Slade And Terra

Sorry (Again) to have been gone so long and thank you Dave for checking in.

I’m a little puzzled by the many “Slade is a pedophile” comments. Mostly because they feel accusatory toward me, as if Slade and Terra’s relationship was my idea or my doing.

Terra 1

I’m sure (or at least hoping) you are aware that Slade and Terra’s relationship was established 30 years before I got here. The relationship was the centerpiece and gut punch of the Teen Titans’ most famous and revered story arc, The Judas Contract. But I’m sure most visitors to this blog already know that, so maybe I’m missing the point.

Ignoring or rounding the edges off of that seminal story felt disingenuous. I wasn’t happy about it at all. If anything, I’d have made a much tougher statement. All Rebirth Deathstroke did was kiss her, and he wasn’t happy about doing that. SHE came on to HIM and he threw her out of his hotel room (#27, magnificently rendered by Diogenes Neves and Jason Paz– wow, maybe my favorite issue of Dio’s run, he gave tremendous emotional depth and complexity to Terra in a story designed to make us understand why she is the little witch that she is).

I’m a little lost about all of the pedophile comments and accusations. Slade is certainly _not_a pedophile or a child sexual predator. He IS, however, a villain. I’m constantly having to remind people, some of whom work at DC, that Slade is a *villain.* He’s a bad, bad man who does terrible things. But few fans seem all that concerned when Slade slaughters a dozen black soldiers (#6) but the sheer volume of protest over his killing a dog continues to resonate.

Terra 2Accusing me of something, even obliquely, because we revisited Deathstroke and Terra’s history, which was important to do in terms of defining her character and why she hates him so much, just seems oddly unfair. Slade is not a pedophile or even a (more diagnostically accurate) Ephebophile. He had no sexual interest whatsoever in Terra or any other youth.

He is, however, an incredible bastard who does shocking and heinous things, like killing a dog right in front of its master. Faulting me for Slade being an evil jerk is wrong and inaccurate as well, but I’ll take it.

Or am I missing the point?

29 Comments

  1. Devon B says:

    Priest, Slade has had that title thrown at him for a while. It is certainly not of your doing and while you understand that- recently a DCAU film of the Judas Contract pretty much stamped it on his head. If you haven’t seen it, don’t waste your time. Just know that the message both you and Wolfman (however sloppily it was done back in Teen Titans) have conveyed in that it was an unforgettable moment in his origin to comics, there are other outlets that are taking it to the extreme. Unfortunately, movies gain more audience then comics do, and what Judas Contract the animated film did with those two with DC comic’s seal on it, you can be certain the majority audience is going to follow that. It sucks. You were fair to both characters. Slade just…comes with a lot of baggage in the comics world.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Thanks, Devon. I consider his relationship with Tara (her real name) to be The Original Sin and *the* moment that defined Deathstroke as a villain. I kinda watched TJC animated but dozed off on it and was kind of put off by the gratuitous exploitation of Starfire– not mad about the sexuality but that the sexuality really had nothing to do with the story.

      As heinous as this is, Slade’s emotional and, yes, sexual manipulation of Terra was the shocking page-turn of the original TJC and I actually applauded Marv and George’s bravery in creating that creepy yet brilliant plot twist. However, in our publishing environment, and at least with this writer, we also consider the greater depth of the issue of child exploitation.

      Extrapolating off of my former boss Marv, I hardly believe Terra, at age sixteen, was a child or an innocent. I vividly remember being sixteen and the rampant and reckless sexual inquisitiveness that accompanies that age.

      Moreover, Tara– born into royalty– had been living pretty much on the street since escaping death from Markovia. I infer, in her dialog, that she’s had to do a lot of things to survive by which I mean homeless girls are often sexually exploited or learn to be sexual predators themselves simply in order to survive. I mean, did it really seem as if Tara’s brazen attempt to seduce Slade was her first rodeo?

      If anything, Slade throwing her out only made Slade seem that much more noble in her eyes, widening her crush on him. Not sure what you call adolescents who accrue romantic crushes on adults but as I see it– as Marv wrote it– the romantic interest was a one-way street: Terra to Slade. Slade never had any real romantic or sexual interest in her, he was just using her to help him kill the Titans. That’s nowhere near the same thing as pedophilia.

      While I guess it’s fun to be a fan (hey, I’m a fan, too, not knocking it), what disturbs me about this label for Slade (and its inaccurate appendage to others) is it diminishes and obscures REAL pedophilia and disturbed individuals by rendering “pedo” as a scarlet letter we too often and too easily fling around. It’s incredibly easy to label someone, it’s impossible for anyone to prove they are _not_something once that label has been effectively appended.

      We really should stop doing that. Social media and the internet has given everybody a bullhorn– like the comically insane rants I am receiving from people rabidly obsessed with a fictitious 13-year old boy who haven’t actually read Deathstroke v. Batman but just *know* (somehow) what’s in it and that I am damaging Talia al Ghul. That stuff is scary.

      If Slade actually were a pedophile, I’d be the last to defend him. But, first and foremost, the label is wrong. “Pedophile” refers to people with sexual interest in prepubescents. Tara Markovia was at least sixteen at the time and Slade had no interest in her whatsoever. And, more to the point, I didn’t make any of this up, but I didn’t ignore it, either. My story is about the causal connection between child exploitation and the damage it asserts in their adult life.

      While I imagine Tara has used and been used by many adults long before she ever met Slade (she was already an established operative when he hired her), Slade was likely the first (and perhaps only) man Tara ever actually loved. His manipulation of Tara most certainly scarred her for life. If people want to get mad about something or blame Slade for something, yeah– blame him for that. I certainly do.

      But don’t hand me this Slade-perving-on-poor-innocent-Terra. Uh-uh. No sale. Not even remotely true.

      • Devon B says:

        Thanks for taking the time to reply. Believe me, there is no one in less need of convincing that Slade is a “pedophile” than myself. I hope it didn’t come off that way- I’ve been defending the argument for years. Well, not so much defending as educating. Some people just want a reason to hate the character, and what the trickiest situation that I’ve Found on the subject isn’t that Slade was never seriously pursuing a young girl for sexual needs, but people UNWILLING to believe the girl was just as guilty. It’s a tough argument, people want to defend Tara and claim that she was young and stupid and didn’t know she was being manipulated. When her job was conscious manipulation in the first place…

        Regardless. I think your fans know that the way you handled it was perfect. Not one moment did I think “oh boy. he’s REALLY bringing this back?” It was needed. The explicit reality that Slade is a shitty person, and that Tara had clear motives for the actions. You’re doing a great job, and those who posted are right: those throwing comments around like that are fans of other characters who resent Deathstroke. They couldn’t care less about the facts and the stories not plainly presented in front of them.

        Also, to add more clarity to my comment regarding Marv’s arc, there is a moment Slade takes Beast Boy out to a diner in events that happen not long after Judas Contract. Beast Boy asks Slade, “Did you sleep with her?” (Tara) in which Slade pauses long, and answers “Would it make a difference?” And you can absolutely bet that readers even today, construed that as a “yes.” And regardless of the reasons why, and the motives behind it, people will stamp the label and see no other way for it.

        Thanks again for opening up the conversation, it’s awesome that you speak to the fans!

  2. Ian Miller says:

    Thanks for this post! I think the haters throw that around because they want to hurt fans of this series, and the creators. I really love the way you write Slade as impossibly cool, but also so real in his evil. This is Slade, a villain. No apologies, no justifications, no anti-heros. He’s bad, and I think it’s a real standout among comics and all stuff coming out these days to have an evil character who is sympathetic without being lauded for his evil, or trying to hide his evil.

    I also loved the recent interview you gave about the current arc (and the hint that we’ve got more to come after #29!) It’s great to hear that Bruce loves Damian, even though he’s really unable to say it (sounds familiar – “Rose, I’m concerned about your life choices…)

    (I am really curious if you’re able to tell us which of the Robins – Dick, Jason, or Tim – is giving the flashback interviews. It sounds a lot like Jason to me, but I could also see it as Dick.)

    • Priest Priest says:

      Well, I *could* tell you but then I’d have to kill you 🙂 All I can say is it’s an old video recorded years ago. Won’t help much, but there it is 🙂

      • Ian Miller says:

        Haha, well, I had to try. It’s a heated debate topic on the forums! 🙂

        • Priest Priest says:

          Really? I’m always shocked to discover people are actually paying attention to anything I’m doing.

          • Ian Miller says:

            Oh yes! There’s a core handful of us in the forums who love discussing all the twists and turns, and feeling complicated feelings about how evil Slade is but how much we love all of the things that are happening. 🙂

            And there’s a lot of us who also love just how Slade being a villain frees him from being nice, and he just says things that illuminate our reality in funny ways. The whole “Based Slade” contingent. 🙂

  3. Dave Van Domelen says:

    Also, having seen the to-be-approved list, I’m nearly 100% certain that all of the “Slade is a pedophile” posts are from one Damian Wayne fan with a massive axe to grind about anyone who is even rumored to maybe be somehow disrespecting his idol. Basically, if you’re using Damian in a story and he’s not the protagonist and star and winner, you’re Doing Him Wrong. There isn’t a surge of angry fans trying to drag Priest or Deathstroke down, just one super-obsessed troll.

    • Dave Van Domelen says:

      To wit, the “Deria” and “Sarah” currently trying to reply on this thread are fake accounts created solely to try to make it look like there’s more than one person behind it. The term of art is “sockpuppet account”.

    • Jack says:

      Actually that’s not true at all. This isn’t Damian/Robin fans at work, Deathstroke has been accused of being a child molester for a LONG time. Well before Priest wrote this book and even before Damain’s creation.

      Believe it or not but Terra has a die hard fanbase and they hate Judas Contract. Her fans refuse to entertain the notion that Wolfman and Perez always intended her to be a vile psychopath. They even think that Wolfman and Perez screwed her, how do you screw your own creation that you came up with for one specific story is beyond me.

      Truth is that her fans resent Deathstroke for being popular and for getting books, mainstream media appearances etc especially because Slade sort of reformed after Judas Contract. So they and other Slade haters often use this argument to make Deathstroke fans feel guilty. DC/WB has further emboldened these fans through their inaccurate adaptations of Judas Contract in the Teen Titans cartoon and the recent animated film that removed Deathstroke’s backstory and motivation and instead made him a mustache twirling pedo while Terra is presented as the innocent victim and via Meltzers retcon that Slade drugged her. .

      • Priest Priest says:

        Wow… what are the media (video or comics) you are referring to? I’d like to check those out.

        I had to whine and beg DC, who really are loathe to embrace this Slade-Terra business and would have much preferred I simply retconned it out. I can assure you, knowing Marv, that the Slade-Terra connection was deliberate. Without it, neither character would still be of interest. Both are defined by that relationship.

        The original story makes DC uncomfortable. Well, good. Welcome to the world. A 50-year old sleeping with a 16-year old IS creepy and wrong, regardless of who seduced who. But not telling those stories, not exploring those issues, putting a Pollyannaish face on every young female superhero is just cowardice.

        Every girl I’ve ever known has been sexually harassed if not sexually exploited or assaulted, at some time in her life. Try this yourself: ask someone close to you, someone who trusts you, in a caring way– have you ever been harassed or molested. And, you know what? Most of the time, these women remain silent, keeping their abusers’ secrets their whole lives.

        At age 28, a young friend came out to me, confessing that she was being sexually abused when she was fourteen, and it broke my heart. We’d grown up in the same neighborhood, we were very close. I mean, I was *right there* and couldn’t tell what was happening to her, and she was afraid to tell anybody.

        And we (not just blaming DC) are afraid to tell these kinds of stories unless we make them antiseptic morality tales– the mustache twirling pedo who dopes the innocent girl. Child or teen sexual exploitation is far more complicated than that, with the victim often playing some role in it or gaining some gratification from it that silences them. I mean, all this girl ever had to do was *tell me,* and we would surely have put a stop to it.

        This is what bugs me about the label– the trivializing of an important issue and a behavior that continues to hide in dark places because nobody wans to talk about it and publishers are afraid to explore it (Adrian Lyne’s 1992 adaptation of Lolita had major trouble finding a distributor and cast a very adult-looking Dominique Swain in the lead role. In Nabokov’s novel, Lolita was 12).

        The difference for me, at least, is I’m interested in exploring the consequences of Slade’s choices and the impact those choices have had on Terra. I would love to do a Terra LS but only if DC could be brave enough to let me tell an honest story without having to either round the edges off or phony it up with Slade drugging her, etc. That’s a cop-out that trivializes child rape (to be fair: some of this is not in editorial’s hands; it’s a WB thing–an odd and seemingly random choice of which characters to “protect”).

        There is a moment, huge, now, where we can responsibly tell these kinds of stories and stop masking or watering down the lifelong consequences of child abuse. Writing a Terra series where she is happy and balanced would be criminal. This is a character created from scratch to address these kinds of issues, if only somebody was brave enough to do so.

        • Jack says:

          The appearances in question are:

          Teen Titans animated series, season 2, last 3 episodes specifically.

          The animated adaptation of Judas Contract from last year.

          DC also created 2 different versions of Terra who never slept with Deathstroke back in the day to appease her fans.

          Then in Johns run Slade was using a serum to control Rose, didn’t have a problem with that but other writers used it as a get out of jail card. For instance Meltzer in DC Universe: Last Will and Testament one shot ( Final Crisis Tie inn 2009) revealed that Slade used this serum on Terra. Similarly in 2006 DC made Batgirl Cassandra Cain evil so in Johns TT and in Cassandra’s Batgirl (v2 6 issue series in 2008) at fan pressure DC threw Slade under the bus using the mind control serum non sense to excuse Cassandra’s heel turn.

          Therefore what you say about DC wanting it retconned makes sense. The story has become like Killing Joke these days. But Barbara Gordon fans have legitimate grievances, Terra fans dont. This is who she was from day one. But she’s young and cute looking so she must be redeemed.

          I absolutely agree with everything you said but if some loud people see Terra as an actual hero, yes HERO then presenting her as evil or even having been taken advantage of is going to anger those people. But its not just limited to Terra now either, Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy fans for instance also want these characters to be heroes and to be seen as such by others and the company. Ivy fans throws fits on Twitter when she kills, yeah we’ve hit that point can you imagine that. A character whose most distinguished power is her lethal kiss shouldn’t kill, just imagine. Not much DC can do and they’re guilty as well by repeatedly encouraging and pandering to these people.

          • Priest Priest says:

            I can’t help but wonder what the real effects of NOT pandering would be. I mean, would there really be this huge boycott of DC if the company simply ignored the more extreme demands? Getting my way all the time is boring. What makes Game of Thrones so much fun is you literally do not know when your favorite character is going to flip sides, become evil (or good, or be found sleeping with his or her brother) or be killed off. GOT does not pander, and its fans stick with it.

            Speaking solely for myself: I’m just hopelessly naive. It would never occur to me to make Ivy a good guy (girl). In fact, now that you mention it, it would be great fun to pair her with Slade for some good ol’ villainy.

            Thanks for the very insightful post.

      • Ian Miller says:

        While I do think there’s been a contingent of anti-Deathstroke fans for a long time, on 4chan there are definitely one or two very recognizable fans who post “Slade is a pedophile” and attack any poster, character, or writer who “steals” attention from Damian over and over and over again.

        (I will say that I find the climax of Judas Contract to be frustratingly devoid of sympathy with Terra. I don’t think she has to be a blameless innocent, but to write her off as a worthless person instead of a tragedy, as I read the story, felt really hard to swallow after the backstory they built for her. I’ve really appreciated Priest’s writing of Terra as someone who’s made choices that are deeply compromised and sometimes quite evil, but also as someone who is deeply sad.)

      • Dave Van Domelen says:

        No, specifically this board has attracted the attention of a troll who uses sockpuppet accounts in an attempt to make Priest think there’s a legion of fans out there who want him to do something differently. “Slade is a Pedo” is just the troll’s latest war cry. He blames Priest for Damian not getting his proper due, and keeps looking for ways to stir up trouble. The Terra issue is certainly not invented by the troll, and has been around for ages, but most of the short angry posts Priest approved yesterday are, I’m pretty sure, the work of a single person.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Oh— really? I was seeing all of these different names so I assumed there was an organization ironically throwing around the “pedophile” label while obviously crushing on a fictitious 13-year old boy.

      [Squirrel] This reminds me so much of Triumph, a character created by Brian Augustyn and Mark Waid whom DC staffers LOATHED. I mean, frothing at the mouth loathing. I’d be sitting there, at editorial meetings, listening to other editors ranting about Triumph and I’d interrupt, saying, “Uh– you DO realize… he’s not real. He’s a comic book character.”

      Triumph as, easily, as vivid an A-hole (which is what I intended him to be) as Slade is a villain. When people forget, even for a moment, that the character is fictitious, that’s usually a pretty high compliment. [/Squirrel]

      • Jack says:

        Pretty much what you said but Terra fans are deluded as hell. Also caught your Multiversity comics interview. Cant wait to see Slade in Arkham with Bat villains. I kinda hope you write him and Bane together. Both anti-Batmen, super soldiers, tacticians and had an affair with Talia lol.

        • Priest Priest says:

          Is Bane in there? Oh, that could be fun…

          • Jack says:

            He was beaten at the end of King’s I am Bane storyline. So he should be there. He also shows up in his own limited series right now but much like your current Deathstroke arc its place in the timeline isn’t clear. So yeah I am Bane is the last significant Bane appearence(unless you count the Ninja Turtles crossover) so he should be in Arkham. Yeah it would definitely be fun and now I’m getting my hopes up haha.

          • Priest Priest says:

            Do fans want Bane to be a hero, too?

          • Jack says:

            Lol, I dont think so. Bane did reform back in 2005 but I think the general idea was to retire the character back then as his story that started in Knightfall climaxed so it made sense. Then he became an anti hero in Simone’s Secret Six and returned to villainy after New 52. He sees himself as a victim and hero but he’s a villain all the way and as a Bane fan I prefer it that way.

        • Jack says:

          Man stay away from Ivy lol.
          As for boycott, DC can handle some fans not reading some books. The issue starts when fans use sexism, misogyny, paedophilia labels to attack the company and writers for not writing characters the way these fans want them to be written.

          • Ian Miller says:

            Oh, dear yes. Please don’t include Ivy – poor Tom King has caught so much abuse from Ivy fans for his attempts to explore the character.

          • Priest Priest says:

            But… these specific fans DO realize these are not actual people but comic book characters, right? I mean, (spoiler alert) Snoopy isn’t a real dog, either. Lucky Slade didn’t off him. This stuff is scary to me. I just trashed yet another comment where the poster actually had interesting things to add to the conversation but insisted on being terribly disrespectful and insulting. I honestly don’t get the violent tone in the rhetoric or why I must be insulted as a person just because they disagree with my creative approach. I guess that’s fun for some people, and a big reason why you will never find me on Facebook or Twitter. No thank you.

      • Dave Van Domelen says:

        Yeah, it’s trivially easy to make up a bunch of fake “sockpuppet” accounts in an attempt to make one voice sound like a crowd. Goes back to the Usenet days, but nowadays it’s even easier for someone to mask their IP and otherwise obfuscate the trail electronically. But the behavior markers are still easy enough to notice.

  4. Matrix says:

    Hello,
    First, off I wanted to say that so far I really enjoyed your run on Deathstroke. It’s been really good so far. However, as a fan of Damian Wayne I just wanted to voice my concern/nerves of him being potentially the biological son of Slade Wilson. I know you can’t spoil it. But, I hope it’s all just a ruse in the end. Changing Damian’s origin to me negates the character’s entire lineage. There’s been a lot of powerful father/son moments between Bruce and his son over the years that have been some of my favorites in comic book history. I love the fact that Bruce has a son and that they’ve grown closer together over the years. Changing Damian’s lineage to me after it’s been established since his existence in comics over 12 years ago as the one true blood son of Batman doesn’t really make sense to me. If he was really Slade’s son this whole time then why wouldn’t Talia have said something since she created him using Bruce’s DNA? Also, it’s never been hinted at before that Damian was anything but the son of her and Bruce. Let alone Slade. Also, I’ve read other issues (SuperSons issue #13) where when Talia is all alone and watching over Damian from the shadows she States “What are you doing to our son Bruce?” In essence confirming him as their son. Plus, I wonder if he truly ends up being the son of Slade then what was the point of having him be Bruce’s son since the characters introduction into the comics 12 years ago if it was just going to be changed. Anyways, I just wanted to give my thoughts in a non hostile and respectful way. I’m just a fan of Damian who wants to see him stay as Bruce’s son. Once again thank you for reading this. (If you do) and have a nice day.

  5. Ian Miller says:

    New thread for #32?

  6. Ian Miller says:

    Hope we can get a thread for #33! The preview is awesome, paralleling both Slade’s road trip with Rose and Damian’s meeting with Batman.

    Completely unrelated to Deathstroke, just finished listening to the Graphic Audio dramatization of Green Lantern: Sleepers (all three books), and I thought it was really great. I’ve not read a lot of Green Lantern stuff before, so the novelistic ability to expand on the worldbuilding and give a lot of flashbacks is very helpful. I thought the hints of Deathstroke in Carol’s relationship to her father was pretty amusing. Alan Scott was a real standout to me – his old-man crankiness, pure heart, and enormous power were extremely enjoyable. I also thought the differences between the original chapters and the published version were very illuminating, particularly in the difference between the convenience store robbery – Hal’s “light” being killed in the final version rather than being complicit in the robbery. An easier moral dilemma for Hal.

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