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!