There was a period, in the mid-1990s, when villains suddenly became de rigueur and comics were full of assassins and murders enacting unsavoury wish-fulfillment violence on all and sundry. Then along came Deathstroke The Terminator. While The Punisher and Spawn were just bad guys, Deathstroke brought a genuinely sleazy real-world element to the anti-hero genre. Deathstroke wasn’t just a killer, he was a truly three-dimensional nasty bit of work.
No doubt inspired by the popularity of recent villain-flicks such as The Joker and Venom, DC’s latest straight-to-DVD animated adventure features brings Deathstroke to whole new generation. However, while he’s still not exactly hero material, Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons offers a new take on the Deathstroke story.
Mercenary and master assassin Slade Wilson leads two lives: one as the relentless killer known as Deathstroke, and the other as a dedicated family man. When these worlds collide, forced together by the vicious terror group known as H.I.V.E., it is the killer in Slade who must fight to save his loved ones, as well as what remains of himself. With his soul torn apart and his young son held captive, Deathstroke will have to atone for the sins of his past to fuel the battles of his future.
Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons gives fans of DC Animated Movies’ their first true look at one of the comic world’s most controversial characters. The animation may be little more than workmanlike but the storyline has plenty of meat on its bones to compensate. The voice actors are superb —especially Michael Chiklis, who does an incredible job of capturing the ruthless approach and conflicted internal struggles of Deathstroke.
There’s a depth and complexity to the characterisation and unfolding tale that makes this feel like proper grown-up animation. Deathstroke is unlikely win any awards for its direction and, sadly, erratic pacing and clunky dialogue does detract from the whole. There’s plenty here to enjoy, but there are times when it feels like a missed opportunity.
Collectors will enjoy the additional Deathstroke: One-Man Death Machine featurette which is available only on the Blu-Ray release.
Deathstroke: Knights & Dragons is out NOW on digital download and arrives August 17th on Blu-Ray™ and DVD.