Deathstroke

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CHARACTER

Deathstroke

Slade Wilson is a mercenary and assassin for hire with no qualms about crossing lines to get the job done, no matter where those lines are drawn.

Introduction

Aliases: Slade Wilson, The Terminator

First Appearance: THE NEW TEEN TITANS #2, 1980

 

 

A formidable operative for the U.S. military, Col. Slade Wilson agreed to undergo an experimental process that increased his mental and physical abilities to superhuman levels. Rather than continue his career as a soldier, Slade became the masked mercenary Deathstroke. This decision resulted in his wife leaving him and his son Joseph being permanently injured, as well as the death of his son Grant, who sought to emulate Slade.

 

Over the years, Slade has fought many DC Super Heroes, particularly the Teen Titans, and even been incarcerated, only to escape. He has also occasionally worked with Earth’s heroes and the U.S. government to protect the planet or serve what he considers to be a greater good. But despite his occasional heroics, Slade Wilson ultimately deferred to whatever benefited himself, finding loopholes in his own code of honor to justify betrayal and manipulation. Recently, he has had his perspective changed by temporarily joining with the Speed Force, the energy field that empowers speedsters and allows them to traverse space and time. As a result, Deathstroke has turned over a new leaf and works alongside his ex-wife and surviving children to fight evil as part of the government team Defiance.

Origin

After lying about his age and joining the US Army when he was only 16 years old, Slade Wilson proved a natural fighter and tactician. He attracted the attention of Captain Adeline Kane, who decided to personally mentor him in guerrilla warfare and black ops. Wilson proved an exceptional student, and he and Adeline later married. It was during his career in the army that Slade met William Randolph Wintergreen of the SAS, and the two became friends (TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #44, 1984).

 

Slade and Adeline had a son named Grant and a second son named Joseph, or “Joey.” Slade was a harsh father to them, sometimes beating Grant when the eldest boy proved rebellious. Adeline grew resentful of Slade as he spent less and less time at home, instead going on a series of military missions.

 

deathstroke-origin-142_NTTP_2400-v1.jpg Eventually, Slade Wilson agreed to undergo a military experimental procedure. As originally detailed in 1984's TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #44, this procedure was intended to alter the adrenal gland and make a soldier immune to interrogation with chemical agents. It was later revealed in 2017's DEATHSTROKE #21 that the experiment, Project X, was meant to create a super-soldier. In both cases, the procedure seemingly failed and rendered Wilson comatose for weeks.

 

Discovering his physical and mental abilities now operated on superhuman levels, Slade Wilson became a black ops agent called Deathstroke, with Wintergreen acting as his second in command on most missions. Wilson also recruited scientist and technologist Dr. David Isherwood, who later acted as the super hero Dr. Ikon. Isherwood designed a “gravity sheath” bodysuit for Deathstroke that would absorb kinetic energy and create a force-field-like shield, but the assassin dismissed it and instead wore a custom-made bodysuit of promethium armor (DEATHSTROKE #2, 2016).

 

Adeline was kept in the dark about Slade Wilson’s new career and the real reason why he disappeared for days or weeks at a time. Fed up with his father’s absences and his mother’s behavior, young Grant Wilson eventually ran away from home. On the same day, Adeline told Slade that she wanted a divorce. He conceded that he'd expected this, but then left to go on another secret mission (DEATHSTROKE #2, 2016).

 

Adeline then investigate this latest mission of her husband’s, leaving young Joey home alone (assuming Grant would return home to take care of his younger brother). When she returned, Grant had been kidnapped by agents of Qurac in retaliation for Deathstroke killing a colonel in the Quraci army. Adeline found Joey, but his throat was slashed, leaving him permanently mute (DEATHSTROKE #3, 2016).

 

This led not only to Adeline discovering her husband’s true career, but to learning his most recent absence was because he had been saving the life of Rose Wilson, his illegitimate daughter by a Hmong prostitute in China. Feeling betrayed in several ways, and blaming him for Joseph’s injury, Adeline shot Slade in the head when he returned to the States. The wound wasn’t fatal, but Slade lost his right eye, as his regenerative healing abilities weren't yet powerful enough to regrow an entire organ (DEATHSTROKE #3, 2016). Following this, the couple officially divorced and Slade cut ties with Adeline and Joey.

 

Deathstroke's origin has been revised and reimagined several over the years. In one account, he was a member of a military unit called Team 7 until he was critically injured, which is when he was experimented on, in an effort to save his life (DEATHSTROKE #0, 2012). In another account, Deathstroke lost his eye during a mission in North Korea that also cost Grant his life (TEEN TITANS #23.2, 2013). Though these events don’t apply to Deathstroke’s current history.

 

Powers and Abilities

deathstroke-powers-DSKREB_1_19_600-v1.jpg Deathstroke is a metahuman; all of his abilities and talents are enhanced several times beyond that of a normal human being of his size, condition and age. This, combined with his combat training, makes him one of the deadliest fighters on Earth. Deathstroke possesses low-level superhuman strength, speed, stamina, senses, intellect, and resistance to injury.

 

His enhanced eyesight, reflexes and dexterity give him superhuman marksmanship and accuracy with any attack, while also allowing him to perceive conventional attacks early enough to counter them. Deathstroke's thought processes are sped up and he has shown signs of photographic memory. 

 

Deathstroke is also a highly trained military operative. He is an expert hunter and tracker, and is skilled in jujitsu, karate, bo staff fighting, knife fighting, sword fighting, and American boxing. Along with an energy blasting lance and conventional guns, Deathstroke has often employed a sword made of Promethium, the strongest alloy on Earth.

 

Deathstroke has often worn a Kevlar-weave suit with chainmail and armor plates made of Promethium. In some stories, he has used Nth metal in his armor. Recently, he has adopted a prototype “gravity sheath” suit created by Dr. David Isherwood. This “Ikon” suit absorbs kinetic energy and blocks it, making it impervious to bullets or the fist of a superhuman opponent.

 

Due to the loss of his eye, Deathstroke has a blind spot on his right side, but compensates with his enhanced hearing and sense of the air around him. Rather than hide that he has any weakness, Deathstroke has chosen to highlight it with his mask’s design, essentially boasting his handicap doesn’t make him any less formidable.

 

Essential Storylines and History

 

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Meeting the Titans

In his many years as a mercenary, Deathstroke has both fought against and alongside various super-villains. When the young heroes known as the Teen Titans reformed as the New Teen Titans, the terrorist organization known as H.I.V.E. sent Grant Wilson after them (in THE NEW TEEN TITANS #1, 1980). A mercenary operating under the name Ravager, Grant admired Deathstroke and even took some lessons from him, unaware he was his father Slade. To combat the Titans, Grant underwent a procedure intended to duplicate Deathstroke’s abilities and even enhance them.

 

The procedure worked, but Grant’s powers were so intense that Deathstroke warned they could be lethal if overused. Grant ignored these warnings, and during his battle with the Titans he suffered a fatal heart attack, dying in Deathstroke’s arms. Slade Wilson promised to honor his son’s contract with H.I.V.E. and destroy the Teen Titans (THE NEW TEEN TITANS #2, 1980).

 

 

 

The Judas Contract

After encountering the Teen Titans a few times, Deathstroke finally made his move to destroy them in the 1984 storyline “The Judas Contract” (TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #42-44, TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS ANNUAL #3). The seeds for this storyline were deathstroke-essential2-thejudascontract-TALTT_42_C1-v1.jpg planted months beforehand, when Tara Markov, a.k.a. Terra, joined the Titans. She pretended to be a hero trying to find her place in the world and manipulated the emotions of her teammate Garfield Logan (a.k.a. Changeling). But in reality, she was a teenage sociopath working with Deathstroke to learn the Titans’ secrets. Deathstroke admired and feared Terra’s ruthlessness and, despite her young age, engaged in a sexual relationship with her.

 

Deathstroke and Terra successfully captured all of the Titans, except for their former leader Dick Grayson, and brought them to H.I.V.E.’s headquarters, hidden within the Rocky Mountains. Now calling himself Nightwing, Grayson was joined by Slade's ex-wife Adeline Kane and son Joey Wilson in his mission to rescue the Titans. Deathstroke was surprised to see his surviving son and attempted to bargain with H.I.V.E. for his life. Joey, now using the codename Jericho, used his own metahuman ability to take possession of Slade and force him into fighting H.I.V.E. Believing she’d been betrayed by Deathstroke, Terra flew into a rage and attempted to bring down the entire mountain base, but only killed herself in the process (TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS ANNUAL #3, 1984).

 

Deathstroke was brought to trial for his actions, but was released when there wasn’t enough physical evidence to connect him to his crimes beyond eye-witness testimony, most of which involved people who'd only seen him wearing a mask (TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #53-54, 1985). It turned out that Garfield Logan himself had sabotaged the trial, hoping to kill Slade when he was freed, rather than let him live in prison. During their confrontation, Slade expressed regret over some of his actions and Terra’s fate, and claimed he never saw himself as a super-villain, simply a mercenary. The two then parted ways. (TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #55, 1985).

 

Some time later, Deathstroke fought alongside the Titans when he realized he'd inadvertently helped unleash a mutagenic plague. (THE NEW TITANS #62-65, 1990).

 

 

Fighting for Good

deathstroke-essential3-fightingforgood-SM_65_C1-v1.jpg Later still, Deathstroke fought alongside the Titans against the villainous Wildebeest Society in the “Titans Hunt” story arc (THE NEW TITANS #71-84, 1990-1992); only to learn they were now led by his own son Joey. But Joey wasn’t acting of his own accord. He'd become corrupted by a collective of tainted souls from the world of Azarath. While under their influence, Joey killed Wintergreen and attempted to make the Titans into vessels for these Azarath souls. To save them and free his son, Deathstroke stabbed Joey through the back, seemingly killing him (THE NEW TITANS #82-84, 1992). Joey would eventually turn up alive, and it would be revealed he hadn’t killed Wintergreen but rather a stand-in, the real Wintergreen having already quietly retired (DEATHSTROKE #2, 2016).

 

Following this, Deathstroke was shaken and without clear direction. He wound up helping Superman assemble Earth’s heroes against an invasion by the villain Brainiac (SUPERMAN #65, 1992), then fought briefly alongside Batman (DEATHSTROKE #6-9, 1992). During this second adventure, he met Pat Trayce, a Gotham City cop who decided the law wasn’t effective enough against criminals and decided to become the newest crimefighter called Vigilante. Deathstroke agreed to train Pat to be a better fighter, and the two had a short-lived romance (DEATHSTROKE #11, 1992).

 

In time, Deathstroke’s abilities started to fail him and he suffered a heart attack, only to be revived by the assassin Cheshire, who then manipulated him into helping her drop a nuclear missile on the country of Qurac (DEATHSTROKE #17-20, 1993). Though it’s not clear if this event still applies to Deathstroke’s history.

 

While fighting agents of the criminal organization Shadowspire, Deathstroke was caught in a bombing that destroyed the Capitol Building in Washington D.C. His healing abilities increased to a dramatic new level to save his life, reversing his aging by several years and leaving him virtually impossible to kill. The effect also resulted in severe amnesia, though he lost none of his fighting instincts. No longer a mercenary, Deathstroke now worked for the U.S. government (DEATHSTROKE #53-55, 1995).

 

Eventually, Deathstroke’s memories returned. Deciding he’d had enough of his life as a mercenary, he faked his own death in order to retire (DEATHSTROKE #60, 1996). The retirement, however, didn't take, and soon enough he was active once more. His reverse aging also appeared to wear off and he resumed his previous aged appearance. Though he maintained much greater health and vitality due to his healing abilities.

 

 

Rebirth

deathstroke-essential4-backtobasics-TTCv43ds-1-v1.jpg When Deathstroke discovered his old friend Wintergreen had been captured, he rescued him and they became partners again. During this rescue mission, Deathstroke had to abandon his Promethium armor and wear the prototype gravity sheath outfit Dr. Isherwood had designed for him years ago. The Promethium armor fell into the hands of the villainous Red Lion (DEATHSTROKE #1-2, 2016).

 

Deathstroke has recently become involved in his children’s lives in complicated ways. A contract on Rose’s life turned out to be a manipulation by Slade so they could spend time together and he could see how she operated. Following this, Slade hired a Hmong family to pretend to be Rose’s extended family and provide her a home. Deathstroke then discovered Joey’s fiancé Etienne was secretly a spy spent by government agent Amanda Waller, and then slept with the woman. This led to a violent confrontation between Deathstroke and his children, along with the revelation that Joey had begun abusing drugs. During this time, Deathstroke suffered blindness in his remaining eye as a result of an attack, but a corneal transplant restored his sight.

 

Deciding to fix his life, Deathstroke used Titan member Wally West to create his own connection to the extra-dimensional energy field known as the Speed Force (TITANS #11, 2017). Now with super-speed, Deathstroke made multiple attempts to travel back in time and alter the past so that his son Grant had never died. But each attempt failed. What’s more, Slade’s connection to the Speed Force allowed him to perceive multiple timelines and realities, and gave him a new perspective, leaving him ashamed of his career as Deathstroke (DEATHSTROKE #19-20, 2017).

 

 

Defiance

deathstroke-essential5-recenteventsdefiance-DSK_ANN_Cv1-1-v1.jpg Following his “religious experiences” in the Speed Force, Deathstroke sought to make up for his past by being a positive force in the world. To this end, he became field leader of Adeline Kane’s “Team Defiance,” a group of young metahumans (including Rose Wilson and Jericho) recruited to act as the U.S. government’s own superhero counter-terrorists (DEATHSTROKE #21, 2017). Deathstroke’s activities with Defiance raised concern with the Society (formerly known as the Secret Society of Super-Villains), which put him on trial and released him when it concluded he was still a ruthless killer at heart (DEATHSTROKE #25, 2017).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Team Affiliations

• Defiance

• Injustice Gang

• Injustice League

• Titans East

• The Secret Society of Super-Villains

 

Appearances in Other Media

Television

Guest Appearances/Cameos

 

Live Action:

• Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

• Smallville

• Arrow

 

Animation:

• Beware the Batman

• Teen Titans

• Young Justice

 

 

Film

Main Character Appearances

 

Animation:

• Batman Ninja

• Batman: Son of Batman

• Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

• Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox

• The LEGO Batman Movie

• LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Attack of the Legion of Doom

• LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Gotham City Breakout

• LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League VS Bizarro League 

• Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

• Teen Titans: The Judas Contract

 

 

Guest Appearances/Cameos

Live Action:

• Justice League

 

 

Video Games

 

• Batman: Arkham Origins

• Batman: Arkham City Lockdown

• Batman: Arkham Knight

• DC Universe Online

• Injustice: Gods Among Us

• Mortal Kombat VS DC Universe

• LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

• LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham

• Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure