Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Best Character Ever 23: Deathstroke

Deathstroke's modern costume by Tony Daniel.

I don't know where exactly I first fell in love with Deathstroke. I started to follow the Titans off and on around 1989 with Secret Origins Annual 3 as my first major exposure to the team. I only rarely picked up issues at that time as eleven year old Nick had limited access to comic shops where New Titans and later Deathstroke were exclusively sold at.

But I knew I was intrigued by Slade Wilson. Just as Nightwing quickly became a favorite DC hero, Deathstroke became my favorite anti-hero. A combination of a traditional Marvel hero and a roguish assassin in the men's adventure vein mixed with a bit of megalomania, he was an intriguing character built around a personal code of honor. He intrigued me as a villain who wasn't quite a villain, but was far from being a hero, especially as he spun off into his own series.

By the time he arrived in his own solo series, he was certainly the title's protagonist but was far from being the hero. The earliest issues had him at war with Batman, an enemy that reports say he will oppose in the upcoming Ben Affleck solo film. Over the years, his rivalry with Batman grew to second only his rivalry with Nightwing.

Of course, even as an anti-hero, Deathstroke wasn't without flaws in his past. "The Judas Contract" was a prime example as his manipulations against the Titans involved a love affair with the fifteen year old Terra.

I somehow don't own a Deathstroke figure yet, but the Mezco
One: 12 version might be impossible to pass up.
In the 2000s, DC seemed deadset on making Deathstroke super-evil, only for the New 52 to reboot him as a roguish antihero again. He's remained that in three series now, the first by Kyle Higgins (Power Rangers) and Joe Bennett, the second by Tony Daniel (The Tenth) and the current by Priest and Carlos Pagulayan. With one of my favorite writers now at the helm of a favorite character, I'm set to buy new Deathstroke books for some time to come.

Deathstroke certainly has influence on my work as the roguish super-soldier without Captain America's morals is a figure I'm interested in. A villain able to meticulously plan yet still work on the fly to take down a team of superheroes isn't the easiest thing to make work. My own nefarious super-soldier made his first appearance in last month's chapter of F.O.R.C.E., but will play a far larger role in this week's release. But more on that, tomorrow.

It depresses me that in modern corporate comics, this much needed
crossover battle will probably never take place. From a John Byrne commission.

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