In the first five issues of Deathstroke, Slade was being driven by the loss of his son (though he wouldn't admit what had happened), and hunted by that old Army "buddy", Bill Walsh. Not that he knew it was Bill at first, because Walsh had chosen to dress in the Ravager armor (Grant's armor) in order to mess with Slade's head. Walsh gut-shot Addie, then attacked Wintergreen, the house in Kenya (second time. Poor house), and Slade himself, sending Slade hunting. This tied him up with a mess in Qurac, because Addie's company had been guarding a shipment of plutonium, which Walsh and the Quraci rebels stole. Slade wound up partially framed for the theft, placing him on the quasi-outs with the US government (like he needed that?), and while he was trying to stop the damn mess he got even further entangled. Even after he fought and killed Walsh and left him for the feds, one of the government arms involved with the Quraci mess kept suspicion aimed his way.
[The plots in Deathstroke sometimes make my head hurt, by the way. I read it for characterization.]
While he was running around getting shot and finally getting rid of Walsh, Addie was recovering from being shot. Unfortunately for Slade, one of her people told her what had happened to Joe before he could get back to the hospital in Germany.
She didn't take finding out that her baby was dead at all well, especially not from someone else. When Slade finally got to her, she pulled a gun on him again. [Something of a running trope in Deathstroke is that if Slade and Addie are anywhere near each other, she's pulling a gun on him.] Slade got away from her, away from the various law-enforcement that wanted him for something he hadn't even done, and got Wintergreen away safely.
Issues 6 to 11 brought Slade to Gotham City, where he was offered a contract to kill a mob boss (Jeremy Barker) gone government informant and refused. The mob didn't take his refusal well, and tried to force him into the job. Which is a really good way to really piss Slade Wilson off and make him go rescue Barker (despicable critter that he was) from corruption inside GCPD and then team up with Batman. Admittedly, it took one heck of a fight (issue 7), and then Slade slipping into the Manor to have a chat with Bruce (issue 8) before the two of them decided to work together, but they made a very effective team. At this point, Batman offered Slade his and Gordon's protection for enough time for them to be able to clear Slade's name of the false charges laid against him. Slade declined, not trusting them to keep him alive, and went about his own plans, but. It says something about the way that Slade operates that Batman made the offer.
Issue 8 also introduced Detective Patrica Trayce--not that she stayed GCPD very long after the Feds made a deal with the man that killed her partner. She turned in her badge and went rogue.. or should I say; Vigilante. Slade wound up taking Barker's place as a captive to the mob, and was injected with massive doses of a truth serum.
This? Not. A. Good. Thing.
The dose he got was enough to drive him temporarily insane. He didn't know when he was, or where he was, and the mob in the room got mistaken for the Vietcong, the army, the Jackal, and then Slade thought he heard Addie screaming and went totally psycho. We won't talk about the hallucination of Batman as a Wildebeest, or the shift into Joe that had Slade incoherently attempting to apologize. Which is so heartbreaking I don't have words. But Batman got there in time to sedate him, get him out of there, and have Dick call Wintergreen to come get Slade from him and take care of him.
Even once he came back to his sanity, the overdose had hurt him badly. It left him in a state of weakness that would last as a plot point until issue eighteen. His wounds refused to heal any faster than normal, his strength and stamina were fluctuating again, and occasionally he was hit with the same flashes of total weakness that he went through while he was initially trying to adapt to the serum.
Pat had joined them by that point, claiming she wanted to learn to be a merc, since she'd given up her career as a cop. Slade didn't much want anything to do with her, but Wintergreen pushed him into teaching her, hoping it would wake memories of better times and pull Slade out of his depression. It worked—at least partially.
There was work still to be done in Gotham, and despite not being healed, Slade decided to take Pat and go. Wintergreen protested, yielding one of Slade's more stupid moments of trying to push Wintergreen away to protect him. They went down into the city, got into three tons of trouble, Pat got hurt, and Slade wound up picking her up and running the entire way back to where he was hiding.
And the two of them promptly fell into bed with each other. Despite Slade's protests of "I'm not looking for a love affair" and Pat's equally blunt "neither am I. But it's been years since I've been touched by a man... and I'd like to be held"... Slade never does well at not getting emotionally entangled with the people in his life, despite how hard he repeatedly attempted to push her away, as well.
Wonder Woman v.2 #63, where Diana hires Deathstroke to help her, falls immediately in this range, and yields several bits of nice Slade characterization, including that Diana's lasso is almost totally ineffective on Slade. He knows who and what he is, and all of her attempts at forcing him to see the "evil" of his ways are worth absolutely nothing to the soldier that he is. Kind of fun to watch him shake it off, too.
Dialogue from three panels from after they get that scuffle sorted out, with Slade slitting a guard's throat:
'How old? Nineteen? Twenty? My son's age?
Polished boots, pressed cuffs, posture like a flagpole's. Thinks he's a *soldier*.
'Thinks it's a *game*," and the blood goes everywhere.
Yeah. Wonder Woman went there. Using Batman-loaded phrases for Slade is a little headache inducing.
The other fun part of that issue is the portion where they have the villain trapped, and Diana's people are telling Slade to walk away and let them handle it, so Slade asks them why. If it's that portion of superheroic ethics which involves redemption, and not getting one's hands dirty, and being as bad as the people they stop, and Diana's people (with some surprise) say that that's precisely it.
Slade snorts out, "What nonsense!" and throws his knife for a heart shot on the trapped villain.
Zooming back to Deathstroke. The only important bits of issue twelve were covered above, so I'll skip on past that to issue thirteen. For all of you Superman fans... Supes hated bringing Slade in. "I'd hate to believe you've become an enemy. Especially since we just finished fighting on the same side."
He dropped Slade off at the federal building, and Slade promptly escaped. With a great deal of reason, as one of the people waiting to interrogate him was working for the shadow organization that had been making his life hell since the first issue. But in Metropolis, it didn't take long for a few members of the League to show up... in the persons of Green Lantern, Aquaman, and Flash.
For a sample of how Slade looks at most of the heroes, try this page on for size.
A whole lot of dodging and running later, Slade got himself clear for the moment... while we got our first look at who was behind the hell Slade was going through. Bright white teeth, long, long red nails, and a familiar fall of long black hair were the only clues, and it would take several more issues to be certain just who was behind it.
The thought was apparently 'where the League failed, let's let the Titans try' as far as bringing Slade in on the trumped-up charges went, and the Titans did a truly horrible job of trying to be undercover as they hunted Slade through New York City. Slade and Dick wound up in one of their usual misunderstandings as they fought across the streets of the city. Dick was calling to him while they fought, "Slade, if you're innocent, I'll stand by you. If you're not, I'll help them put you away."
Slade, of course, couldn't let anyone try to save him. "Forget it, Grayson, I already told you I'm not giving myself up! I'm being set up, and I don't know why you can't see it. I can't expect you to understand. We're two different worlds who only occasionally merge. I may respect you, but I'll never be you. Maybe next time we'll be on the same side. But that's the roll of the dice, boy," as he knocked Dick far enough away to turn and bolt.
From the ground, as Slade was taking off, Dick called out to him. "Slade, don't. You can't escape everyone. For once in your life.. make it easy on yourself. Work with us, Slade..."
Slade, of course, totally refused and took off so that he could, among other things, make arrangements for all of his people to be taken care of from his accounts and sent to other work. I mentioned the overprotective part at some point, right? Oh, and protecting a random pack of street-kids from the mob and bundling them off to help, while being feverish and in massive amounts of pain. He... has this thing about acquiring people to protect them and then trying to shove them away because he's going to get them hurt, alright? It's all over his canon. It makes him do some stupid things, too. After all of that, he wound up collapsed in a sewer, freezing, feverish, and blacking out.
Slade somehow (I think via the DC's Morlock population) got moved from the sewers he was dying in to Steve Dayton's mansion with the entire Titans team, most of whom were not trying to turn him in, but instead being quite protective of him as he was having another really bad spell of his body totally failing him.
Gar was... really not coping with Slade being so sick. In the interests of getting this essay to post, the relevant text is here.
Slade promptly tried to run away from the concerned kids—he still had things to deal with, after all—and gets to Lili's (again via DC's Morlocks). The Lili in question is "Sweet Lili" Worth, Khmeri princess-in-exile and the owner/madame of one of New York's best... well. Brothel/information clearinghouse/supplier of very dangerous, very eye-candy bodyguards for wealthy men (and probably women). Lili's House is hard to explain, okay? Also, though definitely incidentally at that point, she's Slade's lover (and mother of his unknown youngest child).
She managed to set up plans to get Slade, and Wintergreen, out of the country and to Germany—but those plans wound up being sabotaged/sold out. Which put Slade nearly in the hands of the government, then actually into the grasp of the shadow organization he'd been having so much trouble with... and Wintergreen into a long time "lost" in the US prison system.
The only reason Slade wound up in the shadow organization's hands? He had a full-on heart-attack on the shores of Titan's Island, as he fought off a couple dozen of them. Wound up dead as a doorknob for... several hours.
And then Cheshire got her brilliant, poisonous hands on his body and the serum, and managed to force his body into regenerating and healing. That organization that had been giving him trouble since issue 1? Her group had had a temporary merger with the Brotherhood of Evil, and she wanted his help. Also in the middle of this imbroglio of double-dealing was one Roy Harper, who was damn near playing triple-agent. Actually working for Checkmate, pretending to have come over to work for Cheshire, and spying on the Brotherhood of Evil's inner workings on Chesh's behalf.
Of course, Slade was actually working for the government to put a wrench in Chesh's plans and had been since that day in Metropolis when Superman took him flying. He wasn't supposed to die along the way, but they wanted him to get into Chesh's organization and stop her plotting.
Unfortunately, Slade and Roy failed miserably in their mutual goal to keep Chesh from using them both to get hold of a nuclear bomb and using it on Qurac in order to hold the world hostage.
To put it real bluntly, Slade went postal at his failure and at Jade for having done it. The refrain of "how could you kill all those innocents" resounds through the end of issue 19 and all of issue 20, and continues to be a running theme through issue 27. He and Roy got away from Chesh's clutches and back to the mainland, where Slade was hailed as a hero working undercover—not something that set well with him, given how many people he'd just unwittingly helped murder.
Issue 21 is one of the Pat issues, and can be summed up in about a sentence. Slade spent the entire issue protecting a woman cop-killer (to his ex-cop lover's utter fury) so that she could birth her child free instead of in a jail, then handed her over to Pat.
Issues 22 and 23 are not particularly important... except one page in 23. Slade's on a train, just moving from place to place, and The train lumbers on. Crowded, hot.
I hate the closeness of people. Bodies, and nothing more. Canon fodder. Potential targets.
That's how I see them, if I blink my eye wrong. An occupational hazard. One more tendency to fight. So many things to fight.
Issues 24-25 aren't all that important either. Slade's alone, running solo and hurting because of it, and yet another pretty, dangerous woman (FBI agent) falls into his life and winds up dead. But he'd made enough on the jobs to go back home to Africa.
If I could only keep one issue of Deathstroke, it would be issue 26. On the surface, it's a very simple issue. Just Slade back in Africa—while Wintergreen's trying to escape prison, with a marauding lion to stop.
Except for the part where the lion was a lioness, and on a killing spree because her cub had been killed by the child of one of the men. The lioness had struck back, killing the boy, then gone on a rampage.
Slade managed to bring the lioness down, and found the boy's body to take him back to his father. He handed the body over, and I'm just going to quote what he said as he struck the father in question. "You took him out and put a gun in his hand to show him what it was like to be a man. You gave a gun to a baby, and he killed a baby with it. His mother was just trying to protect her cub. That's what a parent does, damn you! A parent protects his children, not kills them. Do I have to beat that into you. You're supposed to save your children! You're not supposed to murder them--"
"Slade. Stop." Wintergreen's hand caught his wrist before the fourth blow, and Slade froze.
Wintergreen then talked him down, and took him inside to try to calm him down, and get him to stop trying to punish himself. (By the way. This is the issue where both of them state that seventy days is too long for them to be apart.)
Slade might have recovered, with time.
He had... about two weeks before Addie was kidnapped, and Slade went chasing across the world doing some totally idiotic things in order to try to get her back safely. And, um, failing pretty miserably (Issues 27-34, subtitled "Deathstroke's World Tour).
Very long story very short; Addie's taste in men wasn't good before she met Slade, and her corrupt traitor of an ex-husband wanted to use her to find the Kane family fortune. Slade wasn't about to take that lightly. In one of the issues, he's also informed that he's "Taking this til death do us part thing a little too seriously!" by Pat, given how nearly he came to dying in the middle of it.
Unfortunately, Addie came closer to dying, and Slade (out of desperation) transfused her with his blood in the middle of the Egyptian desert. While this kept her alive in the short term, in the long term... it was a really bad idea.
Slade's blood, you see, makes other people very, very crazy. And when you already hate
Okay, maybe I lied about 26, because it would be damned hard for me to give up Deathstroke 35, too.
This is the issue that, without rectonning Tara for a microsecond, makes it very, very clear that Slade does not have an interest in children, given that he did his level best to beat the hell out of the pimp/father of the sixteen-year-old girl in the bar with him. Of course, he was also drunk enough that he lost the fight--once the five other guys showed up--and got dumped in the river.
Wintergreen, after Slade left the hospital, laid into him really intently about the stupidity he'd been practicing. I wish I had space and time to do it justice, but I don't. He chewed him out about the girl, then about Addie, then about the weakness Slade was having about kids and combat, and ended with shoving the barrel of his .45 into Slade's mouth and telling him to pull the damn trigger before he got them both killed.
It's really kind of beautiful, and really kind of brutal in just how effective Wintergreen was at beating sense into his thick skull and making him stop being stupid. That this is also the point when Slade's told he's an incurable optimist is... well. It's very Slade. Because he does think things could be better, even when he can't see how.
Issues 36-38 are a Wintergreen-central storyline, and really only worth reading if you want to grin at just how much those two men are in love.
Slade meets Green Arrow in issue 40, where Slade was hired to keep someone alive and Green Arrow was trying to kill the sociopathic bastard. Also this is the issue one of my favorite Slade to Ollie lines comes from, "Roy Harper said you were good. He was right."
Slade managed to keep the person in question alive and remanded to prison, and took off again.
And now it's time to try to explain "Deathstroke: the Hunted". Actually, after a consensus of several of us, I'm going to hit the high points. "the Hunted" brings Wade deFarge, Ravager III, Slade's entirely evil stepbrother into high-focus as he starts work on framing Slade for the murder of a senator and the attempted murder of the President.
Slade, as usual, winds up on the run with everyone gunning for him (including the Titans; lord, kids, how many times does the man have to be framed for you to get the point?) while Wade methodically went along and killed almost everyone in Slade's extended circle of friends, lovers, and family--with Slade too far away to do anything to protect them. Wade killed his own mother, Frannie; Slade's best armorer, Squirrel; Slade's broker and accountant, Maurice; the great majority of Lili's girls; and, after kidnapping Rose, managed to manipulate Lili into killing herself as she tried to kill him.
Wintergreen, Rose, and a few of the extended network were the only ones to survive other than Slade himself. Is it really any wonder that when Slade had just had it proven that he'd been made immortal by Chesh (and had lost nearly everyone) that he pushed Rose away and tried to force her the comparative safety of the Titans?
Issues 46-60 of Deathstroke... I can't explain what Marv was on and trying to explain them would give me a bigger headache than "the Hunted" just did. There are a couple of major points that need to be mentioned, though—or maybe just one point.
Karrion is what Checkmate's attempt at re-creating Deathstroke with the serum called himself. Itself? Whatever. It lives in a containment suit because its touch is toxic even to itself, but it is completely and totally deadly to anyone or any thing else it touches—and it's quite obsessed with Slade, and is as immortal as he is.
Addie may have gotten off easy with just the insanity. Slade sure as hell learned better than to play around with the damned serum after Karrion.
Supposedly Karrion's still in the ice where Slade and Pat trapped it during the point where Slade's body had reverted to a twenty-year-old amnesiac idiot, but I wouldn't typically put a whole lot of faith in that. After all, this is comics.
During # 58, that bit where Slade was an amnesiac idiot, Pat told Slade, trying to explain he and Wintergreen, "If I didn't know better, I'd swear you two were gay."
Given that Wintergreen nearly had a heart attack at the stupid boy's rejection of him and of Deathstroke's life... I don't think she knew as much as she thought she did, but that's just me (and mine).
The solo title ends with the kid running off on all on his own, and... that wouldn't have been a horrible ending for the character. Not often the Macbeth character gets a chance at another life, after all.
Other Major Appearances pre-2003
There are two issues of the early Dixon Green Arrow that Slade appears in--apparently set before the last issues of Deathstroke--in which he ran with Ollie. Mostly because Ollie got mistaken for him (Vegas crooks are stupid) and nearly killed before Slade could get into the middle of it. Slade introduced himself as "Jericho's father", and once again referenced the relationship Ollie and Roy had in order to calm GA down. They had several interesting adventures with dealing with the Vegas mafia's mistake, and wound up with a decent working relationship before Ollie took off. Mostly because Ollie doesn't have a lot of room to throw stones about picking up money from mafia dons, and because Slade tends to donate a good part of his fee to charity. Of course, then Ollie ran off and got himself killed.
Then afterwards there was Devin Grayson, who apparently (wisely, in my opinion) missed the last issues of Deathstroke when she started writing 'The Titans'. By issue 8, Slade's there and back to his usual self, up to and including snarky banter with Nightwing, a tight bond with Changeling, and being willing to do damn near anything to rescue his (ex)-wife. Addie'd been taken by Vandal Savage and Gorilla Grodd for one of Savage's experiments with a better immortality.
Grodd, being the evil thing that he is, reached into Slade's mind for what would hurt him worst—and slit Addie's throat in front of him.
Now, Addie'd been shot in the skull and recovered. I'm not entirely sure why this wound was too bad for her to heal, but it apparently was. She would have been caught forever unable to heal, but unable to truly die. She pleaded with Slade for her death, to let her be with her--their--sons... and while Slade was caught frozen, Starfire acted.
"You murdering alien bitch" is a direct quote of how Slade reacted to Kory's action, merciful as she may have intended it to be. And what he thinks of Arsenal's attempt to use Adeline's blood to save Cheshire's life... well, we're probably lucky that didn't get published.
Brotherhood of the Fist
Slade showed up for a few moments in the Brotherhood of the Fist storyline, hired for protection by one of the people Shiva was setting up in the tournament. He had a pretty bad showing of it, but it was one of the few other times he was seen.
Birds of Prey
Then there was Birds of Prey, and I thank Chuck Dixon for both of the storylines he did that used Slade in them. First for the Hunt for Oracle storyline, in which he was his loyal mercenary self making every attempt to get to Grodd to kill him for killing his (ex)wife; and second for the lovely three-part Dino Island story that pretty much launched a 'ship in my part of livejournal (well, really Merfilly's. I just jumped on the bandwagon).
The Slade Chuck Dixon wrote is the last canon Slade that I have any recognition of. Sarcastic, dangerous, and hard-edged as you could imagine... but loyal, patriotic, and a strong ally if you could get on his good side--or were paying him.
When the page closed on Birds of Prey 46... the Slade Wilson I knew and loved disappeared from comics and I haven't seen him since. The character now in canon is unrecognizable to me.
I am not the person to talk to about canon post Graduation Day. I'm just not.
Everything after that miniseries (with a couple of very minor exceptions) has been so far from the character I love that it brings me to tears, makes me scream with fury, and has been the cause of quite a bit of emotional trauma due to LJ-drama.
But... that's the Slade I fell like a ton of bricks for. Hopefully I managed to explain a little of why.
Questions, comments, "oh lord, just shut up already"?