Thursday, January 16, 2020

Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons - Part One

The new animated web series offers a retelling of Slade Wilson's (Michael Chiklis) origins, a vendetta against the terrorist organization known as H.I.V.E., and his fucked-up family life. "Part One" is a bloody affair offering flashbacks explaining the source of Deathstroke's powers while in the present his son is kidnapped by H.I.V.E. in an attempt to force the mercenary to work for them (this part of the story stays fairly faithful to the comics). While their plan fails, it does destroy Wilson's marriage, estrange him from his son, and offer a follow-up tale a decade later when H.I.V.E. goes after the boy once more.

The first episode of the series is a bit of a mixed bag offering a view of Deathstroke as a hitman with a heart of gold. I also didn't love the version of Bronze Tiger (Delbert Hunt) used her (or Lady Shiva, barely used at all), or the show's limited explanation of Slade's enhancement to only include his healing factor (ignoring increased strength, agility, and reflexes that also make him a formidable fighter). And although the bloodshed, animation, and action are mostly well done, it's hard to argue the episode earns what it puts Jericho (Asher Bishop) through, instead using the tragedy as nothing more than prologue for the larger tale to come. Honestly, the best part of the episode was Slade being a father to his son, reading to him over the phone in the book that gives the series it's title. Deathstroke making short work of lesser opponents, or getting riddled with holes to end the episode, both lack the connection to the character we see early on.

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