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Eric Wallace’s All-New All-Bad Titans

Eric Wallace’s All-New All-Bad Titans
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Posted by Andy Oliver on Jun 2, 2010

Deathstroke! The Tattooed Man! Cheshire! Osiris! Cinder! With the original Titans having moved on in the DC Universe, a new villainous quintet have taken their place and their name. Their shocking debut in the recent Titans: Villains for Hire Special #1 led to the death of a fan-favorite DC hero and signalled just how deadly this group will be. Broken Frontier chats with new Titans writer Eric Wallace – who also wrote the Tattooed Man in the Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink miniseries – to find out just what makes these complex characters tick and what’s in store for Deathstroke’s mercenary super-villains in the months to come…

BROKEN FRONTIER: An obvious question to begin with, but what inspired such a radical shakeup of direction for Titans? With the old team being slotted into new roles in the DCU in the last few issues of the book, was it felt that the original Titans as a concept were slightly redundant now and needed to finally move onwards and upwards?

ERIC WALLACE: Simply put, the original Titans have grown up and moved on. Dick is now Batman, while Donna and Vic are JLA members. They’ve graduated from superhero high school. They’ve earned their college degrees in asskicking. Time for them to start leading adult lives with bigger problems and badder villains.

But with the original Titans gone, there’s a void in this part of the DC universe. And to creative types, there’s nothing more irresistible than a storytelling void. Opportunities like this are great times to really try something different, radical even. Like having a villain literally hijack a heroic franchise and run with it. And that’s exactly what gave rise to this new version of the Titans. It’s pretty exciting creatively speaking.

BF: The easy superficial parallel to draw with your group of villainous Titans would be with Gail Simone’s Secret Six. However, from their very beginnings as fugitives there has always been a certain defiance and rebelliousness about the Secret Six.

Deathstroke’s Titans seem the polar opposite – completely broken human beings who have largely given up caring about anything beyond their own obsessions. Would that be a fair assessment and comparison between the two?

EW: First of all, Secret Six is just an awesome book, isn’t it? But yes, Titans is a different beast. It’s about people who have nothing to lose, because they, themselves, are already lost. Deathstroke not withstanding, these are individuals who haven’t just fallen into the abyss… they’re stuck in it. That’s the ultimate inner tragedy of these Titans, and it forms the core of all the stories we’ll be telling initially.

Mark, Jade, Amon, and Carla all have very deep self-destructive streaks. I was able to show this in Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink with Mark through some of the extremely poor decisions he made. For example, in Ink #3, Mark sends his son to jail in order to protect him. Uh, dude… that’s seriously bad parenting. But Mark did it anyway, because he’s the kind of character that does the wrong things for the right reason.

Readers will see these same kinds of flaws with the other Titans during the course of this series. That’s because these Titans are all at points in their lives where they hate themselves, and hate what they’ve become. But that can change. How that change occurs is the story of these all-new, and very dangerous Titans.

BF: Running through the roster, Deathstroke is an incredibly complex character whose motivations in the past have seemed sometimes mysterious and sometimes extremely contradictory. He’s been portrayed as everything from vicious, brutal assassin to brooding anti-hero. How easy was it for you to get a grip on just who Slade Wilson is, given the multi-faceted ways he’s been depicted over the years?

EW: It was tough to get a handle on Deathstroke because of his complexity, but it’s also what makes writing the character so rewarding. There are places you can go with Deathstroke that you can’t take your average superhero or even supervillain for that matter. It’s because Deathstroke is so unpredictable. I think this unpredictability is what makes the character appealing to readers, too. You just never know what this guy is going to do next. Or what he’s capable of doing.

BF: A couple of the choices for membership may have surprised some of the readership. Spinning out of Brightest Day we have Osiris, coerced by Deathstroke with a vague promise that he can bring Black Adam and Isis back to life. There’s a certain irony here in that you gave Osiris such a redemptive, heroic send-off in the Blackest Night tie-in Power of Shazam! #48. Is Amon forever doomed to make the wrong choices in the name of family?

EW: No, Amon is not doomed. But like many of the other Titans members, he, too, often does the wrong thing for the right reasons. And yes, you’ll see this very quickly in upcoming issues of Titans. As for his heroic send off in Power of Shazam! #48, we’ll also see very soon that Amon’s loyalty to his family is both his greatest strength and his greatest weakness.

BF: Moving on to Mark Richards, the current Tattooed Man… Your recent miniseries Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink featured Richards’ struggle to stay on the right side of the law and the book ended with an approach to Mark from Deathstroke. Since then his life has fallen apart. Did Mark initially refuse Slade Wilson’s offer and did that have consequences? Will we see a greater exploration of the events that led to Slipknot murdering his son and his wife leaving him? And is his mental state likely to mean he begins losing control of his “ink” again?

EW: Yes, Mark did refuse Deathstroke’s offer the first time. This was in a scene I wrote that unfortunately didn’t make it into the Titans: Villains for Hire Special #1. As for the event that led up to Leon’s murder by Slipknot, you might be seeing flashbacks to those events sooner rather than later. It all ties into why Mark is on this team and whether or not he will be able to reclaim his heroic status or fall back into the villainous life he left behind. Oh, and if you think Mark’s family is in bad shape now… just wait until you see what’s in store down the line. The Richards family is in for some very rough times. As for whether or not Mark will lose control of his ink again, stay tuned.

BF: On a more personal level, having invested so much in the world of a character like the Tattooed Man, in the pages of FCA: Ink, how difficult was it for you, as a writer, to bring it all crashing down around him?

EW: It wasn’t hard at all, because I try to approach every story with fresh eyes. I think the challenge is to create events in a character’s life that allow him or her to grow, but to do so in ways that surprise both the audience and the character himself. Having a freshly-minted hero return to a life on the dark side is the ultimate opportunity for Mark to show himself what’s he’s really made of.

For example, coming out of Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink, Mark was in a pretty good place. And then… the Devil himself (Deathstroke) shows up with offers of temptation. How Mark reacts to what Deathstroke has to offer is an even greater test for him. Also, how he deals in the future with his participation in Ryan’s execution will decide what kind of person he becomes: anti-hero or anti-villain. And I use the term “anti-villain” deliberately, because of the nature of this new Titans book. A hero who sometimes uses “evil” methods to achieve his ends is an anti-hero. So why shouldn’t a villain who uses “good” methods to achieve his or her aims be characterized the same way, as an anti-villain? It’s this concept of the anti-villain that forms the foundation of these Titans stories.

BF: Rounding out the team we have new character Cinder who, it is strongly implied, has faced some horrific ordeals in her past. We also have Cheshire, a villainess with long-term Teen Titans links who has just lost her daughter. Again, these are very damaged human beings dealing with immense tragedy in their lives. Why did Deathstroke choose them for the team and just how dangerous a game is he playing in manipulating them to his own ends?

EW: History shows us that if a leader wants to get his people to do something questionable, that leader must catch them when they are at their most vulnerable. When they’re at their lowest point. And that’s exactly what Deathstroke is doing with the Titans, especially Cinder and Cheshire. Both women are damaged from major traumas in their lives. Cheshire’s tragedy is the recent death of her daughter, Lian [see Justice League: Cry for Justice]. Cinder’s tragedy began long ago. As for how dangerous it is to manipulate these women, the answer to this is a key moment and major story point in Titans #25. I won’t say how, because I don’t want to spoil anything. But let’s just say one of these women will have a major bone to pick with Deathstroke by the end of that particular issue.

BF: Is this lineup your set team for the foreseeable future or can we expect to see any new members down the line?

EW: This is the core team of Titans for the foreseeable future. Having said that, there is one new member that will join the Titans beginning in issue #26. And that’s Arsenal aka former Titan Roy Harper. And yes, Roy will — among other things — have a thing or two to say about his greatest enemy using the Titans name.

BF: It goes without saying that the major talking point of the Titans: Villains for Hire Special was the assassination of the “All-New” Atom Ryan Choi at the team’s hands – a brutal end for Ryan that shockingly demonstrated just how formidable this group is. Will the repercussions of the contract Dwarfstar put on Ryan be seen in the pages of Titans in the near future and can we expect a vengeance-seeking visit from Silver Age Atom Ray Palmer anytime soon?

EW: There will be repercussions to Ryan’s death for the Titans, but not initially. That’s because right now, no one except Dwarfstar knows the truth. But as you can imagine, that’s only going to last for so long. Fortunately, Deathstroke has his own plan to deal with things once the truth comes out. As for what he plans to do, readers will have to wait and see.

BF: Fabrizio Fiorentino, your artist on Final Crisis Aftermath: Ink, rejoins you on Titans. What can you tell us about what Fabrizio brings to the tone and atmosphere of the book?

EW: Any chance I get to rave about Fabrizio’s art, I’ll take! He’s just such a brilliant artist and working with him is sheer pleasure. But beyond the innate beauty of his images, I love that Fabrizio has the same sensibility as myself when it comes to depicting shocking or grotesque images. That’s what he brings to the tone and atmosphere of our books: Likeminded madness. Seriously! To say that we both have “Grand Guignol” sensibilities would be an understatment, because every time I describe some outrageous moment in a fight scene, Fabry translates it perfectly. In fact, sometimes he’ll take one of my extreme descriptions and push it even further, which I love.

BTW: I’d also like to give a shout-out to artist Mike Mayhew, who has helped out on both the Titans:VFH Special #1 and Titans #24. He’s just done an incredible job and contributed some awesome artwork to both books. Without question, he’s been a very important contributor to birthing this new Titans series. Plus, like Fabry, he’s a joy to work with!

BF: The Titans are going after Lex Luthor next. Are there any hints you can drop about what else is in store for the “Villains for Hire” in the coming months? And just how long will it be until Deathstroke’s mystery agenda brings him into the path of the original Titans?

EW: Hmmm. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’ll say this. In addition to Roy Harper, the Titans will cross paths with another old friend very soon. But unlike Roy, that person is going to take the offer of membership very, very badly. Also, one of the promises Deathstroke makes in the Titans: Villains for Hire Special #1 will threaten to become the team’s undoing almost immediately and provide a major story runner in the first set of stories.

BF: And finally, Eric, are there any other upcoming projects from the Wallace camp that you’d like to tell the Broken Frontier readers about?

EW: Yes. In addition to Titans, I also write for the sci-fi TV show, Eureka. Fans can tune into the show’s fourth season when it premieres July 9th on Syfy. It’s our most ambitious season yet. Fans of the show won’t believe what we have in store. For those looking for supernatural tales, I’ve also written two new Dark Shadows audio dramas, based on the classic supernatural soap opera. They’re part of the new audio collection called Dark Shadows: Kingdom of the Dead. KOTD is an epic four-part story that will be available for download and on CD this July from Big Finish Productions. The recordings feature the original DS cast and are a real treat for horror fans.


End of transmission. About this author:  Bill Walko is an author and artist and the man behind He's been reading and drawing comics since he was 5 years old and hasn't stopped since. Read more from this author