While Newsarama already spoke to the writer about his launch of a Nightwing series, he's also writing the new Deathstroke comic.
The relaunch gives a little different look to the costume worn by Slade Wilson, known in the DCU as Deathstroke the Terminator. The fan-favorite villain utilizes metahuman abilities and intelligence as a mercenary assassin, and he was also featured as the main antagonist on the Teen Titans cartoon, although under the name "Slade."
Deathstroke gets his own comic in September, when Higgins will work with artist Joe Bennett, who also drew the character for this summer's mini-series, Flashpoint: Deathstroke and the Curse of the Ravager.
As Higgins told us last time we spoke, he broke into the comics business after Marvel executive Joe Quesada saw a student film he made about superheroes. Quesada contacted Higgins, and a few pitches later, he was writing comic books.
Now he's participating in one of the most anticipated comic events of the year, and Newsarama talked to him to find out more about what he's planning for Deathstroke.
Newsarama: Kyle, what has it been like as you've started working on these two books for the DC relaunch?
Kyle Higgins: It's been very, very exciting, but it's also a lot of work. I just want to make sure these books are the absolute best they can be. So I've only slept a couple hours a night over the last few weeks. And I'm still doing Batman: Gates of Gotham and Supreme Power for Marvel, so the extra hours I've put into Nightwing and Deathstroke have really added to the workload. But it's also great. I love these new projects I'm doing for DC, and I love being able to work with such great people and these artists and these characters. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Nrama: Let's talk about how you first heard you'd be working on Deathstroke. Was this something you started working on before you got the opportunity to write Nightwing, or later?
Higgins: Deathstroke came up first, actually. They wanted something dark and edgy but fun and kind of balls-to-the-wall. To me, Deathstroke has always been an awesome character. It's someone that I've always been fascinated by.Art from Deathstroke #1 Over the last 10 years of so, though, I feel like he's been a little overused. Every time a villain is needed to really bump up a final reveal, Deathstroke seems to be a prime candidate. And that's cool in one way, because he's a great character. But the problem is that he always loses. So at a certain point you start to look at the character and go, "Why is this guy supposed to be scary again?" That's something that I really wanted to counter.
So, this is a book where Deathstroke is a major badass. We're going to show why he's the greatest mercenary assassin in the DC Universe.
We'll be playing with some superhero stuff, but primarily, at this point, it's about the mercenary underworld, and the impossible jobs and impossible targets that he's going after.
Nrama: How would you describe Deathstroke?
Higgins: To me, Deathstroke is the best he is at what he does. I hate to use the Wolverine line, but that's how I would describe him. He's a meta-human mercenary. He's got enhanced reflexes, speed, strength... and on top of that, he's a master strategist. He's using something like 96 percent of his brain. So there's a lot of manipulation and there's a lot of strategy in everything he does.
He's at a level where, to him, it's all kind of a game. Life, the world, etc., is there to be played. And killing and doing what he does for his legacy or his reputation -- that's the absolute most important thing to him. Family dies, friends disappoint, but legacy is forever.
Everything he's doing at this point is built on that idea. Without it, he doesn't have much else.
Nrama: In recent years, there has been a lot of development of Deathstroke as he relates to his kids. Will that be part of this comic?
Higgins: No, this is Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, on his own, redefining himself and re-establishing why he is the most bad-ass killer/mercenary in the DC Universe.
Nrama: You mentioned the underworld of the DC Universe. Will you be explaining what that is in the post-Flashpoint DCU?
Higgins: Yeah. That's something that's a lot of fun so far, because it's exploring this world of killers and hit men and mercenaries within the context of a world with superheroes. How do they operate? How do they get by?art from Deathstroke #1 In some ways, it's similar to what Geoff Johns was doing with the Rogues in Flash. But while I always felt that, when I read the Rogues in Flash, at least some of them had a code of honor, that doesn't really exist among the people operating in this underworld.
So we get to explore questions like how do they operate? How do they stay in business? Who hires them for jobs? And what really goes on behind the scenes?
Nrama: So are you getting to use characters who existed before, but also using new ones?
Higgins: Yeah. There are a couple missions already that are playing off certain characters. The thing that's tricky with a book like this is making it sustainable. And there are two things that go into that. The first is, the characters and targets and missions that he's going after, especially if you set him up as a big mercenary hit man. I mean, who's he killing?
The reality is that I want him to succeed. I want him to be this fully fleshed out character who doesn't get beaten every time by some superhero. I want him to actually be re-establishing himself and completing his mission and taking out his targets. But throwing him up against Batman or Superman or some of the bigger superheroes means obviously, he's not going to be able to kill them. Readers now that's not a realistic result in this comic. But at the same time, I don't want to just bring in C-list villains for him to kill.
So I'm working to find that line where he has missions that are interesting and exciting, but will surprise readers in terms of whether or not Slade completes them and is successful.
I also don't want to make him an antihero. I don't want to turn him into a good guy. That's always the tendency when you write a villain, is trying to make him likable to readers. I understand that readers want to identify with the main character of a book, but with someone like Slade, my goal is to let the readers understand him and understand the philosophy behind what he does as opposed to necessarily liking him and wanting to sit down with him for dinner.
Nrama: Then it sounds like he'll have a series of missions. Will this be a series of single stories that you can pick up at any time? Or will you be building a bigger story as you go?
Higgins: There's definitely a bigger story that's running through Deathstroke, but at the same time, it is very episodic, in terms of the missions.Right now, my first couple issues, every issues is a different mission. They're building toward a goal. They all have a specific goal in mind. He's trying to accomplish something specific as a character, but at the same time, there is an undercurrent and there is something that's playing through the story. You'll have to wait and see what that is.
Nrama: With an artist like Joe Bennett, what does he bring to the table?
Higgins: He absolutely loves drawing Deathstroke more than any artist I've ever met. His work for issue #1 is so kick-ass. Joe's stuff is energetic. It's vicious. It's a lot of fun. It's perfect for Deathstroke and the crazy stuff I'm writing for him.
Nrama: I guess this would be pretty crazy, because you have to come up with different ways for Slade to complete his missions, right?
Higgins: Yeah. I'm definitely playing up a lot of the strategy and manipulation that Deathstroke is so good at doing.
My favorite Deathstroke appearance, still to this day, is the sequence in Brad Meltzer's Identity Crisis, where Deathstroke is taking on the JLA, but you see how every action that he's performing is not quite for the reason you think it is. He's literally outsmarted the JLA, and he's one, two or something three steps ahead of each member. You can see the wheels turning as he's taking them down, one by one. And that's something that I think works so well for the character. And it's something that I'm trying to bring to the book.Got a comment? There's lots of Newsarama conversation on FACEBOOK and TWITTER. More on DCnU:
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