Contains Tales of the Teen Titans #42-48, Tales of the Teen Titans Annual #3 (May to November 1984)
Written by Marv Wolfman
Pencilled by George Pérez (#42-48, Annual #3), Steve Rude (#48)
Inked by Dick Giordano (#42-44, Annual #3), Mike DeCarlo (#44-48, Annual #3), Al Gordon (#48)
Coloured by Adrienne Roy
Spoilers from thirty-six years ago
When I picked up this stack of New Teen Titans trades at a convention last year (is that something we will ever get to do safely again?), it was largely because I’ve never read the Judas Contract, the famous story arc featuring Terra and Deathstroke.
I hadn’t realized that that story was in Tales of the Teen Titans, the name that the original New Teen Titans series took on just prior to the New Teen Titans being relaunched in the baxter-paper, direct market only format. Apparently this book continued on its own for a few months before the new “New” series launched, unlike the Legion of Super-Heroes which switched over right away, with Tales of the Legion telling concurrent stories for a year.
None of that matters when you’re reading a collected edition though, because the paper is already nicer. Let’s see if this story is as good as I’ve always heard…
This book features the following characters:
New Teen Titans
- Starfire (Koriand’r/Kory Anders; #42-43, 45-48, Annual #3)
- Wonder Girl (Donna Troy; #42-43, 45-48, Annual #3)
- Dick Grayson/Nightwing (#42-48, Annual #3)
- Changeling (Gar Logan; #42-43, 45, 47-48, Annual #3)
- Terra (Tara Markov; #42)
- Cyborg (Vic Stone; #42-43, 45-48, Annual #3)
- Raven (#42-43, 45-48, Annual #3)
- Kid Flash (Wally West; #45)
- Jericho (Joseph Wilson; #48)
- Deathstroke, the Terminator (Slade Wilson; #42-44, Annual #3)
- Terra (Tara Markov; #43, Annual #3)
- The H.I.V.E (Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Elimination; #43, 45-47, Annual #3)
- Jackal (#44)
- The H.I.V.E Master (#46-47)
- Adeline Kane Wilson (#42-44, Annual #3)
- Jericho (Joseph Wilson #42-47, Annual #3)
- Metamorpho (The Outsiders; Annual #3)
- Geo-Force (Brion Markov; The Outsiders; Annual #3)
- Batman (Bruce Wayne, The Outsiders; Annual #3)
- Robin (Jason Todd; Annual #3)
- Black Lightning (The Outsiders; Annual #3)
- Halo (The Outsiders; Annual #3)
- Katana (The Outsiders; Annual #3)
- Aqualad (Garth; #45-47)
- Aquagirl (Tula; #45-47)
- Wonder Woman (Diana; Justice League of America; #45)
- Hippolyta (Queen of the Amazons; #45)
- Pseudos (Recombatants; #48)
- Aurora (Recombatants; #48)
- Topaz (Recombatants; #48)
- Dreadnaught (Recombatants; #48)
- Terry Long (Donna’s fiance; #42, 45, 48, Annual #3)
- Sarah Simms (Vic’s friend; #42)
- Wintergreen (Deathstroke’s assistant; #42, 44, Annual #3)
- Doctor Jace (Annual #3)
- Maude Stone (Vic’s grandmother; #45-46)
- Tucker Stone (Vic’s grandfather; #45-46)
- Francis Kane (#45)
- Lt. “Tank” Sherman (NYPD; #46)
- Jillian (Gar’s ex; #47-48)
- Steve Dayton (Gar’s adopted step-father; #48)
- Vernon Quester (Gar’s stepfather’s business manager; #48)
Let’s see what happened in the comics, with some commentary as I go:
- This volume opens with Starfire posing for Wonder Girl, who is a photographer, in a very skimpy bathing suit that both Dick Grayson (who doesn’t currently have a superhero identity) and Changeling like. Gar is with Terra, who has a lot of questions about Donna’s business. We see that Tara is taking photos with her contact lens camera, which we know she is sending to Deathstroke, as she discovers the Titans’ secrets. A little later, they hang out at Donna’s, with her fiance Terry Long. Terry and Donna talk about their troubles finding a venue for their wedding, and Gar offers his step-father’s mansion grounds. Donna asks Kory and Tara to be bridesmaids, and asks Dick to walk her down the aisle. Later, Gar and Tara leave Dick outside his building, and then go to watch Cyborg skate on the frozen Central Park pond with Sarah Simms and her students. When Vic falls down, Gar laughs at him. They walk him home too, where he finds a letter informing him that his grandparents (whom he’s never mentioned) are on their way will be coming to New York in the next month; he is not so happy to learn this. When Gar leaves Tara at the docks, so she can take that weird flat skiff back to Titans’ Island, they kiss. At Titans’ Tower, Tara chats with Raven for a bit, who admits that she senses corruption in Tara, and doesn’t trust her. The next day, Vic pushes himself, testing his strength against a training contraption and breaking it. Next, Donna and Kory practice fighting with staffs on a platform in their pool. Kory knocks Donna into the water, and then they embrace, as their friendship keeps getting stronger. As this happens, Tara takes mental notes about their abilities and how to defeat them in battle. She and Gar spar outside, and Gar takes things too far, teasing and mocking Tara until (as Raven watches, suspecting her again) she knocks him out. When the others admonish her, she claims that she was triggered by Gar’s words, reminding them that she was held captive by terrorists for a long time. Later, Deathstroke tells her that she made a mistake by losing her temper, but Tara insists that she has things under control. Deathstroke feels that his files are complete, and prepares to enact his revenge against the Titans for the death of his son, and to complete his contract with the H.I.V.E., which has been open since the first volume of this series. They prepare to leave in a helicopter, accompanied by Wintergreen. Slade doesn’t know that he’s being watched by a woman and someone with blonde curly hair; the woman believes it’s time for her plans to go into action.
- Dick is at home, typing on a typewriter when Deathstroke comes bursting through his window, making it clear that he knows who Dick used to be. As they fight, it dawns on Dick that Deathstroke may have gone after the whole team already. Dick maneuvers his way out the window, and runs from Deathstroke, who chases him into a park but loses him in a marathon. The woman from the last issue is watching with the other person, named Joseph, and comments on how Slade’s getting sloppy. Deathstroke is annoyed, and starts to suspect that his failure is because he’s been relying on help from Terra. Dick heads for Kory and Donna’s place, where he finds that the apartment is trashed. He sees a card for Kory, signed with his name, and we see that Kory found a gift outside her door. When she opened it, there was an explosion that knocked her out. Next Dick goes to Donna’s photo studio, where he finds evidence that she was attacked too. We see that Deathstroke replaced her developing chemicals, and knocked her out. Taking Donna’s car, Dick heads to Vic’s apartment, not knowing that the woman and Joseph were following; they decide to head to the east side. In Vic’s apartment, Dick finds that his chair has been wired. We see that Vic sat in it while reading the letter from his grandparents, and electrocuted. Trying to think through everything, Dick heads to Titans’ Tower. There, he finds evidence that Terra was in a fight, and sees that the column of earth she called forth leads to Raven’s room. The woman, named Adeline, and Joseph appear in front of Dick, and tell him that Raven was captured by Terra. She explains that Tara works with Deathstroke. Dick doesn’t believe it, but Adeline explains that Tara attacked Raven while she was meditating, and was able to take her down. She also says that Tara hates Raven (which just makes her a more relatable character from my perspective). Adeline continues to explain that Tara was put into the group to learn the Titans’ secrets, and that it can’t be a surprise that it wasn’t long after they revealed themselves to her that they’ve all been captured (I guess Deathstroke doesn’t need Kid Flash). Dick wants to check on Gar before believing any of this; it becomes clear that Adeline wants Dick to work with her, but we don’t know to what end. At Dayton Manor, the new butler isn’t sure if Gar is home. The maid goes looking for him, but finds a stack of fan letters instead. In a flashback, we see that Gar started responding to requests for signed photos, and that Deathstroke had laced the glue on the envelopes, so that Gar licked himself into unconsciousness. Dick talks to Adeline some more, and learns she was married to Deathstroke. In the Rocky Mountains, Deathstroke takes the Titans to HIVE’s base, completing his dead son’s contract.
- Dick wants answers from Adeline and Joseph, and when he challenges the mutton-chopped young man, he learns that Joseph is mute. Adeline tells the story of how she met Slade Wilson when she was a Captain in the Army in the days before the Vietnam War. She was training elite soldiers, and Slade stood out in her eyes. We saw how he excelled on the training field, and how only Adeline was able to best him. Of course, she ended up training him personally, and they became close. One day, Adeline met Wintergreen, Slade’s only friend (who was portrayed as being pretty old even twenty years prior). Slade and Adeline married, but shortly after, the war broke out in Vietnam, and Slade was sent there, while Adeline stayed home with baby Grant. Dick asks about Slade’s obvious metahuman abilities, and Adeline explains that she learned from Wintergreen that Slade was chosen for an experiment that went wrong. He was basically comatose, and dismissed from duty, but quickly recovered physically, if not mentally. Upon learning that Wintergreen was taken prisoner by the Viet Cong, Slade left his young family. As it turns out, Adeline was rich, so after Slade returned, they focused on easy living, except Slade would often go off on hunting expeditions. The Wilsons threw big parties, and Slade would often spend the evening chatting privately with diplomats and the like. One day, when their second son Joseph was a pre-teen, some masked men invaded their home when Slade was away, looking for Deathstroke the Terminator. Adeline fought and killed most of them, but one took Joseph and left after she was gassed. After Slade came home, he had to admit to Adeline that he was Deathstroke; he suited up (at that point, his entire mask was orange and had two eye holes) and went to the spot identified in a ransom call. Adeline insisted on coming with him. They learned that their son was being held by the Jackal, a mercenary who wanted to know who hired Slade to kill his friend. One of the Jackal’s mercs held a knife to young Joseph’s throat, but Slade refused to reveal his employer’s name, citing his honour. Instead, Slade made his move, throwing his sword at the merc, who still ended up cutting Joseph’s throat. Deathstroke killed the others and rushed the bleeding Joseph to the hospital. Adeline explains that Joseph lost his voice, and explains that their other son was the Ravager, who is dead now. Dick learns that Adeline confronted Slade, and ended up shooting him in the eye, blinding him; if he didn’t have super-reflexes, she would have killed him. She explains that she has been tracking Slade, and knows about his plan using Terra to infiltrate the Titans (although I’m not sure how she would have learned that). Dick excuses himself, knowing he needs to suit up. He spends a page thinking about how he was raised by his parents, Batman, and sort of by Superman (that feels like a stretch), and wants to use an identity that honors them all. He has a new costume, and reveals himself to Adeline and Joseph as Nightwing. He’s surprised to see Joseph dressed up too (I think anyone would be surprised to see someone choosing to dress like that), and Adeline introduces him as Jericho. Dick doesn’t want Joseph’s help, until Jericho uses his powers to take over his body and hit himself in the face. We learn that he got his powers because of Slade’s altered physiology, and they take the jet together to go save the rest of the Titans, while Adeline hangs out in the Tower.
- Tales of the Teen Titans Annual #3 contains the conclusion to the Judas Contract storyline. At the HIVE base in the Rocky Mountains, all of the HIVE forces – guys in purple robes, and other guys dressed as purple stormtroopers, gather in a large assembly room so they can look at the Titans, who are all strapped to large carnival crucifixion contraption. Raven is unconscious, but the others trade quips with Deathstroke while a HIVE guy talks about how the device, the Enervator, will drain their energy and use it to kill them. Deathstroke reveals to the team that Terra was working for him and betrayed them. To really drive home the fact that she’s evil, Terra smokes a cigarette and talks like a Coney Island carny. Outside the HIVE base, Nightwing and Jericho approach, and start to take out the guards. The HIVE people point out that Deathstroke failed to get them Kid Flash or Robin (not knowing that Dick has changed identities); Deathstroke responds by saying that since Kid Flash left the team, he’d cost extra. He asks to use a phone to speak to his associate about Dick’s whereabouts. Wintergreen tells him that he has no idea where Dick has gone, and we see that Adeline is holding the older man at gunpoint. She gets Wintergreen to explain why he and Slade are so close, and he tells the story of how Slade rescued him from the Viet Cong, dressed in a hastily put together version of the costume he would eventually wear as Deathstroke the Terminator. As Dick and Joseph make their way through the HIVE base, Joseph uses his powers to take over a HIVE guy while Dick knocks out another. Dick borrows the guy’s purple robes, while Joseph takes command of his guy, who is unconscious, allowing him full control (but, weirdly, not the ability to change the man’s speech patterns). They hear that the HIVE Master is supposed to be coming, and join the rest of the purple robe brigade in front of the Enervator. The HIVE guy in charge says something about an Operation: Waterworks, that is suffering from a setback, but will be able to harness the power of the Enervator. When the guy Joseph is controlling starts to wake up, he knows he won’t be able to control his mouth, so he and Dick reveal themselves, and start fighting all the HIVE guys. Joseph’s abilities come in handy for creating confusion in the large crowd, but when Dick uses a gas grenade, it disrupts Joseph’s ability to make eye contact with his targets. As they escape a group of purple stormtroopers, they are found by Terra, who uses her powers to bring them down (she recognizes Joseph from somewhere). Slade returns to the Enervator (now not in a huge chamber), and speaks to the head HIVE guy. Terra arrives with Nightwing and Jericho already trussed up, ready to be added to the strange-looking device. Kory is surprised to realize that Nightwing is Dick, and Slade is surprised to learn that the contract on the Titans his son took out was for the powers he already had, not for money. Slade realizes that his son is being held prisoner too, and demands he be freed. Terra realizes his relation to Slade, and reveals it. When Slade looks at Joseph, he takes over his body, slaps Terra, and shoots the Enervator, freeing the Titans. They start fighting all the HIVE guys, while Terra thinks that Deathstroke betrayed her, and decides she wants to kill him. Raven tries to stop her, but she just gets a punch in the face for her troubles. Slade tries to explain that he can’t control himself, and things get ever more chaotic. The HIVE guys evacuate, while the Titans try to stop them, and as Deathstroke tries to explain that his son is controlling his body to Terra. Joseph lets him go, and she attacks him. Dick knocks her in the head with a throwing thing, and Slade turns on him. Tara and Slade confront each other again, and Tara (who is barely sixteen) mentions that they are lovers, which is even worse than Donna’s relationship with Terry. Gar tries to help Terra, believing that she’s playing him, but she hurts his feelings and dumps him through the floor. Donna tries to stop her, while Kory and Vic try to stop Slade. Tara seems increasingly unhinged and filled with hate; she uses her powers to encase Gar and Dick in rock. Raven tries to hold Tara in her control while Donna works to free Dick before he suffocates. Slade wrecks Vic’s arms, and it’s Jericho who takes him out with his own weapon. Tara becomes even more unhinged, and ends up burying herself under tons of rock, which the team barely manages to avoid. Later, after wrapping up the HIVE guys, the team tries to dig Tara out of the rocks. Gar is very upset. Dick thanks Joseph for helping them, and then Donna tells him that they found Tara’s body. The next morning (which seems fast to me), the Titans, Batman, the new Robin (that was fast) and the Outsiders, with Doctor Jace, gather for Tara’s funeral. It becomes clear that they decided to allow Geo-Force to believe his sister died a hero. We see that Adeline and Joseph are watching the funeral from a distance; it seems that Adeline wants Joseph to stay with the team.
- The cover of issue forty-five shows Aqualad emerging from the elevator in Titans’ Tower, looking worse for wear, and holding Aquagirl, who is in even worse shape, in his arms, asking for help. The story continues from there, as he discovers that no one is in the Tower. He makes his way for the pool, hoping he can use it to revive the two of them, but collapses before he gets there. Changeling watches an arms deal go down at the docks, and then springs into action. He loses his temper on the men fighting him, and it looks like he’s going to hurt them, but Cyborg shows up to try to stop him. Gar is furious with Vic and the rest of the Titans, and we learn that everyone has been avoiding him right when he needs to talk to them about what happened with Terra. He storms off, and Vic feels guilty. Vic’s grandparents show up at his apartment, annoyed that he’s not there, and using a hatpin, break in. Vic, meanwhile, is at a payphone, trying to get a hold of Gar at Dayton Manor, but the butler explains that Gar, Dayton, and Questor are all away. An unseen person finds Garth and Tula at Titans’ Tower. Dick is at Terry Long’s bachelor party, where we learn that Terry’s brothers are sleazier than he is. Donna and Kory are on Paradise Island. While Kory chats with the Amazons, Donna speaks to her mother, Hippolyta, about wanting to marry Terry, despite the fact that it’s against the rules for Amazons. Hippolyta explains that the rules don’t apply the same way to her, and Diana (aka Wonder Woman) gives her some new bracelets. Raven leaves her college class, and some guy tries to get her to agree to go out for coffee with him, but when she sees Joseph come to pick her up, she blows the guy off. In the car, Raven finds it easy to talk to the mute Joseph, but then senses something wrong at the Tower and teleports away; Joseph decides to follow. She arrives at the Tower, where she finds Nightwing, Kory, Donna, and surprisingly, Wally West (aka Kid Flash) and Frances Kane. It was them who found Garth and Tula, who now float in a big tank. Raven tells Wally she is happy to see him, but it’s awkward. Wally is upset with all of the Titans that they didn’t tell her about Tara’s funeral (they still don’t tell him that she was a traitor, which is odd). Dick figures out that there is some kind of chemical in Garth and Tula’s lungs which is making it hard for them to breathe in the water, but he’s able to fix things. Once they’ve recovered, Garth explains that he and Tula were out swimming around when they felt a blast in the water. Investigating, they found an installation (which we recognize as belonging to HIVE), and were attacked by purple clothed scuba divers. Already starting to feel weaker, they fled, and headed for the Titans’ Tower. Dick wants to deal with the HIVE again, but Wally refuses their request to join them (they are shorthanded with Vic off looking for Gar). Jericho shows up, and offers to come. As Wally and Frances head towards the shore on that weird flat skiff, they talk about the fact that Wally’s powers are causing him a lot of pain; he feels that if Raven really cared about him, she’d already know that. Dick pilots the team’s submarine, as Garth and Tula lead the way.
- The Titans pilot their sub, while Aqualad and Aquagirl accompany them, riding on whales. The underwater HIVE base they are approaching is aware of their approach, and the person in charge of the base, Number 13, speaks with the HIVE Master. The HIVE Master is not what I expected; to begin with, she looks exactly like Princess Projectra from the Legion of Super-Heroes, and talks about how much it hurt her when Deathstroke killed so many of her main guys a few volumes back. She wants the Titans lured into the base, and suggests that the outer defenses be convincing, but not enough to stop them. As the team travels, Raven talks to Jericho about how hurt she is about Terra being a traitor, and suggests that the team might never accept him because of who his father is. Kory marvels at the fact that, after they killed her first boyfriend, Kory wanted to destroy the HIVE, but now she just wants to stop it. The base fires missiles at the sub, which its shields withstands, but Garth and Tula have to stop the next round of missiles. HIVE divers emerge to attack, and Garth and Tula, communicating telepathically, start fighting them. Tula infiltrates the base to open the sub doors, and starts fighting some HIVE guys. She gets shot with an energy weapon, and both Garth and Raven feel her pain. Raven teleports into the base, where she loses control and starts to hurt the HIVE guys. Garth gets there too, and when he touches Raven, she sends him flying before snapping out of her trance and realizing what she’s done. Back in New York, Victor feels bad for not being a better friend to Gar. He arrives home and finds his grandparents in his apartment. He gets angry, and we see old Vic for a bit. He tells his grandparents off for not coming for his father’s funeral or when he got hurt, and tells them that they are bad parents and grandparents. His grandmother stands up to him, defends the way they raised Silas, and then tells Vic that they knew about his injury. She talks about the difficulty of raising black children in America, and Vic softens; he ends up embracing them both. Near the docks, Lt. “Tank” Sherman is responding to a call in the pouring rain. A young woman was attacked by a mugger but was saved by a green tiger that almost killed the mugger. The HIVE Master learns that the Titans have entered their base, and wants attack squads after them. The Titans arrive as Raven restores Tula. Joseph takes over an unconscious HIVE guy so he can talk to the team, and leaving Raven behind to recover, the team makes their way to the central chamber of the base. They face some resistance, and fight them. The HIVE Master wants to talk to her Council of Seven in the Waterworks chamber. Kory figures out that the guards are herding them somewhere. Raven manages to calm herself down and block Trigon’s influence. The team realizes they are in a trap, but not before the room they’re in starts to seal itself. The room launches itself into the ocean, and then explodes.
- The HIVE Master shares a toast with her Council of Seven, celebrating the death of the Titans, but then they see on a monitor that Raven’s soul-self is floating where the exploding room was. Garth and Tula come shooting out of the soul-self, and smash into the HIVE base. Raven releases the others just as some guards approach, and Kory blasts them. This was all too much for Raven, and she teleports away, apologizing for leaving. The HIVE guy that Joseph had possessed offers to betray the HIVE, since they would have killed him, and to help the Titans take them down. He reveals that the HIVE wants to destroy Atlantis. Back at Titans’ Tower, Gar is feeling sorry for himself because Tara betrayed him. Vic arrives, and tries to talk to Gar about how he’s been beating on criminals. Gar is upset with Vic, and says he feels completely alone. It’s at that point that a young woman walks in – it’s Jillian, his old girlfriend whose father moved to London to get her away from Gar. Now she’s got pink hair, but she tells Gar that she still loves him. He still intends to kill Deathstroke, though… The Titans split into two teams, and both are confronted by a lot of HIVE soldiers. Donna, Tula, Joseph, and Kory fight a lot of them while Dick, Garth, and the HIVE guy move towards the control centre. The HIVE Master, who is a very unlikely mastermind, decides to activate all the weapons in the base, which fall on the ‘guns in the floors’ spectrum. Kory is knocked unconscious, but Joseph takes over her body. When they are met with a wall of flame, Donna suggests he fly through it in Kory’s body. Dick, Garth, and the guy find their way to a chamber where a massive missile is being prepped to destroy Atlantis. An energy web blocks Joseph/Kory’s path, while the HIVE Master starts to think there’s only one way out of this situation. Dick takes out the power to all the weapons, making it easy for Joseph/Kory to keep going. The missile is fired, and Garth jumps on it, Bucky Barnes style. He’s able to redirect it as it approaches Atlantis, but when it explodes, it’s not clear if he made it or not, or if the city is damaged. Kory and Joseph discover the bodies of the Council of Seven and the HIVE Master; it appears they’ve committed suicide. A video begins to play of the HIVE Master talking about how she wanted to poison the oceans and blackmail world governments into putting her in charge, and how they only ever attacked the Titans in the first place to make a name for themselves. Donna figures out that the recording is a stalling tactic, and rushes the team to their sub; they escape just as the base explodes (presumably they pick up Dick and the HIVE guy on their way). As they leave the area, they pass Garth and Tula, who are making out. In orbit, Lyla informs the Monitor that the HIVE has been destroyed.
- Most of issue 48 was drawn by Steve Rude, and it’s a nice change of visual pace. In a lab somewhere, four powered beings (Aurora, Pseudos, Topaz, and Dreadnaught) are fighting for their freedom upon learning they are going to be killed. We learn they are the products of experiments with recombinant DNA and promethium gene-splicing, and are slated for destruction. When men with guns start firing on them, they fight back and escape. Four tough guys who look like they’ve stepped out of a Paul Gulacy comic try to mug Vic, and he puts a stop to them. He receives a call from the team, telling him there’s a problem at the Dayton Industries lab in Nevada. Dick, Kory, Vic, Donna, and Jericho (who I guess is on the team now?) take the jet, discussing the four artificial intelligences they are searching four. Those four, the Recombatants, explore Los Vegas. The Titans approach them, and they fight. Pseudos, the shapeshifter, takes on Jericho’s appearance, but reveals himself by talking. Slowly, the Titans realize that the Recombatants are not bad, but simply want to keep living. Donna stops the fight, and the Titans take them to Dayton Industries, where Aurora learns that her powers inadvertently led to the deaths of two of the men who tried to kill them. She feels bad. The doctor in charge points out how the next generation of Recombatants are being grown, and they won’t have the same defects that made the first batch, basically, decent people. The team takes a stand, saying they won’t allow the Recombatants to be killed, so the Dayton doctor calls for the guards. The Recombatants sneak off during the chaos, and Topaz starts to destroy the machinery that is needed to create future iterations of them. The Titans try to get to them, but by the time they get to them, the whole room is burning. The Titans get back to the hallway, and there is an explosion, killing the Recombatants and destroying the machinery.
- The epilogues to issue forty-eight were drawn by Pérez. Gar and his friend Jillian are in Dayton Manor, planning Donna and Terry’s wedding. Steve Dayton shows up, and is angry and abusive towards Gar. He claims there will be no wedding, but Vernon Questor says it will be fine. A bunch of female students give Terry Long wedding gifts, including a transparent bikini, while a colleague keeps talking about how lucky Terry is in a lecherous way. Terry is upset to hear from his ex-wife, and later tells Donna that he’s worried that his ex doesn’t want his daughter to attend their wedding. At Titans’ Tower, Joseph wants to check on Raven, but she refuses to let him into her room, out of fear that she will hurt him.
I’ll agree that these are classic issues. In 1984, had there ever been a betrayal at this scale in comics? I wonder if it would have been more surprising had Wolfman and Pérez kept Terra’s secret from the readers as well, but still, it was easy to sympathize for Gar and the others as they realized they’d been had.
The further development of Deathstroke as a character is actually the stuff I liked best in these issues. Slade Wilson is one of my favourite DC characters (although most of the credit for that goes to Priest’s incredible Rebirth series a couple of years ago), and it was cool to see the roots of his friendship with Wintergreen, and the depths of his family’s dysfunction.
That said, there are things about the Judas Contract that I have some problems with. I think the first thing we need to discuss is Jericho. It’s cool to see a character who is unable to speak, and I appreciate how Pérez wrote in the afterword about how portraying Joseph caused him to really up his game. There are two things I don’t understand about Jericho though.
The first is the ease with which the Titans accept him on the team (not that that was ever made official in this volume) after his father planted a mole on the team to try to kill them. Everyone trusts Joseph right away? That seems unlikely to me.
The other issue I have with this character is that he has to have one of the worst designs I’ve ever seen. He’s a teenage boy with bushy mutton chops? Has that ever happened before? And what’s with his costume? He has flouncy blouse sleeves and a purple and gold vest. I love and respect Pérez as an artist, but he has a long history of unfortunate character designs. Looking over his entire career though, I don’t know that he’s made an uglier character than Jericho, and I can’t believe that this look would have worked in any aspect of the 80s.
Similarly, I hate the first Nightwin outfit. I’m not saying it’s not an improvement on Robin’s look (which really has to be awkward to wear as a 19 or 20 year old), but the open chest and massive collar just don’t work for me.
I also think this might be a good place to talk about the HIVE. At first, I took it as a generic evil scientist organization, DC’s AIM, more or less, but things get really weird with this issue. Their entire plan seems to be to trap the Titans in a giant base in the Rockies so they can sap their life energy to run a base under the Atlantic, in order to poison the oceans, so the world’s governments will give them control. That all sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? Especially for an organization called The Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Elimination. I don’t know if this is vengeance or elimination (unless, of course, the poisoned ocean gives everyone diarrhea, in which case, it’s practically in their mission statement).
Okay, I can accept a big ridiculous world dominion plot, because that’s comics. But why does HIVE wear purple sorcerer robes? And what’s the deal with the unnamed HIVE Master? She’s portrayed as this kind woman, encircled by plants and songbirds, who mourns the loss of her underlings in one place, and then kills more of them in another. I’m thankful that villains have become more nuanced in more recent times; this whole HIVE thing is strange.
Among the things I liked most about this volume is the way in which Gar is handled. His wisecracks have been pretty annoying up to now (not to mention hella dated), but as he deals with Terra’s betrayal, and the cold shoulder the rest of the team gave him (perhaps uncharacteristically) after he death, he finally becomes a little more manageable.
The stuff with Vic’s grandparents is kind of odd. I assume they will be turning up again, as so far, their inclusion in the story doesn’t seem too interesting.
Wolfman and Pérez wrapped up some long-running plotlines in this volume, as they prepared to relaunch the title in the new, “deluxe” format. I can tell that there is a big Raven story in the works, which makes me apprehensive, as I still cannot stand that character. I don’t know if that’s going to be the next volume in these trades, or the one after that, but I’m hoping that something magical happens, and Raven becomes a little more palatable to me.
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New Teen Titans Vol. 7
Tags: DC Comics, Deathstroke, Judas Contract, New Teen Titans, Retro Reviews