Thursday, 8 June 2017

May 2017's Pull List - The Lazarus Contract

As I'm writing this, the UK is having it's General Election and it has my whole office up in arms. I've just read an article about how the Tories have it won and, quite frankly, it's putting a downer on my whole day.

Therefore, I figured that I'd get my head away from all that seriousness and talk about my thoughts on the Lazarus Contract, the DC crossover story which crosses into four books; my pull list comic Titans #11Teen Titans #8, Deathstroke #19 and finally the Teen Titans Lazarus Contract Special #1. While initially annoyed at the announcement of this story (who wants a crossover with books they don't read?), enough time has passed for me to be rather excited about the idea, especially after other crossovers like the Button and Superman Reborn (which I hear were very good).

The Lazarus Contract (obviously named as an homage to that famous Teen Titans story 'the Judas Contract') follows all three sets of protagonists from the included comics as Deathstroke, the world's greatest assassin, decides to make amends for the mistakes of his past, starting with the death of his son Grant Wilson, otherwise known as the Ravager. Unfortunately, there is only one way that World's Greatest Assassin can do this and that's time travel. Therefore, this begins a mission which involves the abduction of the Wally's West in order to understand and harness their ability to time travel. Unfortunately for Slade the Titans and Teen Titans are hot on his trail as both teams, somewhat grudgingly, work together to save their respective teammates.

As I read this back it looks like a bit of a simple plot for four issues. However, the story is really that simple and this I found a struggle to handle as synopsis for this titles seemed to imply that this story would be more related to Titans' Flash and his return from limbo and how Deathstroke could use that to save his son. Unfortunately, it wasn't although that didn't mean it wasn't a good story because it was. It just wasn't as epic as I believed it was going to be.

Some of the reasons for this had to with the writing which, while itself was pretty solid overall, I struggled with, maybe due to differing writing styles from the three different writers. As usual, I enjoyed Abnett's issue (which I've obviously gotten used to) and Percy's instalment was ok. However, with Priest's issues (or issues as he did the script for the special) there was such a shift in how they were broken down, with lots of time jumping and 'chapter' breaks (for want of a better word) that I think that's where the story lost my interest.

Of course, that wasn't all the problems I had, as I felt like a lot of information was missing which was rather important to the plot. The majority of it seemed to stem from the Deathstroke series as Slade continued to know and do things that weren't fully explained. Of course, on the plus side, there were plenty of moments which piqued my interest for the Deathstroke series as a whole, as well as the first Teen Titans arc, although the latter was almost immediately reversed by Damian Wayne who, despite already being a vile character in my eyes, really came across as an even bigger villain here than I thought possible.

On the plus side, I did enjoy the art across the board. Also as usual (as like with Abnett's writing), I really loved Brett Booth's art, as it grows on me more and more with each new Titan's issue. I also really enjoyed the art in Teen Titans, as Jonboy Meyers and Khoi Pham offered up this really unusual, deep coloured style which was almost horror like in its overall look, something that really made sense with a nice panel of Kid Flash's very creepy shadow which I enjoyed as it worked nicely with his past.

Sadly, I wasn't quite as impressed with the art in Deathstroke, as it looked a little flat to me, even though it wasn't that different to the other two styles to be a problem. Fortunately, this bump in the road was made up for in the special as the great Paul Pelletier got to provide the pencils, which is always a treat in my eyes. I was also happy with the various 'post-credit' sequences (for want of a better description) which set up a few new story points in the various comics, although I was heart-broken by the revelation that was given in the Titans segment, giving me even more of a dislike of the current Robin character (why, oh why, couldn't Rebirth have caused him to be erased?)

Overall though, the Lazarus Contract was a fun enough story but it wasn't as epic as I was hoping for. While it gave me a bit more of the Titans (who I'm really getting more into), this whole thing really felt like a mega Deathstroke story and not an equal division between all three casts. If this crossover did anything for me then it made me tempted to go and pick up Deathstroke trades, but beyond that it didn't really resonate all that much for me (which is a shame) and look forward to a return to the regular schedule.

And hopefully, no other crossovers like this for a good long while.

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