DC's Deathstoke is well known for the Judas Contract... but we'd wager you've never heard of the Jellystone Contract.
This week's Deathstroke/Yogi Bear Special #1 unveils this spirited mash-up of the DCU and Hanna-Barbera by writer Frank Tieri and artist Mark Texiera. In this one-shot, the animals of Jellystone Park have suddenly gone savage and Yogi Bear - being "smarter than the average bear" - thinks of none other than Deathstroke to be called in to help.
What could possibly go wrong?
Newsarama asks that kind of question and more to Tieri, who is an admitted child of the 1970s - and Hanna-Barbera cartoons such as Yogi Bear - to find out how he mixed these two vastly different characters and worlds.
Newsarama: Frank, how did this one-shot story come about?
Frank Tieri: It was Dan DiDio, actually. When Jim Chadwick was figuring out who he was going to get to write this crazy thing, Dan recommended me for it, thinking I’d be a good fit. And I suppose I was.
I’m a child of the 70’s so I really grew up on stuff like Yogi and all those other great Hanna-Barbera properties.
And I also have a reputation as a guy who tends to gravitate to those characters of the grim and gritty variety so Deathstroke is a guy that’s definitely in my wheelhouse (Plus I’ve already written him in Convergence: Suicide Squad).
And let’s face it - I’m also the guy who’s written stuff like Jughead: The Hunger, Old Lady Harley, Apocalypse vs. Dracula, and Space: Punisher. So really, Deathstroke/Yogi Bear isn’t as much of a stretch for me as you might think
Nrama:So what’s the basic story you came up with for this more than odd pairing?
Tieri: Out of nowhere the animals of Jellystone have suddenly gone savage, while gaining strength, speed and some nasty claws and fangs to boot (Kinda think of it as if you crossed Bambi with Hannibal Lecter). So clearly someone is doing something to alter them.
Also in the mix is Boo Boo has gone missing.
With Yogi being - yeah, I’ll say it - “smarter than the average bear”, he knows whatever the hell is going on here, he’s in over his head. It’s at that point that Yogi actually approaches Deathstroke, looking to hire him. Of course, Yogi being Yogi, he starts off on the wrong foot (or paw, if you will) and almost gets himself a face full of Deathstroke lead as a result. So let’s just say their partnership doesn’t get off to such a great start.
Nrama: How did you work to keep the quintessential elements of Yogi Bear in the book?
Tieri: It’s all there - Jellystone Park, him giving Ranger Smith a hard time, his friendship with Boo Boo, that way he tends to rhyme sometimes when he talks and of course… “pic-a-nic” baskets.
Like I said, I’ve been watching Yogi since I’m a kid - whether it was in his own show or on Laff-a-lympics… Hell, I’ve even seen the Hey There, It’s Yogi Bear movie. Fans of Yogi will definitely recognize him in there.
Nrama: Odd pairing that it might be, do Deathstroke and Yogi Bear have anything in common?
Tieri: Not much, really. Which is why it makes for a fun pairing. Deathstroke isn’t exactly the most warm and fuzzy guy in the world so he doesn’t have a lot of patience for Yogi’s antics. Half the time you’re wondering if they’re even ever going to figure out who’s doing something to Jellystone’s animals or if Yogi’s going to get a Deathstroke katana to the head before any of that can happen.
Nrama: Would you say this story is more in Deathstroke’s world or Yogi’s?
Tieri: I’ve really tried to make it that it’s in both. In fact, there’s a sequence in particular where Deathstroke brags how he’s never had much problem with animals or animal-like individuals before - pointing out that he’s taken out everyone from Killer Croc to Wally Gator. So yeah, Slade’s definitely no stranger to Yogi’s world.
And yes, there’s plenty of Deathstroke’s world in there too. You’ll find out the bad guys in part turn out to be very familiar to Slade. Plus, you have him shooting and katana-ing monster animals left and right so there’s plenty to recognize if you’re a fan of the regular Deathstroke book.
Nrama: For this you're working with frequent collaborator Mark Texiera. As you mentioned earlier, you two did Space: Punisher, so a Deathstroke/Yogi Bear crossover doesn't seem as zany as it could be for any other team. You've seen pages no doubt - how is Tex doing with this one-shot?
Tieri: Tex has done a great job as usual. Tex being Tex, he’s able to capture the gritty Deathstroke vs Frankenanimal fight scenes – and yet he’s still able to have those goofy moments with Yogi bear. And yeah, the fact that we’ve worked together so many times before was certainly helpful. Like when he had to call me up asking me who all these obscure Hanna-Barbera characters were that I was sneaking into this. Hell, I don’t even think Jim Chadwick knew who they were. [Laughs]
Nrama: So are there other Yogi Bear or Deathstoke allies/enemies we can expect in this?
Tieri: Oh there’s plenty. This was the fun part for me, merging these two worlds together, putting in all these Easter eggs, references and sometimes obscure Hanna-Barbera characters in there. In fact, right off the bat we have a gun fight between Deathstroke and the Daltons (from Laff-a-lympics fame, kids!), right after they’ve debated who’s a better shot… Quickdraw McGraw or Ricochet Rabbit. And believe me, there’s a lot more where that came from… including when we find out who’s actually behind all these animal transformations.
So yeah, I really had a ball with this book. And I hope longtime fans of these characters and their worlds will too.