Thursday, 11 May 2017

The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Review (Marv Wolfman, George Perez)

Hired by an evil cabal called HIVE, Deathstroke the Terminator takes out the Teen Titans with thanks to a Judas within the ranks – but who sold them out and why? 

The Judas Contract is another “classic” story so-called because of middle-aged fanboys looking back at this early ‘80s comic through a nostalgia filter rather than it being of high quality.  

Even though this is a 33 year-old comic, I guess SPOILERS AHEAD, but the long and short of it is to never read any comics written by Marv Wolfman!

It’s not difficult to figure out who the “Judas” in the group is given that the Teen Titans are utter shits to 16 year old Terra/Tara for no reason. That’s literally the entire opening issue, by the way: the everyday lives of the annoying and mega-boring Teen Titans who inexplicably come down hard on this kid. Immediately you hate these characters and they’re supposed the heroes! And Marv Wolfman’s banter – pee-yew! Wonder Girl’s nickname is “Wondy”! Kee-rist, it’s such forced, unconvincing camaraderie – at best it’s cringey! 

Deathstroke taking out the Titans was duller than dull – it didn’t help that it was told in disjointed flashback so there was zero tension. If you want to see what an awesome Deathstroke fight sequence looks like, check out Identity Crisis – it’s literally the only good part of that otherwise trashy book. Deathstroke’s Vietnam origin was equally uninspired – Marvel did it better with The Punisher. 

The motivations behind the story are absolute garbage. HIVE are generically evil – they want the Titans’ powers or something idiotic for reasons – and are just there to fulfil the role of arbitrary antagonist. Terra’s motivations? Even worse. “Why not?” she simply says, suddenly smoking a cigarette – because smoking is BAD and only baddies smoke! She’s so laughably bad at being a bad girl. The other reason given is that Terra is crazy. She’s been hooking up with Deathstroke – a guy old enough to be her grandfather – but having a thing for older dudes doesn’t make her nuts (also, considering she’s meant to be 16, that makes Slade guilty of statutory rape – but then he already is the villain so I guess it’s expected behaviour). Wolfman is such a shitty writer.

The only notable aspect of the book is that this is the first time Dick Grayson becomes Nightwing. He handily thought bubbles a rambling piece of exposition for the reader’s benefit, explaining his choice of name (it’s Kryptonian based) before slipping into his gay disco outfit. Wow, so worth it. Not at all stupid or contrived! And speaking of gay, I’m pretty sure it’s implied that Deathstroke and his war buddy Wintergreen enjoy getting their ‘stroke on together, ifyaknowwhaddamean! Don’t know why Wolfman threw that in there but then I’m not sure this dude knew what he was doing at any point of writing this rubbish! 

Like many ‘80s superhero books, The Judas Contract is overwritten, slow-moving, extremely dull, and hasn’t aged well at all. The characterisation and dialogue is corny and the plot is dumb and nonsensical. I mean, if you can put down a book three pages before the end and finish it a few days later, you haven’t written a gripping story! And this is what passes as a Teen Titans classic, one of their best storylines? Then I don’t think a good Teen Titans book exists. Every Teen Titan book I’ve read has been awful. This team SUCKS! And so does The Judas Contract – don’t bother.

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