Art by Tony S. Daniel
Slade Wilson lied about his age and enlisted into the army at the age of 16. He served in Korea, and afterwards he met a training sergeant named Adeline Kane. She trained Slade in a wide variety of fighting styles, all of which he mastered easily. The two also fell in love, married, and Adeline became pregnant with their first child, Grant. Slade was then deployed to Vietnam. During this tour of duty, he volunteered for a chemical experiment that was intended to increase his resistance to truth serums. This had unintended side effects, and Slade was put into a coma. He awoke from it after a time with superhuman reflexes, strength, speed, and agility. He decided he had gone as far as he could with the military and took to big game hunting. It was at this time that Adeline became pregnant with Joseph. However, at this time, he also took to becoming a mercenary, unbeknownst to his wife. He had become Deathstroke, the Terminator!
This secret became revealed when a group of mercenaries attacked the mansion of the Wilsons and kidnapped Joseph. Slade and Adeline pursued the mercenaries, and he was found to be in the hands of a rival assassin named Jackal. Upon the Wilsons finding their son, the Jackal revealed he wanted vital intel from Slade, or his man would slit Joseph’s throat. Slade refused and hoped his enhanced agility would cross the divide between he and Jackal’s mercenary in time. He was almost right, as Joseph survived. However, his vocal cords were cut. Upon arriving at the hospital at their son, Adeline attempted to kill Slade for gambling with their son’s life in such a way. The shot wasn’t fatal, but it hit one of Slade’s eyes. This is the origin of the notorious eyepatch and one-eyed mask.
Deathstroke began his rivalry with the Teen Titans when his son, Grant, became an enemy of the team of young heroes named Ravager. He was given powers to capture or kill the Teen Titans, but these powers killed him. Wanting to do right by his son, Deathstroke vowed to finish the contract. He cooperated with a metahuman named Terra, and he placed her on the Titans as a mole. With her help, he managed to capture the Teen Titans.
Joseph, who had become a member of the Titans named Jericho, used his body-hopping abilities to get Slade to let the Titans go. Slade was then arrested for his crimes and put on trial. However, Beast Boy of the Teen Titans broke into his holding cell and with intent to kill Deathstroke. Beast Boy could not bring himself to take a life, and Deathstroke explained his intentions to the young hero. This put Beast Boy to some ease. The hero left, and Deathstroke was able to escape his incarceration.
When members of a group called the Wildebeest Society began kidnapping members of the Teen Titans, Slade helped the team recover their members. They discovered that the leader of the organization was his son, Jericho. He had been possessed by spirits of Azareth, and Slade conceded to kill his son to end his misery, an action that pained the man to an unimaginable degree.
He continued his anti-hero career, working as a mercenary but also helping the Teen Titans from time-to-time. He even thwarted an attempt on the president’s life. He was then framed for the assassination of a senator by a man using the identity of Ravager. With the help of the Titans, he brought this assassin down. He was revealed to be Mento of the Doom Patrol, driven mad by the helmet that gave him his powers.
Slade underwent further enhancement by being given sort of healing factor, and he wanted to give this to Adeline, whom he still loved, through a blood transfusion. It was successful, but it drover her insane. Slade has regretted this decision ever since.
Adeline subsequently teamed up with the H.I.V.E organization in a self-proclaimed war against metahumans. She believed their mere existence was the cause of Joseph’s demise, and Deathstroke helped the Teen Titans go after them. After a battle that ended with Adeline’s throat being slit, she begged Slade to finish her. He refused, but Starfire decided to grant her wish, destroying her with an energy bolt. This enraged Deathstroke, and vowed to never work with the Titans again.
Jericho had managed to lie dormant in his father’s mind ever since the death of his own body. He took over Slade to torment him and the Teen Titans. He killed Wintergreen, the closest living friend of Deathstroke, and sent Slade to attack the Teen Titans. After a few battles with the team, he left Slade’s body. Slade turned to Rose, the youngest Wilson child. He gave her enhancements of her own, and gave her the identity of Ravager. He had her track her brother down, but she was driven insane by the processes her father put her under. She even removed one of her eyes to prover herself to Slade.
When Doctor Light began regaining memories of the identities of the Justice League thought to have been removed by Zatanna, he hired Deathstroke to protect him. Slade proved to be worth the price, as he managed to bring down the entirety of the Justice League (notably, Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, nor Martian Manhunter were a part of the lineup at the time). He even overtook the Green Lantern Ring of Kyle Rayner, but, before he could do any catastrophic damage, Green Arrow put an arrow through the socket of Slade’s missing eye. This angered Deathstroke, and he nearly beat Green Arrow to death. Doctor Light intervened and teleported Deathstroke and himself away. This began the feud between the mercenary and the archer. He even later gave his ruined mask to Green Arrow with a note that read, “This is yours—we’re not done.”
He was recruited by Lex Luthor to head his new Secret Society of Supervillains. His job was to bring more members into the fold, such as Black Mask. His next task was fighting the Freedom Fighters, and during his fight with this team he killed Phantom Lady.
He hired a new trainer for Rose who turned out to be Dick Grayson. He had been undercover and attempted to redeem Rose. Deathstroke was angered by this, and he became a part of the Society’s operations in Nightwing’s home of Bludhaven. This led to a battle between the heroes and villains that ended with Chemo being dropped by Alexander Luthor of Earth-3 like a chemical bomb. This action killed thousands of civilians in Bludhaven.
Nightwing retaliated by ambushing a training session between Slade and Rose. He told Rose that the Kryptonite that Slade had used to replace her missing eye was killing her. Deathstroke attempted to kill the hero in retaliation, but a smoke grenade was dropped and both Nightwing and Rose escaped. Rose told her father that she hated him before leaving.
Slade was confronted by Batman, Robin, and Nightwing later on his involvement with the Secret Society. They wanted to know why, and he claimed it was for the money. They didn’t believe him and told him to take responsibility for his actions.
Deathstroke continued his feud with Green Arrow by taking an assassination contract against him while the hero was the mayor of Star City. He freed his former trainer named Natas from prison and had Oliver exiled from his own city. Upon the hero’s return with the help of Black Canary, Speedy, and his son Connor, Deathstroke and Natas almost killed all four heroes until the remainder of the Justice League came to Green Arrow’s rescue. Deathstroke escaped in the chaos.
He established a new group of Titans, among whom included Ravager, Batgirl (Cassie Cain), Inertia, Risk, and Jericho. He was still manipulating this team behind the scenes, and he was attacked by two other groups of Teen Titans. His group eventually joined up with the others, and he revealed that he wanted to give his children a family. This was his intent all along, and he vowed to work more closely with the Titans from here on out.
Deathstroke’s next big act was ambushing the wedding of Green Arrow and Black Canary.
During the Blackest Night, Deathstroke and Ravager were already locked in combat inside the house of Wintergreen. They were suddenly attacked by the reanimated Wintergreen, Adeline, Grant, and Wade Lafarge (another person to take the name of Ravager). They fought without any success until Jericho arrived and managed to shut down the Rings of the Black Lanterns. The three managed to make amends, and Slade started another team of Titans with Jericho as a member.
Deathstroke cooperated with Talia al Ghul and the League of Assassins to kill Batman (who at that point was Dick Grayson). He did this through controlling the body of Damian Wayne through technology the League of Assassins held. This fight ended when Batman used a Taser on Damian that sent a feedback to Deathstroke and incapacitated him. Batman then tracked Slade down to a hospital and beat him in his bed for the Damian attack as well as the tragedy at Bludhaven.
He next teamed up with a new group of rogues, among which are the Tattooed Man, Dwarfstar, Cheshire, Osiris, and Cinder. On Dwarfstar’s wishes, Deathstroke ambushed Ryan Choi, the Atom of the time. He managed to kill the hero and gave his body to Dwarfstar.
He then cooperated with Lex Luthor to obtain a machine that could cheat death, and he eventually constructs it after a battle with the Justice League in Khandaq. He offers the gift of resurrection of the “Methuselah Device” to the members of his current Titans team after resurrecting the body of his son Jericho. It was revealed that a metahuman named DJ Molecule was the power source of the device, and the Titans fight over it and destroy it.
In the reborn world of the New 52, new details were added to Slade’s backstory. Among which was his involvement with the covert Team 7 that helped make a name for future head of Argus, Amanda Waller. He also worked alongside Grant, who used the name Ravager, for a time until he believed his son was killed. He lost his eye in the operation that led to his son’s apparent death (I don’t like that explanation as much as Adeline taking it).
He later became harassed by a mercenary named Legacy whom he killed over and over again, only to have him return. The final incarnation of the merc turned out to be Grant, who overpowered Slade and almost killed him. His employers, a pair of grieving wealthy individuals who lost their daughter during one of Deathstroke’s jobs, locked Grant’s costume and offered to let Slade live if he killed his own son. He opted to kill them instead.
Deathstroke later fought Lobo. He won the fight be dismembering the alien bounty hunter and spreading his remains across the atmosphere.
Slade next came into conflict with Jericho when he tried to take control of a godlike metahuman with the help of Adeline. Slade, Rose, Grant, and Terra all united to stop Jericho. He used Grant as a human shield to deter Slade, but Deathstroke knew Jericho had to be stopped. He killed both of his sons instead. However, it was revealed that Jericho managed to hop bodies before his own demise.
During the reign of the Crime Syndicate, Deathstroke was hired by the team to deal with Argus and then to stop Lex Luthor’s uprising. Luthor offered to triple Deathstroke’s pay, and he turned on the Syndicate and their followers. He even shot Copperhead in the, well, head. He partook in Luthor’s final siege against the Crime Syndicate as well.
He was next recruited to the Suicide Squad but turned on the team on their first mission in Russia when he got a better offer by their target. He followed up this mission with assassination attempts against Shade, Batman, and Red Hood and the Outlaws.
He ran into his own father, now a powerful being calling himself Odysseus who was attempting a massive coup. After a fight with a man named Possum left him badly wounded, a mysterious benefactor named Red Fury healed Slade and somehow aged him downward. After a fight with Harley Quinn and another bought with Batman, Deathstroke tracks down his father as well as Jericho and Rose. Odysseus attempted to control Jericho, who now seemed to be more benign than he once was. Deathstroke kills his father in the ensuing fight.
Hephaestus himself next hires Slade to kill the Titan Lapetus. He gives him a sword capable of doing so, but he is intercepted on the way by Wonder Woman and Superman. He eventually makes it through and completes his contract.
Deathstroke next had separate conflicts with Robin and Green Arrow. A tragedy fell upon Rose and she became on the verge of death. Ras al Ghul offers to save Rose if Slade and Jericho swear allegiance to the League of Assassins. They agree, and this is the predicament in which Deathstroke currently finds himself.
Deathstroke the Terminator is a man who is more driven than almost any other in the world. He is an intelligent and proficient killer. The only people he truly is loves his family, but he has known when it is necessary to turn on them when they are wrong. He has weathered great tragedy, and what he has learned about himself is that he wants to leave a mark upon the world. He wants to create a legacy of being the greatest assassin of all time, and he is always up for a challenge. He is not entirely evil, and he won’t kill targets that he feels are unworthy of death, especially children. However, if someone crosses him, he will pursue a vendetta to the ends of the Earth. He is a complex man with great ambition and anger, and this is what makes Deathstroke the Terminator my 4th Favorite DC Villain of all time.