To celebrate the relaunch of the DC Universe with 52 brand new #1 issues, IGN is doing an interview series with the creative teams behind this historic comics event. For the month of September, IGN Comics is your place to go behind the inner workings of these new books and find out what to expect from the new DCU.
We talked with hot new writer Kyle Higgins about his work on the new Deathstroke series with artist Joe Bennett.
IGN Comics: What motivates Deathstroke in this series? Is he a mercenary still, or does he have deeper goals?
Kyle Higgins: He's definitely still a mercenary and he very much enjoys what he does. If you think about it, there are very few people in life that get to do what they love AND be the absolute best at it. Working the impossible missions, killing people for money... it's Slade's true calling. And in a lot of ways, it's inspiring that he "goes after it" as relentlessly as he does [laughs].
As for having "deeper goals" in the series, yes—there's an element of that, too. But again, his motivation isn't for any sort of "greater good" idea—everything Slade does is for himself. At the same time, the reason he does what he does the WAY he does it is very specific, and very much indicative of his greater goal. To Slade, there's nothing more important than his reputation and his legacy. "Friends die, family disappoints, but a legacy... that's forever." So, with that in mind, what happens when the perception of Slade within the DCU isn't what it once was? That's kind of where we kick things off.
IGN: Is there a challenge in making a villainous character like Deathstroke seem sympathetic to the reader? Would you even consider him a villain in this series?
Higgins: Oh, he's VERY much a villain in this series. Now, does he ONLY go after good guys? No -- of course not. The reality of the business is that if you're getting paid to kill someone, or work the types of jobs that Slade works, there's probably a good chance that your targets aren't squeaky clean.
As for the sympathy angle... it's an interesting question. I'm not looking to make Slade sympathetic as much as I'm looking to make him understood. If there's a solid understanding for WHY a main character is doing what he's doing, and what it means to him/her, an audience will find things to identify with and relate to... even in the worst people. Now, I suppose that can be viewed as having "sympathy" for a character, though to me it's more empathy than anything.
IGN: Deathstroke's look has changed a fair bit for the relaunch. Are there any new abilities that come with this new armor?
Higgins: Not really, other than the obvious benefits that armor provides. As you'll see in the first couple issues, the missions he's going on are a bit more "aggressive" than those of the past. At this point in his life, Slade prefers "kicking down the front door" when he can, so to speak.
IGN: Will Deathstroke's family members come into play in this book?
Higgins: I'll never say never, but right now this is Slade on his own.
IGN: Will we see Deathstroke interacting with the new squad of Teen Titans?
Higgins: Nope—not anytime soon.
IGN: One of Slade's more defining moments in recent years was the battle where he nearly defeated the entire Justice League single-handedly. Can we expect action sequences on that level here?
Higgins: Yes—definitely. I know some people don't like that sequence in Identity Crisis, but I love it—it's one of the seminal Deahstroke moments as far as I'm concerned.
As for this book, I love writing sequences where you think a character is doing something for one reason, only to invert it and reveal that everything we've just watched him do was in order to achieve something else. Slade is a strategist—he's two, sometimes three steps ahead in a fight. And the fact that I'm writing this book with no voice over makes for these types of sequences a lot of fun.
IGN: Deathstroke's Flashpoint series offered a fun pirate-influenced take on the character. Did that series influence the development of this book in any way?
Higgins: It was a really cool series—one of my favorites of the Flashpoint minis. So as far as tone and feel go, yes—there was an influence. But in terms of content and story direction, no... Deathstroke won't be captaining a ship. Well, not in issue #1 anyway [laughs].
IGN: This series is part of DC's "The Edge" branding. How much extra freedom does that allow as far as portraying violence and other mature content?
Higgins: You know, I didn't think it did at ALL... until I saw the colors for issue #2. Holy God... I'll say this—if you hate cool, over the top violence, then this book definitely isn't for you [laughs].
The New 52 Interviews: Deathstroke
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