Here is the transcript to Villains Rising: Deathstroke Special Feature.
WOLFMAN: Slade is totally a victim of circumstance.
MIKE CARLIN: Deathstroke, to me, has always seemed like a very honorable villain, and I think that the army instills a lot of that stuff in their soldiers. But in particular, meeting his first wife in the army and having her be involved in his training and her be involved in his enhancements, pretty much set him on the path to be Deathstroke.
GEORGE PEREZ: He was a soldier. He was a man who acted on duty. Even as an assassin, he followed a contract. He believed in doing his job. I mean, he was like a negative version of Captain America. Captain America was the super soldier. So was Deathstroke a super soldier. Captain America decided to be a patriot, Deathstroke decided to be an assassin. He wouldn't have been hired to go after the Titans if he wasn't the best that he could be. He was somebody who cared very much about doing the right thing but honoring his word as a soldier. He was a big believer in "Your word is your bond," and that, to me, is what Deathstroke's all about. His word is his bond.
CARLIN: Part of what the Titans are about is they created their own family. They found people that they could be with, who were not necessarily their genetic relatives but who were kindred spirits, and Deathstroke has literally a DNA-connected family that kind of define and put him on his path. Between Grant and then Jericho and even then later, Rose Wilson, they are a big motivation in his backstory for what he does and why he does it and why he's relentless, because he sees them as legacies that he wants to actually perpetuate. When a group called the H.I.V.E. approached him to kill the Titans, he turned them down.
Slade said, "Look, my son can do it and if there's any problem, I will protect him." And instead, his son gets killed. So Slade, to honor his family, to honor his word, that he would always have his son's back, he had to take on a job he didn't want because this isn't his fight, but he's made it his fight. That's why I don't see him as a villain, I actually see him as a victim who simply does not know how to get out, to make it right, and so he sinks into this pattern of trying to kill the Titans but he doesn't really want to but he has to. I think Marv, from the very moment he conceived the Teen Titans, knew that he did not want this to be a juvenile book. So he wanted to do themes that were sometimes a little harsher, more sobering, without pandering. Deathstroke was created to be older. I didn't like the idea that all villains were also about the same age as the heroes or, you know, equivalent adults. We gave him the white hair. I wanted something very different because that would give a different type of credibility to the villain, and also say that he's had many years to do what he's done. It explains why he's good. I think the fact that there was a romance, or certainly a use of each other, absolutely set up who these characters were and in ways that we hadn't seen before and as far as I know, may not have seen since. But it so defines the characters in so many ways. She's a psychopath, she's crazy. He's not crazy, but he's finding himself being drawn in by her.
I'm assuming a lot of readers did not get it because they were too young. I do believe that you don't see things you don't understand. And I'm sure the more adult things in the Titans did not get noticed by the kids. It's always been my belief that you have to take these outrageous-type characters, bigger-than-life characters, and make them feel real because you're going to be asking the reader to accept so many incredible things that they can do. If they don't feel these characters are actually real to some degree, they're not going to care about these larger-than-life events. Slade has got to constantly remind himself that he's a person. He has to constantly remind himself what is right and what is wrong and, of course, that just destroys him when he realizes he's now out to destroy the Titans, people who he doesn't even care about, and that goes against every real emotion that he has. The more real the emotions, the more real the readers will believe these characters to be.
PEREZ: One of the things about Deathstroke, and I think any good villain, is that they themselves don't think of themselves as villains. They justify what they do. They have their own code. In his case, he was doing his job, and Deathstroke always justified what he did.
To him, he's a good guy who found himself being challenged because he said, "Yes" when he should've said, "No." He is the hero but he also knows that he's failing. And that's why he gets more and more desperate, and that challenges his "I am the hero of my own story," because he no longer is.
CARLIN: The thing that I note about the characters that last a long time is that they are flexible. And they are flexible in terms of their character. They're flexible in terms of how they can fit into a story.
You know, Batman, he's been done comedically, he's been done grim and gritty and everything in between, and he endures because he's a flexible character in that respect. And I think Deathstroke as a villain is the same.
PEREZ: A character that I didn't expect to be much more than a few issues and that was it, has now found life three and a half decades later as one of the major villains of DC Comics. I never would have expected that. So I'm just grateful that at the time in the 1980s when we did the Titans, when we did The Judas Contract and all those stories with the character, that it left enough of an impact to keep it alive.
Arthur Conan Doyle probably never expected that Sherlock Holmes would still be having movies being made of him to this very day, with modern twists and changes as well, but keeping the essence of Sherlock Holmes. And I think we've been lucky enough to get that with Deathstroke and the rest of the Titans.