So, I got this note from Dave yesterday (I hope doesn’t mind me reposting it here):

The Flash (Wally West) seeks advice from Deathstroke's son

The Flash (Wally West) seeks advice from Deathstroke’s son

The end of Deathstroke #18 said nothing about a crossover. Just “Next: TITANS Finally: the truth revealed!” No “to be continued in Titans #whatever, so it just looked like there was going to be a guest appearance. And then #19 suddenly has a part 3 crossover banner on the cover, but nothing on the first page (or anywhere, really) saying where to look for parts 1 and 2. There’s one footnote box buried in the issue that I presume talks about part 1 or 2, but it could also have been referring to events of last year.

I actually hadn’t noticed and for some reason just assumed all DS readers would somehow intuit this. Whoops…

Surprise! The long awaited Titans-Teen Titans-Deathstroke Titansverse crossover is finally here. It begins in Titans #11, continues in Teen Titans #8, Deathstroke #19, and concludes in Teen Titans: The Lazarus Contract #1, which is written by yours truly.

This was a unique experience for a few reasons:

The Classic Titans meet the Rebirth team

The Classic Titans meet the Rebirth team

First, we broke the story as a group, the way writers work on television shows and often feature films. We plotted together viA conference calls and emails, and everybody reviewed everybody else’s work, while editor Alex Antone coordinated all of our efforts.

Second, it was unique in that, well, I’m new here (at DC). I really wasn’t as aware of the intricacies of the minefield that is DC Universe continuity. My pitch for this (I’ve been pushing for it for nearly a year) was to revisit “The Judas Contract,” Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s defining story arc of the New Teen Titans. We were going to J.J. Abrams the thing in order to build a firewall around the original story–so it can never be retconned or ignored–while re-telling it with the post-Rebirth continuity.

But the old continuity was just a mess. Cyborg was never a Titan. Starfire, Raven– it was terribly difficult to sort all of that out. My preference was to not bother; just show blocks of the original story with the original cast without explaining why Cyborg is now a founding member of the Justice League and never a Titan.

As I see it, both DC and Marvel (but especially DC) wastes way too much time on process stories. I’m tired of reading process stories– stories that explain why this character is now wearing a red hat instead of a yellow one. Who cares. Entertain me.

Comics fans aren’t idiots and, sadly, they aren’t kids anymore. Rather than go through the whole Rebirth thing, and what seems to be endless process stories being written ever since, I’d simply have had Batman turn to camera, breaking the fourth wall, and be honest with the DC comics fan: “We fucked up.” Now, on with our show.

Comics should be Good Stories Well Told. That’s it. Personally, am not entertained by all of these comics that invest multi-issue story arcs explaining the red hat/yellow hat thing. I don’t care. I’m 56 years old, I understand things have changed.

Somewhere along the way we’ve stopped entertaining and gotten morosely engaged with this continuity stuff. Continuity exists to serve the stories, not the other way around.

Ultimately, because of the varying events both past and upcoming, it proved impossible to do the JJ thing, so editor Antone came up with the next best thing. “Lazarus…” walks right up to the Judas Contract and knocks on the door, but we don’t fully go there because, honestly, we couldn’t. Yet. Stay tuned.

What we do have, however, is a fun and entertaining romp which re-establishes the broken link (why’d they break it?) between Deathstroke and the Titans. Now that’s a good thing and well worth reading.

Sorry I blew it with properly connecting the dots in the next issue blurb.


  1. Thad says:

    Thanks, both for explaining the reading order for these extra books that wound up in my pull box (haven’t gotten to any of them yet; still working on an oversized issue of Deadpool, a big stack of Ditko comics I just got from a Kickstarter, and a huge Usagi Yojimbo compendium) and for effectively summarizing my feelings on continuity. I like callbacks to old stories, and I like that DC is course correcting after throwing the Reset button again, but “Which stories count and which don’t?” is not a terribly interesting question to me. The DC universe has been around since 1938; inevitably, some stories are going to count and some aren’t and *which is which is going to change* depending on who’s writing, editing, etc.

    The first question is, and always should be, is it a good story?

    Guess I’ll find out once I get around to reading it. But I bought it, so that at least implies I’ve got a certain amount of faith.

  2. Sam says:

    This could be the long time Teen Titan fan talking but DC’ S handling of their Titans franchise in the New 52 was one of their worst moves (albeit I’ve had problems with how they’ve handles the franchise since Johns but that’s another rant). Erasing so much, including NTT the most popular and well known run that saved them at one point, and leaving us with just Tim’s team being the first and only after teasing there were more? Giving Vic a much deserved membership on the JL but to erase his Titans roots completely? Deaging and erasing history of characters like Raven making seem impossible for them to age past 18 because they need to still be on TEEN Titans instead of moving on because cartoon synergy or something? And of course there’s the Wilson family’s total upheaval from the franchise to be Slade’s own franchise and that was executed…not so well. I do give credit to Rebirth for, at least symbolically in the one shot, admitting the mistakes in the New 52 and seem to be honoring the past as well as paving way for the future. This may lead to weird convoluted meshes of continuity (I believe Superman’s book did this recently with a recap of the new Rebirth timeline) and you wonder if some, like the Titans’ timelines, can be fixed which I guess we’ll see soon. I’ve been enjoying the story myself it’s only distracting that you can tell more than one writer is working on. Much respect to You, Abnett and Percy, it’s just the obviously different writing styles don’t also flow together likewise with art styles but that’s a downside with crossovers in general.

    The Judas Contract Ala Abrams would’ve been interesting to see yet something new that’s a sequel or successor to the story and stands on its own is very, very welcome. Not to mention JC is a story that seems to be other loved or hated for understandable reasons it’s one not many like being reminded of. This leads to my other question about Terra’s status in Rebirth in general but I think that question will be answered very soon.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Full disclosure: when DC called to offer me Deathstroke, they explained that Rebirth was the new evolution from the New 52. Priest: “What’s the New 52?” I’d skipped it entirely. Even now, I have only the most vague idea of what went on.

    • Dave Van Domelen says:

      Meanwhile, I’m watching the direct to video Judas Contract, which has a whole different continuity to work from (i.e. Slade is actually a former League of Assassins member who went rogue when Damian was made the heir apparent, as seen in a previous release).

      • Dave Van Domelen says:

        (Heh, in the sneak peek at Batman & Harley Quinn, Triumph gets mentioned…and Nightwing thinks he’s a loser.)

      • Priest Priest says:

        Hosun forced me to watch that. I was offended by the (poorly done and sophomoric) sexual innuendo threaded throughout, most especially because it played no part in the story whatsoever. I’d have put up with it if something of the sexual banter actually played an important role in the plot or reinforced a theme. Beyond that, it was standard superhero fare. Yawn. And a real insult to the original. What– was Marv too busy to script this?

        • Lacey says:

          They keep putting these Nightwing/Starfire sex jokes into these movies and they keep just feeling awkward. The only one I didn’t mind was Starfire’s, ‘he’s very proficient,’ line cause that one was supposed to be awkward, maybe. Other than that it feels like watching two people who learned flirting on the internet, maybe in a fantasy RP, and that’s sad.

  3. Alex says:

    Deathstroke is an absolute treasure and I thank you, sir, for giving us such a wonderful series. I love that you’re not shying away from taboo subjects and that you aren’t playing it safe. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed the crossover that much because, and I mean no disrespect to your peers here, the issues from the other two series were not very good, like, a pet peeve of mine is when the heroes use their real names when in combat basically letting the people they’re fighting hear it… it totally defeats the purpose of codenames and I wish some writers would put more effort into research and logic but I digress. I did enjoy Deathstroke #19 very much but it annoys me that you’re not scripting the conclusion of the crossover and only co-plotting it.

    I must say, being a Deathstroke fan was not a privilege until your run, DC for more than a decade mishandled him and made him a shallow “badass” type character that was not only truly inefficient but was also “crazy” and “evil” for the simple fact that “villains are all evil”. I love your run, I love how you write Slade, you recognize his rich history and potential and making the title a family drama opens up so many doors and lets you do so many intriguing and exiting stories, his supporting cast is great and helps make the title a true masterpiece. It’s rare to see morally complex characters in comics altogether nowadays(not just talking about DC and Marvel) so I thank you for this, Deathstroke is one of only a handful of comics being published right now that I consider truly great and still read on a monthly basis, you summed up the core theme of the book as “Slade is a guy that wants to love and be loved but is incapable of neither” and I couldn’t have thought of a better way to put it than that.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Alex– thank you for the very kind words. The conclusion of the crossover is the Teen Titans Lazarus Contract Special #1 (or whatever they’re calling it– I’m old and confused). The annual features a main story written by me along with two epilogues (one each for the Titans and Teen Titans) scripted by their respective writers. Abnett, Percy and I had a great time plotting this thing together, but in the end we are distinctly different writers, so there’s some variety to the voices. I dislike names arbitrailly shouted out as well, which is why, in the TT Special, I went for the old school Roll Call of floaty heads with labels, and in DS #19 just threw my hands up and asked Alex (Antone, DS editor) to just stick labels on all the characters to get it over with. To be fair: there’s a lot of characters running around, it’s a big group (made even bigger in the Annual as this group is joined by yet another). I’m not entirely certain how I made it through that experience in one piece. I’m amazed at writers who like doing this sort of big group thing (Crisis on Crisis and so on). Whew!

      • Dave Van Domelen says:

        If you’d asked last week, it was Teen Titans Annual #1 on Diamond’s list. But now it’s listed for this week as Teen Titans Lazarus Contract Special #1.

      • Alex says:

        Oh? Originally it was solicited as “Tenn Titans Annual #1” written by Ben Percy but if they changed it and now you’re the main writer on the special then congratulations to DC for doing the smart thing(and I’m not going to shower you with compliments over your craft even though I could, I just think it’s the smart move because Lazarus Contract is primarily a Slade story so having the conclusion written by the person writing the character’s solo makes sense).
        About the name thing, I can’t say adding little boxes with the names is all that necessary, especially when such popular charters are involved but it doesn’t bother me. My problem comes from, for example, the Titans issue of the crossover when the team are fighting the mooks and are calling each other by their civilian names mid fight instead of their code names… just bothers me.
        It’s too bad the title is now monthly…still, I’m very excited for future issues and I hope you have a long long run on Deathstroke.

  4. Trev Trev says:

    I actually thought I’d missed an issue or two of Deathstroke even though I’ve bought every one. Confused the hell out of me. Haha. Btw, can you confirm whether a Deathstroke is going monthly now (or not)?

  5. Priest Priest says:

    Yes. Deathstroke (and several other DC titles) will resume a monthly publication schedule effective with issue #20. Sorry for the confusion.

  6. Miskyul says:

    Damian is an amazing character that has grown so much over the years just to be destroyed by poor writers who don’t understand all the character development he had over the last eight years!! Damian Wayne, the one I’ve been reading about for so long, could never do something like this. If someone got hurt during the Lazarus Contract, that someone was Robin’s character.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Well, I am a writer. And, yes, I am poor, so the shoe definitely fits.

      Thanks for chiming in, even if we disagree. To be fair, for all I know, you may be right. I’m writing the character as he is currently portrayed (along with one of the writers who regularly handles the character). And, in the TT special, Damian literally saves the world. I’m probably missing your point because I don’t have eight years’ experience with the character.

      I agree that characters should grow but only to a certain extent. Once we eliminate all possible shortcomings from a character, he or she stops being interesting. I can’t suppose to fully understand yours (and, apparently, others’) annoyance at TLC Damian, but I do think it’s quite possible you or others are wanting him to grow up too fast or mature faster, as though the character exists in real time. It’s been eight years to you, how long has it really been for Damian?

      I think the biggest mistake the comics industry as a whole ever made was to allow Dick Grayson to grow up. Once the industry stopped renewing its audience and instead chose to follow its audience out of middle and high school, out of college and, frankly, into their 40’s and 50’s, the entire art form began to suffer. And sales figures prove it.

      I’m talking out of my hat, here, Miskyul, and mean no offense to you, personally. I love Damian, he’s a fun bit of business. But allowing him to outgrow the very reasons he is a popular character is not a sound publishing strategy. If we, the audience, have outgrown him, we need to move on and allow a new generation of readers to discover these characters rather than evolve the characters to the point where they are no longer themselves.

      Sorry we blew it for you.

  7. Bartinna says:

    Damian didn’t deserve this awful bit of writing/plot direction.I will not continue to read Teen Titans or Titans.Deathstroke.What you guys did with Damian for Wallys White man pain.. It makes me angry the DC.

    • Priest Priest says:

      “Wallys White man pain…”

      Okay, I began to chuckle a bit at that phrasing, but maybe you can help me understand what you mean? don’t blame TT (or its writer) for Damian’s role in TLC, I am primarily responsible. Please see my response to Miskyul for more. And thanks for posting, even if you weren’t happy about the book.

  8. Apdull says:

    My God that was awful. WTF this crossover way to throw Damian under the bus and after he saved the Day.Stop hating arabic heros.

    • Priest Priest says:

      Oh, dear heavens– now it’s *racial*? Really? Seriously? Sorry, that’s a really cheap shot. It’s perfectly fine if you disagree with how we/I handled Damian (although I’m not quite sure what specifically you’re upset about, given that, yes, Damian saved the whole planet and, well, the timeline), but, really, to suggest even obliquely that any of us have a ethnic agenda is kind of foul.

  9. Redwan says:

    Many people hate Damian now Because of Wally disease.

    people say racist shit,about Damian at my school Because of Wally.
    Someone has struck me an elbow in the back because I defend him.
    I hate wally and his fans now.sorry my English is not good.

  10. paul says:

    Damian Wayne- Ben Percy’s done a bad job so far.part of me wants Damian to be away from this franchise. I don’t want him to be tainted by this franchise. That part of me also misses RSOB and want’s Damian taken off this team so he can do have his own solo. He writes the others well so That Damian looks evil.Again, we seem to have Damian Wayne against the rest of the team — a theme that’s been played with basically since the first issue of the series — “it gets boring

    • Priest Priest says:

      Paul: thanks for weighing in. I can’t speak to the (apparently) repetitive nature of Damian’s choices, but I *can* speak to the fact Damian *loathes* Deathstroke and absolutely would not lift a finger to save Slade if he was trapped in a well, let alone The Speed Force. I admit to being surprised and disappointed by the visceral reaction to TLC, as if there isn’t anything at all good about the crossover event–which I don’t believe is true. But I will shoulder the responsibility for much of what fans are hollering about here and elsewhere–most of that (including SPOILER WARNING
      Wally’s pacemaker) was my suggestion.

      I hope I’m not expected to be held responsible for every Damian story or every Wally story ever written or for what the writers will do with the characters post-TLC. What I can tell you is I have a keen interest in both characters and feel a strong obligation to the fans to handle those characters responsibly. I feel I did that. Doesn’t mean you’ll like what I came up with.

      The entire point of drama is to challenge our heroes and to allow them to fail as well as triumph. Damian must be allowed to make mistakes so he can learn from them. Damian’s mistakes have consequences, in this case to both Wallys.

      As fans (myself included), we tend to be protective of our favorite characters and don’t want to see them get screwed over or, as one poster put it, thrown under a bus. We will, I suppose, simply have to disagree; I know I did not do that. Despite his youthful impetuousness, Damian is the clear winner, Wally Senior the obvious hero, and Wally Jr is the soul and conscience of this story arc. The three are inextricably linked and together drive the story.

      The obvious investment you and other fans have in these characters speaks directly to how well conceived they are. The hue and cry across various social media platforms is worth paying attention to–and I *am* listening. But, isn’t it also possible that just because a character’s choices or consequences upset you doesn’t necessarily make it a bad story? The purpose of dramatic writing is to evoke an emotional response from the reader. That, if nothing else, TLC has exceptionally accomplished.

  11. Salama 12 says:

    i love your Damian thank you for your books 🙂

  12. bortery says:

    Sorry for the late post on this, but I finished reading the Lazarus contract a few weeks ago and just now stumbled upon this blog post.

    I’m a big fan from your Black Panther days, and hadn’t picked up a comic in years until I heard you were coming to write for Deathstroke. I’ve enjoyed your run immensely, so thanks for keeping me entertained with such great writing!

    I did have a few questions on part 4 of TLC:

    1. I don’t quite understand how Slade tapped into the speed force? We see a panel of him where he’s losing his powers, and then the next time we see him, he’s got speed and is running into the speed force. It feels like something happened off-panel where he suddenly figured out how to tap into it, and did it in the short span of time before his powers wore off?

    2. It was a bit jarring to read red-headed Wally say, “Once you enter the speed force, there’s no way out”, followed by him saying a few panels later, “Other Wally is going in, he probably doesn’t know how to get out!” implying that there *is* a way out? (And obviously there was, because they all manage an exit). Still, it was weird seeing the two contradictory statements so close together.

    I enjoyed the crossover overall, so thank you!

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