enemies as the series goes on. But with only eight more issues to go in the series, Hawkman is never seen again and this doesn’t really go anywhere. In fact, the only thing that does sort of go anywhere is Rose’s burgeoning precognitive powers, which are still around when she is The Ravager, although she’s not so much predicting the future in that role and simply has good anticipatory reflexes.
This two-parter, to me, has not only come to represent the beginning of the end of this series but its lowest point. Two stories that feature Hawkman and set up one confusing, dangling plot thread were also two stories that I barely cared about in 1995 and kind of suffered through when I was rereading for this blog. Looking at what’s ahead, there are a couple of issues that I barely remember reading, one issue that I didn’t actually own until years after the series had been cancelled, and while things slightly improve in the last few issues of the series, you can tell that unless Deathstroke is going to go back to its roots and become a series about a mercenary who is also an action hero, it’s going to wind up being cancelled. The science fiction aspects are clunky, especially anything with “virtual reality,” which clearly dates these issues.
Next Up: The Titans go into outer space and get involved in an intergalactic civil war.