26 May 2010

Figures In Action! The Popular and Fatal Attraction of DEATHSTROKE

 DC Universe Classics (Mattel) [via]

Figures In Action! is back with a bang -- and a purpose.  We're not going to be detailing you on the latest DC Universe Classics news from Mattel - though we will be soon - and we won't be sharing our thoughts on the precipitously (and ridiculously) high prices the action figures are demanding from collectors, either. But if we were, Deathstroke The Terminator, part of Classics' third wave, would certainly be a hot topic of  discussion. With an MSRP of $11, two versions (or variants)  of the figure hit store shelves just over a year ago, but most retailers haven't stocked a Deathstroke since that time. And the few that do aren't giving him up without a fight:  these days, a new Terminator commands an asking price anywhere from three to six hundred percent above last year's tag. 
Popular in effigy, Deathstroke aka Slade Wilson is even more in demand as one of DC Comics' pre-eminent comic book villains. A violent, gun-toting mercenary with enhanced skills and perfect aim, Deathstroke is clearly one of the bad guys - although writer Marv Wolfman, who created the character in 1980 to be a nemesis for his and George Perez' debut series, The New Teen Titans, has said he never thought of him to actually be a 'bad guy'.  While Deathstroke's not afraid to kill, he's unlike The Joker or Lex Luthor in that he does so only because killing is his line of work.  

Deathstroke (or Slade) made his first comics appearance in the second issue of The New Teen Titans as a fully-rounded, well-conceived antagonist that, from panel one, intrigued and interested readers and creators alike.  Slade's depth of character made for an ambiguous foe; he wasn't all bad,  despite being a murderer. And with the introduction of his children - both of which later went on to be Teen Titans themselves - Deathstroke became even deeper.  The character some have described as an "anti-Batman" was well ahead of the curve when Alan Moore's Watchmen and Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns redefined the superhero genre and gave birth to the 'anti-hero' in the mid to late 1980's.

If Slade's an anti-hero, he's an extreme example.  Nevertheless, DC Comics awarded Deathstroke The Terminator his own ongoing series in 1991, and readers were captivated enough by the mercenary with a moral code to support the title for a five-year run. Marvel Comics creators Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza were also quite taken by Slade Wilson, and in homage, created their own version of DC's character. Naming him 'Wade Wilson,' Nicieza and Liefeld introduced the comics world to Deadpool in their New Mutants, Issue #98 (1991).
Marvel's Deadpool has evolved to become one of that publisher's top-selling superheroes; Deathstroke, as one of DC's heaviest hitters.  As much of a co-star in the various Teen Titans books as any of the titular teen superheroes, Deathstroke played a pivotal role in Brad Meltzer and Rags Morales' game-changing Identity Crisis, in which he skillfully - and single-handedly - beat two-thirds of the Justice League of America.  More recently, Slade  and his family were the focus of last summer's Titans mini-series tie-in to DC's Blackest Night event.
Earlier this month, DC returned Deathstroke the Terminator to the 'pilot's seat' once again, relying on the character to inject a new twist (and hopefully the sales to match) into its much-troubled Titans title. Just two weeks published and featuring a team of 'heroic villains' much like Slade himself, The Villains For Hire Special has already succeeded at shaking up the comic's  status quo -- by becoming the focus of much controversy and DC's current 'hot potato'.
Abbracadabbling will be examining Villains For Hire's controversial storyline and its larger implications over the next several days. Understanding Deathstroke The Terminator is  necessary for that examination, and the dedicated dudes at Titans Tower have compiled excellent creative and fictional histories for the character on their website [here]. They put ours to shame, and we urge y'all to give 'em a look-see.

Dabblers who want to hang with us should check out the two-page Origin of Deathstroke The Terminator, which we have for you below. Remember, panels can be enlarged with a simple right click.  Stick around; lots more to come...!
Deathstroke's Origin [via]
TITANS: Villains For Hire
T H E   C O M P L E T E    4 0 - P A G E   S P E C I A L

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