I'm not disagreeing with you, Neither am I arguing Slade Wilson is a wolverine-type figure with a secret heart of gold. My argument is that the names we are mentioning here - Kingpin, Magneto, Deathstroke, The Punisher, Kraven, etc, are more than just one-dimensional psychotic killers without any code of personal conduct or self-discipline. What you have to recognise is the difference between the extremes of what makes some villains more enduring and popular than many many others around them.
Deathstroke began life as a mercenary figure who's professionalism and expertise made him one of the most respected and feared assassins in the world. One of out very first sights of him is of him and his man-servant Wintergreen discussing business ventures while looking down from opulent surroundings in some city penthouse, and that helps set the style and tone of the character from thereon.
Quote:The term "anti-hero" only came to possibly apply to him much later, after his 1990s series and before Geoff Johns' Teen Titans revival. As careful as Marv Wolfman was in handling Deathstroke's violence and who he was targeting in that 90s series you are so critical of the fact is he was still the same assassin he was when we met him, still accepting contracts and killing people.
The key point is however that like Frank Castle's victims the people he was targeting arguably deserved what they got, and like Castle the publisher was being very careful in ensuring that. The point I make comes down to image and protecting that image. If Deathsroke or The Punisher were shown early on killing pedestrians through sheer carelessness and indifference then neither would have ever earned or deserved the fascination and support they gained from the readership... it is their code of conduct and why they do what they do that made these characters mentioned here so interesting to follow and study historically.
Well then what would say about Venom then
he's done the egregious thing you're talking about...killing innocents who get in his way (Hugh Taylor the guard at the vault who inspired the Jury for one).
I know that seems like a dumb tangent but I have a point I swear! Deathstroke, Punisher, Venom even Dr. Doom...the code of honor get chipped away story after story makes these characters hard to root for. Eventually they do something that crosses their own line in the sand but they still end up being reset...and their whole code of ethics is trotted out again but by that time we know it's BS. We've seen them break their code of ethics yet we see them regress and then demand respect and consideration for their code. They at that point come of as wafflers and hypocrites. Doom can betray the Fantastic Four again and again and even take Reed and Sue's son to hell and will still be given chance after chance.
This is why redemption stories don't really work for the hardcore bad guys. They work really well for characters like The Thunderbolts (Well, some of them anyway.) or The Sandman or Gladiator (From Daredevil.), but when they try to pull stuff like this with the classic villains, it doesn't work or take, and they always go back to their bad guy status. So, yes, their is a big difference between fleshing them out and keeping them as still evil and villainous, and fleshing them out and changing them into anti-heroes or villains. And unfortunately, many writers seem to confuse that.