Deathstroke may be a mercenary, but his villainous deeds aren't about money.
They're about respect.Deathstroke #3 That respect plays a central role in the first storyline of the new series Deathstroke, which launched as part of the New 52 in September.
Written by Kyle Higgins and artist Joe Bennett, the new book has received some "respect" of its own, from positive critical reviews to a healthy sales level for a villain book.
Of course, there are still a lot of mysteries about who Slade Wilson is in this new universe. He isn't connected with the Teen Titans anymore, and his relationships haven't been explored.
But a briefcase readers saw in the first few issues will lie at the center of finding out more about this character in the DCnU.
As Deathstroke #3 is released this week, we talked with Higgins to find out more about what he has coming up in the series and the possibility of some superhero guest stars.
Newsarama: Kyle, now that readers have seen the first two issues of Deathstroke, what can readers expect going forward in the comic?
Kyle Higgins: The first two issues are different from anything I've ever written before. And that was on purpose. They are very big and very action-packed.There's a lot of action going forward, but a lot more of the thematic material is getting woven in, starting with issue #3.
I wanted to just hit the ground running in issues #1 and #2.
But this idea of Deathstroke, Slade Wilson, whose reputation and legacy is the most important thing to him in the world, because at the end of the day that's all he has, is our through-line long term.
Nrama: You've been building and exploring this seedy underworld of the DCU in both Nightwing and Deathstroke, showing all these mercenaries and why they do what they do. What was your idea behind it?Higgins: This idea of the mercenary underworld has always been very intriguing to me, especially within the context of the DC Universe and its supervillains.
We haven't seen Deathstroke really go up against any other metahumans or superheroes yet. That's a very conscious choice. It's also a choice that, as you notice in the first couple issues, he's very big, he's very bold and he's very flashy. And that is on purpose.
The thing is, though, how long can you maintain that before you start drawing attention?
I mean, real attention where Superman says, "OK, this has now become a problem I need to deal with." So that's something I definitely want to explore.
Nrama: You mentioned the heavy action we saw in the first issues. As we start more of the thematic material with this week's issue, will we learn more about Slade's motivations?Higgins: Definitely. Starting in issue #3 of Deathstroke, you're going to start to see that there's a very interesting philosophical take on why he does what he does. We establish from the get-go that he does things a certain way. Like I said, very big, very loud, very flashy. Because that's who he is.
But why he kills -- and specifically why he kills for money -- I think we've found a very interesting twist on that, and what it means to him personally.
You'll start to see in issue #3 that there's some internal voiceover that talks about how he is a warrior in the truest sense of the word, dating back in the model of the great Samurais of the Daimyo, or the Knights of Charlemagne, and how there's a nobility and an honor and a respect. At the end of the day, that's the thing that's most important is respect. But as a warrior, that's in his bones. And the greatest warriors serving the greatest kingdoms always gained the greatest respect.
The problem is now, there are no great kingdoms. The only great kingdom that matters, that really rules everything and drives everyone, is money.So the greatest respect that the greatest warrior in the modern era can get is what someone's willing to pay him.
For Slade, it's not a materialistic thing. It's not about, "I want $5 million so I can buy a big boat." The money means nothing to Slade. It's the fact that the money means something to you. And the fact that you're willing to give it to me, means you are paying respect. It's almost like paying tribute.
Nrama: What will we see longer term for Deathstroke?
Higgins: The twists and turns of him trying to maintain his name and his reputation of being the biggest and the baddest in the DC Universe is going to draw attention. There are definitely repercussions and consequences as a result.
Nrama: I hear "guest star" when you talk that way.Higgins: You hear guest star?
Nrama: Yeah, "superhero guest star." Is that what I'm hearing?
Higgins: You may be hearing guest star.
Nrama: Since you're writing Nightwing, is that who we'll see?
Higgins: Well, as we talked about when we discussed Nightwing, there's a new story to be told about the interactions between Nightwing and Deathstroke. It will be interesting to see who knows who in the new DCU.
Deathstroke does not have the Teen Titans connection anymore. So as far as if he and Nightwing even know each other, we'll find out more about that.
Nrama: In the first two issues, we've been following this mystery of who's trying to manipulate Slade. What can you tell us about how that's going to be playing out, particularly with this briefcase?
Higgins: The second you see what's in the briefcase, I think readers are going to understand very quickly why he's taking it so personally, and takes it as such a slight that someone was willing to send this thing to him as basically and "eff you."
And you'll see what's in the briefcase in issue #4.