Question: What is the difference between Deathstroke and Deadpool and why do they seem so similar?
Short Answer: Because one is a parody of the other.
The long answer is a humorous take on the constant “borrowing” that DC and Marvel have been doing with each other’s characters since pretty much the beginning of comic book publishing.
Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson, is a classic Teen Titans villain created by Marv Wolfman and first appeared in the The New Teen Titans #2 (Dec 1980).
Deathstroke uses up to 90% of his brain power at one time, and has the strength of 10 men. Because of his brainpower, he’s known as a brilliant tactician, and mainly fights by turning his opponents strengths against them. He also has a “healing factor” like Wolverine but nowhere near as powerful.
Deathstroke is cool because he has a very complex sordid history. He originated from a super-soldier program (sound familiar??) His wife was a military instrucotor while he was parading around as a secret assassin, his son was kidnapped and almost killed by a failed assassination target. His wife shot him in the eye when she found out. After Deathstroke gets his healing factor (through experimentation), he gives his wife a blood transfusion to save her life, but this causes her to go insane. All kinds of juicy family history stuff.
Deathstroke’s family/children and his relationship to them play a huge role in defining the character – especially considering one of his sons was a huge enemy of the Teen Titans (Grant), his son who was kidnapped eventually joins the Teen Titans (as Jericho), and his daughter eventually joined them after he trained her to take them out!
Interestingly enough, Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing) took on the mantle of Nightwing to fight Deathstroke after he took out all the original Teen Titans (Grayson had just retired being Robin). Nightwing teams up with Jericho, but Deathstroke takes him out – at this instant Jericho’s consciousness is transferred into Deathstroke (weird, right??)!
Deadpool is a Rob Liefeld creation and didn’t show up on the scene until the early 90’s (about 12 years later) at the close of The New Mutants #98 (Feb 1991).
At first, Liefeld didn’t intentionally rip off Deathstroke when he came up with the concept, but when he showed his sketches to his co-writer on New Mutants, he gave him shit about it being a complete Deathstroke ripoff, so Liefeld just went with it and named Deadpool Wade Wilson. Deathstroke’s name is Slade Wilson. I think Liefeld considers him a relation to Slade in some kind of alternate universe. Deadpool doesn’t have any special powers apart from his healing factor (similar to Deathstroke) and being a highly trained killer.
A fun little fact to leave you with…
In 2003 (another 12 years later), Superman/Batman writer Joe Kelly took the joke even further by creating an alternate universe version of Deathstroke who acted EXACTLY like Deadpool and looked very similar. In the book he keeps trying to say his name, but gets “interrupted” somehow – the joke being that he probably was going to say Deadpool (which would have been copyright infringement).