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Discussing Deathstroke: An Interview with Tony S. Daniel, James Bonny and Tyler Kirkham

Discussing Deathstroke: An Interview with Tony S. Daniel,...

By Tim Beedle Thursday, October 29th, 2015

There are plenty of bad ideas in the world—from forgetting your spouse’s birthday, to watching Game of Thrones with your grandparents, to quitting your office job to take up ultimate fighting. We wouldn’t suggest any of those, but kidnapping Deathstroke’s daughter? That’s easily the WORST idea we can think of. You’d have to be pretty crazy to try that. You’d have to be downright psychotic.

Much like Harley Quinn.

In this week’s DEATHSTROKE #11, someone’s taken Rose Wilson, and when all signs point to Quinn, it sets up a showdown between Slade and the Suicide Squad. Somehow, we doubt this is getting sorted out with a conversation, but fortunately the same isn’t true when it comes to the series itself. We recently sat down with series co-writers Tony S. Daniel (who also provides the series covers) and James Bonny, as well as new artist Tyler Kirkham. Here’s what they had to say about working on the ongoing Deathstroke series, and what we can expect from Slade’s deeply personal new mission.


Since the start of his current series, Slade has squared off against some pretty bad guys, but is there one adversary of Deathstroke’s that you’ve enjoyed writing the most?

Tony S. Daniel: I really enjoyed writing his father, Odysseus, the most. Being able to create a new character like that, and have him be an important character in Slade’s life was very exciting for me. I hope I planted a seed that will grow in future stories by other writers in the years to come. 

James Bonny: Because Deathstroke is such a formidable badass, it’s always fun to see him square off with a superior foe. You don’t want him punching down.  That’s why the “God Killer” arc was such a blast to work on. Slade tangles with Wonder Woman, God of War, and then in short order he’s clashing with Superman! Of course, the only reason Slade is able to even hold his own is because of the mystical God-Killer Sword in his possession. But it was great to let Deathstroke kick the crap out of the Man of Steel… for a few pages anyway.

Gotta say my favorite matchup so far came when Deathstroke finally had his showdown with the mad Titan, Lapetus. Their physical combat was a climax to the psychic warfare that Lapetus had already waged upon Slade Wilson, after literally invading his soul and trying to turn his own inner demons against him.

How has it been working with Tyler?

Tony: Tyler has really blown up the last few years. His art and style is full of energy and mood, which is perfect for a book like Deathstroke. He inks his own work too, and uses a cool gray wash technique that really pops off the pages. Fans are already loving the work he’s done so far and I’m sure the best is still to come.

Tyler, how has it been working with Tony?

Tyler Kirkham: Tony is great! This isn't the first time I've got to work with him actually. I worked with him and James Bonny years ago on another project, though I never really got the chance to work closely with him like I am doing now. Tony is one of my favorite artists so it’s a little intimidating, but also a thrill at the same time. I think it makes me try harder knowing he will see the pages as they come in. I know a lot of people love what he has done with Deathstroke and I just hope I can live up to him.

The good news is he is still involved in every aspect of the series!


After doing the Deathstroke Annual, how does it feel to be taking over the art on the series?

Tyler: It feels great! I'm extremely excited about taking over the art duties on the series. I don't think it was the plan when I started the annual, it kind of just fell into place. I'm very happy about it!

What is your favorite thing about drawing this title in general?

Tyler: Deathstroke is one of those DC characters I've always wanted to draw at some point in my career. Even if he just appeared or made a cameo in another story. There is something fun about drawing characters like this. He's a weapon-wielding, masked vigilante badass with no fear. So to be doing the series is fantastic! The Deathstroke comics were actually the first issues I would pull out of my monthly DC comps to read. I really loved where the story was going, so you can imagine how excited I was when I got asked to do the annual. Not only that but after reading the annual script and seeing Wonder Woman and Superman were part of the God Killer arc was an extra plus! Now to be doing the monthly is even better! I'll get to draw Slade in all sorts of crazy situations I'm sure!

A potentially grim question, but one I’m curious about: Deathstroke is a pretty violent and bloody series. What type of research, if any, do you have to do to nail the hyper-realistic look of the gore?

Tyler: Watch a lot of classic slasher films, haha. No I guess I just understand the basics of it. I mean there are a million ways a head can explode, so I just go for it and add lots of splatter! (Playing violent video games always help too!) It’s funny because in the Deathstroke Annual script, there were a few parts that said, “Make this bloody and don't hold back.” I was like, “Sweet, this is gonna be a blast!!” It’s not every day you get to draw a group of mercenaries getting hacked up by a god killer sword!


DEATHSTROKE #45 features a little reunion between Slade and Harley Quinn. How has Deathstroke and Harley’s relationship evolved and where do you see it going?

Tony: I think they mirror a very dysfunctional father/daughter relationship. She’s always seeing what she can get away with and he’s always trying to keep her under control. I think they can find a way to work together in the future but they need to build their trust first. Right now they don’t have that, but that makes for some fun interactions.

James: Deathstroke and Harley Quinn don’t trust each other. And they shouldn’t. There’s betrayal in their past and bad blood. The stakes are raised now that Slade’s daughter Rose is missing… and Harley seems to be the key to finding her.  So he’s got no choice but to team up with her.

The two anti-heroes are polar opposites. Deathstroke is precise. Focused. Strategic. While Harley Quinn exists in a world of joyful chaos. But opposites attract. Now that Slade Wilson is a younger version of himself… I could totally see him and Harley hooking up. Just lock up the fine china… and knives.

Tyler, which member of the Squad has been your favorite to draw?

Tyler: I'm gonna have to go with Harley Quinn. Just knowing you can have fun with her gestures and facial expressions is always cool! Her attitude and quirky personality lead to a lot of fun moments.

Can you provide any hints to future super-villains Slade will have to battle?

Tony: We’ll see some fun interactions with the Suicide Squad—Black Manta and Deadshot are two characters that come to mind. In the future I know there’ll be more super villains to be reckoned with but I can’t reveal those plans right now. 

James: My wish-list would definitely include Catwoman. That would be hot. I’m sure sparks and fur would fly. It would be great to see how Deathstroke would measure up against Bane. But my dream matchup would be Deathstoke vs. the Joker. I’d love to see if Slade Wilson could smack that smile off the clown’s face.

DEATHSTROKE #11 by Tony S. Daniel, James Bonny and Tyler Kirkham is now available in print and as a digital download.