Rating 4.5/5 – There’s so much to say about Teen Titans The Judas Contract. It’s one of those stories comic geeks hold on a pretty high pedestal. Teen Titans The Judas Contract is a highly respected story. It’s fair to say the story is up there with some of the big ones. I pointed out in more than a few posts that in comics many of what people think of “classic” were really cool art that had no real story behind it. The New Teen Titans were the perfect union of art and story and this is because of the veterans Marv Wolfman and George Perez. I could do a post about either of those two veterans. Let’s start with the New Teen Titans and 1980.
In 1980 DC decide to revamp the old Teen Titans comic which started as an insert story in Brave and the Bold in 1966 and ended in 1973. The idea behind the Teen Titans being they’d be the sidekick characters forming their own team. The new incarnation would bring a set of new teen heroes, Robin, Changeling, Raven, Starfire, Cyborg, Kid Flash and Wonder Girl. Marv Wolfman is an excellent writer and best at weaving long plots into multiple comic issues. George Perez is one of the best artists in comics. His work is so detailed he can draw the Justice League and The Avenger on a postage stamp with full character details. Marv Wolfman set up the threads of the coming Judas Contract from issue #1, and here’s how it went.
Origin of Teen Titans The Judas Contract
Deathstroke: The Terminator first appeared in Teen Titans #2. A D-Live DC criminal organization called H.I.V.E. wanted to hire him to kill the Teen Titans. Marv Wolfman never made it clear as to why H.I.V.E. was after the Teen Titans. During a battle to save Starfire, the Teen Titans trashed the apartment of Grant Wilson and his girlfriend. Grant gets angry at the Teen Titans. H.I.V.E. approaches Grant Wilson and offers him power. Grant accepts and becomes Ravager. Hive turned him into Ravager to draw Deathstroke into the fight. Ravager dies because his powers burn out his body. Deathstroke blames the Titans and takes Hives contract. This begins the Judas Contract.
In issue #26 of the New Teen Titans, while the other Titans are dealing with a very special episode, Gar (aka Changeling) notices someone attacking the Statue of Liberty. It turns out to be a 15-year-old girl who calls herself Terra, has powers over the earth that would give the Earth Bender Nation a run for their money. Terra tells the Titans that the group forcing her into a life of crime have captured her parent, which is how they control her. The Titans track down the gang and beat them, then Terra finds out they already killed her parents and nearly kills them. Terra joins the Titans after a couple of missions and right after she does it’s revealed that Terra is working with Deathstroke.
Teen Titans The Judas Contract is the story of that betrayal and the revelation that Terra is insane. The story ends with Terra going out of control to the point she ends up killing herself after having a breakdown of epic proportions. Turns out Terra’s actual origins was she is the half-sister of a less interesting super-hero, Geoforce. Terra is the illegitimate daughter of the king of Markovia. Terra and GeoForce are giving their powers by the Kings scientist for. . .reasons. Shortly after the King and Queen sent Terra to the United States to avoid a scandal where she secretly uses her powers as a hitwoman for hire. That’s who she met Deathstroke in the comics.
One creepy thing no one seemed to complain about was Terra and Deathstroke are obviously having sex. Deathstroke is his 50’s and has children. Terra is a 15-year-old girl. The relationship is creepy as fuck in the comics.
Teen Titans The Judas Contract Book vs Movie
The DC Animation after New 52 has tried to do what comics did in the 1980’s and 1990’s. Comic geeks and nostalgia buffs like to say this period was the “grim and gritty” time of comics. The stories were darker, everyone was trying to put more edge into their heroes and stuff like Teen Titans The Judas Contract happened. Here’s the real truth; comic grew up. The New Teen Titans were the precursor of that growth period. Many of the Teen Titans stories contained adult themes. Sometimes growth is a good thing, like in Teen Titans The Judas Contract. Other times that rush to be more “adult’ lead creators into truly idiotic territory, such as having Batman fuck Batgirl in Batman: The Killing Joke.
The Judas Contract comic sub-plot is a ticking clock and that’s what kept us buying the comic every month. We knew Terra was a traitor and was waiting for the story when she and Deathstroke got to their endgame. The endgame did not disappoint. The Teen Titans The Judas Contract movie is a revenge story connected 2014’s Son of Batman. This team includes the new Blue Beetle and has both Robin and Nightwing on it.
Terra gets her powers as a very young girl In the movie. The community or town accuses Terra of being a witch because of her powers and brutally attack her. Deathstroke saves her and trains her to use her powers and then plants her into the Teen Titans. DC and Warner Brothers changed Deathstroke and Terra’s relationship to a manipulation for the movie. New Teen Titans always tried desperately to make Brother Blood a thing but he was always a D-List villain and H.I.V.E was created to give super teams something to punch. Deathstroke wants revenge on Damian Wayne Robin for what happened in Son of the Batman and Brother Blood wants to steal the Titans powers. Both the movie and the comic story ends the same way.
Heart and Soul
How many times have comic geeks argued that translating comic stories into movies or TV shows tends to only work when you pay attention to the source material. Comics might have the stigma of being for 12-year-old boys, but that’s been a bullshit stigma for decades. There’s a reason why some stories and characters endure.
I don’t give a shit how many hipster 30-sometimes think it’s cool to put these things down and tear them apart. There’s a reason why Watchmen, The Phoenix Saga, and Killing Joke are on top lists of great books. Stories like Teen Titans The Judas Contract deserves the respect and reverence they get. The movie does a good job at capturing every part of the original story and updating it to reflect the shape of the DC Universe today.
Gar’s crush on Terra it captured nicely and when the end comes you feel his pain. Terra was obviously troubled from the beginning and Christina Ricci does an excellent job bringing that to life in the movie. Deathstroke’s motivation is a call back to one of DC’s better animations. There’s nothing you can do about Brother Blood and the H.I.V.E.
The problem with everyone’s surface complaints about the villains in comic book movies is mostly these are nitpicking and whining. Geeks sound like crying boys and girls when they make them. We live in a time where actual evil runs the white house, corporations are nightmares for the planet and most countries in this world are ruled by actual villains. Why does everyone think Brother Blood and H.I.V.E. are too over the top? Teen Titans The Judas Contract gets the sort of things right that Batman The Killing Joke and Justice League War got wrong. This movie deserves the rating I gave but does not deserve the nitpicks other critics gave it. The movie is paced nicely and well acted. I’d highly recommend owning it on Blu-ray or HD digital. Teen Titans the Judas Contract captures the heart and soul of the original story while making good changes.