Deathstroke Annual #2

Oh! I know! The Balkan is The Jackal, right! But then who is The Jackal???? That's an even more mysterious question which is why it needed four question marks.

The Review!

This is a Deathstork story perfect for a Deathstork annual! It has an ambiguous message at the end that maybe people who hate meaning will like! Will Adi become a monster or a hero of his people? Slade calls him a monster so maybe it's not as ambiguous as I thought. I suppose he Adi becomes a monster of his people. It's a decent, single issue story that forgoes the ridiculousness of the regular title. Deathstork is played much more serious here which probably means I shouldn't be calling him Deathstork. Also, I think Bonny actually means to be playing Deathstork seriously in the regular issues but it always makes me laugh so I'm not sure. Also, I don't think it's supposed to make me laugh.

The Commentary!

This is one of those stories which waits until the story is over to give you the title of the story. Usually that means the title is a huge spoiler. Or maybe the writer just thought it would mean more if placed after the story was told, and the reader would read it and nod stoically at how the title punctuated the story nicely. But I want to know what the title is right now so I'm going to cheat and look! The title is "The Balkan"! Oh! That's nice! Or, um, is it? The cover has me wondering who The Balkan is. But a few pages into the comic book and Deathstroke has already murdered a few people without mention of any Balkan. He just keeps repeating that he's entered Rhapanamanastan to do a job. Does the title at the end mean the identity of The Balkan is going to wind up being some kind of twist? It seems like a fairly mundane title to stick on the end of the story. Probably means Deathstroke is the Balkan.

It turns out Deathstroke hasn't gotten the job yet when he killed the first few people! That was just a test so that he could learn about the job to kill the Balkan! The Balkan himself (meaning Deathstroke!) is a mercenary who killed some Opium Lord's son and now that Opium Lord wants revenge on the hired killer and the clan who hired him. That's where Deathstroke comes in! He's a hired killer too! Just like the Balkan! I mean himself! Or soemthing!

And so the hired killers (or killer, WINK WINK!) set to work killing the various members of the other tribes and making scads of money doing it. I guess Deathstroke's plan to stop heroin is to ruin the local economy and/or murder everybody. Seems like a sound plan.

See? The Balkan saved the life of Deathstroke's Rhapanamanastan sidekick! That's a clue! And by clue, I mean dead giveaway!

Deathstroke seems to be testing his sidekick Adi to make sure Adi isn't a despotic killer. He's also paying Adi a fortune for letting Slade stay in his secret hideaway. I suppose Slade is grooming him to be the next leader of the region. But he has to make sure he's compassionate and trustworthy first!

Slade is almost killed by a third party smelling money and land and power but Adi saves him by distracting the last assassin with a bullet. Deathstroke kills the assassin with one of the Balkan's spears before passing out. And now Adi knows his secret.

Before killing the leader of the Wudesh Clan, Deathstroke engages in a little villainous monologue.

You know Slade's a villain because he can't help explaining his plan.

Before heading off to finish the leader of the Wudesh Clan, Slade sent Adi home to his parents' farm outside the city with a fortune in gold. But on the way, the bus is stopped by bandits. Adi runs off with his gun. Since the Balkan twist was revealed so early, I imagine Adi probably plans to become The Balkan and fight the people who would make his country suffer.