exclusive Deathstroke #11 artRob Liefeld has enjoyed a resurgence in the comic book industry, thanks in part to DC Entertainment utilizing his writing and drawing skills on several titles since its much-publicized "New 52" relaunch last year.
The Image founder has been drawing and writing Deathstroke since May, a month that also saw him taking over writing duties on two other titles for DC, The Savage Hawkman and Grifter. In September, he'll also revisit his Hawk and Dove characters in the Zero Month issue of DC Universe Presents.
In Deathstroke, Liefeld has been pitting the mercenary character against the almost indestructible Lobo, who was introduced in issue #9. Liefeld gets to define who Lobo is in the New 52, telling his new origin in upcoming issues of Deathstroke.exclusive
Deathstroke #11 artAnd in September's Deathstroke #0, Liefeld will tell the new version of Slade Wilson's origin for the relaunched universe as part of DC's "Zero Month."
In the second installment of our interview with the writer/artist, Newsarama talked to Liefeld about his work on Deathstroke.
Newsarama: Rob, your run on Deathstroke immediately introduced some new elements of his New 52 history, as he stood at a cemetery and remembered his past. What were you hoping to bring to the character's back-story right out of the gate?
Rob Liefeld: Yeah, I treated issue #9 as an introductory issue for new readers who would be checking it out for the first time. Here's who Slade is, this is why he is driven, he's heartbroken and feels aimless, ready to cash in at any time. He's beaten every obstacle but he can't bring his wife back. So when Maxim shows up with a new challenge it's right time, right place for Slade.
Nrama: How important is his grief over his past life to who he is now?Liefeld: His love story with his wife and the tragedy that it ended in has shaped Slade's entire journey. We reveal their story in issue #0.
Nrama: How significant is it that Deathstroke's armor contains Nth metal, and does that mean we might see his story cross paths with Hawkman's?
Liefeld: It's an important factor especially when he faces foes that prove more powerful than he is. It's a lifesaver. As for a meeting with Hawkman, that would make a lot of sense.
Nrama: Will Peabody continue to be part of Deathstroke's supporting cast? Are you rounding out his cast any further, or do you think he should be more of a loner?
Liefeld: Peabody is around. It just wasn't practical for him to accompany Slade on his hunt for Lobo.
Nrama: Why did you want to utilize the "Omega Youths" and Lobo for the first arc in your Deathstroke run? Why did you think that threat and set of characters would work well with your depiction of Deathstroke?
Liefeld: The Omega's are crucial to the Lobo connection. They are all connected in this story. Seeing Slade deal with them reveals another side of him as well. He doesn't fancy himself as a babysitter. He expressed his displeasure at their inclusion but it was part of the mission he accepted.
Nrama: While your first issue #9 kicked things off with a serious examination of Deathstroke's situation and powers, the second issue #10 was clearly having some fun with Lobo's character. Was that a conscious decision -- to add humor?
Liefeld: Well, Lobo is the focus of the entire storyline. I had to give him his due. I don't see Lobo as funny ha-ha as much as I see him as funny insane. He's ridiculously powerful and is 100 percent capable of destroying anything that crosses his path.The excursion at the diner showed his restraint because under other circumstances, as he himself declares in that sequence, he'd just murder everyone. But Lobo has a bigger agenda at the moment and is trying to draw less attention, not more.
I find characters as deadly and aware of their own bad-assery as Lobo provides the most amusement to themselves.
Nrama: How has your depiction of Lobo been influenced by the fact that he's often used as an over-the-top parody of tough-guy characters?
Liefeld: Lobo is servicing the role as big-bad menace for Deathstroke. He out-classes Slade in every way and presents the big challenge of the story. The first six pages of issue #11 provide a wealth of background on Lobo in the New 52: where he came from, what happened to him. And we glimpse his motivation, which is the love of his life, Sheba.
Nrama: In September, we'll get to see Deathstroke's origin. What can readers expect from his New 52 history? Is it very altered from the origins we've seen for the character before?
Liefeld: I love Slade's original origin and paid as much respect to it as possible. It's very faithful with a couple new twists, such as his inclusion to Team 7, and other tweaks. [Marv] Wolfman and [George] Perez provided an origin story that has stood the test of time and provided great motivation, I've given it a few additional wrinkles, but fans should take a look. New readers particularly will get a nice glimpse of the events that formed and forged Slade into Deathstroke.
Nrama: As you mentioned, the solicitation for issue #0 also mentions Team 7. Have you been working with DC to develop this team, which launches with its own series in September?
Liefeld: I'm aware of all that's going on with that book because of Slade's involvement, but that's Justin Jordan's showcase.Nrama: As an artist, what are your biggest challenges to drawing Deathstroke and the story you're telling in this comic? How are you approaching those challenges artistically?
Liefeld: Drawing all these DC characters is a great opportunity. I've always been much more associated with the Marvel and Image side of things so illustrating all the DC characters is great fun.
Nrama: In the past, Slade Wilson has been associated with the Teen Titans. Any chance we'll see him interacting with that team or any former Titans during your run?
Liefeld: That would seem to be a natural wouldn't it?
Nrama: What can readers expect from Deathstroke through the rest of 2012?
Liefeld: More integration into the greater DCU, as well as some personal demons returning to haunt him in the worst way.
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