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December 1, 2010

The "Classic" Comic Book Pull List by James West - The Judas Contract Edition

Tales of the Teen Titans #42-44 and Annual #3, “The Judas Contract”

Without further ado, the second classic review… *Spoilers Ahead*

Synopsis: It’s a bit difficult to do a true synopsis, because this is one of the stories that was building up for about 20 issues, which adds to its grand and epic scale. For a while, the New Teen Titans were Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl (all of the original team), plus new members Cyborg, Changeling (Beast Boy from Doom Patrol), Starfire, and Raven. Soon enough, Terra joined their ranks, and her and Changeling fell in love. All was well for a while…but then, enter the Judas Contract. It is revealed that, while the whole time she has seemed benevolent , Terra actually has some serious psychological problems, thinks those with powers should conquer the world, and has been a spy working for Deathstroke, the Terminator (Teen Titans archenemy extraordinaire), the whole time. Which sucked for the Teen Titans. One by one, with his knowledge about their day to day lives in weaknesses that Terra had learned about through their trust, Deathstroke took down and captured all of the Teen Titans: that is, all but Dick Grayson, who had recently quit his famous persona of Robin. Now, it’s up to Dick Grayson, under his brand new persona of Nightwing, to save the rest of his teammates…

*End of Spoliers*

Analysis: I love this story. The Teen Titans were what helped me get into comics in the full swing back when I was twelve years old and this story was a personal favorite. Dick Grayson is my favorite comic book character ever, and any story that accentuates his awesomeness is fine by me. The story is chilling in a way, for a few reasons. The first is how Deathstroke takes out the heroes in their private lives, when they least expect it…gassing their apartment, etc. To my knowledge, this is the first time something like this had been done in comic books, and the idea of getting the heroes at their most vulnerable is an interesting thought. Second was the tragedy that is Terra, the psychologically imbalanced 15 year old who’s sleeping with a man easily in his 50’s (woo statutory rape!) and betraying all those she calls her friends…and you feel really bad for poor Changeling, who was going out with the girl. Deathstroke himself is actually a magnificent villain…there’s something about him that’s somewhat sympathetic, especially when it comes to looking out for his family, even though you know that he’s really an evil bastard (the statutory rape thing has already been mentioned, but did I also mention that this is the same villain who, in the DC event Infinite Crisis, will drop what is essentially a nuclear bomb on the city of Bludhaven, Nightwing’s stomping ground, killing hundreds upon thousands of people…just to piss off Dick Grayson?). However…with all the good it has, the story is not perfect. Some complain that Wolfman’s dialogue can be overdramatic, but it’s not something I ever noticed, and even if it is a tad bit…they are teenagers with superpowers, so I expect as much. The one, big, mutton-chopped stain on this is Jericho…Deathstroke’s son, who is mute, and has the ability to possess your body if he makes eye contact with you…oh, and he knows karate. Granted, his role is important, because he leads Nightwing to wear the other Titans are, helps him, and eventually joins…but Jesus Christ. Even when I was 12, I disliked when this guy was on the page. I could not bring myself to like him. I mean…just look at him!

See?!?! See how he ruins Dick Grayson’s big reveal of his new superhero identity that he would carry with him for the next 25 years, appearing in multiple animated shows, video games, and other media? See how his homo-erotic Medieval Times purple tunic/superfluous gold bling just stain the page? As Will (Danny McBride) said in Land of the Lost, never trust a dude in a tunic. Or how about the mutton chops? Like Wolverine, but gay! (Apologies to any readers who find this offensive…but there is literally no other way to describe this). This all goes without even mentioning the blonde perm, which, over time, actually develops into a blonde perm-mullet. Yes. A PERMULLET. That about does it for his physical appearance (George Perez is one of my favorite artists, but his costume design here just does not gel with me). Character wise, he was always just so bland to me, too. Ah well. I’m done ripping on him. After all, he is a favorite to some people…for some reason.

But, Jericho’s reveal is superseded by Nightwing’s. Granted, he had a disco collar…but you know what? I kinda like the disco collar. And he wouldn’t have for long.

So, all in all, I would usually give this 10/10…but I must subtract a point for Jericho. 9/10.

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