Deathstroke has truly begun his war against Talia. However, before they could fight her in retaliation for their son’s death, Deathstroke first had to break the Secret Society out of Batman Incorporated’s custody. This brought him face to face with Ghost-Maker in Deathstroke Inc. #9 (by Joshua Williamson, Paolo Pantalena, Romulo Fajardo Jr., Steve Wands).
Their first battle seemed to favor Ghost-Maker, who commented on Deathstroke’s aging. However, Ghost-Maker dealt a devastating blow to Deathstroke’s ego by insinuating that the only reason Deathstroke’s reputation is so high is because he “usually picks on kids”. . Still, given how the fight played out, there may be more truth to what Ghost-Maker said than Deathstroke cares to admit.
Deathstroke fans know that he is best known for his fights against the Teen Titans, all of whom were children. Even though they were teenagers, they were still legally underage and had much less experience than him. Yet, due to a mistake, much of it traced back to Deathstroke, he began a blood feud with them, essentially making the children his mortal enemies. Even when he wasn’t tormenting the Titans, he usually ended up hurting his own children.
So Ghost-Maker taunting him with that fact wasn’t just a way of provoking him as much as throwing the truth in his face. When facing the Titans, Deathstroke was generally successful in dealing damage and gaining a bit more swagger. However, in the face of opposition of equal skill or age, he rarely prevailed. Perhaps Deathstroke only seems so menacing because, like a bully, he fights with people he knows will have a hard time fighting back.
This is further supported by the way the fight between him and Ghost-Maker played out. The two seemed to be on equal footing for a while. However, Ghost-Maker made his cutting remark and quickly took the lead, proving not only that he was as good as Batman, but that he could be right about Deathstroke as well. The only reason Deathstroke escaped was because he was holding Clownhunter hostage, taking advantage of Ghost-Maker’s relationship with his student.
To defend Deathstroke, he was clearly emotionally unbalanced. It had been, at best, a few hours since the death of his son, a boy he considered a chance to make up for his mistakes as a parent. For someone with Deathstroke’s history, being robbed of this chance would have been enough to crack him up. Breaking into Batman Incorporated headquarters with only his daughter for backup is certainly a brazen move, perhaps he wouldn’t have considered doing it in a more stable frame of mind.
Yet he still proved Ghost-Maker right. When the push came, he tackled the weakest link – a minor hero – and took advantage of his superior power to brutally force a victory. In the end, Ghost-Maker might be right that Deathstroke is losing his edge. The other heroes and villains have evolved, but he’s remained largely static, and as a result, the only people he can truly defeat are people who aren’t on his level.
Another major justice leaguer is coming for the head of Deathstroke