The Teen Titans' "Arch Villain", Slade, aka. Deathstroke the Terminator in the comics, is a mysterious enemy. A calculating, cunning opponent, Slade is a master of robotics and hand-to-hand combat. Adept at manipulating those around him through a myriad of mind-games, Slade's ultimate goal has remained largely unknown to the Titans, however, it has always threatened the greater Jump City area.
One thing has been certain, he has been looking for an apprentice. First, his sights landed on Robin, who he forced to work for him as a successor by threatening the other Titans' lives. After Robin broke free of Slade's twisted plot, the Titans shortly after encountered Terra, a girl who could manipulate the very ground beneath her feet. However, Terra struggled with her powers, which Slade then took advantage of to convince Terra to be his new apprentice. Terra eventually died trying to stop Slade and for a time, she succeeded, with Slade apparently falling into a pit of lava. During the time of Slade's apparent demise, Robin continued to doubt that Slade was really gone though. Slade was later brought back to the land of the living by Trigon, Raven's demonic father. After his defeat, Slade parted ways with the demon, his motives and goals still unknown.
In the cartoon, Slade was always simply known as "Slade", though in the comics, he is more widely known by his code name "Deathstroke the Terminator". For this story, Slade follows the general continuity of events of the cartoon, however, his backstory, history, and relations follow more so that of his comic book counter-part, which thankfully, the Teen Titans cartoon's ambiguity of Slade and his motives allowed for. Here, "Deathstroke the Terminator" becomes his "title" amongst the villain community, which lends to him being a revered force to be reconded with, despite his tendencies to stay behind the scenes.
Gaining his powers through military experimentation after a recent marriage and birth of his first son, Slade can use 90% of his brain and is specially trained in martial arts and all manners of warfare, in addition to his robotic technological know-how as shown in the cartoon. After being discharged from the military, Slade grew restless, eventually taking on assassinations for hire, during which time his second son was born. In attempts to get back at Slade, those seeking vengeance kidnapped his son. Though his son was saved, it came at a terrible cost. The event destroyed Slade's family, after which Slade took to Jump City, a place far removed from the events of that tragedy.
It was here that he became the primary nemesis of the Teen Titans as well as first encountered Robin, the Boy Wonder, who he instantly recognized as a very similar person to himself. Even after the loss of Robin's forced apprenticeship to him, Slade has always kept a close eye on him, easily regarding Robin as the most intriguing and potentially most difficult of the Titans to defeat, despite the teen's lack of traditional "superpowers".
Personality and Relationships:
Slade, though at first glance incredibly evil, in many ways makes his decisions based off of very human desires and instincts. There's a lot of things that Slade wants that he won't openly admit to or even admit to himself, such as a desire for a family or to fulfill the role of a parent. He is a former army man and lives for the adrenaline rush that comes with being in the center of danger. He rarely thinks of the well being of others unless it benefits him in some manner though. Rather aloof, Slade tends to work from behind the scenes, only really stepping into a situation when it 1. calls for it or 2. he finds it to be intriguing.
Slade is divorced and has two sons from the marriage, none of whom he has any constant contact with. He is aware of the dealings of his wife and youngest son to some extent, but his oldest son's whereabouts remain unknown. A former army buddy, Wintergreen, remains at Slade's side, working as Slade's butler of sorts after an incident in which Slade saved his life. However, Wintergreen holds little to no sway on Slade once his mind has been made up.
If I had to fight any villain, I most certainly would not want to fight Slade, particularly if he had something against me. He may even beat out the Joker on my 'Hope I Never in Any Universe Come Across This Person' list.
I think the reason for this comes down to the fact that I find Slade to be scary because he is a master at control. One of the many things we all have as human beings is the gift of agency and freewill. We can choose what we do, what we want, and how we respond to events that occur in our lives. Now imagine having your choices taken away, restricted, or limited. Imagine being unable to make the choices you want to make because someone else threatens to do something terrible if you choose one way over the other. In this way, Slade literally attempts to strip down people's ability to choose to do as they please or see fit and that is extremely unnerving.
When I first watched Slade in "Masks", I found his language to be rather terrifyingly calm, as though gliding over water without making any ripples, but then freezing it after passing by. The way he phrased things, how he picked out his words, all to have the effect of mentally challenging and toying with his enemy was new and different to me and suddenly, right as the world around me was seeming so bleak out of nowhere, I understood why. Because sadly, there are people who do this kind of thing (on a much smaller level) every day. And that meant a person like Slade could exist.
Now that was scary.
Another part of Slade's intrigue as a villain I believe comes from how he takes almost a 'parental' role with the Titans. From the comics, to the cartoon, he consistently looks at the Titans like they are children and often speaks to them in such a manner, consistently berating, correcting, and sometimes even (in a twisted way) chastising them through out. Young adults, or teenagers, in particular are very susceptible to being provoked or to falling into a state of uncertainty when faced with this kind of rhetoric. It's as though one is trying to have confidence in one's self and one's own capabilities but then is consistently being told 'no, you can't do this'. After a while, sometimes one might start to believe it and that's exactly what Slade wants.