Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 1.3 - The Material Girl: Terra in the 1980s

Tara's grave. ToTT Annual #3 (1984)

1980s Continuity continued

Aftermath issues in Titans and Outsiders.
A self-imposed silence descends upon the Titans after Tara’s death. Unlike the Outsiders, the Titans never once (ever!) come together as a team to discuss Terra or her betrayal. There’s no group hug moment here. The Titans publicly state that she died a hero fighting the Terminator. Privately, they later affirm Tara’s betrayal, to Batman and to incoming Titans members. It’s not confirmed whether Tara’s betrayal becomes widely-known knowledge among heroes and villains. In the 2008 Terra mini and the 2009-2010 run of Power Girl, the JSA obviously knows about it.  The Titans’ personal grief over her, like the character herself, becomes a cryptic unknown quantity that comes out in different ways. Aside from Gar, Dick Grayson is the main Titan who is shown thinking of her over time. In issues from the 2000s, he brings her up repeatedly. In the 1990s, he recalls her treachery and death as a moment of personal failure as the team leader. Vic, Donna and Kory sometimes mention her. Three themes appear around Brion and Gar in response to Tara’s death. One is rage at the Terminator. The second is guilt: each blames himself for not loving her enough and not helping her. The third is love: both Brion and Gar indicate that they still love her and always will, no matter what she did. This last theme has been repeated so often over the past 26 years that it has gained a life of its own. Where Brion may not have been especially close to Tara (he says this at her funeral) and Gar had a teenaged crush on her, over time their love for Tara has evolved to near-epic proportions. By 2010, Tara sits at the heart of Brion’s corrosive grief over his decimated family; for Gar, she is his first love, a dead, corrupted soulmate he’ll forever mourn.

Too busy. ToTT #45 (Aug. 1984)

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-Tales of the Teen Titans #45 (August 1984): Untitled
-Tales of the Teen Titans #46 (September 1984): “Showdown!”
-Tales of the Teen Titans #47 (October 1984): “Final Conflict!”
After Terra dies, the Titans avoid Gar. No one answers his calls. The Titans’ behaviour reveals Gar’s hidden emotional isolation on the team, probably due to his early work on the Doom Patrol, rather than on the original TT, who were all junior JLA sidekicks. (He almost became a member in Teen Titans vol. 1 #6 (Nov.-Dec. 1966): “The Fifth Titan” As the title of this early issue suggests, Gar, who is three years younger than Dick Grayson, has always on some level been a fifth (or sixth) wheel around the founding members the TT, despite his equal measure of experience and equal status as a ‘first-rank’ legacy character. He’s Doom Patrol, and that means he’s never quite in with his teammates, the ‘popular’ people.) Isolated at this critical moment by his friends, he becomes even more heartbroken and angry. He begins to see the Titans as Tara saw them – perfect people who aren’t so great after all.

Tara was right. ToTT #45 (Aug. 1984)

His grief eats away at his sanity and he glimpses why she hated them. This introduces a subliminal theme about Terra 1's most hateful statements.  There's a subtext that she had a point in many of the things she said.  This appears again in Blackest Night.  Some of the things BL Terra says do make sense, unfortunately; they usually relate to glaring problems in the Titans' messed-up group psychology.

Both Gar and the Titans give in to rage and seek revenge over the next issues against the Terminator and the H.I.V.E. Vic finally finds Garfield tearing through New York’s underworld, leaving behind gutted criminals who are barely alive. Vic fumbles with excuses: “I’m sorry. I’ve been busy.” Gar lashes out, leaves, contemplates going solo. Vic thinks to himself: “None of us wanted to talk about Tara. We were all so naive. We believed her because why shouldn’t we believe? ‘Til Tara, we were a trusting family. I don’t think anything’s ever going to be quite the same again.” He’s right: the mood on the team never recovers. This is one of the first references to the now-often-repeated ‘family’ meme in the Titans titles. From now and through the 1990s, the ‘family’ idea is mentioned mainly in scenes related to Tara’s death. In issue #47, Gar returns to the Tower and removes Terra’s picture from the members’ wall. Gar’s old girlfriend Jillian Jackson and Vic catch up with him there and belatedly comfort him.

Wally appears in issue #45, unaware of Terra’s betrayal, asking why the Titans are so tight-lipped: “I just wanted to find out why I had to read in the newspapers that Tara died. I would have gone to her funeral. One of my friends died fighting the Terminator. And all my other friends just forget to tell me. I don’t understand it.” Instead of talking to Gar or Wally, the Titans hunt down the H.I.V.E. in revenge. In issue #46, Raven is disturbed by the team’s self-imposed silence. She says to Joseph: “We have avoided discussing Terra’s death or even the fact that she was a quisling. We opened our hearts to her – we believed her. And she lied to us and tried to destroy us. I believe this mission is one of misguided revenge. Terra worked for your father and he for the H.I.V.E. – and we now seek to destroy them as if that would compensate for our naivete.” The Titans destroy the H.I.V.E., which drives all the organization’s leaders to kill themselves. This conclusion mirrors and atones for the loss the team sustained in Terra’s suicide.

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-Tales of the Teen Titans #50 (February 1985): “We are Gathered Here Today ...”
Gar organizes Donna’s and Terry’s wedding. The silence over Tara continues. Gar makes Donna’s celebration of love and happiness perfect, at the very time when he’s lost that (even if it was an illusion for him – which makes it all even worse). Only Gar’s supporting characters (Dayton, Questor, Jillian) openly acknowledge the strain he’s under. Gar’s adopted father, Dayton, has become mentally fragile through using his Mento helmet to augment his psychic abilities. His manager, Questor, asks him to pull himself together and psychically conceal secret identities among the guests at Donna’s wedding: “This means so much to him ... considering the incident with Miss Markov.”

Vic still flips back and forth on Gar, which shows he’s having problems coping with Tara’s death too. An argument they have behind the scenes reveals that Gar feels that he failed the team and endangered them through bad judgment in vouching for Terra. The whole mess is his fault. But he also thinks he failed Tara, so that’s all his fault too. He retreats in misery at the height of the party: “Everything I touch is ruined.” This is why he’s desperate to have Donna’s wedding work perfectly, to prove to his friends that he won’t fail them again. The wedding turns out fine, and after Donna leaves with her new husband, Dick and the others thank him.

Brion: Is this my fault? BATO Annual #1 (1984)

Aftermath issues in Outsiders.
-BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS Annual #1 (1984): "Land Where Our Fathers Died"
After Tara’s funeral, where the Titans told Brion that she died heroically fighting Deathstroke, Batman tells Geo-Force the truth off panel. Shocked, Brion retreats to his house outside Gotham to mourn her. Musing over a family photo of them together, he sheds tears and blames himself: “Why, Tara? Why did you do it? The Teen Titans were your friends – more than even you knew, for they tried to spare me the hurt of knowing you betrayed them. – Yet you tried to kill them! I wonder, is there anything I could have done? Is this on my head? And if I had fought with the Titans, would you have tried to slay me, too? But rest easy, little sister ... not even the Batman telling me the truth about you will make me love you any less!

Brion's grief: Love and loyalty. BATO Annual #1 (1984)

The Outsiders arrive to comfort him. Unlike the Titans, the Outsiders openly discuss her betrayal. GF tells them he wants to leave the team because he remembers the time the Outsiders and Titans fought together: “I was so proud of her then. But now, to wear the same uniform she wore, it would only remind me of her betrayal ... and of her death!” The Outsiders give him a new green and gold uniform to replace his tan and brown one (he recently returned to the original one, which may reflect his dealings with the Terminator). In the subsequent story, Brion refers repeatedly to protecting his “adopted country,” the United States. Tara’s death makes Brion want to fight harder to become an American hero. She was half-American, but he’s the one who has to uphold her heritage and the honour and duties she should have maintained.

Aftermath issues in Outsiders.
-BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #14 (October 1984): "Two By Two"
-BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #15 (November 1984): "Going For the Gold"
-BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #16 (December 1984): "Goodbyes"
-BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #17 (January 1985): "We Are Dying, Egypt--- Dying"
-BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #18 (February 1985): "Who Wears the Crown of Ra?"
-BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #19 (March 1985): "Who's Afraid of the Big Red S?"
-BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS #20 (April 1985): "Death and Remembrance"
These story arcs in BATO #14-20 build GF’s love life and continue his guilt and grief over Tara. At first he and Halo have a fling; but Halo, searching for her identity, leaves for a time to be with her newfound parents. She returns for Christmas and they end their romance. Brion weirdly says that his romantic attachment to Halo really came out of displaced feelings for Tara: “I thought I loved you – until I realized my affection for you was directed at my sister Tara ... the love I never gave her when she lived.” Halo: “I’ve never had a big brother, Brion. But I’d like one!” Brion gives her a gift: “I would be delighted to fill the position – Merry Christmas – ‘Little Sister’!”

Halo plays surrogate sister. BATO #19 (March 1985)

GF grows closer to his classmate, Denise Howard. Denise, a star student, has been abused by a professor and is so upset that she unsuccessfully tries to kill herself. (More suicide is not exactly what Brion needs at this point.) Brion gets so angry that he tries to kill the professor (in a display of rage similar Gar’s around this period).

If he lives that long. BATO #19 (March 1985)

Batman calls out Superman to control GF. After Superman wins their fight, Batman asks a battered Clark if he’s ok. Superman: “Fine! Best workout I’ve had in ages! Once this kid gets some experience, he’ll be okay!” Batman: “If he lives that long.” Batman's remark suggests he's wondering about a family taint - about the mental stability of the Markovs in general.  A bruised Brion spends Christmas at Denise’s bedside in the hospital - his girlfriend, unlike his sister, has survived her suicide attempt.

Brion and Denise. BATO #19 (March 1985)

After the Judas Contract, Brion comes up against problems similar to those encountered by Gar.  All in all, he seems to come out a little healthier than Gar does, but both appear to be OK.  The really crazy aftermath does not hit Gar until the 1990s, and Brion until the 2000s.

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-Tales of the Teen Titans #51 (March 1985): "Jericho Imbroglio!"
As the Deathstroke goes to trial, the shock of Terra’s death settles into a pall of profound, lingering grief that particularly destabilizes characters tied to the Judas Contract and the Doom Patrol legacy, which again shows how the JC and the DP are connected. Changeling sits in on the jury selection for the Terminator’s trial. Vic: “I don’t want you doin’ anythin’ that could hurt our case against the Terminator.” Gar: “Don’t sweat it, Pal. I’m just watching. Nothing more. I wanna see that guy hang for what he did to Terra.” Nightwing wonders about government evidence that Jericho is also a traitor like Terra. He has a meeting at the Pentagon where officials tell him about Adeline’s messy past, her current business running a private, CIA-type information and operative network – and the fact that she and Jericho are being hunted by a Middle Eastern nation for possessing that country’s defense secrets. Nightwing says he can’t believe Joseph’s involved. Government guy: “Why not lad? You Titans were duped once before, by a Miss Tara Markov.” Nightwing: “You know about Tara? How much else do you know?” Since everyone is else unavailable, Dick has to call Gar to check up on Joseph’s possible criminal involvement, though he hesitates since Gar isn’t over Terra’s betrayal. Gar tracks Joseph down, they fight, and Jericho possesses him and knocks him out. Then, Jericho leaves for an apartment of a woman who appears to be a call girl. Gar comes to, calls a Titans meeting and demands Jericho be caught and handed over to the authorities. Everyone disagrees with Gar about Joseph being a bad seed, but Nightwing agrees that Jericho is not a Titan and they have to comply with the authorities. Cheshire, sent by the Mid East nation whose leadership Adeline has double-crossed, captures Adeline and tortures her.

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-Tales of the Teen Titans #52 (April 1985): "Jericho’s Story"
Cheshire turns Adeline over to her Mid East contacts, who torture her. Jericho continues to talk to the woman he sought out, Amber, a former prostitute and current agent in Adeline’s business. They argue about how to aid his mother. They make their way to the Middle East and rescue her from Cheshire and her associates. At the Tower, the Titans are arguing about whether Joe is a traitor, with Gar mainly arguing he is and everyone else saying he isn’t. Gar mentions Deathstroke’s upcoming trial in a few days and Kory wonders why Wilson hasn’t gone public with the info Tara gave him. Gar: “If he’s plannin’ on usin’ that info – you’ll see what I’ll do.” The Titans are called to S.T.A.R. labs to encounter the alien Azrael, an angel-like being found in a frozen spacecraft. Lilith is immediately attached to him.

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-Tales of the Teen Titans #53 (May 1985): "Devil on the Wing!"
Terminator’s trial begins. Adrian Chase, former District Attorney (and secretly the Vigilante), is the presiding judge. Gar and Jillian sit in on the proceedings. Jillian tries to calm Gar, but he says he’ll only be satisfied when Deathstroke is executed for what he did to him and Tara. Gar: “One way or another, he’s going to pay!” and he thinks, “And I’ve made certain he will!” Gar repeatedly interrupts the proceedings, which makes Wilson look better. Using Mento’s helmet, Gar impersonates the Terminator and attacks Lilith on Titans Island. The rest of the Titans, after another brush with Azrael and Lilith, head to court. Vic: “Wilson’s another guy I wanna see hang!” Donna testifies. Deathstroke’s lawyer twists everything she says around and sets up the case to free Wilson, based on the fact that the Titans were attacked by someone dressed as the Terminator while Wilson was behind bars. Gar has secretly destroyed the state’s case so that Wilson will walk and he can hunt him down.

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-Tales of the Teen Titans #54 (June 1985): "Blind Justice!"
Trial of the Terminator. Deathstroke’s lawyer twists the case in Slade’s favour. Gar loses it in court. The Titans try to stop him, but he turns into an elephant and rampages around. He’s tossed out, and everyone is angry at him – they can’t believe he’s been so stupid. But as he leaves alone, he breaks into a smile. “They all bought it, just like he had hoped.” Of course his intention is to destroy the case completely and kill Wilson once he is back on the streets. Court is adjourned until the next day. That evening, Gar, dressed as Deathstroke, attacks Kory, Dick and Donna – and actually holds his own against them long enough for them to be convinced there’s a new Deathstroke. Gar thinks: “If this doesn’t spring Wilson, nothin’ will!” He lures them out to a pier, where one of Dayton’s boats is docked, jumps in it and blows it up, creating a subterfuge to allow him to escape. The next day at court, Nightwing testifies. Wilson dodges the charges against him, mainly based on Changeling’s impersonation of the Terminator while Slade is locked up. The Titans can’t prove that Slade is always the man behind the Terminator mask, hence they can’t prove he committed the crimes of which he’s accused. Chase acquits Wilson. There is insufficient evidence for a jury trial. Deathstroke gets one year for possession of an illegal firearm. Deathstroke quietly laughs in the Titans’ faces as he leaves court. Back at Dayton’s mansion, Gar stops using Mento’s helmet, which incidentally proves that, like Dayton, he has latent telepathic and telekinetic abilities. Dayton swoops down and takes the helmet away. Gar wants Wilson free so he can kill him, but now swears to do so even if he’s in prison.

Grief and revenge in the Judas Contract. ToTT #55 (July 1985)

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-Tales of the Teen Titans #55 (July 1985): "Shades of Gray"
Gar plans to kill Deathstroke in revenge for killing him and corrupting Tara. The Titans, Dayton, Questor all demand to know what is going on with him. He rebuffs them all. Jillian breaks up with him. Slade starts giving TV interviews from prison that make the Titans look even worse. Seeing these reports, Gar smashes a chair through the TV set and Dayton throws him out. He tries to kill Slade in prison, but only succeeds in smashing the place apart, while Wilson is unharmed. Slade is freed from prison after an appeal, and Gar sends him a note to meet for a showdown in upstate New York. Before he confronts Slade, he visits Tara’s grave in Metropolis: “I had to see her again. As much to convince me she was still there, still dead, and not come alive, like some phoenix from the ashes.” Deathstroke visits the grave of his son, the first Ravager, who died trying to execute a contract against the Titans’ lives. The next morning Gar and Slade confront each other in the Ausable Chasm, NY. Deathstroke refuses to fight (he later pulls the same stunt on Nightwing, when Dick goes after him for killing Jericho, in NT #86) and at the last second, the Changeling collapses in grief, unable to attack. This boils down to them having a surreal little chat about Tara in a hillside diner, where the waitress wilts for Gar: “My girlfriends and I think you’re the cutest. Sighhhh.”

This is pretty ironic, because during the execution of the Judas Contract, Slade captured the Changeling by exploiting Gar’s weakness for fan worship. Wolfman retcons himself at this point. In Tales of the New Teen Titans # 3 “The Changeling” (August 1982), Wolfman portrayed Gar’s self-proclaimed celebrity coming out of his work on the TV show Space Trek: 2022 as a lie that he told his teammates to puff up his rep. Yes, he was on the show, but the reality was that the show was sued for copyright breach of Star Trek and was soon cancelled. Gar lived in a crummy house in L.A. The phone didn’t ring – no calls from his agent, no money, no flocks of adoring girls.

Wolfman's original version: No real stardom, no fans. ToNTT #3 (Aug. 1982)

Wolfman’s take on this was that Gar was the junior member on the team and really insecure, so he embroidered the truth liberally to impress his friends. But in expanding that idea, he also quietly made Gar a serial liar. In one interview, Wolfman stated,
“He's pretty much a braggart about most of the stuff he says. His romantic escapades are pure fiction. The Changeling mini-series story is the only one where I go out of my way to show that what he says isn't really what happens. But that's been my attitude from the very beginning. What he's been saying for a 16-year-old kid is totally outrageous.”
Wolfman made it clear. Before Tara, Gar had no girlfriends other than Jillian Jackson. There were no legions of fans. He was just a kid playing with Mento’s billions.

Gar went so far as to have merchandise made up with his face on it in order to prove that the celeb fantasy he was telling about himself was true (which is pretty messed up). Kory – the 1980s’ designer jeans supermodel – was later pictured wearing one of Gar’s fan t-shirts (read: super hot walking advertisement to build the hype).  Street vendors are also shown selling them after the Terror of Trigon arc.

Kory as fangirl. NTT #6 (March 1985)

Thus, like Tara, Gar had done his share of lying when it came to presenting (and promoting) himself to his friends, although of course with far different motivations. Still, Wolfman depicted both characters as being secretly emotionally impoverished. Where Gar exchanged love for celebrity and superheroics, Tara exchanged love for materialism and power.

(In the 2000-2010 series, Gar has put his 1980s’ memorabilia (there’s a whole warehouse full of it), along with his Changeling codename, into storage due to legal problems. Someone else has bought up the copyright on that version of his identity and owns the web domain changeling.com. Maybe this is really about Gar coming to terms with old vanities. In Gar’s latest spotlight, Roy and Wally tease him by wearing Changeling t-shirts at the breakfast table (Titans, vol. 2, # 17 (November 2009) “The Only Constant”).

Gar's fan gear comes back to haunt him. Titans vol. 2 # 17 (Nov. 2009)

Vanity is still Gar’s core weakness. But he shows how far he’s come when he revisits the same situations from Tales of the New Teen Titans #3 (1982).  In NTT Baxter series #6 he hangs up on his agent.  He does the same thing in 2000’s Beast Boy miniseries. He tries to engineer an acting comeback in Hollywood. This time after a messy start, everyone suddenly wants him in BB mini #4. Flamebird: “Anything you’d like to say to the press, Mr. Superstar?” Gar: “Not a blessed thing.” His agent: “You’re hotter than DiCaprio, Kid! Ya gotta cash in! We’ll make a mint!” – Gar: “I just don’t know if I wanna sell out like that.” He turns off the ringer, deep-sixing his Hollywood career when he at last has a real shot at it. He later fires his agent (again) in Titans vol. 2 #17.  The 80s are finally dead.)

Sitting across from Slade in the diner, Gar comes full circle. Just like a wealthy Californian 80s teen in a Bret Easton Ellis novel (think 1985’s Less than Zero), Gar comes to his senses with his Material Girl dead and no real answers. By giving him a swooning fangirl right at this tricky moment, Wolfman says that Gar’s vanities were based in reality.

Wolfman further retconning Gar's celebrity. NTT #36 (Oct. 1987)

Gar really was the Teen Dream Superhero who was the DCU’s version of 80s Tiger Beat pinup stars like River Phoenix, Corey Haim, Corey Feldman and Wil Wheaton. (Much later, he says he’s a superhero version of Feldman (Teen Titans, vol. 3 #15).)

Other writers confirm Gar's celeb status after the retcon. Titans vol. 1 #13 (March 2000)

Even Space Trek: 2022 has over the years been described by supporting Titans characters as a huge cult favourite and is now the DCU equivalent to the original run of classic Star Trek (Titans vol. 1 #13).

Other writers confirm Gar's celeb status after the retcon. TT vol. 3 #9 (May 2004)

This repairs the damage Wolfman did to Gar’s credibility on this point – he was a star in a show that wasn’t just a cancelled knock-off, and yes, Gar had groupies. Wolfman’s subtle little retcon in TotTT #55 means Slade attacked something real about Gar, and Tara (now the actor) got to the real person underneath the image cultivated by her Hollywood Titan boyfriend. Therefore, Gar was not a liar after all – and Tara was.

The original retcon about Gar's celebrity  is set up to help Slade make Terra look even worse. ToTT #55 (July 1985)

Slade insists that Tara was evil and that they mutually used each other. Deathstroke then paints a picture in which Tara comes out looking irretrievably corrupted, a sociopathic killer – while Slade comes out looking suspiciously blameless, a world-weary family man with a “strict code of honor” that forced him to lose his family. (This is how Slade generally sees himself – he’s definitely not the sociopathic killer here! – Riiight?) Ironically, his intense believability in this sequence – followed by the fact that Changeling ends up bizarrely befriending Slade in 1990s issues after this meeting – shows us what Tara was dealing with when Slade became her Svengali. That outcome strangely gives Tara more credit, not less, because the readers and Gar want to be convinced by Deathstroke no matter what the cost, just as Tara was. Before she dies, she repeatedly says she thought Wilson loved her. It tells us how compelling Terminator is as a character. He’s as sleek a villain as they come.

His most truthful statement about what he was doing with Tara and why she appealed to him is: “It was probably ego.” Behind all the subterfuges, ego is Slade’s only Achilles heel. And who better to pierce the ego of an older man who’s reached the top on his own terms, than a brassy 15 year old fallen princess who would not hesitate to sleep with him, ensnaring him with her youth while he mentored her? The fact that Tara would be the perfect person to destroy Slade is potential retcon-fodder. Did Terra have a mission to kill Slade? Did she then sign his separate Judas Contract to get close to him – in order to complete the first assignment? This is something Slade and Wintergreen continually worry about during the Judas Contract. Slade: “What if she’s setting me up?” However, Wolfman intended Deathstroke’s comments along these lines to be red herrings.

What if she's setting me up? ToTT #43 (June 1984)

In whatever way Tara got involved with Slade, she got in way over her head – didn’t she? Slade is not contrite – but there’s a sense that Terra took him too close to the bone. He wants to retire, return to Africa, turn over a new leaf. In this scene with Gar he is partly honest about that, which sets the stage for 1990s stories. But in Terminator’s later weakness in the 2000s for drugging, moulding, and possible seduction of young female protégés, and his manipulation of young male heroes, we see him compelled to repeat the pattern he started with Tara. She’s Deathstroke’s Lolita. Dead or alive, Terra holds the key to Slade’s ego.

There’s also something here about Wilson’s desire to act as a twisted father figure to Tara and later Brion, as well as Gar, Dick and the other Titans, including his actual estranged children, Joseph and Rose. He plans to destroy them to ‘make them stronger’; he controls, drugs and manipulates them to show his concern for them; he condescends, “I could have killed Grayson or Logan any time”; he dismisses the Markovs as “insane ... completely uncontrollable” or “my best investment”; yet somehow he knows “one day you kids will be the death of me.” What is it with Slade and toxic fatherhood?

At this point in Terra's continuity, though, Slade dodges the bullet. He is responsible for taking up the H.I.V.E. contract on the Titans out of misplaced fatherly loyalty to his dead son, Grant, and he commissioned the Judas Contract. But he pins everything on Tara and totally gets off the hook. In the Titans Hunt storyline, he’ll later pay for what he’s done – but not today. As he gets ready to give Gar a paternal pat on the shoulder and exit stage left from the diner, readers have to wonder if Gar is really so naive as to swallow all this. Perhaps deep down, he knew Tara as well as Slade did, so can’t really argue about the finer points, except:

Gar: “Slade ... did you ever make love to Tara?”
Deathstroke (after loaded moment): “Would that make any difference?”
Gar: “I ... I guess not.”

Hitting bottom of barrel, digging. ToTT #55 (July 1985)

Terra’s Betrayal. Why did she do it? The Kitty Pryde vs. Doom Patrol Plot Device.
After Terra’s revelation, the other Titans repeatedly ask her, “Why?”
Wolfman’s answered this very clearly: because Tara was Just Pure Evil.

Why? Why? Why? ToTT Annual #3 (1984)

-2003 Interview Marv Wolfman: Comments on Deathstroke and Terra.
Why did she do it? Gar is left with Slade’s explanation. Does he believe it? In Gar’s later encounters with Deathstroke, half the time he appears to have believed Slade’s story and the other half, he seems not to have believed it. Perhaps Gar’s question to Slade about sex with Tara is left hanging in ToTT #55 because that was the snag in Wolfman’s final picture of Terra’s destruction. Wolfman saw Terra only as a fantastic inverted Kitty Pryde plot device. Therefore, he had no problem driving home the point in every way possible that she was totally evil, totally insane, and totally dead. He had to close all the doors to make the plot device work. In narrative terms, it initially did work. His priority in character development here was Deathstroke, not Terra, who was just Slade’s supporting character. To build up Deathstroke’s ambiguous good side, Wolfman had to make Terra almost a cardboard cut-out of evil – she had to be much worse than Deathstroke.

Wolfman acknowledged the possible snag in 2003 when he remarked that the sexual relationship between Slade and Tara was a mistake. But even this misgiving seems to have only been a worry from Wolfman that the sex made Slade look bad – and not an acknowledgement that he had crossed a line with the female character he and Perez created:

"I came up with Deathstroke pretty much right after I came up with the Titans. I knew Deathstroke would be in issue #2 but his son would appear in issue #1. The genesis of Deathstroke came very fast. I wanted a very moral character who was also a criminal, a sort of Batman for the mercenary world, complete with his own Alfred. Unlike Alfred, however, I wanted his partner to be his mentor. That’s where Wintergreen came from. ... I wanted Slade Wilson to be the kind of character that you never could fully understand. You would also never know which side he would be on because he operated by his own very strict code of conduct. Slade would be troubled by what he had to do, but he was also caught up in a web of his own creation and was unable to break free. Simply, I wanted to create an antagonist who would be as well defined as the Titans themselves. Only mistake I think I made with him is having him have a physical relationship with the 16 year old Tara Markov. That was wrong.

Which leads to Terra. That was easy. George and I wanted a Titan who betrayed the others. We also wanted to play against every reader conception of who characters are. George and I knew her whole story before we began and we knew she would die. We set the story up with her trying to destroy the Statue of Liberty to show she was the bad girl, but we knew if George drew her as a cute kid everyone would simply assume she would be ‘turned’ from the dark side because that’s the way it was always done which is why that wouldn’t be the way we did it."
Wolfman went further in his introduction to the Judas Contract trade paperback. Wolfman affirmed that Terra was deliberately developed to prove that the Titans were not a clone of Marvel’s X-men:
“From the very beginning Tara was conceived as a villainess. It was the first time a member of a super-hero group ever proved to be a spy (not a traitor – she was always working for The Terminator).”
Many songs, films, novels and videos in pop culture at the time dealt with the same themes as the Judas Contract. Namely, the person close to you, whom you naively trust, will betray you, and may try to kill you, usually as part of the fall-out from everyone desperately trying to get ahead in the world. A few examples (many were noir remakes): Body Heat (1981); “In the Air Tonight” (1981); “Eyes of a Stranger” (1981-1982); American Psycho (published in 1991, set in the 1980s). A flood of ‘psycho-you-know-is-out-to-get-you’ films came out after the Judas Contract, reaching a high point from 1987 to 1991: Fatal Attraction (1987); Hellraiser (1987); Betrayed (1988); Dead Calm (1989); A Kiss Before Dying (1991); Deceived (1991); Cape Fear (1991); The Silence of the Lambs (1991); Single White Female (1992). The Judas Contract was a little ahead of its time, but there’s no mistaking the fact that ‘paranoia about those closest to you’ was a wildly popular 1980s’ storyline in pop culture.

So Tara was just a plot device in a classic 1980s’ paranoia storyline. She was created only to develop other NTT characters, and that’s all. – She was in fact never a character, and she was only developed enough to make the plot work. What makes her ‘not a character’ is the fact that she passed the ‘moral event horizon’ – the point of irredeemable evil – the point of no return. She will never move up to becoming a character because morally she does not deserve that level of development. That’s pretty harsh, but that’s what it took and still takes to make this story work.

Or does it? It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why the door on Tara Markov won’t stay closed.

The answer to why Terra did what she did, why she was pure evil and irredeemably insane, lay outside the fictional story in the intentions of her creators. Wolfman actually had to give interviews so that fans would get more of an explanation. The answer to the question ‘why did she do it?’ only makes sense in our non-fictional world outside his story. Among Tara Markov’s many detractors, the final reason why this character should never be revived always returns to stated external intentions of the creators.

Unfortunately, the completely sensible external fact that Tara was created to die does not lend itself to a completely satisfying internal explanation for Tara’s motivations inside the story. It was that authorial credibility gap that gave Tara Markov a narrative afterlife. Wolfman was driven to introducing a Blade Runner-type all-knowing narrator at the end of the Judas Contract to lay down the law to the readers. Wolfman told the readers: ‘Just accept it. Now she’s dead and she can’t come back – ever – in spite of the fact that her powers should easily resurrect her.’ In pushing Terra so completely into a zone of irretrievable evil, Wolfman forced his fictional female character to endure a strange metafictional moment of violation and pushed readers’ willing suspension of disbelief to a moment of cognitive dissonance. That fourth wall moment began to defeat his purpose.

Even as they closed that door on her completely, something about Terra resisted her creators’ intentions. Wolfman pushed his character too hard and too far. By emptying Tara of all good, Wolfman made her into a broken enigma instead of an evil shell. He had unintentionally and mysteriously developed Terra into a character rather than completely destroying her as a simple plot device. He did destroy his plot device, yes, but Tara Markov as a character was bizarrely enhanced in that moment. For example, the Judas Contract is perhaps the biggest teen suicide story ever done in superhero comics, but it's never discussed or presented as such. Wolfman never spoke about that, despite the fact that the NTT was a socially conscious title that dealt with other teen perils, from drugs to horror movies.  In a teen-oriented book, there's something wrong about doing such a huge teen suicide story and then blaming the suicidal character for absolutely everything evil or wrong in the narrative.  Wolfman got around that by making the suicide an accident resulting from Terra's misdirected attempt at homicide.  All the same, it is worth questioning this scene on those grounds; only Brad Meltzer has done so.  It also seems wrong-headed to blame Terra entirely for sex with Slade, considering that adults (particularly those in parental roles) having sex with minors is another difficult situation that some teens face.  As a result of some of these snags, Terra gained a strange resilience in the grieving minds of the other characters. She attracted sympathy from some readers and the undying hatred of those who accepted Wolfman’s narration at face value. Regardless of readers' reactions, her character haunts the Titans continuity because the question ‘why?’ was never truly answered inside the story. She will arguably keep coming back until it is.

Terra and the Doom Patrol Legacy.
And if Tara was just a plot device, Wolfman was not entirely clear about exactly what kind of plot device she was. She was not just an inverted Kitty Pryde and this was not just about the X-men or 1980s' rat race paranoia. In his introduction to the Judas Contract trade paperback, Perez stressed that he and Wolfman did not want the NTT to be a junior JLA, not to be hampered by JLA legacies, while Changeling’s ties to the Doom Patrol were “non-hampering.” In fact, except for Amazonian lore, the only legacy that Wolfman and Perez deeply, albeit implicitly, explored in the NTT was the Doom Patrol legacy.  They didn't touch the Bat-verse, didn't put a Super-character in their lineup, and didn't get into the Flash or Arrow traditions, either.

To answer the question, ‘why did she do it?’ inside the story, we have to look past the Judas Contract, past Deathstroke, and past the Titans. Tara was actually a plot device that enabled Wolfman to repeat the biggest story arc in Doom Patrol history inside the NTT series. Given that Wolfman has shown the writer’s trick of repeating the same scenes between different characters, sometimes years apart (see the parallel panels in this continuity), this isn’t surprising. Back in NTT #10, Deathstroke researched and deliberately repeated Gar’s DP history. It was Logan who brought a destiny related to betrayal to the table, not Terra. Gar had already just gone through two harrowing Doom Patrol legacy arcs which practically begged for the third arc – the Judas Contract – to surface. Few younger fans would have read the original DP comics, so they would be unlikely to recognize that the shocking DP betrayal arc and the Judas Contract are essentially the same story. This explains why the JC resonated to such depths in the DCU, and does so even today. In the JC, Gar played Caulder, Tara played Madame Rouge, and Deathstroke played The Brain.

Changeling, as a future team leader in the Doom Patrol tradition, had to deal with the aftermath of The Chief’s decisions in the hunt for the killers of the DP. Then he confronted a villain whose copycat methods were forcing him to relive – and relive again – the Chief’s and the DP’s death arc. Then, to top it all off, Deathstroke befriended Logan and had a fatherly bonding session with him, based on his unsubstantiated claim that Tara had murdered yet another father figure in Gar’s life – King Tawaba. This makes Slade look pretty sick. He’s working his way through Gar’s father figures and replacing them with himself. It’s no surprise that in the 1990s Crimelord arc, when Steve Dayton goes completely insane, Deathstroke is at the top of his hit list. Deathstroke takes an equal interest over the years in Dick Grayson. Both Dick and Gar have suffered under Slade’s paternalistic attentions, just as the Markov siblings did and do.

Thus, a deeper aspect of the JC is the problem of legacy characters in the Titans. All the Titans are at some point forced to answer the question: are we doomed to repeat the sins and mistakes of our predecessors? Do we become our parents in the end? It also points at something hidden in the relationship between Gar and Tara: both characters were struggling with Gar’s unseen DP history. But this was always Gar’s history – not Tara’s. Given the tricky paths of familial destiny, and Gar’s potential as a future team leader, it makes sense that his first love would be subject to this ‘family curse’ and fall squarely into the Madame Rouge role. From his end, the more he loved the girl, the more subject she would be to this dark legacy. Slade also came to the Judas Contract with his own familial dirty laundry. But neither Slade’s pronouncements nor Gar’s heartbreak tell us Terra’s angle, or who she was before the Judas Contract or before she got her powers. Her mother and Queen Markov are both complete mysteries; this is a royal house where the women don’t have an easy time of it!

“The Eyes of Tara Markov” storyline within the JC was supposed to give us Tara’s perspective. But by the end of the JC it was clear that she was totally insane, possibly drugged, and certainly having sex with a man who was thirty to forty years older than she was. “The Eyes of Tara Markov” literally showed her vision as tainted with contact lenses that carried her perspective back to Slade – everything she saw Deathstroke saw. Somehow, she also had an audio feed hooked up for him too. That would certainly affect her behaviour, perceptions and make it much harder to find the point at which she was ‘really herself.’ How would you behave if you knew your lover and boss was watching, listening to and recording absolutely everything you said and did? The ‘Eyes of Tara Markov’ should have been called the ‘Eye of Slade Wilson.’ And as we know, the Wilson family is defined by its lost vision. Therefore, Tara’s view was never whole, never her own. We never got a version of her private perspective that wasn’t questionable or completely violated. The only times readers saw Tara’s perspective were in her few private thoughts – and even those are uncertain because we know she was insane, may have been drugged, and was heavily influenced by Deathstroke in any case.

To understand Tara, we have to look first at the separate history and legacy of the Markovs and Markovia. Seeing Tara from the angle of her pre-Titans history (which is completely obscure) and her own family dramatically changes the picture. She’s still a traitor, she’s still unforgiven, but even an illegitimate Markov is still a Markov through and through. One thing the Markovs have showed from the start is their total commitment to preserving control over their country; and their willingness to embrace change – to radically transform themselves – in order to protect their atavistic monarchical dream of royal power. They are absolutely fearless and uncompromising about defending their interests by any means necessary. Another thing that characterizes them is the element of surprise. Even now, in 2010, we don’t yet know the Markov family’s true nature, full significance, or their collective motivations. It’s her final moment of unexpected suicide that makes Tara much more than a cardboard cut-out ‘traitor.’ She’s the ultimate wild card. She may have played a role preset for her by her creators and Gar’s DP legacy, but no one – fictionally or metafictionally – could predict where she would go with that role. That’s what the Markovs are all about.

Last Will and Testament explained how Tara’s suicide could make sense from the Markov family’s point of view; her act would easily be misinterpreted by Slade and the Titans as accidental, a misplaced attempt to kill all around her. Perhaps it might not misunderstood by Garfield, who saw that Rouge was happy to die, and who is all too familiar with the unspoken suicide bond that motivates the Doom Patrol (known for their gladiatorial cry, “We who are about to die, salute you!”). But even tackling Wolfman’s unacknowledged Doom Patrol angle and the Markovs doesn’t get us all the way to Tara herself. Tara Markov is a fictional case study of how hard it is to get at the elusive viewpoint of a woman who is labelled (from inside and outside her story) as ‘insane.’

The original Tara always showed two sides of herself and lived in two worlds. She was half princess (from her father) – and half mistress (from her mother); half Markovian (Old World) and half American (New World); half in the milieu of supervillains and half in the company of superheroes. Tara was an evil character, ambiguously surrounded by good. Did the good around Tara change her reality (if not her nature)? Although Tara was not heroic, her roots in the Markov family were heroic (Viktor, Gregor and Brion all showed heroism, hope, courage and self-sacrifice). Terra did good acts while pretending to be a Titan; her actions, although committed with evil intentions, still generated good in the world. If a villainess does something good – do we give her the benefit of the doubt? To put it another way – if a hero commits an evil act (as Gar had and has done), do we forgive him? Tara was a complete villain – but she was immersed in good and evil histories that went way beyond her villainy, not least the Doom Patrol’s heroic legacy and Slade’s villainous familial “vendetta” against the Titans. One minute in Slade Wilson’s bed, the next minute in Gar Logan’s house in East Hampton. Caught between Slade and Gar, both possibilities were cancelled out, which is why she turned on both of them. The character would be totally evil, yet she truly lived and acted in evil and good worlds, with evil and good consequences in both.

Tara’s world was split in half – this is any spy’s core experience. These situations likely never made Tara Markov’s personality half-evil, half-good (although even that is debatable). But they certainly made her reality half-evil and half-good. Under the weight of that conflict, her personality broke down, until her very identity (if not her personality?) split in half. After Terra 2 was introduced, Tara Markov’s duality intensified. Terra, labelled by the mask and channelling the same powers, returned. Wolfman has always insisted that Tara 1 never had anything good in her. Anything attractive about her, even the good she inadvertently did while pretending to be a Titan, or the love she inspired in Gar, or any appearance of her reciprocating his feelings – all of it was a lie. He similarly cut the heroine Tara 2 off from Tara 1 – they were never the same girl. We can admire Wolfman’s dedication to preserving the integrity of the Judas Contract as a story, but a writer can only make every story he tells about a character depend on duality, before we have to say that the fractured reality that Terra occupied reflected something of what she really was. Tara Markov is surrounded with an enduring picture of duality: lies and truth, evil and good, hate and love, death and life, insanity and sanity, Tara 1 and Tara 2. After Terra 3 appears, Tara 1’s still held up as the evil counterpoint to her triplicate version. Atlee’s story is still a story about Terra 1’s terrifying and unexplained duality. Tara’s legacy to Slade and Gar was that their realities became divided. In the 1990s, Slade’s reality got more heroic, and Gar’s became more villainous.

Thus, beneath the label of ‘insanity,’ Tara Markov was characterized by four main traits. Beyond her duality, other important qualities were her ‘wild card’ aspect, which she got from the Markovs (that relates to her link to her brother), and her personal power and fate as an earth elemental (also tying her to Brion). Finally, there was her powerful connection to Garfield Logan, based on their mutual, intertwined destinies. Tara and Gar were not lovers and Wolfman denied her capacity to love Gar, let alone her inclination to do so. But at the same time, Wolfman needed to create a closeness between the two characters to recycle the DP Caulder-Rouge arc. In order to justify Tara’s villainy, he needed to set up a semblance of love and then deny it; he needed a sterile atmosphere of love without love. This was different from Caulder and Rouge who loved each other, although that love was on extremely shaky ground. With Garfield and Tara, we can never know what she would have felt if she had actually been able – or free? – to love him. This makes Wolfman’s association of the Statue of Liberty with Tara all the more ironic. Tara was a character who was out of control, but never free. Regardless, after years of proximity between the characters (that is, between Gar and Tara 1 or 2) and Garfield’s love of Tara that resulted, the bond between them was cemented by Tara 1’s suicide and Tara 2’s death. With regard to the Tara-Gar ship, just as Wolfman triumphed here with his DP plot device, he faltered when it came to his vacuum seal on the evil in Tara’s characterization. In the case of Tara 1, her death horrifically consummated her pairing with Gar in a manner greater than any sex scene, not because it involved Tara’s love or conscious sacrifice, but because she achieved something akin to that.

It had already been established that Gar was a character kind of like one of the kids who cheats death in the Final Destination films. He was not present when the DP died, but having escaped, death would keep seeking him out until it found him. NTT #11-12 proved that Gar had a proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over his head – and in this arc he cheated death a second time on Paradise Island. Subsequent issues showed Gar running up against this fate again and again. He was literally a marked man. Deathstroke repeated his DP-borrowed ‘life for life’ gimmick to Gar during the fake fight with Tara. It’s a hard legacy to shake. Gar was shot in the heart in NTT Annual #3 (1987), and Raven saved him from dying.

Gar thanks Raven for healing him. NTT Annual #3 (1987)

That was the third time Gar cheated death. These were not just the usual superhero risks and brushes with death. Gar was the Titans’ Doom Patroller. Even before the legendary DP death arc, being part of the ‘Doom Patrol’ and its history meant confronting death.

Thus, when Tara died as she did while immersed in Deathstroke’s rehash of Gar’s entire identity as a legacy character, Tara took on the full burden of Gar’s past history, transformed and expunged it. She did so unknowingly, but her suicide still accomplished that. She was unlike Madame Rouge, who escaped while the DP died. During the Judas Contract the traitor died and the team lived. The DP legacy was overturned. Therefore, in a sense, Terra’s motivations are irrelevant. Her death may have come out of homicidal hateful rage, the Markovs’ warrior code of royal honour, an assertion against Deathstroke of personal identity and self-control, insanity, drugs that made her suicidal, internalized despair, a hidden personal death wish – or any combination of these motives. Without bringing in the question of what she felt or could have felt for Logan (because we can’t know this), that is the core of Tara’s attachment to Gar, as defined by her agency. Tara resolved Gar’s fate as a legacy character – she changed his doomed DP destiny, by paying the cost that that legacy exacted. She could not free herself, but she unintentionally freed him. This makes the ‘Statue of Liberty’ symbol associated with her all the more poignant. She was and is an ‘unfree’ character with the capacity to free others by taking on the burden of their fates, sins and deaths – a classic scapegoat. Whether or not that moment constitutes Tara’s love for Logan depends on what the readers of the story think. Without calling it love, it arguably comes close to explaining Tara’s bond with him. It certainly indicates that the two characters had and have deeply intertwined destinies.

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-Tales of the Teen Titans #56 (August 1985): "Fearsome Five Minus One!"
Jericho returns with Adeline from the Middle East. Gar finds him at the airport. Gar apologizes, wants to be friends, says he thought Joe was a traitor because of what happened with Terra. He’s learning sign language so they can communicate.

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-Tales of the Teen Titans #57 (September 1985): "The End of Cyborg! New York Nightmare! None of the Above!"
-Tales of the Teen Titans #58 (October 1985): "Victor Victorious!"
Issue #57: Vic gets a new plastic human-looking body and begins intensive training with Sarah Charles at S.T.A.R. labs. Gar confides in Joseph about his confrontation with Deathstroke. Gar bounces around in great spirits at the Tower and hints about his confrontation to the other Titans but doesn’t come out and say it. His giddiness seems overdone. Issue #58: Ongoing battles with the Fearsome Five end. Vic’s body rejects his polymer replacement parts that made him appear normal.

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-The New Teen Titans #3 Baxter series (November 1984): “Souls as white as heaven ... as black as hell!”
-The New Teen Titans #4 Baxter series (December 1984): “Torment!”
In continuity, this issue comes after Changeling’s encounter with Deathstroke. These issues in the Baxter series were later reprinted for newsstand distribution as Tales of the Teen Titans #62-63 (February-March 1986).

Dead Doom Patrol with Terra. NTT #3 (Nov. 1984)

With Terra apparently getting Gar off the hook regarding his DP legacy deathwatch, Logan still has another big stumbling block in his identity, that is, his dual human-animal nature. The genius of Mark Logan’s treatment of his son’s Sakutia was that he scientifically unravelled the divide between humans and animals. At its best, that’s what Gar’s heroism represents: his transformations imply that he resolves that great conflict (a conflict which symbolically goes right back to the Fall of Man in the Old Testament) within himself peaceably and harmoniously. And with each and every metamorphosis, he shows he has the heart, spirit and mind capable of accomplishing that enormous resolution. That harmony could set Logan’s role as a hero who could consciously channel the powers of the entire Animal Kingdom. He could even go beyond DC’s similar character, Vixen, because he can actually take animal and insect forms. Such a development of his power could be a role that would tie him again to Terra, if she were revived in a sane incarnation capable of taking on her own destiny as an earth mage.

Gar channeled through Raven: Death, grief and cannibalism. NTT #3 (Nov. 1984)

But often, writers have presented this human-animal duality stemming from Gar’s powers as a source of enormous pain, alienation from himself, and violent conflict deep within his personality. In the 2000s, this aspect of his character drives him toward his future ties with Raven. The Baxter series opens when Raven finally catastrophically fails in her terrifying struggle with her demonic father, Trigon. She gives in, lets go, and all hell breaks loose. She is taken over by Trigon and drives the Titans to kill evil versions of themselves. In Changeling’s nightmare, Raven probes Gar’s abiding grief and insecurities, especially his feeling that he is responsible for his parents’, the DP’s and Terra’s deaths because he wasn’t ‘good enough.’

Terra’s body appears at Changeling’s feet next to the bodies of the Doom Patrol and his parents - again, confirming that their stories are connected. But all of this insecurity hangs over the human-animal conflict inside him. Raven's evil version of Gar goads Logan on and consumes the bodies of the people cares about. This theme of Gar indulging in cannibalism under Raven’s evil influence will be repeated during The Darkening in the 1990s. Gar’s inferiority complex and guilt twist into a deep-seated hostility against those he loves, which Gar’s dark version also picks up: “I’ve got everyone here ... they will make a delicious meal for us both! You may as well enjoy them, Garfield – after all, you killed them! Our mother and father died because of you. You know deep in your heart you could have saved them! Who’s next, Garfield? Who has let you down now? Your Titan friends – they’re better than you, aren’t they Gar?” (#3). In #4, the creature says, “So your parents died and the Doom Patrol died and dear, sweet Terra died and the Titans will die – all because of you! I’m going to tell the world how incompetent you are, Logan! I’m going to tell them how you’ve murdered everyone who’s loved you!”

Raven triumphs over Gar by manipulating his grief and guilt. NTT #4 (Dec. 1984)

The creature destroys the Titans, Dayton, Jillian and Questor, at which point Logan loses it and kills the evil version of himself. Raven has triumphed, because she has induced Gar to cross the line – not only to kill, but to kill simultaneously like a man (rationally) and like a beast (irrationally).

Aftermath issues in Titans.
-The New Teen Titans #6 Baxter series (March 1985): “Titansmania!” Baxter series.
After the Terror of Trigon arc ends, the world is restored to the way it was before Trigon attempted to conquer the earth. Raven has disappeared. Titans Tower is destroyed. Gar returns home, where he and Jillian (now dating again) lounge by the pool and Gar fires his Hollywood agent.

Gar hangs up on his agent. NTT #6 (March 1985)

The Titans go on vacation in the Grand Canyon and do a lot of soul searching. Gar mentions Madame Rouge and Tara.

DP, Rouge and Tara are all connected. NTT #6 (March 1985)

-Outsiders Vol. 1 #4 (February 1986): “Cha$ing the Dollar!”
Markovia has switched from gold coins to paper money printed by the Americans, and immediately falls prey to counterfeiters. The Outsiders follow the counterfeiting ring to Markovia, and meet with King Gregor and his fiancée Princess Ilona in the palace.

Doom Patrol Legacy and meaning of earth powers.
After Tara’s death, several story arcs began to explore her ultimate destiny and the meaning of her powers as an earth elemental. At the same time, her powers and fate were still implicitly connected to that of the Doom Patrol. The grief associated with her betrayal is superimposed over residual grief from the DP's deaths. These themes surface in one long arc involving Steve Dayton and during 1988's Millennium crossover.

-The New Teen Titans #22 Baxter series (July 1986): “Friends and Foes!”
The team is falling apart. Gar to Vic: “I feel like I did after the Doom Patrol d...died.” His remark signals a DP-related story. Dayton’s been declining for awhile, but this issue starts a long arc which sees Dayton insanely attack the Titans. During the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline, John Constantine starts visiting Dayton. The two are old friends. He’s been encouraging Steve to use the Mento helmet in unknown (magical?) ways to augment Dayton’s telepathic powers, but he’s pushed Dayton to the point where the latter has gone insane. Dayton is drunk with power: he can see the components of matter. He’s also tortured by unresolved grief over his wife and Gar's adopted mother, Rita Farr.

Dayton waits to meet Constantine at Mount Rushmore.  Already distracted by equal measures of power and misery, he telepathically and telekinetically appears at Titans Island and attacks Gar by remotely controlling Vic. Gar almost tells Vic what happened in his confrontation with Deathstroke (ToTT #55) but doesn’t get to it before Dayton attacks. This means that the only Titan Gar has discussed the incident with is Jericho.  After this missed moment, he never tells Vic or any of the others what he did during the Terminator's trial and afterward.

Dayton: Constantine promised to show him knowledge and expand his power. NTT #22 (July 1986)

Dayton felt he failed to save Rita and the DP and he blames Gar for this failure, even as Constantine tempts Mento with even more power.  Story continues in Swamp Thing #50.

 Grief and power: Dayton threatens Gar and meets Constantine. NTT #22 (July 1986)

-Swamp Thing #50 (July 1986): “The End”
-Teen Titans Spotlight #19 (May 1987): “Scar Tissue”
-The New Teen Titans #34 Baxter series (August 1987): “Non Compos Mento! Epilogue”
Gar’s adopted father Mento joins his friend John Constantine to psychically marshal magical forces against a massive force of darkness, evil and death that has awoken in hell. Constantine claims that this confrontation is what he has prepared Swamp Thing, a plant elemental, for all along. At the height of the battle, the dark force asks Swamp Thing to explain “the purpose of evil.” Swamp Thing describes the earth’s power as a dual source of good and evil: "I have seen evil, its cruelty, the randomness with which it ravages the innocent and guilty alike ... I have not understood it. I asked the Parliament of Trees, whose knowledge is older, greater than mine. They seemed to insist that there was no evil. But I have seen evil and their answer was incomprehensible to me. And yet, and yet, they spoke of aphids eating leaves, ... bugs eating aphids ... themselves finally devoured by the soil ... feeding the foliage. They asked where evil dwelled within this cycle and told me to look to the soil. The black soil is rich in foul decay, yet glorious life springs from it. But however dazzling ... the flourishes of life in the end ... all decays ... to the same black humus. Perhaps ... perhaps evil is the humus formed by virtue's decay, and perhaps ... perhaps it is from that dark sinister loam that virtue grows stongest?" This dual meaning of earth as a source of good and evil strikes a ying-yang balance between life and death and explains the secret of immortality. The dark force expels Swamp Thing and reaches up to the light to embrace a force of good that descends from heaven. Mento witnesses the event, and the earth’s secret, comprehends it, and it immediately drives him insane.

Constantine, true to form, cuts Mento loose.  Mento returns to the pages of the Titans to found the Hybrid and generally run amok. His crazy decline implicitly binds together the two themes again – the meaning of Terra’s earth powers with the Doom Patrol legacy.  Dayton holds Aqualad captive in Teen Titans Spotlight #19, and Garth senses that Dayton’s madness grew out of his terrible grief over Rita. Because Garth had a similar loss of Tula, he can empathize. 

Dayton telepathically stumbles across Garth's similar loss of Tula. TT Spotlight #19 (May 1987)

There may be some elemental symbolism at work here too.  Through his interactions with Constantine, who promised to show him unknown avenues of power and knowledge (without any safeguards against what that would do to Steve's mind), Dayton is encountering the essential forces behind different elemental powers - earth (Terra - evil and good, death and regeneration), plants (Swamp Thing - life out of earth's duality) and now Garth, a water elemental (watery depths of emotion, the mind, and the soul).

Grief: Dayton drives Garth away.  TT Spotlight #19 (May 1987)

Dayton, shocked and maddened by Garth’s attempt at mystical commiseration, violently drives him away and locks him out telepathically. Grief, helplessness, insanity, revenge, and power are constantly repeating themes around the Judas Contract and its aftermath, but all derive from the same themes running throughout the DP's earlier history.

Garth contemplates Dayton's grief.  TT Spotlight #19 (May 1987)

Dayton’s arc sees Raven return to the Titans and Robotman make a guest appearance (NTT Baxter series #28-#31). Robotman is the only member of the DP who has survived fully participating in all of the team's ill-fated incarnations.

Doom Patrol legacy: Gar explains Dayton's powers. NTT #25 (Nov. 1986)

Doom Patrol legacy: Robotman joins the Titans for a case against Brother Blood. NTT #28 (Feb. 1987)

Raven finally heals Dayton (NTT Baxter series #34) as she leads him through his grief-stricken shattered memories of Rita and the dead Doom Patrol.

Raven heals Dayton by enabling him to make peace with Rita, Gar and the rest of the Doom Patrol.  NTT #34 (Aug. 1987)

Gar has stood by him through is insanity, and as Dayton comes to his senses, they finally embrace as father and son. He has endured a near-fatal encounter with death, grief, power and elemental consciousness. In Swamp Thing #50, Dayton understood that the dual meanings of life and death and good and evil were bound up with the earth in such a way that they opened the door to immortality. Mento's frightening seance with Constantine and other magic dealers was a moment where he witnessed the same truths that possibly drove Tara Markov insane. Dayton goes crazy again in the Crimelord arc in the 1990s. In that instance, he goes after Deathstroke. These two arcs (Hybrid in the late 1980s and Crimelord in the mid-1990s) can be taken as Dayton’s subliminal engagement with the aftermath of the Judas Contract, an engagement which again quietly binds the JC to the Doom Patrol legacy.

-Batman and the Outsiders #32 (April 1986): "A New War's Winning!"
A new war starts in Markovia as the country is attacked by Baron Bedlam (back from the dead) and his mercenaries. The issue opens with Princess Ilona giving an interview to a reporter in a limousine travelling in an armed convoy. Ilona tells the reporter that her impending marriage to Gregor was not a whirlwind romance – they’ve known each other since they were children. The reporter asks if the marriage has to do “with Markovia’s seeming desire to develop allies since its recent war?” Ilona says “no comment.” The convoy is attacked by the Masters of Disaster, who kill Ilona’s guards and kidnap her. In the fields below, tanks are seen speeding toward the capital. Brion doesn’t hear about the attack for two days because Batman has blocked the radio signal from Markovburg. Batman wants to keep him in Gotham cleaning up his city. Brion is outraged when Jace finally gets through with the news and says she has been trying to reach him. The Outsiders criticize Batman’s harsh treatment of the team. In frustration, Batman resigns and returns to the JLA. Final issue with Batman as leader of the Outsiders.

-Adventures of the Outsiders #33 (May 1986): "A Tiny, Deadly War!"
-Adventures of the Outsiders #34 (June 1986): "Against All Odds!"
-Adventures of the Outsiders #35 (July 1986): "Sympathy for the Führer"
With the aid of a childless German scientist and cloning specialist, Madame Ovary (typical Mike Barr name!), a clone of Baron Bedlam returns to menace the Markovs. With the assistance of the Masters of Disaster and Soviet forces, Bedlam takes over Markovia. A chain-smoking Soviet spy in a lounge suit, the Bad Samaritan, realizes that these Markovian Germans are only interested in Russian help in the short term: Madame Ovary has also cloned Adolf Hitler! The Outsiders travel to Markovia, and cross fields full of Markovian military casualties. Brion vows revenge. The Outsiders are defeated by the Masters of Disaster but eventually regroup and invade the Castle. Issue #34: Bedlam captures the Outsiders and insults Brion, calling Markovia a “pocket kingdom.” Bedlam remembers his childhood during World War II, when his father was the Nazi puppet regent of the country. He also recalls that Hitler made a secret visit to Castle Markov when it was a Nazi protectorate and stored a death-dealing Nazi machine (a proton cloud generator!) in a big walled over chamber in the bowels of the castle. Issue #35: Bedlam imprisons Gregor and his fiancée, along with an American reporter, in Castle Markov’s dungeons. Gregor quotes Louis XVI and says he similarly won’t show fear before going to his death. The Outsiders save Gregor and Ilona just before they are to be executed by a firing squad at dawn. GF destroys Bedlam’s machine. Brion offers Bedlam the chance to kill himself (confirming the Markovs’ assumption that suicide is the honourable path out of defeat).

Brion offers Bedlam the option of suicide. AoO #35 (July 1986)

When Bedlam refuses and shoots Brion in the back, Brion decapitates Bedlam’s head from his body with a Nazi shield that has been hung from a wall in the castle. This is the second time Brion is shown killing Bedlam.

Brion decapitates Bedlam. AoO #35 (July 1986)

The Hitler clone commits suicide when he recalls the horrors his original self perpetrated during the Second World War. Brion finds the clone’s body in Castle Markov: “What has been going on here, Black Lightning?”  BL explains that even the most evil person can destroy or combat the evil within them through suicideThis is the fourth of five times that suicide will come up in relation to the Markovs' reign and power in the country (Tara (Markovia's princess), Denise (Markovia's princess by marriage), Bedlam (son of Markovia's Nazi pretender), Hitler clone (copy of Markovia's Nazi ruler), Brion (Markovia's prince and later regent king)).  Symbolically, the little country of Markovia has resolved any lingering legacies from World War II, and has avoided being again consumed by tyranny on the back of those legacies.

GF discovers Hitler's dead clone in the bowels of Castle Markov. AoO #35 (July 1986)

-Adventures of the Outsiders #36 (August 1986): "Agents of Change"
For helping defend Markovia from Baron Bedlam’s Soviet-backed forces, King Gregor awards the Outsiders his country’s medal of honour in a ceremony at Castle Markov. Since the Outsiders have severed ties with Batman, Gregor offers to fund them and asks them to serve him as Markovia’s special ops unit, based in L.A. Gregor shows here how much his opinions have changed since Terra and Geo-Force got their powers: “I invite you to become unofficial agents of Markovia ... our agents of change!”

Gregor changes with the times and warms up to metahumans. AoO #36 (Aug. 1986)

He asks them to attend his marriage to Princess Ilona. Gregor and Brion go to the royal tailors to get fitted for their wedding dress suits and regalia (there’s a lot of Michael Jackson going on here in their red jackets with gold braid and epaulettes) for the wedding. In private, they continue to discuss Gregor’s offer to the team. Gregor has come completely around to his father’s thinking on metas: “Markovia is in need of an emergency force to aid it in times of duress.” Brion comments that the country is rapidly modernizing and changing. Gregor confirms he’s planning to take Markovia into the twenty-first century after a period of stagnation, with protectors to match. At this point, the tailor tells GF to take one last deep breath for a perfect fit, and Brion shreds his whole ornamental coat while Gregor bursts out laughing. Royal wedding: Gregor marries Ilona.

Gregor marries Ilona. AoO #36 (Aug. 1986)

Meanwhile, Windfall’s story continues. Windfall is interesting because she’s sort of an inverted Terra. (She looked a lot like Terra (blonde bobs were popular in the mid-80s), switched between hero and villain roles, temporarily joined the Outsiders, was later raped after being drugged, and came to an ugly, sad end.) She has air elemental powers. (The writer, Barr, was fond of elementals.) With the Masters of Disaster, she helped Bedlam invade Markovia. Like Terra, she is a mercenary. Unlike Terra, she is a villain who genuinely turns good (for awhile). While everyone is getting ready for the royal wedding, Windfall prowls Castle Markov’s dungeons, where the Masters of Disaster are being held prisoner. Windfall’s sister, the team leader, wants to kill her for betraying their team. Halo (borrowing a page from Gar’s book of befriending foundling villains) finds Windfall and takes her away, telling her: “You’re gonna come with us, remember? Join the Outsiders! We’ll take care of you, Windfall. We’re your family now!” (Sound familiar?) Troubled by her sister’s accusation that she is a traitor, Windfall leaves a note saying she won’t join the Outsiders and disappears from the castle. This story picks up on a recurring sub-plot that appeared in DC’s 80s comics: metahumans are being created through scientific experimentation in secret labs across the DCU, and many of them then hire out their powers as mercenaries (Windfall, Terra and Deathstroke are only a few).

After the wedding, the Outsiders accept Gregor’s offer and become his agents. Jace accompanies the team back to America. In Gotham, Brion tells Denise that he’s moving to L.A. She reveals that she’s figured out that he’s GF and tells him she loves him. They have a love scene, and Brion promises their romance will continue despite his move.

-Outsiders vol. 1 #14/2 (December 1986): “Starting Over”
Backup story focuses on Markovian villagers dealing with the aftermath of Baron Bedlam’s recent attempt to take over their country. Windfall’s story continues. She has run away from Bedlam’s forces (including her own sister) and the Outsiders. She hides among the townsfolk until the locals figure out who she is, tie her to a stake, and try to burn her alive.

-Outsiders vol. 1 #15 (January 1987): "BioHazard"
Jace meets a former student working at Biogen Labs on a virus that attacks the immune system. The virus infects her student and becomes sentient. Jace had a husband and children; her work interfered with her family life.

-New Teen Titans Baxter Series Annual #3 (1987): “The Lady’s Name is ... Godiva”
Deathstroke has his first cameo appearance since his confrontation with Gar in ToTT #55. The Titans visit him at his compound in East Africa to gather information. The Titans and Deathstroke are super friendly - this buddy-buddy scene is hard to take.  This is part of Wolfman's reinforcement that the entire Judas Contract could be blamed on Terra, thereby getting Deathstroke off the hook and providing groundwork for Wilson family character development.  The scene rests on the readers' willing (or unwilling) suspension of disbelief.   This cameo sets Slade up for his anti-hero role in the 1990s. Danny Chase introduced.

Slade, bare-chested dad and budding anti-hero.  NTT Annual # 3 (1987)

-Outsiders vol. 1 #21/2 (July 1987): "Meanwhile, Back In Markovia"
-Outsiders Special #1 (1987): "From Here to Infinity!"
-Infinity, Inc. Special #1 (1987): "Siding with the Outsiders!"
Gregor agrees to transform the country into a constitutional monarchy. Issue #21: Markovia holds its first ever democratic elections to elect a prime minister (but not a parliament). Reporter: “Voting seems to come naturally to the Markovian people,” cuts to shots of rival candidates’ supporters in fistfights outside a pub. The main candidate, Josef Müeller, is compelled by a resurrected Baron Bedlam to kill himself. The Markovian Standard newspaper reports that Wilhelm Vittings (Bedlam’s favoured candidate) has been elected in a landslide. Vittings orders the Markovian embassy in Washington to be closed, as well as the consulate in Los Angeles. The ambassador reports to Brion in L.A. before he resigns. Communications between Brion and Gregor are cut off and Gregor and his queen are taken hostage by Bedlam, Vittings and their supporting troops. Continued in Outsiders Special #1 and Infinity Inc. Special #1. Summaries from Cosmic Teams: Outsiders Special #1: “The Psycho Pirate (in the guise of Baron Bedlam) takes over Markovia. He installs a puppet prime minister and allies with Abraham Lincoln Carlyle - head of the Force of July. Skyman visits Markovia to scout movie locations and is captured. This prompts a teaming of the Outsiders with Infinity Inc.” Infinity, Inc. Special #1: “Psycho Pirate goes out of control and Carlyle abandons their alliance. The heroes defeat the Pirate.”

House of Markov.
-Outsiders vol. 1 #26 (December 1987): "Uneasy Lies the Head"
The Outsiders’ L.A. HQ has been destroyed, and is revealed to the American government as a Markovian-funded base of operations, which makes the Outsiders look like foreign spies operating in the U.S. Markovia faces an international crisis, and Gregor calls Brion home. He flies to Markovia with Dr. Jace and Atomic Knight (who has briefly joined the Outsiders).

Jace's betrayal: You'll wish you were dead. Outsiders #26 (Dec. 1987)

Jace, now revealed to the readers as a Manhunter agent, is secretly plotting a coup to help the Manhunters take control of Markovia. Brion gets back and Gregor is relieved to see him. In the Castle, Brion calls his girlfriend Denise Howard back in the U.S.A., and apologizes for not calling her for months and confesses to being unfaithful with Looker. She forgives him. Meanwhile an American envoy from the State Department is talking to Gregor, and demands the full lowdown (secret identities) on the Outsiders, or the U.S. will withdraw all funding from the Markovian government. Brion, sitting in on the meeting, loses his temper. Gregor ushers him out, urging him to be more diplomatic. Out in the hall, Brion stands before a big portrait of his father, wondering that he never learned to be diplomatic like him or like Gregor.  Ironically, being undiplomatic and leaving the meeting at this moment because of his hot temper saves his life.  Gardner (Atomic Knight) approaches and cheers him up – Brion shows him round the castle grounds. Gardner asks if there’s anything to do. Brion: “Anything you wish. We can take a ride into the mountains, or drive into town, or attend the annual sheepherders’ fair.” Meanwhile, Jace murders Gregor and the American envoy by pumping poison gas into their meeting room. On Brion’s return, Jace breaks the news to Brion that Gregor has been mysteriously assassinated. She gives Ilona a drink that makes her publicly attack Brion during his coronation.

Ilona disrupts Brion's coronation. Outsiders #26 (Dec. 1987)

Ilona bursts into the coronation ceremony, just before Brion is crowned, announces that she is pregnant with the heir to the throne, and therefore she must serve as regent. Ilona accuses Brion of murdering his brother to take the throne. The Markovian people don’t believe Brion is a murderer, but accept Ilona as regent. Brion is locked up in the Castle’s dungeons until Looker contacts him and lets him telepathically listen to Jace’s treacherous thoughts. He breaks out of prison and the Outsiders join him to answer a summons to the Green Lantern Citadel, where a gathering of heroes is taking place that relates to what is happening in Markovia. Story continues in Millennium #1.

Meaning of earth powers.
-Millennium #1 (January 1988): "Over"
The Guardians of the Universe and Zamarons feel their immortality drawn out by their extreme age; they are weary. Their numbers have dwindled. They embark on the new Millennium Project. Out of the whole universe, they have chosen Earth as the source for a “new race of immortals.” They have selected ten men and women from the entire planet to become New Guardians of the Universe, whose immortal offspring will protect the universe. The ten ‘Chosen’ will be threatened by the Guardians’ and Zamarons’ greatest enemies, the Manhunters. The Manhunters are a race of androids who were the original Green Lanterns. Three billion years ago the Manhunters rebelled and now they wish to destroy their former masters and their plans. The crossover shows the Zamaron Nadia Safir and the Guardian Herupa Hando Hu visiting the Green Lantern Corps Citadel in the Santa Monica mountains. They announce that they have a mission for the Green Lanterns to protect the Chosen, whose names they are about to reveal: “We come to your world to spark a moment of its destiny.” The Manhunters and their agents reveal themselves. Some of them have been planted for decades near heroes or people whom they anticipated would be the Chosen.  In a twist that links Wally West and Tara Markov - two such planted agents are Wally West's father and Dr. Helga Jace, the servant of the Markovs who gave Tara and Brion their powers.  Manhunters threaten the JLA, Infinity Inc., the JSA and the Outsiders, because the latter have agreed to protect the Chosen and help the Guardians create a new race of immortals. Jace reveals herself to Geo-Force and the Outsiders as a planted Manhunter agent.

At the assembly of heroes, Wally West asks the Guardian and the Zamaron: “Where are the Teen Titans in all this?” The Zamaron: “One of the ten we’ve chosen is one of them, and we want to speak with her first alone!” The Guardian names Terra. GF: “But – my sister is dead!” Terra is the first of the Chosen and would have become one of the New Guardians; her children would have joined the new race of immortals. She did not take up this destiny because she had died. Jace was planted by the Manhunters as a trusted servant of the Markovian royal family to establish connections to Terra, and eventually kill her. It’s interesting that Wally is the Titan who learns of Tara’s destiny; it’s not revealed if he ever tells the Titans that this was her fate. He became close to Tara; was the only Titan not to suffer her betrayal directly.  He was Raven’s boyfriend; stands opposite Gar in relation to both women, just as both women stood opposite one other; and was affected by the Manhunters as much as Tara would have been, had she lived. Story continues in Outsiders #27.

-Outsiders vol. 1 #27 (January 1988): "Robot Tyrants of Kadeyland"
Continued from Millennium #1. Jace reveals her treachery. She betrayed her country, her allies and her race for the android Manhunters because she wants the world of complete cold logic that they offer; she wants to leave behind a spouse who used her and children who despised her. Brion appeals to her. She viciously attacks and captures the Outsiders in Castle Markov with Metamorpho’s help. – She used treatments on Rex’s body that were supposed to help him cosmetically, but which actually warped his mind and turned him against the team. Jace kills Metamorpho and when he explodes, she also dies in the explosion. Black Lightning suggests that they do with Jace what the Titans did with Terra: “Nobody has to know Dr. Jace turned traitor. We can bury her with honor.” Brion: “No. Rex was manipulated to turn against us and was not responsible for his actions. But Dr. Jace betrayed her nation – and her race – of her own free will. Let her have nothing but a nameless grave.”

House of Markov.
Jace’s betrayal raises a lot of questions, given that members of Markov family have been dropping like flies from Viktor’s death onward. In the world of retcons, the Millennium series makes Jace the original smoking gun as far as the Judas Contract is concerned. Jace’s Manhunter betrayal story arc in the Outsiders sheds new light on Tara’s betrayal of the Titans. Firstly, this story proves Jace's treachery went back a long way. It’s not explained how Tara was exposed to Jace’s treatment, despite Jace’s claim that Tara was “meddling” (a comment which now can’t be trusted). Jace monitored Tara’s initial development of her powers. BUT as a Manhunter sleeper agent, Jace must have known or anticipated Tara’s destiny as a future New Guardian. Jace was deliberately positioned by the Manhunters to knowingly thwart Tara’s destiny: she was supposed to kill Tara. After Tara left Markovia, she ended up with Deathstroke, who may have had some connection with Jace (according to what he says in Last Will and Testament). Jace’s research for King Viktor running alongside her secret work with the Manhunters might explain a lot about Tara’s descent into madness, her entanglement with Deathstroke, and her suicide. Through the course of her membership in the Titans and the Judas Contract, Tara maintained contact with Jace.

Terra maintained contact with Jace. NTT #37 (Dec. 1983)

Both Markov siblings had emergency alarms that would summon them to help Jace if she was in trouble (NTT #37). King Viktor died, apparently from wounds incurred in battle with Bedlam, but Jace was hovering around the room when he died – did she have a hand in his death? She then immediately gave Brion Markov his powers. She offered to give Gregor powers as well, and in the end, she murdered him. In Outsiders #26, she thinks to herself that Brion will survive this, but he won’t like what happens. Just as Brion is about to be crowned, Jace manipulates Ilona into discrediting him. It seems that there is a much bigger untold story here. This Millennium story arc would likely strengthen Brion’s conviction that Tara’s death was somehow related to these big events, and like Rex’s, her insanity and betrayal was due to outside manipulation, not free will. This doesn’t even get into Jace’s work on siblings Shimmer and Mammoth of the Fearsome Five and some of their interactions with her and Deathstroke: they forced her to create an army of mud men (NTT #37, BATO #5); the two siblings mysteriously switch briefly to being good in the 1990s, before they become evil again; and Deathstroke manipulates Roy and the Outsiders into tangling with the Fearsome Five, in an arc that sees Mammoth escape from prison and Shimmer restored to life (2000s run of Nightwing’s Outsiders)).

Meaning of earth powers.
-Millennium #2 (January 1988): “Under”
The Guardian contemplates the fact that Terra is dead, and hints at his would-have-been plans for her: “We lay in paradise and dreamed of launching the earth, but forgot to consult the earth.” He and the Zamaron travel the world contacting the rest of the Chosen. In Arkham Asylum, the insane villain the Floronic Man (an enemy of the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom and Swamp Thing) claims to have been summoned as the tenth member of the Chosen and says that he’s Terra’s replacement as the elemental protector of the planet: “Terra’s dead, don’t you see it? She’s dead meat, and I’m the one who touches the earth now!”

There’s something here in Floronic Man’s rants, repeated in the 1990s and 2000s, about the difference between Tara’s and Brion’s powers. Tara had a direct relationship with the earth; she is repeatedly referred to as ‘the’ earth elemental for her time period. Brion’s powers are related to the forces generated by the earth: he has gravity, lava blast powers, flight, great strength and invulnerability. When the Guardian discovers that Terra is dead in Millennium #1, he doesn’t even consider taking Geo-Force in her place – the two siblings are not interchangeable in terms of their powers and their connections to the earth. In the 2000s, Brion acquires her powers, and he thinks Deathstroke has given them to him (how?). It’s only after he acquires her powers that he begins to display signs of insanity – a duality of identity – that may be due to Deathstroke’s secret drugs, or derive from Tara’s powers, or both.

Meaning of earth powers.
-Millennium #3 (January 1988): "Back"
The issue opens with the Manhunters gathered at a huge violent secret rally, where they pledge to kill the Chosen and the heroes protecting them. Some of the Chosen are soon murdered. The Zamaron says finding replacements for the original ten members of the Chosen is not so easy: “We made our choices very carefully.” Again – this indicates that Terra was carefully selected, for reasons that set her apart from her brother. The Outsiders go to Japan to protect one of the Chosen, Takeo Yakata. They are attacked by a huge brigade of Manhunters and fight their way clear. The Manhunters enter Arkham Asylum and leave with Floronic Man.

Meaning of earth powers.
-Millennium #4 (January 1988): "Forth"
The Zamaron announces to the assembled Chosen that they have been selected to “advance to the next level of human evolution!” Floronic Man slips away from the Chosen to the surrounding woods. A Manhunter agent is waiting for him – the Manhunters are secretly trying to turn him to their side. The agent greets him with the Manhunter slogan: “No man escapes the Manhunters!” Floronic Man responds with the correct counter-slogan: “The Manhunters are a myth!” (there’s a ‘the first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club’ thing going on here). The only thing Floronic Man wants is to convert the earth completely back to its pre-human ‘green’ state.

-Millennium #5 (February 1988): "In"
The Guardian and the Zamaron explain the whole meaning of existence to the Chosen, with scenes from what’s happening at the nearby Green Lantern Citadel among all the assembled superheroes providing examples illustrating what they are talking about. Batman shows up and announces he’s wiped out a major Manhunter compound. Unlike the other heroes, Batman’s former team, the Outsiders, are subdued on hearing the news. Halo: “I don’t know if the Outsiders have anything to celebrate, Guy – with the losses we’ve taken!” Wally West is similarly quiet, thinks to himself: “If my dad was a Manhunter since before I was born, who knows how he screwed me up? At least his plan to kill mom failed.”

-Outsiders vol. 1 #28 (February 1988): "...a Land Down Under..."
Looker is summoned to Abyssia, the fantastic realm that is the source of her powers. Abyssia has been taken over by the Manhunters and the Outsiders engage in a massive battle with them. The Manhunter cell is destroyed, but Looker loses her powers, Halo is left in a coma at S.T.A.R. labs, and Katana’s spirit is broken by Halo’s fall. The fight against the Manhunters has destroyed the team. Having lost Metamorpho, Jace, Looker, with Halo and Katana down, and Brion a fugitive from his own country – the cost has been too great for them to continue. Only Windfall, Atomic Knight and Black Lightning are still standing. Geo-Force disbands the Outsiders.

Meaning of earth powers.
-Millennium #6 (February 1988): "Out"
News reaches Batman that the Outsiders have been crushed and he wasn’t there to help them. He abruptly shows his distress to Wonder Woman. Watching the Chosen, the Zamaron tells the Guardian: “The Floronic Man, with his other-dimensional consciousness, is far more suitable than Terra would have been! I do worry about his ultimate stability!” (Mental stability and loyalty are problematic with earth and plant elementals.) But while tempted to do so, the Floronic Man does not become the traitor among the Chosen (another character is destined for that).  The Floronic Man turns on the Manhunter agent who is trying to turn him against the Chosen. The Floronic Man destroys the agent, while insanely babbling something very similar to what Swamp Thing said in Swamp Thing #50 about the earth’s duality, that it simultaneously represents life and death, growth and destruction, and good and evil: “The nature of nature is green. Green, Manhunter, not red! Blood is part of it, but blood was sap, first! Green is one color of the structure – you can love the green and still see the rainbow – how the rainbow comes from one pure light! Sap was first, but blood is real, and red and green make white, in light! I can’t rid the earth of red without ridding it of green! We’re just too damn connected!” His ramblings about light and regeneration may relate to Blackest Night and Brightest Day. Floronic Man recently appeared in the Titans’ Villians for Hire Special, a 2010 Brightest Day crossover.  But his understanding of good-evil life-death duality derived from the earth reflects Terra's and GF's problems.  And yet he shows here that betrayal and evil are not always the paths taken by elementals, who are bound to the planet's eternal existence before everything else and therefore ambiguous in terms of their loyalty and moral codes. Since Floronic Man is a villain like Terra, it's possible that the good path he takes here implies that had Terra been placed in the same situation, she too would have been tempted and also would not have turned on the Chosen at this moment.  The earth elemental at this point is destined to perform a creative purpose for the Guardians.

-Millennium #7 (February 1988): "Down!"
The heroes journey to the centre of the earth, where the Manhunters have a final huge stronghold and a bomb designed to blow up the planet. The heroes win. While Wally is fighting them, he thinks: “If only I could forget what these creeps did to my dad and me.”

Meaning of earth powers.
-Millennium #8 (February 1988): "The Rising and Advancing of Ten Spirits"
The Chosen are transformed into heroic entities. Deadman appears. The Guardian and Zamaron begin to die. In the Amazonian jungle, the Parliament of Trees recognizes that the Floronic Man – “the elemental Woodrue” has joined their number, despite the fact that he also exists outside the green. “His roots are here ... and cannot move!” This implies that if Terra had lived and fulfilled her destiny, her first step in evolving toward becoming a New Guardian would also likely have been joining the Parliament as an earth elemental, while retaining her humanity. She would have become half elemental god, half mortal – again confirming her dual nature, which also reflected the duality of earth powers. Floronic Man at this point realizes that he has entered the highest order as a plant elemental: “The Parliament of Trees has recognized me!”


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  1. Great series you got here!

    I'm commenting here because I want to comment on just how messed up I find the whole "Terra killed Tawaba in Africa" scenario.

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it looks like from the time of her debut to the time of her death, Terra's body count was exactly zero. Which is odd for a character the narrative bluntly and insistantly tells us is and always was nothing but Pure Evil. Tawaba's alleged murder is Wolfman's clumsy attempt to rectify that.

    I call it clumsy because Wolfman went too far with it. To be Terra's only victim, Wolfman selected a pre-NTT established character from Gar's history he had no interest in, just to make Terra look more evil. And that's where it gets clumsy.

    To kill Tawaba before she met Slade, Tara would have to have killed him sometime before her bebut in NTT # 26. Which means that during the entire time Gar knew Tara (and for some time before, and for quite a bit of time after) Gar hadn't heard that his former gaurdian was dead. That's over two years in Real World time. For Slade's story to be believable to Gar, whether it's true or false, Gar would've had no contact at all with Tawaba and his people. Granted, this is all pre-Internet, but Gar's current gaurdian is the fifth richest man in the world, so the notion that Gar couldn't keep tabs on Tawaba is a huge strain on credibility.

    And what does it say of Slade's "strict code of honor" that he worked alongside and had sex with someone who murdered "a friend of mine" with no apparent thought of getting back at her for it?

    The only thing that would make Slade's story plausible is him telling Gar to "check it out yourself." But by the end of the issue, Gar already seems to believe Slade. We don't know if he ever checked it out himself. It would be ridiculous if he didn't, but plausible once you buy the notion that Gar hadn't heard anything from Tawaba the whole time he knew Tara.

    Against that thin, weak strain of credibility, I see 4 big points against Slade's story being true:

    1) We the readers only have Slade's word for it.

    2) Even at this early stage, Slade is already established as a Consumate Liar and Manipulative Bastard, which makes him an Unreliable Narrarator. He's gotten much worse since then.

    3) The same page Slade tells us Tara killed Tawaba, he says something else that even then was demonstrably false: that she hated everyone including her brothers. Yet her own thoughts reveal that she cared enough for Brion to not want him to go down with the Titans. This can be "blamed" on her thoughts being written by Mike W. Barr, but even on Wolfman's side of that TT/Outsiders crossover, Tara's first impulse on seeing Brion again is to run up to him and hug him in front of the others; a public display of affection she never showed for any of the Titans.

    4) As you point out, aside from Slade's uncorroborated, never-mentioned-again story, nothing else indicates Tara ever even set foot in Africa, let alone killed someone there.

    Hope this wasn't too long. It's just that this one plot point I found so absurd in ways you hadn't already mentioned, I wanted to contribute my two cents worth.

    1. Thanks Anon: yes, the entire demonization of Tara Markov by Wolfman critically depended on the Titans in-story, and the fans out-of-story, accepting the word of the central villain of the piece.

      Now, the characters are just tools in the hands of the writer.

      But the fans! The fact that just about everyone across the board swallowed the idea that Slade should get off the hook after the Judas Contract and everything could be laid at Tara's feet *without thinking about what that meant* really shocked me as a reader and fan. In a heroic story, it was actually morally wrong that Wolfman would sincerely try to turn Slade into a positive pater familias in the 90s. But as I say later in ths series on Terra, Wolfman spent the 90s combating Titans' writer's block. One of the things he did in that period was invert the moral standpoint of all the characters. Hence, Tara in the 90s became good (even though Wolfman was tediously at pains to insist that Terra 1 and 2 were different characters, which was idiotic). Slade became more and more of a dark hero and Titans ally. Meanwhile, Dick, Gar, Donna, Raven, Dayton and other good characters all turned evil. Cyborg and Kory were sort of out of it a lot.

      Wolfman must have been aware that he had made some missteps with Slade in the Judas Contract, because later, Wolfman wrote stories in the 90s where Slade's past caught up with him, but not before he turned Slade into a nauseating father figure for Dick and Gar, and not before he introduced two more of his tiresome Mary Sue favourites, Jericho and Danny Chase.

  2. The thing about fans is, that once someone becomes a fan, there's a tendancy among most of them to be a lot less critical. That would be especially likely in something like The Judas Contract, that even you acknowledge was an outstanding, well-told story. Except for tha Anvilouciousness at the end, you have take a step back from the story itself to realize the ugly implications of blaming everything on the 16 year old even though it wasn't her plan.

    I kinda liked Jericho, myself from what little I saw of him. Then again, I wasn't into Titans, so I didn't have to put up with him every month. I remember being pissed to learn that Jericho had been killed off while Slade was awarded his own series right after that.

    I think Slade is a good villain (he was a great Pure Evil villain in the cartoon) but as an Anti-Hero I find him cliched at best and unconvincing at worst. A guy who'd come up with something as sick and twisted as the Judas Contract is simply not an honorable person. IMHO, both Terra and Jericho are more interesting than he is, but both were sacrificed on the altar in honor of Wolfman's True Love.

    P.S. Same guy as posted last time.

  3. Anviliciousness - yep. I think the whole JC was a lesson in Anviliciousness! LOL. Jericho, because he was such a Sue, always always annoyed me as a fan. Generally, I think the whole concept of Slade Wilson - the anti-Batman, with a series of young girl proteges to mirror Batman's creepy Robin fixations - was pretty good, all in all. But when Wolfman began turning Slade into an anti-hero, it was awful!

    There are some posts about Slade later in this Terra series that discuss his place as an anti-Batman figure, meaning that in a weird way, Tara is a female counterpart to Dick Grayson's place in the DC Universe.

    Even though I didn't like the anti-hero idea for Deathstroke, I acknowledge that Wolfman had his characters figured out, and gave them layers other writers could not. Case in point: When you take Terra as the anti-Robin, and throw in the fact that Wolfman placed Gar in a strained, yet oddly fraternal relation with Dick, you have interesting characterization. I didn't like Slade playing father figure to the Titans, especially to the fatherless Titans, Dick and Gar, who sort of replaced Grant and Joseph after the latter died in the early 90s. As far as characterization driving storylines went, that was fascinating.

  4. GREAT comment post on that dumbass Tawaba story, I agree that it makes no sense whatsoever if it's meant to be true.

    "The same page Slade tells us Tara killed Tawaba, he says something else that even then was demonstrably false: that she hated everyone including her brothers. Yet her own thoughts reveal that she cared enough for Brion to not want him to go down with the Titans. This can be "blamed" on her thoughts being written by Mike W. Barr, but even on Wolfman's side of that TT/Outsiders crossover, Tara's first impulse on seeing Brion again is to run up to him and hug him in front of the others; a public display of affection she never showed for any of the Titans."

    Also, Wolfman wrote Terra saying, before her demise, that "my stupid brothers" refused to really use the power they were gifted with. If that was supposed to indicate she hated them, then Wolfman fucked up royally (no pun intended). Because really, that much of an emotional outburst about them not using their power like she thinks they should indicates that Terra has an investment in their lives and wants them to do what she thinks is best for them. Twisted or not, that sounds like love to me.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Anon. I felt that while the JC was an amazing story, from a story-telling point of view it ultimately did not serve the purpose Wolfman intended for it, even if many fans thought it did. Because Wolfman worked so hard to make Terra a straight villain and Slade an increasingly blameless anti-hero, he pushed past willing suspension of disbelief. He forced this final outcome on the whole story whether it was logical or not. I felt that him coming out with a bunch of fourth wall injunctions in interviews to force these points home further only increased my sympathy for Terra and my resistance to believe the line on which Wolfman insisted.