As the world’s greatest mercenary, Deathstroke the Terminator is a figure in high demand. If you can meet his price- or his ire- there’s nothing that can separate him from his quarry, no matter how dangerous. And considering the powerhouses who inhabit the DC Universe, there’s no limit to just how dangerous things can get. To illustrate, here are five of the most memorable targets from Slade Wilson’s career.
The Teen Titans
In the crowded world of Super-Villainy where new bad guys emerge on a monthly basis, how do you stick around? By leaving a big first impression. In his very first appearance, Deathstroke showed the fledgling New Teen Titans just how far they had to go by demonstrating the ability to take the whole team on at once. While his super enhancements may not be the most novel set of abilities, Deathstroke’s keen tactical mind put his assets to good use as he battled a team designed to quell otherworldly demons on little more than gumption. The death of his son at the end of the battle only served to heighten the emotional stakes, forever cementing Deathstroke as the Titans’ greatest foe.
The Justice League of America
Okay, some argue, it’s one thing for Deathstroke to battle the Teen Titans. They’re the junior varsity team. Relatively inexperienced, and still getting themselves together. How would Deathstroke fare against the Major Leagues? As we find out in the most action-packed sequence of the emotionally heavy ‘Identity Crisis,’ very, very well. When six heavy hitters from the Justice League go after the reprehensible Doctor Light, the villain’s days seem numbered — or they would be, had he not shelled out the cash to hire Deathstroke for protection. Green Arrow, Black Canary, Zatanna, Hawkman, Green Lantern and The Flash: each of them falls to the skill of Deathstroke the Terminator, who had clearly been preparing for a confrontation with the Justice League for a very long time. If not for Slade’s momentary greed at the prospect of taking Kyle Rayner’s Green Lantern ring for his own, injustice may well have won the day.
What’s the secret ingredient that makes ‘Teen Titans’ so special, all these years later? Is it the anime-inspired visuals? The relaxed team dynamics that allow the kids to act like kids? The killer tofu alien invaders? No, the show’s successor, ‘Teen Titans Go,’ has all that in spades. The real special sauce of the original ‘Teen Titans’ animated series is the dark, dulcet tones of Ron Perlman as Slade, arch-enemy and aspiring father figure of Robin. Throughout the show’s first three seasons, Slade wages a physical and psychological war on Robin to win him over to the dark side, with some of the most thrilling action sequences yet committed to DC animation. And for the best one of all, the season three episode “Haunted,” Deathstroke wasn’t even there at all. Long after he had perished in the climax of Season 2, Robin was still psychologically plagued by Slade, wrestling with his greatest villain from beyond the grave. In “Haunted,” Slade proves that your true enemies never really leave you.
Deathstroke, Deadshot. Slade Wilson, Floyd Lawton. Similar costumes, similar professions, similar issues keeping their own families together by a thread. And both stake a claim to being the world’s greatest mercenary. So what happens when two sides of a War of Jokes and Riddles enlists one against the other? Mayhem. In this flashback tale to the early days of both their careers, before Deathstroke had even lost his eye, Slade and Floyd engage in one of the deadliest one-on-one battles in the long history of Gotham… and only Batman’s intervention keeps them from bringing the entire city down with them. We never truly get to see who would win in a duel between the two. For our money, though: this was still pretty early in Slade’s career. And even if Floyd is a better marksman- and that’s a big if- Deathstroke has more tricks in his toolkit than fancy shooting.
The most epic battle of Deathstroke’s career is one that happened quite recently, spanning six entire issues of the already legendary ‘Deathstroke’ run in progress by Christopher Priest. When Slade is led to believe that Damian Wayne is his biological son after a long-ago tryst with Talia al Ghul, Batman and Deathstroke each finally get to the long put-off business of ending the other’s career once and for all. Their battle spans the entire globe, from the Middle East to the heart of the Batcave, and deep into each other’s heads. As for who wins? Let’s just say that Damian isn’t going around calling himself the next “Ravager” these days. But after all, that’s to be expected. Slade Wilson may be The Terminator, but Batman is… well, Batman.