This might be the ninth issue for the Terminator, but this effort feels a whole lot like a first issue to a series. Although, this makes perfect sense seeing as Kyle Higgins has been replaced by Rob Liefeld, who is now taking up the task of both writing and illustrating the series.
The story is simple and moves along very quickly in this issue. Some wealthy individuals want Slade Wilson killed, meanwhile another organization wants to use Slade's talents to help take down an escaped extraterrestrial. You might know this cosmic powerhouse by the name of Lobo. Yeah, Deathstroke will definitely have his hands full seeing as Lobo is a violent dude sporting physicals similar to Superman. Said organization that wants his aid also has a familiar face for Wildstorm fans: Zealot.
Like I said, this feels a lot like a first issue. Just in case you never got the memo, Slade is one of the most feared mercenaries in the DC Universe for a reason, and Liefeld makes a point to let the reader know that almost right away. Slade remarks on his impressive reflexes, strength, and brilliant tactical mind as he throws down in an action sequence that begins right on the third page. We know Deathstroke is a badass, and it was clearly a goal to further solidify that fact with this issue. But let's be honest, every single issue with Slade Wilson should have a moment that makes us go "that's why he's called the Terminator!" Oh, and long time fans will be pleased to see the return of the power staff (with a new way to use it, too!).
Zealot is well known for her talents in hand-to-hand combat, so I really hope she'll provide Slade with a good fight sometime soon. Seeing him slaughter mountains of generic fodder is something almost anyone remotely talented can do in these comics and over time really isn't impressive in comparison to what the Terminator is capable of. Hopefully she'll give us all the chance to see just how skilled Slade truly is. And regarding Lobo, it'll definitely be interesting to see how Deathstroke plans to deal with him considering how Lobo has Slade terribly outclassed.
There were a few parts of the story that rubbed my the wrong way. Slade says it's taking Primus "everything he's got to hold me in check," but just one panel earlier says the alien is "not even trying." I suppose it could have been in regards to trying to read Slade's mind, but it seemed contradictory to me if it was about holding Deathstroke in place with his telekinesis. There's also a "heaven help us all" remark thrown in towards the end of the book. Perhaps it's just me, but that phrase seems incredibly dated and cheesy. He also calls the graveyard "sacred ground," yet seemed to have no problem planting explosives all over the site. Then again, he is prepared for every situation. I wouldn't be surprised if his shower had a bar of soap that turned into a firearm (wash carefully, Slade).
If you're part of the crowd that treats Liefeld as a punching bag, then odds are you're going to rant about every inconsistency possible. Personally, I prefer him a good deal over a handful of artists, though I'm not going to go ahead and list names. That said, the art certainly isn't perfect, so those who love to hate him should a field day ripping apart panels. I found many of the artistic inconsistencies to be incredibly minor. I can't say I care all that much if a red orb on Slade's armor isn't around in a panel or if there's slight proportional changes here and there. Oddly enough, the biggest gripe I have with the art is how the individuals run. The group that attacks Slade in the graveyard charges at him with their bodies bent forward close to a 90 degree angle. Doesn't seem all that comfortable if you ask me.
If Rob excels at one thing when it comes to art, it's making Slade look damn good and quite intimidating. Plus, you can't help but enjoy the absurdly violent way Lobo dispatches the security. I think "talk to the hand" has a whole new meaning with that second panel. Oh God, did I really just say that? I'm so sorry.
It's clear Liefeld's take on Deathstroke is going to be violent, fast paced and fun. I'm sure many will complain that it's too simplistic or makes them feel like they've taken a time machine to the '90s, but when you're reading a handful of titles every week, sometimes it's a nice change of pace to have a dose of popcorn entertainment thrown in there. If you're part of the crowd that dislikes Rob or have little to no interest in Deathstroke to begin with, this issue certainly won't be winning you over. Not a standout issue, but certainly not terrible either.
source: my blog