Interview: Tony Daniel Unsheathes DEATHSTROKE


This is not Deathstroke’s first time at the rodeo. The character was included in the initial launch of the New 52, and ultimately took a rest before being brought back by writer/artist Tony Daniel in all-new #1 this month. Daniel took a few minutes away from the drafting table to answer some questions on why he was drawn to the classic Terminator, where the character is headed this time around, and who we can expect to see popping up in coming months.

Matt Santori: Tony, thanks so much for taking time to talk, and congrats on the new series! What drew you to Deathstroke as a character you’d want to both write and draw on an ongoing basis?

Tony Daniel: Having a clean slate to work with was a major draw. I felt he was a character that had a lot of untapped potential and that it would be a missed opportunity if I didn’t do it. He’s gained so much in popularity over the years, all that was missing was a good strong take on his story. I felt I had a way to write this character and his world, his struggles, his wants and ambitions, all while being a wanted killer and mercenary, that would resonate with readers, especially those who like their heroes a bit on the darker side.


MSG: This is not Deathstroke’s first ongoing series in the New 52, and he’s been handled many different ways by at least three creative teams. What is different about the approach this time around for you?

TD: Going a bit deeper into his character is one of the big things I wanted to accomplish with this new book. Of course there’s a ton of action. But what I’m doing is pretty big in terms of character development.

DSK_Cv4DC is allowing me to take some big chances and do some really different things with Slade Wilson. DC is also giving me a lot of freedom in terms of the intensity of the book. It’s really unlike any other book out there right now, including the past Deathstroke series. This is what I find so exciting and I think it shows in my work, my stories as well as the art. My excitement has the DC office excited as well. We all feel good about where this is going to go.

MSG: One of the nicest surprises with issue #1 is the return of classic character I-Ching. With a long history in both Wonder Woman and Batman — what role do you see him playing in Deathstroke’s ongoing saga and why were you drawn to the character?

TD: I-Ching I think fits in very well into Deathstroke’s universe. He can be a bit of a mentor to him down the road. We will get deeper into their relationship and how they have debts to each other. There will be bigger threats for Deathstroke to handle in the months ahead and I-Ching is someone who can help with his vast knowledge. He is a very mysterious character who doesn’t get a lot of burn in the DCU, so he’s prime for me to use him and do some more developing. I like creating new characters, or taking an old character and making him new too. We will see him again.

4029948-dsk_cv2wMSG: The big reveal at the conclusion of issue #1 signals a really significant change for Deathstroke, something that in some ways brings him closer to his appearance on Arrow, but also changes a major detail about his appearance — the lost eye. Visually, what does this new status quo offer you in terms of making your mark on the character and what are the challenges?

TD: Well the main thing for me is reintroducing Slade to new and old fans of his. I set the tone here that this book is different. He’s different. His challenges will be different. There are so many opportunities to get into his character by giving his a fresh start, which this series sets out to do. I’m not so much worried about making my mark as I am dedicated to bringing an intriguing, resourceful character to life that everyone will want to watch grow and become something great. A new sort of life awaits him if he wants it and he’ll see that and we get to watch him choose.

MSG: Like your recent run on Detective Comics, Deathstroke is both written and drawn by you alone. How does that dynamic differ for you compared to working with Charles Soule on Superman/Wonder Woman, for example? Advantages/disdvantages?

TD: I really enjoy both. Both are challenging in different ways. It is nice to wake up, look at a script that someone already wrote and get right to work.

I don’t really think there have been any big disadvantages since I’ve really been lucky in working with great writers. Writing for myself is very different. I constantly think of the story, even after it’s written, while I’m working on the pages.

DSTROKE001-Cover-rev-298ce-1You would think it would be easier for me to draw my own story but I put the same focus on the story as any other writer would. So I have to keep in mind pushing the story forward and challenging myself. I will give myself hard scenes to draw because the story will need it. I enjoy both ways of working, especially if it’s going well.

MSG: Does Deathstroke have a particular visual language for you in the way he moves or fights that’s different from other characters you’ve worked on?

TD: To me he’s a bit like the way I handled Batman in my Detective Comics run, but spliced in half with Dick Grayson. He’s brutal and agile.

MSG: Any final thoughts or special teases on Deathstroke for the Comicosity audience?

TD: I have a lot of big plans ahead for Deathstroke. His first year he’ll cross paths with some great foes, worthy of his talents. He’ll cross pass against the Teen Titans, he’ll venture into Gotham City where you can only guess what happens next. After that the series will get even bigger as the momentum builds.

Tony Daniel writes and illustrates Deathstroke monthly for DC Comics with issue #2 arriving in stores on November 26.



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