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Deathstroke's Must Read Stories

Want to learn all about the mercenary from DC? Here's some storylines we think you should read!

Some see Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke, the Terminator, as a cold-blooded killing machine. Others see him as a mercenary who falls into the grey area between respectable heroes and diabolical villains. No matter how you view him, there's many reasons to be a big fan of our latest Character of the Month. This October, he'll have an all-new volume that'll be written and illustrated by Tony S. Daniel. To help prepare you for his new series, we want to look back at the character's history and offer some reading suggestions!

From his first appearance to The New 52, we've picked 8 tales that are worthy of your consideration. Obviously, we don't have every praiseworthy Deathstroke story featured here, but we do have plenty of very, very good ones that we strongly recommend checking out at some point! If your favorite isn't listed below, go ahead and promote it in the comments. It just may motivate someone else to give it a read, after all. And yes, we'll do our best to dance around spoilers, even if they are several decades old!

First Appearance (THE NEW TEEN TITANS #2)

How can you expect to learn about Deathstroke without reading his very first appearance from 1980?! George Perez and Marv Wolfman's first issue with the Terminator isn't just about giving the mercenary a cool debut -- one which holds up well, by the way -- it's also about revealing why Deathstroke has such a rocky history with the Teen Titans and what makes it so personal for him. If you want to begin expanding your knowledge of Deathstroke, this is absolutely where you need to begin.

The Judas Contract (TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #42-44, ANNUAL #3)

"Deathstroke is just a cool looking killer. Nothing more, nothing less." If you think that's even remotely true, you need to read Wolfman and Perez's The Judas Contract. This 4-issue storyline presents Deathstroke's origin story and takes big steps to expand his history and relationship with his family. The explosive conflict also brings about the debut of Dick Grayson as Nightwing and paves the way for a very heated conflict between Slade and Changeling. Perez and Wolfman's earlier tales may be action-packed, but they're always filled with character depth and emotion. This story is a perfect example of that.

Trial of the Terminator (TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #53-55)

This 3-issue story by Wolfman is a terrific follow-up to The Judas Contract (as well as the events in THE NEW TEEN TITANS #34). In previous issues, the writer already did an impressively detailed job fleshing out the character, but this tale has a brilliant and emotionally gripping conclusion. It's a powerful insight into who the character is and, if you haven't read it yet, it will certainly change how you view the character. The compelling conclusion really is something you won't forget.

Full Cycle (DEATHSTROKE #1-4 1991)

Even when Slade Wilson tries to escape all of the madness involving his family, he's pulled back into it. In 1991, Marv Wolfman and artist Steve Erwin opened Deathstroke's first solo series with a 4-issue story arc that incorporated everything we've come to love about the character. It shines a powerful spotlight on his morals, reveals more about his origin story and the people connected to his life, and, of course, has some seriously fantastic action scenes. To top it all off, the Ravager has returned and they have a shockingly savage encounter. But who's behind the mask and why does the Ravager want to make Slade suffer so much? This is yet another one of Wolfman's must read Deathstroke stories!

City of Assassins (DEATHSTROKE #6-9 1991)

Honestly, how could you not want to read the first encounter between Deathstroke and Batman?! The two are on opposite sides when it comes to a major conflict with the mob in Gotham City, so this leads to the iconic characters having a brutal, bloody and absolutely unforgettable brawl. There's an obvious winner when the dust settles, but Wolfman makes it a commendable showing for both of them. On top of that, the two eventually team-up -- again, who wouldn't want to see that? -- and this story brings Vigilante into the title! This one isn't very easy to get your hands on, but it's definitely worth reading!

Deathstroke vs. the Justice League (IDENTITY CRISIS #3)

In this third chapter of Brad Meltzer's event, Doctor Light's on the run from the Justice League and realizes he needs some major back-up. So, the villain hires the best option for the job: Deathstroke. The one-eyed mercenary already took out Elongated Man, but Hawkman, Atom, Zatanna, Green Arrow, Flash, Black Canary, and Green Lantern are still standing and ready to rumble. The odds are stacked against Slade and then some, right? Well, Meltzer shows us just how skilled and intelligent Wilson truly is. In the end, it's a terribly humiliating experience for the heroes and one of the most jaw-dropping displays for the Terminator. Rags Morales' artwork helps make it one of Slade's most memorable fight scenes, too.

Kyle Higgins' run (DEATHSTROKE #1-8 2011)

The very first panel of Deathstroke's New 52 run calls him "the scariest badass on the planet." Writer Kyle Higgins and artist Joe Bennett then spend several issues making sure we understand that statement is 100% true. Sure, the narrative connects to Wilson's family and expands upon what his profession means, but for the most part, this run is all about pure action and it's consistently exciting. From Slade killing a fly with a paperclip to getting hit by a submarine, this is what you'll want to read if you want to see why Slade Wilson is feared by so many.

Justin Jordan's run (DEATHSTROKE #15-20 2011)

Justin Jordan and artist Edgar Salazar's time with the Terminator was short-lived yet the two still managed to turn it into a noteworthy experience. With just 5 issues, the creative team offered 3 completely different stories. The first focused on Slade needing to use his enhanced intellect to take down a seemingly unkillable target, the second was an overdose of fighting as Slade took on an army of ninjas, and the final one brought his family back into the picture and ended on a compelling note. Each one was entertaining in its own way, but they all have one thing in common: a whole lot of amusing action. Plus, some of these covers are stunning.

Keep checking the homepage throughout July for more Slade Wilson articles!

28 Comments
Posted by johnny_blaze

I stll think Deathstroke's fight with the JLA was pis. Still a cool fight though.

Online
Posted by TommytheHitman

Maybe with the new series that's coming out they should have just given Kyle Higgins the title back?

Posted by AmazingWebHead

Why did they cancel making Judas Contract into an animated movie? WHYYYYYYYYY!!!??

Posted by Krypton-115

Can't wait until October...

Posted by MadeinBangladesh

Kyle Higgins and Justin Jordan's run were SO GOOD!!! Damn you LIEFELD!!!!!!!!

Posted by patrat18

Kyle Higgins and Justin Jordan's run were SO GOOD!!! Damn you LIEFELD!!!!!!!!

Posted by ULTRAstarkiller

I loved JJ's run.

Posted by NightFang

DC should have gone through with the Judas Contract animated film.

Posted by Grim

I would add those first two- Teen Titans stories in Geoff Johns' run. Lots of him in those.

Edited by UlquiorraSchiffer

Him killing off most of the Ravagers is probably his most memorable moment for me in the New 52. That was grim. Definitely wouldn't call that must read though, so I guess it's irrelevant.

Edited by derf_jenkins

Does anyone know if the new teen titans omnibus volume 2 has the whole Judas contract story? I have been wanting to pick it up, but have heard conflicting information about that.

Posted by saoakden

I need to Identity Crisis just for that third issue. Looks good. I have read the New 52 Deathstroke series. I really liked Kyle Higgins' & Justin Jordan's run with Deathstroke. Oh & I need to read all the other old Deathstroke stories.

Posted by Jayso4201

To be honest I'm not too familiar with Deathstroke except for what I've seen here and there, but I may have to change that very soon.

Posted by StMichalofWilson

Awesome choices

Posted by TehStranger

Marv Wolfman's entire 60 issue run.

Posted by _Atomikill_

Tagging Wally and speedsters in general is not PIS, even though people constantly say it. He's tagged KF several times and Wally multiple times as well. TBH I think people just don't want to admit it.

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Posted by Teerack

Why are they must reads if they never happened???

Posted by vandinejd_1991

@AmazingWebhead and @Nightfang: The Judas Contract was kind of shown in the first Teen Titans animated series although slightly different, and I would argue that that was one occasion where the show outclassed the source material. The show's Terra was definitely better than her comic book counterpart who was bastitich for the sake of being a bastitich.

Edited by vandinejd_1991

On another note I've read the Judas Contract and Deathstroke's new 52 series, and the latter is far superior. It shows awesome he really is. I can now see that Deathstroke is the perfect choice for Character of the Month over what used to be my favorites Bane and Taskmaster.

Posted by k4tzm4n

@teerack said:

Why are they must reads if they never happened???

Because a good story is a good story. Who cares if it's still canon?

Staff
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

I'm still bummed that Justin Jordan's run was so short

Posted by AmazingWebHead

@AmazingWebhead and @Nightfang: The Judas Contract was kind of shown in the first Teen Titans animated series although slightly different, and I would argue that that was one occasion where the show outclassed the source material. The show's Terra was definitely better than her comic book counterpart who was bastitich for the sake of being a bastitich.

Ah, yes, I heard about how they wouldn't shut up about how evil she was when all she did was betray them that one time. (And some story Deathstroke told Beast Boy with a lot of evidence against)

Edited by NightFang

@AmazingWebhead and @Nightfang: The Judas Contract was kind of shown in the first Teen Titans animated series although slightly different, and I would argue that that was one occasion where the show outclassed the source material. The show's Terra was definitely better than her comic book counterpart who was bastitich for the sake of being a bastitich.

What do you me she was bastitich? Terra was a mercenary in love with Deathstroke.

Posted by AmazingWebHead

@vandinejd_1991 said:

@AmazingWebhead and @Nightfang: The Judas Contract was kind of shown in the first Teen Titans animated series although slightly different, and I would argue that that was one occasion where the show outclassed the source material. The show's Terra was definitely better than her comic book counterpart who was bastitich for the sake of being a bastitich.

What do you me she was bastitich? Terra was a mercenary in love with Deathstroke.

I think he meant that she wasn't nearly as redeemable in the comics.

Posted by NightFang

@nightfang said:

@vandinejd_1991 said:

@AmazingWebhead and @Nightfang: The Judas Contract was kind of shown in the first Teen Titans animated series although slightly different, and I would argue that that was one occasion where the show outclassed the source material. The show's Terra was definitely better than her comic book counterpart who was bastitich for the sake of being a bastitich.

What do you me she was bastitich? Terra was a mercenary in love with Deathstroke.

I think he meant that she wasn't nearly as redeemable in the comics.

But that was the point, she wasn't meant to be redeemed because she was a villain pretending to be a hero.

Posted by AmazingWebHead
Posted by detective38

If you havent read wolfmans slade from vol 1 new teen titans and his subsequent ongoing solo series then you dont truly know the character. latter versions although some fairly well done have not quite captured the essence of the character. gonna marathon read vol. 1 new teen titans as soon as i fill in theremaining holes