Edited by Sam Thielman
I'LL BET YOU HAVE SOME WORKPLACE ANGER, frustration, sadness, and maybe even trauma. While I am the last person who should be giving out mental-health advice, can I recommend starting a fiction project and putting all of that into the wickedest character in the story?
WALLER VS. WILDSTORM #3 is now out in the world. I've written before that this miniseries is show-and-prove time for me when it comes to writing comics. Issue 3 feels to me like we've reached the point in the narrative where like the stakes are the highest. The first two issues are a climb up a roller coaster. There are dips and loops along the ascent, but they foreshadow a massive, heart-stopping acceleration to come – something that pays off the time spent heading up to the peak. Now the drop is here.
The key to that drop is to turn loose a villain we've been teasing throughout the first two issues. He's one of my favorite bad guys in comics, one of the first I reached for when I got to make my wishlist of DC/WildStorm characters: Deathstroke the Terminator. Little did I know when editor Chris Conroy greenlit my use of Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson that I would have moments writing him when my chest heaved and my fingers shook with how I could use him to vent things that my wartime journalism had stored within me. Nor did I know I would love that feeling—that I would feel cleansed by it.
Writers sometimes steer Deathstroke into antihero territory. Christopher Priest's recent Deathstroke series—Eisner-nominated but still underappreciated—is an example of this done exquisitely. Even though WALLER VS. WILDSTORM is out of continuity, I didn't want to undermine anyone's work with the character. Our story is set in the past, before we first meet Slade back in New Teen Titans #2, when he is an unambiguous villain making a group of teenagers pay for his poor parenting choices, and that's a narrative opportunity. If you have a different take on Deathstroke, it's not a problem – the character growth he's undergone all happens after WALLER VS. WILDSTORM. In this book, he's at his worst.
And the thing about Slade is that he's a kind of person to whom I have had closer proximity than I ever imagined I would: a mercenary.