“The Lazarus Contract” has deliver as I would hope it would so far. While the crossover between Titans, Teen Titans and Deathstroke is far from being a bad story, it has been lacking a certain something to make it feel special. Now that we are halfway into this crossover I’m hoping that the second half of the story will deliver a strong ending. I haven’t been reading the Deathstroke ongoing but people I trust have said it is very good so I expect its chapter of “The Lazarus Contract” to propel the story forward as it should. Will it do just that? Let’s find out with Deathstroke #19.
Story Writers: Christopher Priest, Benjamin Percy and Dan Abnett
Script Writer: Christopher Priest
Artists: Larry Hama, Carlo Pagulayan and Roberto J. Viacava
Inker: Jason Paz and Sean Parsons
Colorist: Jeremy Cox
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Flash chases Deathstroke across the world. Deathstroke tries to make Flash back down by saying his deal is still active, confusing Flash.
Flash wants to know how Deathstroke is accessing the Speed Force. Deathstroke reveals that he is using technology from Dr. Darwin Elias that siphons and stores the Speed Force and he is now using that energy as a battery. Deathstroke then reveals his deal isn’t with Flash or Kid Flash but someone else.
Years earlier when Dick Grayson was still Robin he is riding towards a pier when someone causes him to crash his bike. That someone turns out to be Deathstroke, who comments on Robin getting a bit to old to be wearing the costume he is wearing. Robin demands to know what Deathstroke wants. Deathstroke says he has taken over his son’s contract to kill the Teen Titans but Robin doesn’t believe that is the real reason for their meeting.
Deathstroke says he is there to make Robin an offer as he recently learned that he has a daughter (Rose Wilson), whose mother was killed in an accident. He goes on to say he is arranging Rose to be placed in foster care but wants Robin to instill his values on to her in order to ensure Rose doesn’t follow his path. Robin asks if this would mean Deathstroke would agree to stop coming after the Teen Titans. Deathstroke says he will as long as Robin keeps his end of the deal.
Back in the present, Deathstroke is pleasantly surprised that Nightwing never revealed their deal to his teammates. Flash says that a lot has happened. Deathstroke is still curious as to how Flash’s return affected his memories. Deathstroke then asks if Flash really thinks that he can take him down now with both of them running at the same speed. Flash does not call Deathstroke out on his bluff and runs back to regroup with his team.
Back at Deathstrokes underground base, the Titans and Teen Titans talk about what just happened with each other. Robin questions Kid Flash on exactly what happened. Kid Flash says that Deathstroke just needed his help. Robin is surprised that Kid Flash trusted Deathstroke.
Nightwing calms everyone down and says they need to find Flash. Kid Flash runs off to do so but only gets a few feet away before his powers suddenly disappear and he returns to his civilian clothing.
Robin isn’t surprise at what just happened since Deathstroke obviously took Kid Flash’s Speed Force powers. Nightwing says they need to track Deathstroke down and figure out what exactly is going down while also finding Flash.
In Los Angeles, Flash finds Jericho on top of a building and says he needs Jericho’s help in stopping his father as he can’t beat Deathstroke alone. Jericho asks how he can help. Flash asks about Deathstroke.
Sometime in the past, Slade takes Grant and Jericho out to the woods but Grant wants nothing to do with whatever Slade is out there to do. Grant ends up running away and Slade tells Jericho to come with him while leaving Grant behind.
Years later Wintergreen visits the Wilson household and asks Grant and Jericho how they are doing. Grant says they are the same and sick of their parents. Grant ends up walking out just as Wintergreen finds Slade upstairs with his wife. Wintergreen informs Slade that Grant walked out.
Slade finds Grant walking down a road and asks Grant if he really is ready to be on his own. Grant says he is so Slade tells his son to hit him. Grant is hesitant but Slade says that if Grant can hit him once that he can leave without a complaint. Grant takes a swing but completely misses Slade.
Slade states he won’t stop Grant from running away even if he is not ready. Before Slade can finish what he is saying a car hits Grant. While Slade goes into the shadows Grant gets into the car that hit him.
In the present, Deathstroke uses his speed to kill several people around the world in the matter of seconds. He then goes to the hospital Rose is in and talks to Wintergreen about how Rose is going to make it. Wintergreen states that Jericho has been released from the hospital. Deathstroke then says he is going to fix his mistakes or die trying.
Elsewhere, Robin finishes getting the information from Deathstroke’s computer and is able to track him down in New England. Nightwing tells Robin that they must be on the same page as brothers. Robin accepts that as an apology from Nightwing.
Flash suddenly contacts Nightwing and says they should meet at Hatton Corners. Jericho understands that is the location where his brother died and knows the Titans didn’t do it but it is not something Deathstroke accepts in understanding. Flash wonders why Jericho is with Deathstroke as he is nothing like his father. Jericho says he struggles everyday not to become his father but he accepts Deathstroke from who he is.
Outside of Windsor, Ontario, Deathstrokes stops to take a break to power up his suit. As soon as it is at full power Deathstroke races off and runs through time.
In some jungle, Grant runs through a forest as Ravager. He is suddenly stopped by Deathstroke’s appearance. Deathstroke hugs his son, happy to have finally find him. End of issue.
The Good: There are certain problems that continue to hover over “The Lazarus Contract” crossover that not even Deathstroke #19 is able to shake. Those problems, specifically with the true conflict of the story, is certainly keeping the crossover back. That said, from a character development standpoint, Deathstroke #19 is possibly the strongest chapter in this crossover.
For the first two chapters of “The Lazarus Contract” we have gotten a good idea of what Deathstroke is planning as he wants to go back and save his son Grant from his death. With Deathstroke #19, Christopher Priest is able to delve deeper into this major part of the story by getting us inside Slade Wilson’s head. The look into his motivation through the flashback sequences showed us how the present day Slade is filled with regret in how he handled parenting his children, especially Grant.
Getting glimpses of Slade’s past as he raised Grant and Jericho was a good eye opener, especially for fans who may not be familiar with Deathstroke’s history. Through these scenes we get a better idea as to how Grant’s death ended up hurting Deathstroke emotionally. That sense of not doing everything right by Grant showed that there is a deeper wait that Deathstroke has been carrying since making his presence known to the DC Universe’ heroes. It at least makes you wonder what would happen if Deathstroke is successful in saving Grant.
While we did see Deathstroke be more vulnerable than is normal it did not stop Priest from still portraying him as a badass. The end of the chase between Deathstroke and Flash was a good showing of how the former is not someone to mess with. And with things even between the characters in terms of speed there really was no way Flash could defeat Deathstroke in a fight. Flash’s show of fear in dying was a good way to show the respect Deathstroke has when it comes to his fighting skills.
Bringing Jericho into things does up the emotional stake in things. Flash directly asking Jericho about his father gave Priest a chance to delve deeper into who Jericho is. Seeing how Jericho is not lying to himself about who his father really is shows that how mature the character is. At the same time Jericho is well aware that he is his father’s son and that being around Deathstroke can actually help stop him from becoming like Slade.
Priest also did a solid job going in further into the agreement between Deathstroke and Nightwing. The flashback scene was actually a good way to bring into continuity Nightwing having a past with Rose Wilson since he was her teacher for a short period in the previous DC Universe. This transitioned well into how Priest kept Nightwing in the leadership role even if only Flash learned the truth of the deal he had with Deathstroke. The following scene with Robin was also a nice touch in highlighting the big brother relationship Nightwing has with his successor.
Even though we had an artist by committee, something I’m not a fan of, Larry Hama, Carlo Pagulayan and Roberto J. Viacava all did a solid job mixing there styles together. Deathstroke #19 had very good consistency throughout the issue. The chase between Deathstroke and Flash stood out the most as there was a good sense of motion throughout the opening.
The Bad: The biggest problem with “The Lazarus Contract” continues to be the lack of a true villain in the story. While Deathstroke is playing the antagonist role it does not feel like he is a true threat. Especially with how much time Priest spends in getting us to understand Deathstroke’s reason behind obtaining the Speed Force. He is definitely the cause for the two groups of Titans to come together but there is nothing where we see him as this big, larger than life threat that the two teams need to come together to stop. The way the story has been executed so far this feels like it should’ve been a story that took place in one of the Titans books rather than all three.
The lack of a true villain like HIVE also takes away the impact of it feeling the like the two Titans teams are overcoming great odds. That lack of a villain makes the story feel like it is just about Deathstroke and his sense of loss and nothing greater. Which is disappointing since previous chapters teased HIVE’s involvement and they have been forgotten even though they have a long running history with the majority of the characters involved.
It also doesn’t help that outside of Nightwing, Flash and Robin, the two Titans groups don’t get a lot of character development in this issue. It is something that has been seriously lacking in this crossover as we have only gotten brief instances the two teams interacting with one another. And even in those instances it does not feel like the two Titans teams are growing together, making some of the pairings feel very thin in terms of development.
Overall: As a spotlight for Slade Wilson, Deathstroke #19 does a very good job getting readers to understand the character’s motivation in “The Lazarus Contract” crossover. Unfortunately the lack of a true villain in this crossover continues to keep “The Lazarus Contract” from reaching the heights it should.