Wooo! First review ever! Anyways, to the review.
I’ve been reading the last 8 issues of Deathstroke and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Higgin's run. Admittedly, I had never read any Deathstroke comics before the New 52, so I’m not the ultimate guide to Deathstroke. However, this has been a series that I thoroughly been enjoying until DC Comics decided to shake up the creative team, most likely to help boost lagging sales.
I’ve never had read any of Rob Liefeld’s work, despite reading numerous criticisms about his style. I was actually eager to read something he drew, since he seems to be so infamous. So, I decide to pick up Hawk & Dove #1, as a primer on what to expect from Liefeld for this issue. While I know Liefeld bashing seems to be quite popular, everything that has been detrimentally said about his work I witnessed in Hawk & Dove #1: exaggerated and awkward anatomy, stiff looking characters, too many grimacing faces, inability to draw feet, some weird obsession with teeth, and hairstyles that I haven’t seen in public since 1997. Combined with Sterling Gates’ below average script, I was one and done with Hawk and Dove.
So, what’s the point of me telling you about Hawk & Dove #1? I use both that issue, as well as Issue #8 of Deathstroke as a measure of this comic. Admittedly, Deathstroke #9 is a better looking comic than Hawk & Dove #1. Liefeld’s work seems to be better than in Hawk and Dove, which is probably due to : 1) drawing a character that fits Liefeld’s style well (Deathstroke is a well-built character who wears a mask, preventing Liefeld from having to draw some awkward faces), 2) possibly having a stronger inker to patch up some of Liefeld’s more exaggerated work. However, there is still too much bad Liefeld art in this book, such as the mysterious boss of the first pages, who is not only drawn awkwardly, but inconsistently, and Zealot, who is drawn stiffly and looks more like a doll more than a person. I also felt that the art in this book was a big step back from Joe Bennett‘s and Eduardo Pensica’s more gritty, dark work on the previous issues of Deathstroke.
Liefeld’s script manages to be even worse than his art. I got the feeling that Liefeld didn’t even bother to pick up a single issue of Higgin’s run, and decided to soft-reboot this series. Most of the early dialogue at his wife’s gravesite feels like an introduction to a character that I’ve been reading for 8 issues, but pales in comparison to the Deathstroke of the previous 8 issues. Unlike Higgin’s Deathstroke, while not the deepest character was way more badass and intense, letting his actions speak for him, this Deathstroke feels like a pale imitation, talking about how awesome he is, but only backing it up by mopping the floor with some mooks. In addition, I feel that much of the dialogue in this comic is superfluous, does little too push the story along or to develop character, and is contradictory (Primus goes from not even trying to using everything he’s got to hold him in check?).
Overall, this isn’t a very good comic book. Despite being a dedicated Deathstroke reader (Higgin’s run has prompted me to start picking up some of Wolfman’s Deathstroke from the 90’s), I’m sadly going to drop this series, as Liefeld as managed to drop the quality of the art, narrative and storytelling. While the idea of Deathstroke vs Lobo (who only gets a brief cameo in this issue) does sound awesome, it feels like a story that will fail in Liefeld’s less than competent hands.