Deathstroke and Morrison

April 27th, 2010 by | Tags: , ,

I’m ambivalent about the Batman and Robin run so far.  There are some great characters and the stories have all the lurid pulp appeal that a Batman fan could want.  At the same time, there are places in which Morrison heaps on needless complications that detract from the overall story.  (What was the point of making Jason Todd a redhead with a gray streak?)

But I’m intrigued by the fact that Deathstroke popped up in the last issue.  The character has basically been used out in the last few years.  He’s come to be a generic villain, which is a shame given the unusual character he started out as.  Morrison, however, does not do generic villains.  I’m willing to bet that Deathstroke is in there for a reason.

I’m wondering what reason, though.  Deathstroke, in every iteration, seems extremely unlike a typical Morrison character.  Morrison’s characters, although they vary considerably, all share a febrile, hallucinatory energy.  Deathstroke has always been the grizzled, plain-spoken mercenary/soldier.  It’s an incongruous match, and I’m interested to see how the writer and the character match up.


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10 comments to “Deathstroke and Morrison”

  1. It struck me that he was there since he’s essentially #1 in Dick Grayson’s “classic” rogues gallery. The old Titans-era rivalry was blown up to ludicrous proportions in the build-up to Infinite Crisis. (Dick helped get Rose off the creepy mind-control drugs and in return Deathstroke had Chemo dropped on Bludhaven.)

  2. @Paul Wilson: yeah that was my take. Deathstroke probably wouldn’t have come out of his “retirement” if he was told to kill Batman, but the moment he was told “Nightwing is the new Batman” I think you couldn’t keep him away.

  3. I don’t read the titles regularly, but isn’t Jason’s red hair his original, real hair color, from when the character was introduced? I thought Batman had Jason’s hair colored so people would think it was the same Robin all along or something.

    I’d imagine the grey streak is a bit of flair and maybe a nod to the Lazarus pit.

    Part of the motivation for this could be to simply make it easier to distinguish between the many white, male, athletic, black-haired characters in their circle.

  4. The reveal & arrest of Jason Todd mirrors the reveal & arrest of Rorschach (also a redhead) in Watchmen.

    David Uzumeri tackled this last year http://funnybookbabylon.com/2009/10/07/batman-and-robin-5-revenge-of-the-red-hood-part-two-scarlet/

  5. “(What was the point of making Jason Todd a redhead with a gray streak?)”

    Morrison’s mission statement is to use as much of Batman canon as he can, and Ginger-Todd was pre-crisis canon. The streak was there in Hush and so Winick explained it

  6. @Nathan: Mm, but that mission statement is sometimes in direct conflict with the story. The Jason hair instance is a prime example.

    Here comes the big reveal of the villain! Wait. Who is that? Oh, it’s Jason Todd? Didn’t he have black hair for the last two years? Okay, well that page-long discussion of hair dye explains that.

    It’s an example of when more canon means less story.

  7. @Esther Inglis-Arkell: True, he could have possibly worked it in a little more smoothly, but you know full well if he hadn’t mentioned it at all, some geek would have called him on it!

    As for the reason behind the redhead, well it’s half using canon, half making him visually distinct from the Batclan and half making him look even more like Rorschach, the posterchild of grim and gritty.

    Yes there’s three halves there, you can’t expect me to work in only three dimensions!

  8. Okay, so we have the big reveal as to how Deathstroke is being used in a very unique way: http://www.newsarama.com/php/multimedia/album.php?aid=34934. Basically, it isn’t that Robin has “gone crazy” due to neural programming, he’s actually being controlled by Deathstroke, who is (in Robin’s words) “Wearing me like a glove.”

    Which brings us back to how Deathstroke has been used previously in the Titans…as this creepy sort of pedophile character that “uses” children for his own agenda. He used Tara Markov to get into the Titans. He used his own daughter to get back at the Titans by drugging her up and brainwashing her. He’s sort of the Pied Piper of the DCU (not the Flash villain, but the creepy guy that entrances children and makes them do what he wants them to do).

    I think Deathstroke fits perfectly in Morrison’s idea of “the corruption of children” theme that is the undercurrent of the series. In the first story, it was Professor Pyg who was doing bad things to children. In the Jason Todd arc, it was all about how he was scarred by being Robin and how he scars others. The third story is another “Abusive Father” story, where Dick confronts a clone of Bruce Wayne gone mad. The fourth story actually uses someone who manipulates children to battle Dick.

    Deathstroke ties well as the “abusive father/mentor” idea. I think Batman and Robin’s metastory centralizes the question: “Is the Batman and Robin relationship a healthy relationship, or an abusive relationship?”

  9. @gary: Thank you for your well-written and intelligent take on what you think Morrison is doing.

    I’m trying not to snicker like a twelve year old about the ‘glove’ comment. And I am failing.

  10. “Is the Batman and Robin relationship a healthy relationship, or an abusive relationship?”

    Or, to put it another way: has Dick Grayson ever read Great Expectations?