Written by Rob Liefeld
When Rob Liefeld took over several DC titles, like “Grifter”, he waited no time to introduce several Wildstorm concepts in them, and this book was no exception. This arc sees Deathstroke pitted again Lobo, an alien mercenary. He gained the reputation of being the galaxy’s greatest predator, and it is well deserved, considering he committed genocide against his own species, making him the last Czarnian.
Lobo fell to Earth many years ago, when his ship was attacked by pirates. The Starpoint was a slave ship carrying many prisoners, piloted by Lobo, his lover Sheba and the Khund slave master Karlak. Sheba is also a Czarnian, but Lobo is still the last Czarnian, somehow. Lobo plundered worlds for pure sport, making sure they were all vegan for extra cruelty, and then selling the prisoners somewhere called “The Citadel”. However, when Starpoint was attacked the cargo was compromised and all the prisoners fell around Earth. The ship was next to crash, ending up in New Mexico. The crew fell unconscious during the landing, but they had time to cloak the ship, making it invisible. As thirty years passed, the prisoners who escaped bred with humans and spread for several generations. An organization was founded to provide refugee to all these fugitives, giving them protection over the years: It was cleverly called The Company. They found Lobo, Sheba and Karlak and put them under restraints.
Sadly, the Company’s containment wasn’t tight enough. Mysteriously, Lobo’s restraints opened, and his massive strength helped him escape. As he made his way to the surface he swore to the security cameras that he would find Sheba and use the World-breaker; a weapon within his ship that could lay waste to Earth.
The story begins after these events with Deathstroke, Slade Wilson, visiting his wife’s grave. We know she’s still alive, though, from “Deathstroke” issue #0. Suddenly, he’s ambushed by a group of assassins which includes a few superhumans. But Deathstroke is so badass that he came prepared and suited up, so he handles them with no problem. He even had the graveyard rigged with bombs among the tombs! This book will go really far to convince us that Deathstroke is the coolest guy there is.
After the battle cools off, a guy with glasses among the visitors explains the soldiers were simply a way to get Deathstroke’s attention. Actually, he’s Director Maxim from The Company and they want to hire him for triple his best rate. It’s an outrageous way to make an offer, but it’s an outrageous offer, after all: to hunt down Lobo. Deathstroke accepts, happy to meet his match. He’ll be accompanied by several agents from The Company: the Omegas, a group of young superhumans (they are revamped versions from old DCU characters called Omega Men): Tigorr, Primus and Kalista. Finally, he’ll be accompanied by Zealot! Reintroduced into continuity, she’s still a Kherubim, but she was one of the slaves who escaped from Lobo 30 years ago. She now works as the organization’s security guard. It’s not that she does a bad job, Lobo escaped because he was in a different facility in Colorado. The book keenly describes Zealot as a “space amazon,” showing Liefeld’s wit once again.
The group head to that crashed facility, hoping to get insights into Lobo’s mind. It’s been 36 hours since he escaped. Deathstroke and Zealot step inside, leaving the Omega Youth because they’re too inexperienced. They don’t listen to orders though, and follow after anyway. Deathstroke and Zealot are attacked by Karlak, the Khundian who escaped his cell when Lobo destroyed the place. Deathstroke’s streak of facing aliens begins now, and will become a common motif during Liefeld’s stay in the book. When they see Karlak, the Omegas are filled with rage as they remember their slaved ancestors. Karlak attacks the kids, so Zealot fulfills her duty as bodyguard and stabs him through the chest. Right before dying, Karlak explains Lobo wants to commit genocide on the human species like he did with his own.
That night, Deathstroke’s group reaches the Starpoint right after Lobo does. He activates the ship’s reactor, which starts drawing energy from the Earth’s core to power the World-breaker. Not wanting to stick around to feel the explosion, Lobo hops on his flying motorbike, the “Spazfrag666.” It is worth nothing Lobo was originally created as a parody of the edginess of the 90’s, but under Liefeld’s pen the adoration seems played straight.
As soon as Deathstroke and Zealot trespass inside the ship, Lobo meets them and starts beating the crap out of them. Deathstroke isn’t happy to discover Lobo can regenerate from anything. They’re suddenly rescued by the Omegas, who paralyze Lobo psychically and shut down the ship’s bomb. Primus reveals he was the one who freed Lobo from his prison in Colorado; he wanted him to lead them to his ship so that they would have a way to get off planet. Getting revenge for what Lobo did to their parents was just the icing of the cake.
Zealot feels aiding a criminal to escape is reprehensible, even if it was to get vengeance. This distraction is enough for Lobo to break free of Primus’ psychic grip, but Deathstroke has had enough time to execute a plan. He boards Lobo’s Spazfrag666, stabs Lobo with it and sends it flying towards space. To finish off he throws his last detonator into the fuselage, making the whole thing explode and scattering Lobo’s remains across the four winds. Deathstroke has completed his mission… Wait, wasn’t his mission to return Lobo to captivity? Oh, well. As Deathstroke falls from the atmosphere, he saves his life by activating a convenient jetpack he was carrying on his back. Never underestimate the value of a well-placed jetpack.
After all’s said and done, there’s still justice to deliver. Primus needs to be held accountable for setting Lobo free; but he explains he only wanted to find a ship to escape the Company! It seems Director Maxim was actually a monster who experimented on The Omegas and looked for ways to turn them into living weapons. While Primus is still going to face justice, Deathstroke punches Director Maxim in the face to feel better. He decides Zealot is going to act as his eyes and ears within The Company, and if Director Maxim acts shady ever again he’s going to get himself executed. Afterwards Deathstroke kisses Zealot for being such an impressive warrior and asks her to meet again sooner rather than later. Finally, he leaves, not letting Zealot get a word in through all of this. He’s macho enough to make the decisions here; women are to be kissed, not heard, am I right? The story ends with The Company erasing all their records of Sheba, Lobo’s girlfriend, so that Deathstroke never finds out that they’re actually holding her too.
I gotta say, this story is one of those so-bad-it’s-good ones. Deathstroke says this mission defined him, let him see his weakness and arrogance by showing him there are threats out there he hadn’t conceived of. Despite all this, in the following issue he’s back to his old arrogant self who can’t wait for someone skilled enough to be his equal match. Good ol’ Liefeld.
Next: Deathstroke Vol.2 issue 13, by Rob Liefeld and Joshua Williamson.