The Judas Contract

The Judas Contract
Marv Wolfman, George Perez, 1988
Original Issues released 1983-84

Premise: Collects The New Teen Titans #39, 40, Tales of the Teen Titans #41-44 and Annual #3. One of the most well-known story arcs in the history of the Teen Titans. Tara Markov, known as Terra, joined the team months ago, and has become one of their own. None of the Titans know she’s secretly a double agent.

There were aspects of this story that I liked, but overall this was a little too dated and melodramatic. I wish the collection had included more of Terra’s introduction. The book starts when she’s an established member of the team, but right before the reader is let in on her secret.

The good: Sketchy-scary-evil Terra is cool in much of the lead-up to the betrayal, and this volume includes the introduction of Dick Grayson’s Nightwing identity, which has some sweet moments. There’s a fun sparring scene between Donna Troy (Wonder Girl) and Koriand'r (Starfire). Raven gets to be badass now and again. My favorite issue in the collection is probably #42: The Judas Contract Part 1, The Eyes of Tara Markov. Tara collects intel on the Titans, quietly hating them, and ultimately loses her temper violently. I found it much more emotionally satisfying than the climax.

The bad: the dialogue and character of Garfield (Beast Boy, going by Changeling in these issues) is downright painful. No, it’s not cute to have the kid brother type constantly sexually harassing all the female team members. It’s really tiresome. That same issue that I like so much opens with some really unpleasant Starfire-doesn’t-understand-why-she-is-so-hot stuff. The introduction of Jericho. I hate him. I don’t know anything else about him and I HATE him. The issue that’s just backstory told by Jericho’s sketchy mean mom. Bleck. The super-obvious visual coding of "evil" Terra with cigarettes and low-cut outfits.

Erin read this as well, and he pointed out that the ending is very silly, and you’re likely to start rooting for Terra. She keeps screaming things like (paraphrased) “I hate you all! I’m going to kill you!” and the Titans keep saying, “Terra, why are you so upset? I’m sure we can work this out.” I did kinda want to smack them for being so obtuse.

In the end, Terra’s story has some pathos, although very little of it is openly in the pages of the book. This is a good example of a comic arc that was really important in its day, but it doesn’t really hold up.

This plotline was turned into a much more effective and emotional arc of the Teen Titans animated series, too.

2 Stars - An Okay Book


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