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Deathstroke (Slade Joseph Wilson) is a fictional supervillain appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. He is a mercenary and assassin who serves as the archenemy of the Teen Titans, specifically Dick Grayson. Over the years, writers have developed him as an adversary of other superheroes in the DC Universe as well, such as Batman and Green Arrow.
Deathstroke has been ranked as the 24th Greatest Villain of All Time by Wizard magazine, and as the 32nd Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time by IGN. The character has been substantially adapted from the comics into multiple forms of media, including several Batman-related projects and the Teen Titans animated series, voiced by Ron Perlman in the latter. In live-action, he has been portrayed by Manu Bennett on The CW's television series Arrow and Esai Morales in the DC Universe series Titans. Joe Manganiello portrays the character in the DC Extended Universe, beginning with a cameo in the 2017 film Justice League.
Created by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, the character was introduced as "Deathstroke the Terminator" in The New Teen Titans #2 in December 1980. Christopher J. Priest said:
[N]ot only was Marv’s Deathstroke a villain, he was also kind of an asshole, which I thought was unique. He wasn’t some misunderstood anarchist; he deliberately did skeevy things - most notably sleeping with Terra, a presumably underage girl - in his quest to exact revenge against his enemies. I read that and went, “Whoa". This was beyond The Joker, well beyond Lex Luthor. Marv created the first modern supervillain. He broke every rule by making Deathstroke three-dimensional and giving him internal conflicts while maintaining a level of skeeve we weren’t used to seeing from a typical 2-dimensional bad guy.
Due to his popularity, Deathstroke received his own series, Deathstroke the Terminator, in 1991. It was retitled Deathstroke the Hunted for issues #0 and #41–45; and then simply Deathstroke for issues #46–60. The series was cancelled with issue #60. In total, Deathstroke ran for 65 issues (#1–60, plus four Annuals and a special #0 issue).
Following his injury in DC Universe: Last Will and Testament, Deathstroke appears in one of the four Faces of Evil one-shots, written by David Hine. Hine has explained that the series is part of the set-up for future stories: "All of the characters in this ‘Faces of Evil’ series were selected for their potential as major players in the coming year."
Even though the character of Deathstroke the Terminator predates James Cameron's film The Terminator by four years, the Slade Wilson character is now simply called Deathstroke, even by characters who had called him the Terminator for decades. The full title has not completely fallen out of use, having been referenced as recently as Justice League Elite.
Fictional character biography
Slade Wilson was 16 years old when he first enlisted in the United States Army, having lied about his age. After serving a stint in Korea, he was later assigned to Camp Washington where he had been promoted to the rank of major. In the early 1960s, he met Captain Adeline Kane, who was tasked with training young soldiers in new fighting techniques in anticipation of brewing troubles taking place in Vietnam. Kane was amazed at how skilled Slade was and how quickly he adapted to modern conventions of warfare. She immediately fell in love with him, and realized that he was without a doubt the most able-bodied combatant that she had ever encountered. She offered to privately train Slade in guerrilla warfare. In less than a year, Slade mastered every fighting form presented to him and was soon promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Six months later, Adeline and he were married and she became pregnant with their first child. The war in Vietnam began to escalate and Slade was shipped overseas. In the war, his unit massacred a village, an event which sickened him. He was also rescued by SAS member Wintergreen, to whom he would later return the favor.
Chosen for a secret experiment, the Army imbued him with enhanced physical powers in an attempt to create metahuman super-soldiers for the U.S. military. Deathstroke became a mercenary soon after the experiment when he defied orders and rescued his friend Wintergreen, who had been sent on a suicide mission by a commanding officer with a grudge. However, Slade kept this career secret from his family, even though his wife was an expert military combat instructor.
A criminal named the Jackal took his younger son Joseph Wilson hostage to force Slade to divulge the name of a client who had hired him as an assassin. Slade refused, claiming it was against his personal honor code. He 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 Joseph's vocal cords and rendering him mute.
After taking Joseph to the hospital, Adeline was enraged at his endangerment of her son and tried to kill Slade by shooting him, but only managed to destroy his right eye. Afterwards, 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 right eye. Without his mask, Slade wears an eyepatch to cover his eye.
TagsBased on a NovelActionFantasyDramaSuperpowersMature ThemesViolenceWarMysteryRomance
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