The Red Lion

    Character » The Red Lion appears in 19 issues.

    African President/Dictator who frequently hires Deathstroke. Trapped in a civil war with tribes who oppose him, he does whatever he can to maintain control of his country.

    Short summary describing this character.

    The Red Lion last edited by The_Kidd on 02/06/20 12:11AM View full history


    A despot looking to control his country Buredunia with an iron fist but displaced by Deathstroke. He is currently looking for how to regain power.


    He was created by Christopher Priest and Carlo Pagulayan. He is a pastiche of the Marvel superhero Black Panther on whom Priest had previously worked on and is closely attached.

    Character Evolution

    The character is in relative infantry and has not changed much outside of acquiring a costume that looks quite like the Black Panther's.

    Major Story Arcs

    The Professional

    Matthew Bland is a despot committing ethnic genocide in his country. He hired Deathstroke to ensure that Congressman Hasgrove was re-elected, because Hasgrove was preventing U.S. intervention in his corner of Africa. in exchange, he would allow Slade to complete his contract on the Clock King, who was under his protection. Slade succeeded, and as a result, the country became a no-fly zone. However, Clock King captured Bland and revealed the whole truth; The contract to kill Clock King was secretly funded by him to lure Deathstroke to his country so he could kill Clock King and rig Hasgrove's election. Once he was dead, he would end Deathstroke, but Slade secretly goaded Hasgrove into committing suicide and kept the campaign funds for himself. Once Slade rescued him and ended Clock King, it is later revealed the truth behind everything that happened; it was all because he had been hired to get Deathstroke to change costumes, which he did successfully.

    Escape from Buredunia
    Escape from Buredunia

    Later, the no-fly zone Matthew paid Slade to set up backfired when it emboldened the tribes he was trying to "cleanse" to stage a full-scale revolt. The rebellion escalated to the point where they managed to make it all the way to the presidential mansion. Ja Zaki managed to hole up inside as the rebels advanced, but before they could get inside, Deathstroke arrived to bail him out, feeling he owed him for the extra cash he managed to cheat him out of. When he managed to reach Bland, he not only shot at him, but sicced his pet lions on him as well. When he realized the mistake, he called them off and the two made their escape. Using rocket boots based on Steel's and a harness for Bland, Slade rocketed his boots into the air with plans to latch onto an overhead plane piloted by Wintergreen. However, Slade overshot and missed the plane. Before they could fall to the ground, Bland managed to grab onto the plane, sparing them both. They manage to get inside, but the plane, already in bad shape, gives out and crashes. Matthew is upset that the rebels have the upper hand, but Slade only cares about squaring things up between them.

    The group then finds another plane and continues their flight. While Slade and Wintergreen fly the ship, Matthew takes a moment to talk to Slade's captive onboard; his daughter's boyfriend Richard. Matthew asked why he would try to kill Deathstroke's daughter, and Richard responds by asking if he fears Deathstroke. This strikes a nerve and earns him a punch. Matthew says that he isn't afraid and he and Slade aren't friends. Richard responds that he and Slade are both alike. Matthew responds that even though he and Slade are both killers, he kills in much greater numbers. However, they share one belief; mankind's flaws create perpetual war. He then goes on to say that being deposed will lead to more death than even he doles out, and that the wrong people will die. He also tells Richard that leadership is about knowing who the right people to kill are. Getting back on point, he asks again why Richard went after Rose. When he refuses to tell, Matthew's false Deathstroke guesses that he hates Deathstroke, but loves Rose.

    Four Rooms

    He and Slade part ways, but he briefly reappears at the end of the arc after Slade is captured and imprisoned at a government black site to break him out.


    Due to Slade rescuing him, he felt the need to make things even between them by breaking him out.

    Ja Zaki breaking Slade out.
    Ja Zaki breaking Slade out.

    As he and Slade tear through the guards and cops, Matthew orders them to lay down their arms, but they refuse. They keep moving, and Slade is upset that he broke him out because of his misguided sense of "honor among villains." As Matthew steals a rifle and begin shooting, Slade asks if they are friends now, and Matthew replies that they are, temporarily. However, Slade knows he only freed him because he wants something, but Matthew actually believes Slade still owes him for causing him to lose his dictatorship. Slade thinks they are even, seeing as he tried to have him killed, but Matthew claims that was nothing but a simple business transaction. Slade responds he never needed a rescue, but Matthew then tell him about the false Deathstroke running around Chicago, and offer to fly Slade there. When he asks Matthew what he is up to, he replies that he only wants his country back. Slade thinks the breakout was some kind of revenge, and Matthew says it's partially true. Slade brings up the fact that he saved him from his rebel problem, but Matthew stills thinks his genocide was a better idea. Slade agrees to go to Chicago, but vows to return for answers.

    Lion and Raptor
    Lion and Raptor

    Before returning for those answers, Slade decided to figure out why Ja Zaki freed him on his own. Eventually, he realizes that freeing Slade was only a distraction so he could free his real target; Raptor. Matthew enlisted Raptor to help him get his country back by stealing something to help him realize his goal. The object he wants is a aircraft carrier that belonged to a drug cartel boss Slade killed before he was locked up, now being converted into an oceanside casino. Once he and Raptor sneak on-board, they silently implement their plan to steal the ship.

    When Slade arrives on the ship, he immediately tries to kill Raptor. As the two begin fighting, Red Lion shows up to witness the fighting and mocks Slade's old outfit, now in use because Raptor stole his new suit. As Slade and Raptor fight, they are thrown off balance and realize the carrier is moving. Red Lion ends the fight and explains the situation. Matthew has had several hundred sleeper agents enter the United States posing as refugees seeking asylum from his genocide. He instructed them to attach submersible jets to underside of the ship to tow it into international waters. He then asks the two to stop, but Slade only cares about getting his Ikon suit back. Slade explains that he knows what his plan in; He broke him out of prison to cover Raptor's escape, and had him steal the Ikon suit along the way to lure Slade to the carrier. Slade asks Matthew wants from all of this, and what he gets out if helping him. Impressed that Slade put all the pieces together, he says that all he wants is control of his country and people back, which he blames the US for losing.

    Matthew explains that the previous owner of the carrier, was allowed to roam the seas freely thanks to the team Adeline runs protecting him in exchange for information. Because the carrier was bought and set to become a casino, it is an ideal target for Raptor, who likes to spite rich people. Most of the intelligence Adeline was getting was found, except for the intel capable of putting Adeline away for life, which is hidden in the ship's nuclear reactor chamber. Matthew then tells Slade his role; he needs the reactor turned back on to steal the carrier and use it to reclaim his country, but the chamber is still radioactive. Thanks to his healing factor, Slade is best equipped to put the fuel rods back into the reactor. In exchange for helping, he offers Slade gets the power to take down his ex, and Raptor gets to strike at the people who bought the ship. Deciding the risk is worth it, the two agree to the terms.

    While Slade and Raptor reactivate the reactor, Matthew stays above deck to scout for opposition. That opposition eventually arrives in the form of Adeline and her team. They board the ship, and while he takes several of them down, he eventually defeated and restrained. However, he held them off long enough for the ship to reach international waters. Because the ship is flying his nation's flag, they have no authority to hold him. Deathstroke, having returned topside, he agrees with Ja Zaki. Though Adeline wants to take them down, the fear of losing men to Slade forces her to back off. Slade frees Matthew from his restrains and warns him that Raptor fled and may have sabotaged the ship. As the two prepare to part ways, Matthew asks Slade what he will do with the dirt on Adeline; save her or take her down.

    Against the Justice League

    While Matthew manages to get his carrier to the African coast and regain control of his territory, he was unable to access it after that since the territory he controls is landlocked. Though his plans were delayed, opportunity struck when the Justice League Watchtower crashes in Buredunia. Taking advantage of the situation, Bland claims governmental salvage rights over the Watchtower wreckage and invades the DMZ set up by the League, engaging in a fistfight with a weakened Cyborg. At the same time, he has his soldiers attack the rebel tribes and the civilians in the DMZ to occupy the rest of the team.

    After he defeats Cyborg, he takes Vic captive, returns to his mansion, then implements his real plan. It turns out Matthew paid the rebel leaders to push the civilians to the DMZ, taking advantage of the League refusal to ignore the locals' plight. He then provoked them to generate bad press for the League and put global media attention on them, which was even more effective since they were still recovering from a recent events that have changed the world's opinion of them. While the world was watching the Justice league battle and African government, Bland annexed the territory between him and his aircraft carrier, giving him full access to it. With all of this happening, Bland leverages the U.N. into meeting his demands. However, Cyborg, now recovered, cuts him off and detains both him and Deathstroke, who Matthew wanted to hire again. Victor takes Bland and Slade to the rest of the League while they decide how to address the chaos. During the argument, Bland hires Slade to begin eliminating his enemies, who are still defenseless inside of the DMZ.


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