Comic books have been a staple of American culture since the early 1930s, just as Japan is famous for manga and anime. Comic books developed from the comic strips in newspapers, grouped together to form a more cohesive story with deeper plot. As the superheros genre came to the front of comic books, they began to become more widespread and tell a larger story.

Comic books are grouped into several distinct periods; the Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age and, finally, the Modern Age, and over the years the artwork of comics has evolved into a subgenre all its own.

1930-1950: Golden Age

Golden Age comic books were the first real comic books to ever develop, and perpetrated the superhero archetype. Superman was the first of these superheros ever created, with Batman and Captain America following close second. The Golden Age was characterized by ideaological visions of society expressed through the righteous, morally perfect heroes and the clear distinction between good and evil. Golden Age comic book art was often very bright in color and not a lot of attention was paid to form or appearance, the artists mainly concerned with getting the story across through the dialogue and the narration. Characters almost always spoke about their actions out loud to allow the readers to understand better what was going on, and colors and forms were very simple and limited. There was little to no subtlety of emotion and symbolism in the Golden Age comics that would come to define the Iron to Modern Age.

Captain America in the Golden Age comic books. Notice the disproportions of the body and awkwardness of the stance and muscles.

1956-1971: Silver Age

Comic book art during the Silver Age began to focus less on moralization and the blaack and white contrast between good and evil, and introduce morally ambiguous characters, though not to the extent the Bronze Age would explore. Art was still focused less around form and visual appearance but more around portraying the story adequately; faces were slightly more naturally expressioned and animated, but still everything remained very stiff, rigid and by the book.


1971-1980: Bronze Age

The Bronze Age followed the Vietnam War and the disillusionment of it, and began to delve even further into morally ambiguous characters, creating anti-heroes, villains with morality, tragic villains, etc; the art began to pay more and more attention to form and dimensionality and realism of the figures. The Bronze Age was short-lived and ushered in the Iron Age of comic books, which most people born in the current generation are familiar with. Outfits also became less outlandish, women became less sexualized in some ways and more sexualized in others, and comic books outside the traditional 'superhero' genre began to appear.

The art of Bronze Age comic books was more focused on form and style, giving the characters realistic proportions, more depth to their surroundings, and a greater range of colors was generally used. This is also when subtlety of expressions and words began to develop, and characters no longer narrated all their actions to the reader but rather were shown in action. Artists also experimented with different perspectives to add interest to panels, and the panels themselves began to change shape and arrangement, adding more interest to the overall page.

7498856764_317a3c718f_z.jpg Captain America as he appears in the Bronze Age comics. Much greater attention is paid to proportion, realistic modeling, shading, depth, perspective and form.

Deathstroke the Terminator

Following the new interest in anti-hero and morally ambiguous characters begun in the Bronze Age, DC released a new comic series following the character of Deathstroke, a vicious master mercenary and villain from the Green Arrow and New Teen Titans comic series, who was so popular he got his own comic line. The comics are still running today and, surprisingly for such a little-known villain, Deathstroke is one of the most widely-utilized DC villains.
The first-ever release of the Annual Deathstroke the Terminator.

Deathstroke was a Bronze-Age series released in 1991 by DC after the character's debut in and subsequent popularity from the 1980 Teen Titans series. The artwork was sub-revoluntionary, following the change in style that Batman experienced closely and experimenting further with texture and shading that many comics never had. Instead of solely relying on crosshatching and penwork to show shadow, the artists began to use color to highlight and shade muscle, skin, faces, and more, lending to a far greater range of expression and depth than any comics before. Many comics quickly followed suite; despite Deathstroke being a little-known name outside of the comic book world, the assassin was such a fan favorite that Deathstroke has made numerous appearances in multiple games, TV shows, other comics, and various other media. Deathstroke also remains one of the few characters who has ever defeated Batman multiple times in hand-to-hand combat.

As compared to Deathstroke in the 2013 TV series Arrow.

Marv Wolfman was the script writer and mastermind behind the Deathstroke series, with pencils by Steve Erwin and state-of-the-art inks by Will Blyberg, in colobaration with George Perez. Deathstroke's New 52 relaunch is penned, drawn and inked by Rob Liefield, who has closely followed his predecessors in style and costume choice, merely modernizing Deathstroke's signature look to appeal to a new generation of comic-book enthusiasts. A sidebar series in Ravager by George Perez chronicles the (mis)adventures of Deathstroke's wayward antihero daughter Rose Wilson, the newest Ravager. Perez and Liefield often have bounced ideas off one another.

Deathstroke has been adapted for a vast variety of DC storylines, including the CW TV series Arrow, the Cartoon Network animated series Teen Titans, the Teen Titans Go comic series based off the former show, and the Superman live-action series Smallville. Deathstroke has also spawned a stylistically similar parody series by Marvel called Deadpool, which has now reached cult sensation. Deadpool's design has also changed, now that he's moved beyond being just a parody of Deathstroke to being his own, bizarre, entity in the comic book world.

deathstroke the terminator 36.jpg
The original style of Deathstroke, evolving over the years after its initial release in 1991. Slade's outfit has changed multiple times, but up until the 200s continued to retain the blue-and-orange color scheme that, in all honesty, would probably make any stealth operations difficult at best. The outfit went through a few intriguing changes, going from the above outfit (see the first Deathstroke release) to a light blue one-piece suit with a darker blue triangle over the chest, and later a black and blue "stealth" outfit that bears a striking resemblance to what would become Teen Titans Slade.

Deathstroke, referred to as only 'Slade' in the Teen Titans animated series. He was designed and animated by Glen Murakami and voiced by Ron Perlman (Hellboy). Slade's signature blue-and-orange style is not utilized in this series, instead having him adopt a black and silver, armored outfit. The orange-copper mask with the unique eye hole design is the only element this version of Slade retains from his original counterpart's color scheme. Despite this, the outfit more or less closely mirrors Deathstroke's original design. The areas that are silver on his arms and torso are a lighter blue scale armor in the original Deathstroke design, and the armor plating on his wrists and calves is reminiscent of his orange gloves and boots. The utility belt and sash have likewise remained.
Deathstroke's name was changed to merely his first name, Slade, due to censorship reasons.

Deathstroke in the animated series Young Justice. The show was created by Greg Weisman and Deathstroke's design combined elements of his Teen Titans show incarnation and his New-52 redesign, as well as similarities to his old design. The New 52 release of Deathstroke changed the orange in his outfit to a goldenrod, which was used here, as well as a cool-grey color scheme reminiscent of the Teen Titans Slade. Deathstroke was not the main focus of the show, but rather made a few cameos. In this incarnation, he was voiced by Wentworth Miller and Fred Tatasciore.

Deathstroke in the New 52 re-release of the series launched by DC in 2012. The New 52 relaunch did not simply redo the original Deathstroke stories but built upon them to give him new storylines. The artwork and character design reflected a more modernized world than the previous one, with Deathstroke's armor being more state-of-the-art and up to date despite its same stand-out blue and [now goldenrod] color scheme. His mask is no longer so much a cloth over his face as a metal helmet, as shown by the red lens over the eye. The armor has also changed significantly.

Concept artwork for the Season 2 redesign of Deathstroke in the CW TV series Arrow, played by Manu Bennett. The TV series brings most of the New-52 designs to life in a practical, more militarized way, but his signature half-orange mask remains. For the sake of stealth, most of the bright blue and orange has been replaced with black or dark blue-gray, but elements of both colors remain to cement the design in its history.
The Deathstroke skin from the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game. Very similar to the New 52 outfit, despite having more metal armor.

Deathstroke in the Warner Brothers video game Arkham Origins. The Deathstroke design and skin was created by Jeremy Price and his design team and bears many resemblances to the Arrow series incarnation, with the heavy-duty, militarized armor. Instead of blue armor, however, his armor is pure black and orange.