When last we saw Deathstroke, he was illin' like a DCU supervillain.
But not the good kind of illin'.
Part-time Justice Leaguer Geo-Force delivered what should have been a death blow to The Terminator in the dying pages of Brad Meltzer and Adam Kubert's DC Comics one-shot, "DC Universe: Last Will and Testament." And as we pick up with the headlining antagonist of writer David Hine ("Strange Embrace," "Brave and the Bold") and Georges Jeanty's ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Eight") upcoming "Faces of Evil: Deathstroke" one-shot come January, Slade Wilson is still reeling from the epic battle.
Well, not so much reeling. More like comatose.
"Geo-Force not only bested [Deathstroke] in the physical sense, but more importantly, he out-maneuvered him psychologically," Hine told CBR. "He hit that emotional weak-spot of Deathstroke's guilt over the mutilation of his son, Joseph. As he's lying in a coma, he revisits all the emotional traumas of the deaths and injuries of his loved ones. His biggest battle is the one inside his head."
Deathstroke the Terminator is a mercenary and an assassin who first appeared in "The New Teen Titans" #2 in 1980, and was created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Equal parts Wolverine and Snake Eyes, he is blessed with regenerative powers to compliment his expertise of the martial arts. Deathstroke proved so popular as a villain, he had his own series as an antihero in the 1990s before going back to being one of the most dangerous villains in the DCU.
"Deathstroke is one of the world's most accomplished martial artists and that's combined with an incredible intellect," said Hine. "He has this total self-awareness and self-control that allows him to utilize almost the entire capacity of his brain, while the rest of us mere mortals only use a fraction. So he can out-think and out-fight most opponents. But what makes him really deadly is the mercenary element.
"He has been willing to sell his talents as an assassin to the highest bidder and that implies a sociopathic absence of morality. Sociopaths are unpredictable and they don't hold back. That's always going to give him the edge."
The solicitation for "Faces of Evil: Deathstroke" teases that Slade must now rebuild himself, but what does that mean for The Terminator? Head out on a killing spree?
"When I was researching the character I couldn't help but notice that calamities of a particularly gruesome nature tend to befall his friends and family, usually involving serious mutilation," explained Hine. "I wanted to explore the effect that the accumulated guilt would be having on him. His last outing against Geo-Force left him seriously injured but his regenerative powers make him almost completely invulnerable.
"In this story, I've confronted him with the real possibility that he could die and that knowledge forces him to re-evaluate his life. He needs to rebuild himself both physically and psychologically. So he starts off in an introspective mood.
"Then he goes on a killing spree."
Hine revealed his story takes place immediately after Deathstroke's battle with Geo-Force in "Last Will and Testament." "Deathstroke is mortally wounded and is being held in the hospital wing of the ultra high-security containment center for meta-humans, Belle Reve prison," said the writer. "Deathstroke has a healing ability that makes him virtually immortal, but this time it looks like he's lost the will to live. His daughter Rose, a.k.a. Rosie the Ravager, comes to visit him on his deathbed and it looks like there may be some kind of reconciliation. Or it could all go horribly wrong. I did mention the killing spree, didn't I?"
Besides Deathstroke and Ravager, formerly of the Teen Titans, Hine said there would no other "name" characters in his one-shot, namely Geo-Force or another common Deathstroke foe, Green Arrow. There is, however, "a fair amount of cannon-fodder for the killing spree, but I don't get to kill anyone who counts," laughed Hine. "There is also a teaser appearance for a new character, who will have had one other brief appearance before this comes out. She'll be playing a key role in Deathstroke's development later next year."
And while the book works very well as a stand-alone, Hine said it's definitely setting Deathstroke up for an important role in the DCU moving forward. "All of the characters in this 'Faces of Evil' series were selected for their potential as major players in the coming year," Hine revealed. "It's interesting to see villains taking the key role in these stories. They are the center around which the plot and the heroes, revolve."
Hine says that Deathstroke's "edge" is what makes him a compelling central figure to any story. "I always enjoy delving into the minds of the mentally disturbed and the opening scene of this story shows just how seriously screwed up Slade Wilson really is," said the writer. "And dare I say that I also enjoy those killing sprees. I think this is the first time I've gotten to write this kind of no-holds-barred Punisher-style action scene. It is kind of fun."
Not only is writing a baddie like Deathstroke fun, but Hine admits he actually finds it easier to get inside the head of bad guy as opposed to a good guy - or at least to get an interesting dynamic going. "I guess it's because by confronting something repulsive and objectionable you automatically get a conflict going and conflict is what makes a good story," said Hine, who also has a four-issue arc on "The Brave and the Bold" starting next week featuring Green Lantern, The Phantom Stranger and Green Arrow with art by Doug Braithwaite and Bill Reinhold.
Hine is also keeping busy with two other projects. "I'm writing the first arc of the 'FVZA' book for Radical. It's a new take on the vampire and zombie mythologies," he said. "I'm working with a great team of people. As well as publisher Barry Levine, I'm re-united with Dave Elliott as editor-in-chief. Dave is the guy, who originally published my 'Strange Embrace' graphic novel back in the nineties and my editor is Luis Reyes, who edited 'Poison Candy' at TOKYPOP. On art we have Roy Martinez who drew my 'Son of M' miniseries at Marvel. We're already planning a second arc and I'm also working on another project with Radical. There are a couple of things for Top Cow that I'll be announcing soon and a creator-owned project with Shaky Kane that puts the 'Om' back into comics."
David Hine also has "Spider-Man Noir" forthcoming from Marvel, with co-writer Fabrice Sapolsky and art by Carmine di Giandomenico.
"Faces of Evil: Deathstroke" hits stores January 21 from DC Comics.