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Deathstroke the Terminator (Slade Wilson), also called simply Deathstroke (and originally simply the Terminator) is a supervillain and sometime anti-hero in the DC Comics Universe. He is a mercenary and assassin who first appeared in The New Teen Titans (1st series) #2 (1980 in comics|1980). Wizard Magazine rated him the 84th greatest villain of all time.
Deathstroke received his own series, Deathstroke the Terminator, in 1991 in comics|1991; It was retitled to Deathstroke the Hunted for issues #0 and #41-45 and then simply "Deathstroke" from 46 through 60. The series was canceled with issue 60 shortly after the conclusion of Zero Hour. In total, Deathstroke ran for 65 issues (#1-60, plus 4 annuals and a special #0 issue).
Even though the character of Deathstroke the Terminator predates Arnold Schwarzenegger's film The Terminator by four years, the Slade Wilson character is now simply called "Deathstroke", even by characters who had called him "Terminator" for years. The full title has not completely fallen out of use, having been referenced as recently as Justice League Elite.
Imbued with enhanced physical prowess by secret army experiments attempting to create metahuman soldiers for the U.S. military, Deathstroke the Terminator (called "Terminator" for most of his published existence) became a mercenary soon after the experiment when he defied orders to rescue his friend and mentor Wintergreen, who had been sent on a suicide mission by a commanding officer with a grudge. However, he kept this career secret from his family, even though his wife was an expert military combat instructor- indeed, she had been responsible for a significant portion of his early training-, until a criminal named the Jackal kidnapped his younger son, Joseph, as a hostage to force Slade to divulge the name of a client who had hired him as an assassin. Slade refused to do so, claiming that it was against his personal honor code, and attacked and killed the kidnappers at the rendezvous. Unfortunately, Joseph's throat was slashed by one of the criminals before Slade could prevent it, destroying his vocal cords and rendering him mute.
After taking Joseph to the hospital, Slade's wife Adeline, enraged at his endangerment of her son, tried to kill Slade by shooting him, but only managed to destroy his right eye. Afterward, his confidence in his physical abilities was such that he made no secret of his impaired vision, marked by his mask which has a black featureless half covering his lost eye. Without his mask, Slade wears an eyepatch.
The Teen Titans
Slade has a long history as an enemy of the Teen Titans, beginning when his other son, Grant, became an early Titans foe called the Ravager who was physically enhanced to fulfill a contract to kill or capture the Teen Titans. However, those enhancements proved fatal and Slade agreed to complete the contract. As a result, he attacked the Titans continually and finally succeeded in capturing them by introducing Terra (whom he shared an intimate relationship with, despite her being barely sixteen years old) into the team as a spy.
At the end of this plot, Slade was defeated and captured with the help of Joseph, who joined the team as Jericho, using his father's body to free the Titans (although it is important to note that Slade didn't actually try to fight his son's control). Slade was put on trial for his crimes, but the trial was deliberately sabotaged by Garfield Logan, aka Beast Boy so that he could kill Slade himself, believing he was responsible for Terra's betrayal of the Titans. However, when the two confronted each other, Beast Boy found himself unable to kill Slade. Feeling some empathy for his grief, Slade explained his past with Terra, and Beast Boy realized he was not to blame for the choices Terra had made. The two men parted on peaceful terms afterward.
Months later, Slade encountered the Titans again while they were investigating a mysterious plague linked to a group of biologically engineered beastmen, one of whom was a target of an assassination by Slade himself. When Troia and Raven were both stricken by the plague, he aided them in destroying the beastmen and finding a cure for the contagion. Shortly after this, he came to the Titan's assistance again during the Titans Hunt storyline when most of their members were abducted by the Wildebeest Society, and proved instrumental in tracking them down, only to discover their leader was none other than Jericho himself.
It was revealed that Jericho had been possessed by the corrupted souls of Azarath, who were using him to capture the Titans and use them as physical hosts in order to survive. During the transfer process, Jericho's true self resurfaced briefly, begging his father to kill him. To spare his son any more pain and save the remaining Titans, Slade was forced to drive a sword through Jericho's heart, seemingly killing him. This act still haunts him to this day, though Jericho later turned out to have survived death by transferring his mind into his father's body seconds before his death.
Afterward, Slade continued his life as a mercenary, but also acted as an occasional hero, aiding the Titans or acting on his own to help others, most notably during the Total Chaos storyline when the Team Titans arrived in the 20th Century to assassinate Donna Troy before she could give birth to her son, who in their timeline had grown up into the tyrannical despot, Lord Chaos. His relationship with Garfield Logan had also changed around this time to the point where they became friends as well. Slade also met Pat Trayce, a tough former cop who would become the new costumed Vigilante. Pat Trayce and Slade quickly became lovers, and began a tumultuous on again/off again relationship.
After Slade thwarted an assassination attempt on the President of the United States, he was subsequently framed for the murder of a U.S. Senator. The man responsible had taken on the identity of the Ravager and was hunting down Slade's friends and loved ones. Eventually with the help of the Titans and Sarge Steel, Slade was able to prove his innocence, and the true culprit was revealed to be Steve Dayton, under the alias of the Crimelord, who had again succumbed to mental instability caused by his Mento helmet.
Meanwhile, his relationship with his estranged wife Adeline took a tragic turn as Slade underwent a process to gain regeneration power, allowing him to survive any wound so long as his brain is intact (this power is limited, as Slade can not regenerate his lost eye since that injury happened before he gained his healing factor) . After gaining the power, Slade was forced to give his wife a blood transfusion, resulting in her gaining a similar healing factor which manifested itself as a form of immortality. This drove Adeline insane, shaming Deathstroke into going into a semi-retirement state.
In Titans #12, Deathstroke teamed up with the Titans to face his wife Adeline, who in her insane state, had revived The HIVE and sought to rid the world of all superhumans, blaming them for Jericho's death. During the battle, interrupted by Vandal Savage and a band of villains that he had organized from recent Titan battles, Adeline's throat was slit. She begged Slade to kill her, since her version of the healing factor wouldn't heal the wound but allow her to live in spite of it. Deathstroke refused, but Koriand'r shocked her teammates and Deathstroke by using her starbolt blast to disintegrate her completely, per Adeline's wishes. This was a turning point, as Deathstroke renounced all ties with the Titans as a result of this act of mercy on Starfire's part.
Recently, it was revealed that Jericho managed to transfer his consciousness into Deathstroke in the instant before his death. Taking control of his father, Jericho forced Deathstroke to murder his longtime butler, mentor, and companion Wintergreen. He then launched a series of attacks against the current Teen Titans, most notably shattering Impulse's knee with a shotgun blast, before leaving his father's body. Deathstroke has since manipulated his one remaining child, Rose Wilson, into the mercenary business as the new Ravager, in order to find and kill Jericho, using a specially-designed serum to heighten her hostility and push her over the edge; unfortunately, the process also resulted in her being driven at least partially insane, to the extent that she cut out her own left eye in an attempt to prove to her father that she was just like him.
In Identity Crisis, Deathstroke was enlisted as a bodyguard for Doctor Light, who was being chased by the Justice League. In the ensuing battle, Deathstroke nearly beat the team of Elongated Man, the Flash (Wally West), Zatanna, Hawkman, Green Arrow, Black Canary, the Atom, and Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner). He systematically took out every member except for Rayner, whom he had the potential to disable through trying to usurp his ring's energies using his own formidable willpower. Fortunately, before the outcome of this conflict with Rayner ended, Green Arrow stuck an arrow in Deathstroke's right eye socket, enraging him. Slade went ballistic and began to beat Green Arrow, but was stopped when the majority of the team tackled Deathstroke to the ground. Dr. Light used his powers, and the two escaped. Near the end of Identity Crisis, Deathstroke confronts Green Arrow on a rooftop. Arrow sees his reflection in the windows of a nearby building, but when he turns to confront Slade, Deathstroke is gone. Instead Green Arrow finds Slade's cowl and a note stuck to the wall by the very arrow he stabbed in Slade's eye socket. The note reads, "This is yours - We're not done."
Deathstroke was a founding member of Lex Luthor's Secret Society of Super Villains in the Infinite Crisis storyline. He was seen in Infinite Crisis #1, hiding in a warehouse south of Metropolis waiting to ambush the Freedom Fighters with several other members. The battle didn't last long, and by the end, Deathstroke had impaled Phantom Lady through the chest, calling his action "just business".
He was the employer of an undercover Dick Grayson, whom he hired to train his daughter Rose. However, after the two had a confrontation with Superman, Deathstroke discovered that Nightwing had been teaching Rose the values of heroism. He could not kill Grayson in front of his daughter because doing so would undo all of Slade's teachings. Nightwing offered a deal: he would stay away from Rose if Slade would keep the metahuman villains out of Blüdhaven. The deal held for 34 hours until Infinite Crisis #4, when Slade, under the orders of Alexander Luthor, Jr., the real leader of the Society, went with several villains- who included old Titans and Doom Patrol foes and Brotherhood of Evil members Monsieur Mallah and Brain- to drop Chemo, another fellow villain who appeared to be a nearly brainless monster made of pure energy and radioactive chemicals, on Blüdhaven, killing thousands. Slade gave the explanation to the Brotherhood that Nightwing should be made to believe that he can never go home again.
Grayson took the first of his revenge by bursting in on Deathstroke and Rose's training session, revealing to the latter that the Kryptonite that Deathstroke had implanted in place of her missing eye was radioactive and deadly to humans as well as to Kryptonians (though slower in its effects on humans, as revealed by Lex Luthor's old possession of a Kryptonite ring that forced him to transfer his brain to a cloned body). Angered, Slade went after Nightwing with a grenade, only to have Rose try to stop him. Amid the smoke of the resulting explosion, Rose fled, telling her father that she hated him. Dick disappeared as well, but not before leaving a note for Slade warning him that he'd be back to make him pay for Blüdhaven.
At the climactic Battle of Metropolis at the conclusion of Infinite Crisis, Slade was confronted by Batman, Robin, and Nightwing. During the struggle, he was questioned regarding his motives for aiding the Secret Society. His claims of monetary motivation were deemed unsatisfactory, and he was told to take responsibility before being rendered unconscious.
One Year Later
Slade appears in the Green Arrow series after the one year jump in DC Comics's storylines. Apparently in hiding, he nearly murders a crony of several Star City businessmen who want to hire him for a murder. Before finishing his violent refusal, he asks the name of the target; when informed that it was to be the mayor of Star City, Oliver Queen (whom Deathstroke knows is secretly Green Arrow), he spares the lackey and decides to take the job.
However, things don't quite go according to plan, with Green Arrow using the resources of both his identities, then trapping him within a ring of armed National Guard of the United States|National Guardsmen. The fight ends with Deathstroke's arrest and subsequent conviction and incarceration; however, this is revealed as a ploy to gain access to another jailed foe of Green Arrow's who has information on the hero's activities in the "lost year", which include Green Arrow studying under an assassin who once trained Deathstroke himself.
Deathstroke is also active behind the scenes in Teen Titans, currently in the process of organizing a counter-team of teen superhumans that will be known as Titans East. The current Titans team included Ravager, who now wanted nothing to do with her father. Deathstroke seemingly intended to "reclaim" Ravager and a recently resurrected Jericho from the Titans or, if that failed, to crush them along with the rest of the team. For these reasons, he specially selected each member of Titans East, believing that, overall, each member would successfully counteract every member of the current Teen Titans line-up.
As indicated over the course of the subsequent issues, Deathstroke was manipulating every member of his new team in one way or another. He had blackmailed former Titan Risk while at the same time offering him an outlet for his rage, was drugging Cassandra Cain with the same serum he'd used on Rose, and supplied Inertia with a formula which granted superhuman speed to compensate for the loss of the Speed Force following the initial battle with Superboy-Prime. His team, however, slowly fell apart over the course of the attack, as Robin managed to free Batgirl of his mind control serum and Raven convinced Duela Dent to switch sides. Slade and his remaining Titans subsequently faced off against both the current Titans and a group of old Titans led by Nightwing. Although he was defeated, he still manages to escape with the aid of Inertia. In the end, however, it was revealed to the readers that Slade's real mission to was provide his children with something he could never offer them - a real family, in the form of the Teen Titans. By attacking the Titans, he insured that Rose and Jericho would become more trusted by their associates, and thus grow closer to the team.
Recently, Deathstroke took credit for somehow twisting (through unknown means) the powers of Brion Markov, the half-brother of the original Terra, into the same powers as his traitorous sister's. Using this leverage, Deathstroke offered to reverse the process only if Geo-Force became his own personal spy within the Justice League. Unfortunately for Deathstroke, Geo-Force alerted Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman of Deathstroke's scheme which culminated in Geo-Force alerting the League that Deathstroke (who's rivalry with Green Arrow has reached vendetta-level proportions) planned on using an army of super-villains to crash Green Arrow and Black Canary's wedding. Weeks later, Geo-Force was tortured by Gorilla Grodd after the League was kidnapped by the Injustice League and ultimately transferred to Batman's newest incarnation of the "Outsiders" afterwords, robbing Deathstroke of his potential pawn.
Powers and abilities
Deathstroke possesses various enhanced abilities. These include the strength of ten men and heightened speed, agility, stamina, and reflexes. He has the capacity to use up to 90% of his brain making him a combat skills and tactical genius (written at a time when it was conjectured that humans only used 10% of their capacity), making him adept at turning opponents' own abilities against them, stemming from his years in the military and combat with various heroes. Deathstroke also possesses a regenerative factor in his blood that enables him to heal from physical injury much faster than a normal person. This has also made him effectively immortal, enabling him to recover from what would otherwise be fatal injuries, though recovering from what would be a fatal injury renders him insane and animalistic for a short period.
He is also a highly formidable opponent in physical combat to the point that even Batman can only fight him to a stalemate. Green Arrow #66 claims that an assassin known as Natas taught Deathstroke "almost everything he knows". There has been argument over how good of a martial artist Deathstroke is. While he has defeated multiple opponents in hand-to-hand combat and has even been acknowledged by Cassandra Cain as "toying with me, he is holding back", he is not considered one of the DCU's greatest martial artists despite his impressive record, due to his enhanced capabilities and artificial enhancements providing him with an unfair advantage. Deathstroke is also skilled in the use of many weapons ranging from guns, rifles, and swords, which are usually among his current weapons of choice. His signature weapon is a power staff that fires lethal and non-lethal energy blasts from both ends. The staff can also be used to strike using energy at each end. His body armor is composed of a mesh-woven, kevlar, chainlink mail, capable of stopping small arms fire. Most of the metal he wears and uses are made out of Promethium.
- In the intercompany crossover The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans, Deathstroke meets his equal in the form of Wolverine; the two fight to a near standstill. At the same time, however, he proved skilled enough to defeat Colossus in a one-on-one fight despite the latter's superior physical strength.
- The Marvel Comics character Deadpool is similar to Deathstroke. Deadpool commonly uses the name "Wade Wilson", similar to "Slade Wilson". In Superman/Batman Annual #1 written by former Deadpool author Joe Kelly, Deathstroke from the antimatter universe appears and has similar characteristics related to Deadpool (such as Deadpool's "merc with a mouth" wisecracks, a black spot on his mask over his eye somewhat resembling Deadpool's, and some measure of a healing factor). This character tries to introduce his name multiple times but is always interrupted. The most he was able to get out was "Dea-". It could be implied Deadpool is the Marvel counterpart of Deathstroke, who was created 11 years earlier. Marvel seemingly acknowledged this in the Cable/Deadpool series, where Deadpool sometimes answers a letters column. Deadpool claimed that he didn't want to be in a Marvel/DC crossover, because people might mistake him for a certain DC character.
In other media
Lois & Clark
In the fourth season of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, an assassin by the name of Deathstroke appeared in "Bob and Carol and Lois and Clark," played by Antonio Sabàto, Jr. The only commonality is the fact that he is an international assassin known as Deathstroke. In Lois and Clark, Deathstroke is a former scientist. An accident in the lab exposed him to magnetic particles, permanently altering his body and granting him magnetic powers. His assistant, who afterwards becomes his wife, helps by creating a special suit to contain his powers and keep metal from being drawn to him while out in public. The suit even has a symbol of its own: resembling the force lines of a magnetic field, forming a stylized figure eight. After this, he becomes an assassin, murdering his targets with his powers, first by drawing the target to him, then by magnetizing the iron in their blood cells, causing a figure-eight mark on the chest as the person dies of a heart attack.
The couple take the name Bob and Carol when they arrive in Metropolis; they become friends with Clark Kent and Lois Lane as they discover that Lois is going to be interviewing an eccentric reclusive billionaire. The couple plan to assassinate the billionaire before he goes public, taking his identity and thus his fortune. The plan is foiled when Superman interferes, destroying Deathstroke's containment suit, which causes him to be magnetically drawn to a steel pillar until the police arrive. Very much like Superman, this Deathstroke kept a secret identity by wearing a pair of glasses.
Teen Titans The Animated Series
Deathstroke appears in the Teen Titans animated series, voiced by actor Ron Perlman. The name "Deathstroke" did not make it through the censors due to hesitance to use the word "death" in a children's animated series, thus, the character is referred by his first name, "Slade", from the comics. He is also changed from a mercenary and assassin, to an enigmatic criminal mastermind. He is the Teen Titans' main adversary, and the primary antagonist for the first two seasons of the show. Slade is shown to be ambitious, calculating, and emotionless. His main goal is apparently to destroy the Titans and conquer the city, and quite possibly the world, for reasons unknown. In addition, Slade has superior physical strength and fighting skills that surpass Robin's. He is also a bona-fide genius, with great knowledge in robotics, and seems to also possess some knowledge of ceremonial Magic (paranormal)|magic (as seen in Forces of Nature). He appears to have various extremely advanced secret hideouts, and a vast army of robot henchman|minions. However, Slade's most notable quality is that he is a master of manipulation and psychology. Slade is also the most popular villain in Teen Titans.
Initially, Slade appears as a shadowy, unseen character, until in the episode "Masks", but Robin only manages to capture a robotic duplicate. In the "Apprentice" story arc, Slade forces Robin to join him by threating to use nanorobotics|nanobots that he planted in the Titans to destroy them. In season two, Slade recruits and manipulates the superpowered girl Terra, with whom he manages to defeat the Teen Titans and take over the city. The Titans however, believed dead, returns, and with help from Beast Boy, Terra is able to overcome Slade, and sends him to his doom in a lava pit. In the Season 3 episode "Haunted", Slade appears a figment of Robin's imagination, due to a chemical reagent released from his mask into Robin's body, which made him see, hear, and feel Slade. Robin is nearly killed, but in the end, he learns that it really isn't Slade, and discovers that light banishes the hallucination, which only worked in the dark. Oddly enough, it is revealed that this gas had been triggered from the outside. Slade returns for season four, as the servant of Raven's demonic father Trigon, who promises to give him back his flesh and blood body in exchange for his services, granting Slade demonic powers, including a red mark on his forehead, called the Mark of Scathe. However, Trigon goes back on the deal, and Slade helps the Teen Titans defeat Trigon, after having recovered his flesh and blood. However, Slade manages to escape the Titans shortly thereafter. Slade appears in the last episode of the series, "Things Change" when Beast Boy is searching for answers on why a newly revived Terra seems to have lost all memory of her past or superpowers. Slade confronts Beast Boy, denying anything to do with Terra's sudden return, stating that if Terra doesn't remember her past, it's because she doesn't want to remember and that he should leave her alone, in peace. Infuriated by his speech, Beast Boy attacks Slade, only to find out that it's just another robot-duplicate.
Although the connection is never stated in the course of the series, Slade's son Jericho is also introduced into the Teen Titans series during the series finale. His daughter Rose is also introduced in the animated series based comic book Teen Titans Go!; a painting of Slade, without his mask, is briefly seen in the comic book.
The Judas Contract
Slade will appear in the upcoming straight-to-DVD Teen Titans adaptation, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, an adaptation of the Terra storyline from the comics. However due to the targeted Motion Picture Association of America film rating system|PG-13 rating and the subject matter, he will be called Deathstroke in the film. This is unrelated to the more youth-oriented anime-like Teen Titans.
The Dark Knight
At the 2008 Toy Fair convention a Deathstroke action figure was revealed for the toy line based on the upcoming Dark Knight film, sparking speculation over whether or not Deathstroke will be featured in the film or the animated tie-ins that precede the film. Deathstroke will appear in the accompanying Dark Knight video game.
Similarities to other comics characters
A similarity between Deathstroke and the Marvel Comics mercenary Taskmaster was also noted in Wizard Magazine #177: "Both Tasky and Slade are amoral profiteers, and thanks to mutual designer George Pérez, even their original costumes are similar." They share an orange/blue color scheme and many design elements (such as buccaneer boots, flared gloves, and a near-identical collection of weapon belts). The largest differences were their masks, Taskmaster's cloak, and the white in Taskmaster's costume. Both characters were designed by George Pérez in 1980, within a few months of each other.
Another Marvel Comics character having many similarities to Deathstroke is Deadpool. Both have similar costumes, fighting styles, professions, and rhyming names (Deathstroke is Slade Wilson while Deadpool is Wade Wilson). However, the two have completely different personalities with Deathstroke being a brilliant cutthroat mercenary whereas Deadpool is a sarcastic, "merc with a mouth".
Part of the eponymous series has been collected into a trade paperback |trade paperback:
- Deathstroke, The Terminator: Full Cycle (collects Deathstroke the Terminator #1-5 and New Teen Titans #70, ISBN 093028982X)