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Jericho, or Joey Wilson (born Joseph), is an often beloved character created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez during their run on Teen Titans/ Titans in the 1980s. Like many DC characters with a long history, there have been a variations of the original. Certain details remain constant. Jericho is the son of Slade Wilson (aka Deathstroke) and Adeline (a trained operative herself) and is brother to Grant and Rose, both of whom would follow in their father’s footsteps. Another constant is Jericho’s abduction by terrorists and Slade’s successful rescue efforts, though he failed to prevent Joseph’s throat from being slashed and the subsequent loss of speech.

He was included in our list of LGBT characters many years ago though at the time the character was officially straight. His profile was under the “Coulda, woulda, shoulda” category because the character set off the gaydar of so many readers. Bill Walko wrote a detailed profile for Jericho which you can read below. There are two variations to outline. The first is Jericho from the two Titans comics published as part of the Convergence series of specials and the second is the current iteration from the NU52 and Rebirth series.

Without getting into the details of the Convergence event which was planned to cover DC’s move its New York City offices to Burbank, the Jericho depicted in Convergence: New Teen Titans two parter (2015) is identical to Wolfman and Perez’s original. The major difference is that the writer Marv Wolfman chose to address head on Jericho’s sexuality. Here Kole is still in love with Joey and approaches Donna about his lack of romantic interest in her. After momentarily turning away from her, Donna simply advises Kole to be herself around Joey and that he’ll find a way to tell Kole if he’s interested.

Jericho reappears in new continuity in a special “jumping on” zero issue of Deathstroke (November 2012). While Joey’s back story remains intact, this iteration as primarily written by Justin Jordan has three significant differences from the original. Here in addition to retaining his power of possession, he has become a highly trained agent and skilled fighter. Jericho also now communicates through a subvocal transmitter designed by Slade’s former tech guy Dave Isherwood as well as sign language. The next major change is that rather than becoming a hero, Jericho works in his own best interests. This is notably depicted in the closing pair of issues of this series when Jericho puts his big gambit to reunite his family minus Slade Wilson into action by possessing the superhuman Majestic. It’s a plan that backfires with unanticipated consequences.

How Jericho went from trying to kill his father at the end of the first Nu52 series to working with his father in the current Rebirth series written by Christopher Priest involves he, his sister, and father being caught up in some grandiose, testosterone fueled slug fest with R’as Al Ghul’s efforts to coopt them into the League of Assassins. As Christopher Priest seems to have largely ignored events from this series published from 2014 to 2016 so can we.

The final difference with the current iteration of Jericho as established by Christopher Priest is that he is bisexual and uses his sexuality to get what he wants. Jericho announces to Rose that he and his translator assistant, a woman named Etienne (French for Steven), are engaged to be married. Rose is somewhat surprised and after her suspicions are aroused discovers there’s more to the woman than Jericho knows. Isherwood, Slade’s former tech guy, is shocked and dismayed when he learns of this development from Jericho. Unknown to everyone, the two men have been having an affair. The scene turns ugly when Isherwood exclaims he’ll do what he needs to put an end to the engagement.

Updates will follow. You can read Dave Isherwood’s profile here.

The following is Bill Walko’s profile.

Joe (Joseph) Wilson is the son of Slade Wilson (aka Deathstroke, the Terminator) and Adeline Kane Wilson. The couple met while in service in the United States Army (Adeline had been Slade’s instructor in guerilla warfare). Sparks ignited immediately between the two, and they quickly fell in love and wed. Shortly thereafter, Adeline gave birth to a son, Grant (who would later become the Ravenger). Slade continued on active duty, and volunteered for a medical experiment in resisting truth serums. The experiment had an unforeseen side effect: it gave Slade enhanced strength and heightened reflexes. Shortly after this, Adeline gave birth to a second son, Joseph.

Slade soon was discharged from the army. He took up hunting for awhile, but it failed to quench his thirst for the life he once led. Unknown to his wife and family, Slade secretly became a mercenary known as Deathstroke, the Terminator. One one of his assignments, Slade assassinated a Colonel from the country of Quarac. The president from Quarac sent a terrorist known as the Jackal to find Slade, and find out who hired him to kill the Colonel. To gain leverage, the Jackal kidnapped a young Joseph Wilson (who was now 5 years old, or so).

This forced Slade to admit to his wife that he was secretly the mercenary known as Deathstroke, the Terminator. Adeline and Slade (outfitted as Deathstroke) together confronted the Jackal. Slade refused to give the Jackal the information he requested, because it would violate his professional code of ethics. Slade gambled he could react fast enough to save his son; He saved Joseph’s life, but not before one of Jackal’s men had begun to slit his throat. Joseph was now mute.

Adeline, furious at Slade’s betrayal and risking her son’s life, confronted Slade… with a gun. Slade’s quick reflexes saved his life, but he lost his right eye due to the gunshot inflicted by his wife. Adeline then divorced Slade and raised her two sons by herself. Grant followed in his father’s footsteps and attended military school. Joseph, however, was quite different from his brother; He was a kind, gentle soul who flourished in the arts. Joseph was both a talented artist and musician. Adeline nurtured this side of Joseph, and he grew up to be a fine young man under Adeline’s care.

Sometime after her divorce from Slade, Adeline established her own organization, Searchers, Inc. As he grew older, Joseph worked closely with his mother, apparently receiving combat training and tactical fighting maneuvers from her. Searchers, Inc. provided espionage services for a number of clients. On a mission for the US government, Joseph and his mother separated briefly for reconnaissance. Joseph spotted his mother in danger from an assasin she did not see. Joseph wanted to scream, but couldn’t. The assassin laughed and prepared to fire at Adeline. Joseph intensely stared at him across the room, desperately wanting to stop him. It was at this moment that his mutant power first manifested; Joseph felt his body separate and enter into the assassin, controlling the man’s motor skills.

Joseph’s DNA had been mutated, because of the biological experimentation that had been done on Slade Wilson. Joseph was a mutant. Joseph’s half-sister, Rose Wilson, was also born with the meta-gene. Sadly, the two siblings would never meet.

Joseph continued to use his abilities for Searchers Inc. Shortly thereafter, Adeline discovered the Terminator’s latest activities involving the Titans. With the help of Terra, Slade had finally fufilled the HIVE contract to deliver the Titans into their hands. Adeline and Joseph surveyed Slade’s activities, and approached Nightwing, offering to help rescue the captured Titans. At this time, Joseph first adopted the name Jericho, and fashioned a costume for himself. Nightwing and Jericho sucessfully freed the kidnapped Titans and brought Slade Wilson to justice. Adeline was quite pleased with herself; It appears she wanted Joseph to become a member of this team of young adults.

It took awhile before the Titans fully trusted Joseph and offered him membership to the team. Joseph was, after all, the Terminator’s son. And the Titans had just been betrayed by Terra. Changeling in particular was still hurting from this and convinced himself that Joseph was duplicitous as well. It didn’t take too long for Jericho’s true colors to show through: he was a loyal friend and team-mate.

Joseph was a caring and sensitive individual; he reached out to anyone in need. He found a sad quality in Raven and reached out to her many times. Unfortunately, this would ultimately end in tragedy. Raven felt Trigon’s presence grow within her. Trying to help, Joseph entered Raven’s soul, and was immediately thrown into a state of shock. This, however, brought him to the attention of Trigon. Raven’s dark side took over and Trigon returned. The elders of Azareth gathered their strength and souls together; this force proved powerful enough to enter and overcome Trigon. Unknown to the Titans, however, the souls of Azareth (now tainted by Trigon) needed a vessel to survive. They sought Raven, but she was protected by her soul self. The souls of Azareth were aware of Jericho, and his powers made it easier for the souls to enter him. The souls of Azareth resided in Jericho, but were still quite weak. They would lay dormant, and build up strength as time passed.

In the meantime, Jericho continued to be a valuable asset to the team and a trusted friend to all. Notably, he helped a lost soul, a crystal spinner known as Kole; he provided emotional support for Dick and Kory through Koriand’r’s marriage of state to Karras; and he always sought to help the troubled Raven.

Time passed. Slowly, the souls of Azareth regained their strength and merged with Jericho. The souls now needed powerful vessels for each of them to survive. Now possessed by this force, Jericho sought to acquire superhuman beings as vessels for the souls of Azareth. Jericho also acquired new abilities to help in his mission: a savage and poweful soul self that took the form of a lion and a healing ability that repaired his throat and enabled him to speak. Jericho found a unique opportunity: He invaded and took over the Wildebeast Society (which was a petty group of villians made up of former HIVE operatives). Using them as a front, he abducted current and former Titans to act as vessels for the souls of Azareth. The remaining Titans Nightwing and Troia (along with new allies Arella, Phantasm, Pantha, Red Star and Deathstroke) found the Wildebeast lair and came into conflict with Jericho. During the soul transfer process, Jericho resurfaced briefly, begging his father to kill him; He was beyond help and killing him might destroy the twisted souls of Azareth. To spare his son any more pain and save the remaining Titans, Slade Wilson was forced to drive a sword through Jericho, killing him instantly.

Jericho died a hero, trying to selflessly save others. He showed that he was a compassionate and caring man, even with his last breath. His memory is cherished by his Titans friends. They would remember him as he was: A sensitive soul with a heart of gold. But now he’s returned and isn’t the same sensitive guy he once was. Could it have been he was teased one too many times about the mutton chops?

Though Jericho was clearly straight in the New Titans series, it had been commented in a few places that his creator, George Perez, may have initially intended for him to be gay. We e-mailed George to ask him once and for all to clear up the matter for us. This is what George had to say:

“While Marv and I did discuss the possibility of Joseph Wilson being gay, Marv decided that it was too much of a stereotype to have the sensitive, artistic, and wide-eyed character with arguably effeminate features be also homosexual. While I think that may or may not have been a righteous concern, we did establish the character as heterosexual throughout the series.”

Well, it’s true he fit many of the stereotypes of a gay person – and it may have been too obvious to make him gay. He probably ended up more interesting as a heterosexual character, while having those traits. Still, it would have been nice to see a gay character in the Titans, regardless – though knowing his ultimate fate (crazed and killed by his father and later evil), maybe not.

Jericho is able to enter another’s body and control their motor functions by making eye contact with an individual (except their speech). If the person is unconscious when Jericho enters, he can also speak through them, but retains any speech patterns the person may have (such as an impediment, lisp or accent). Jericho preferred solving things through non-violent means, but he is an above average fighter, having been trained by his mother, Adeline Kane.

Jericho created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. art by George Perez and Romeo Tanghal.

Jericho first appeared in Tales of the Teen Titans #42. Wolfman wrote a scene in which Jericho comes out to Kole in Convergence: The New Teen Titans #2 (2015). Jericho resurfaces in Nu52 continuity in Deathstroke #0 (November 2012) written and drawn by Rob Liefeld. Christopher Priest continues to use the character in Rebirth continuity starting as a teenager in flashback sequences with Deathstroke #1 and as an adult in #6 (2016).

Art by (in order) Larry Hama, Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz, and Jeromy Cox; Nicola Scott; and George Perez and Romeo Tanghal.

All rights reserved DC Comics.

July 17, 2021
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