When a character transitions from being relatively obscure to mainstream it can signify one of two things: either that character will continue to grow in popularity or they will fade away into comic limbo. I don’t believe that will be the case with Deathstroke the Terminator. Slade Wilson has been an integral part of the DC universe for years, but it was only recently that he has started to receive greater recognition.
The character was first introduced in the second issue of the New Teen Titans series in 1980. He was known simply as ‘The Terminator,’ four years before that one successful franchise with Arnold Schwarzenegger. This established him quickly as one of, if not the, main enemy of the Teen Titans. He gained his first series in 1991 called Deathstroke the Terminator.
Deathstroke is your typical super-soldier, enhanced strength, reflexes, agility, healing factor. He’s able to think 9 times faster than a regular person, making him a master manipulator. He holds the feat of taking on and defeating the Justice League solo without any of the Big Three involved. He’s got the better of Nightwing and has stalemated Batman. Needless to say, Slade means business.
What makes him different than a one dimensional badass is his obsessive desire to protect his family. Slade has sired a number of memorable children e.g. Rose Wilson/Ravager and Jericho. Brainwashing your daughter to the point she carves out her own eye isn’t going to win Father of the Year, but it certainly creates drama. Slade is driven by his need to be considered the best in his profession. Contrary to that is his aspirations for a family who see him how he sees himself.
What is the reason for his sudden popularity? The New 52 saw a fresh take on the character in a solo series that finished with issue 20. He showed up in Batman: Arkham Origins and Injustice: Gods Among Us, both times with great success. However, it is most likely his appearance on Arrow that has brought him firmly into the mainstream. Played by Manu Bennett, Deathstroke has finally been realised in live-action (well, maybe not fully realised yet, but soon he will be soon!). He’s become a fan favourite on the show and it could be just a matter of time before we see Deathstroke on the big screen.
Deathstroke has been in direct opposition with many of DC’s prominent heroes, including a vicious vendetta against Green Arrow. It may be the successful rally of fans who have wanted to see the Terminator have his due. Whatever the reason, Slade continues to prove why he has longevity as a supporting character.