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 2.1 - The Elemental: Terra in the 1990s

Terra 2 confronts Changeling for the first time. NT #88 (July 1992)

The 1990s

In the 1980s, the Judas Contract took the Titans to the top of the industry. They were DC’s flagship counterpart to Marvel’s X-Men, but done steadfastly in DC’s style, which heavily references eternal moral values. By the 1990s, DC had passed the Titans’ high water mark. New editor Jonathan Peterson revived the Titans recipe by adding Marvel flavour to it. Peterson’s run is a prime example of what top DC characters look like when they are all Marvelled up

Peterson shook up the Titans by using the Marvel trick of removing from the characters all the superficial traits (powers, physical appearance, identity, memory) that made them instantly recognizable – even to themselves – as caped heroes with inviolable egos. He then took away all, or almost all, elements of stability in their private lives, and finally pushed them to the brink in shocking conflicts to see what would happen. The Titans embarked on arcs that unfolded over several years. The classic neat, 2-5-issue story arcs dissolved into sprawling stories of chronic instability – high-strung tensions that took years to reach catharsis – reflecting the uneasiness of the new decade. The 80s party was over. In the 1990s, all the karmic chickens came home to roost, without anyone paying the price. Nagging spiritual irony arose out of post-1980s disillusionment, followed by raging, tragic, self-referential inner journeys that had no resolution.

Like true Gen Xers, the Titans went grunge during the early 1990s recession. Nightwing and Changeling got 1992 Achy Breaky Billy Rae Cyrus mullets. The dark version of Gar got a haircut exactly like Kurt Cobain’s in the same year that Cobain died. The team ran out of money, all of New York suddenly hated them, and the city started billing them for property damage incurred during their battles. To increase their funds and rebuild their public image, the team cynically approved sales of Titans’ toys, merchandise and a cartoon (fictionally foreshadowing the actual CN cartoon that revived the Titans in the 2000s). They didn’t mind the plastic action dolls so much; but they got really depressed about the cartoon and the comic book based on it.

Dick Grayson sells out. NT #93 (Dec. 1992)

When the Titans sold out, their image started to become twisted and inverted in other media - cartoons, comic books - and promised films; their fictional reality began to unravel. Terra said she wanted Demi Moore to play her; Dick wanted Tom Cruise to play him.  The second Titans Tower was destroyed in 1991, and with no money to rebuild it, they had to move back home, into a wing of Gar’s dad’s house. The Team Titans, a future Titans team who had travelled back in time to kill Donna but then befriended her, moved into Donna’s and Terry’s farmhouse out in New Jersey. Then both teams sold out again. Roy had to sign everyone up for a crappy government contract superhero team job so they could get by. The government eventually rehabbed a grand old suburban train station with public monies for the team’s new HQ. But by the time the new HQ was finally in place, the team had reached emotional meltdown and several members’ Marvelesque personal struggles finally imploded.

Except for Wally who was luckily off being the 1990s Flash, every core member of the 80s NTT squad was turned inside out. For this decade, Wolfman employed a simple and masterful trick as Titans writer. He held up a dark mirror to his NTT 80s team and every character became the moral opposite of what they had been in their 80s heyday. All the good characters turned evil or became seriously deranged. The evil characters – especially Terra and Deathstroke, but also Kory’s sister Blackfire – turned good or became much more sympathetic.

Dick confronts his double.  NT #100 (Aug. 1993)

Nightwing, Starfire, Changeling, Terra, Raven, Troia, Danny Chase, Cyborg and Jericho suffered massive physical or psychological transformations, confronted twisted doubles, and dealt with crumbling romances.

Donna's alternate self. Team Titans #2 (Oct. 1992)

Gar turns evil. NT #120 (Apr. 1995)

Kory duplicated by Mirage. Deathstroke #14 (Sept. 1992)

Kory's shaman self, courtesy of Raven's influence.  NT #110 (May 1994)

Dark Raven. NT #130 (Feb. 1996)

Cyborg and his other self, Cyberion. NT #127 (Nov. 1995)

Terra 2 confronts Terra 1. Team Titans #6 (Mar. 1993)

Jericho goes over to the Dark Side. NT #75 (Apr. 1991)

 Danny Chase becomes Phantasm. NT #73 (Feb. 1991)

Kole haunts the Team Titans.  Team Titans #8 (May 1993)

Even Kole appeared as a shadow duplicate of herself.  Kole's appearance at this time has never been explained - was she a ghost?  She joined the doppelgängers of NTT members who haunted the series at this time; presumed dead, her body was never found during Crisis of Infinite Earths.  The Titans first encountered her as a captive of the Titan Theia, Lilith's mother, on Olympus.  Kole's parents were also connected to Steve Dayton, whose cloning experiments in this decade reached new lows.  Both back stories could help explain her strange reappearance.  A number of Titans' supporting characters popped up as evil doubles of themselves, notably Robert Long, Rita Farr and Mento.  The theme of parenthood played and replayed through all of these duplications and inversions

The less prominent Titans had to do a lot of heavy lifting alongside a brand new team roster to keep everything from falling apart. Golden Eagle was killed.  Mal and Karen appeared at Jericho's and Danny Chase's funeral, as did Frances Kane, who later fell prey to Dark Raven.  Garth, Leonid, Roy, Pantha, Baby Wildebeest, Bart, Damage and the Team Titans together held up the crumbling 80s team. Tim Drake and Rose Wilson put in early appearances. The plots that ripped apart the original NTT team members reached ultra-low points, such as Jericho’s transformation into a psychotic villainous traitor (mirroring Terra 1’s role); Dick and Kory’s marriage being ruined in a fit of destructive jealousy by a bisexual Dark Raven, who now wanted not just Dick, but Kory too; Mirage being raped by Deathwing, a dark version of Dick, who later became Dark Raven’s henchman; Donna’s divorce and the deaths of her family; and Dick’s losing leadership of the Titans for the first time in the whole history of the team in a violent showdown with Roy. The end of the line came in 1998-1999’s Technis Imperative, when Cyborg, now a sentient technis construct with no remaining humanity, consumed the moon.  Wolfman's run ended at NT #130, appropriately titled, "Where Nightmares End!" it seemed that this whole period was a hall of mirrors, dreams and ghosts for a team, which had been once so sure of itself. 

Titans Tower destroyed in the Titans Hunt arc. NT #76 (June 1991)

Everything was lost, including the Titans Tower, Cyborg's father's gift to the the team.  New York City rejected its superheroic protectors. 

Donna returns from vacation to find the Tower destroyed and everyone missing.  NT #78 (Aug. 1991)

Donna: Who did this to us?  Hint: Look on the ground.  NT #78 (Aug. 1991)

This broken reality hinged over and over on Raven's complete breakdown - she was the character who originally brought the NTT together.  She now tore her friends apart from the inside out.  But Terra and Gar also are critical in this team meltdown, with karma from the damage that was done to them in the Judas Contract echoing through Joe's life, and from there, into Deathstroke's, Dayton's and Cyborg's lives.

These crises picked up on news bytes such as the end of the Cold War (Red Star joined and had his longest run as a Titan); the rise of the internet (Steve Dayton and Vic became living computer constructs); genetic experiments and cloning (Terra 2, Pantha and Baby Wildebeest were all products of genetic experimentation). Space exploration reached a high point in 1996-1997 when the second U.S. lander, Pathfinder, successfully sent back surface pictures of Mars that made the front pages of every newspaper in the world. At the same time, Donna became Dark Star and dated the new Green Lantern (Kyle Rayner, who also joined the Titans) and embarked on space adventures with Roy’s Titans team (including Terra 2); later in 1996, the couple returned to space with Raven, Gar, Vic and Kory and roamed the galaxy. This space-faring theme was followed by another Titans team led by Ray Palmer, with appearances from former members Dick, Wally, Roy, Garth, Mal, Gar and Lilith as well as Tim Drake (1996-1998).

In 1991, Terra returned as the mysterious amnesiac Terra 2, bearing the appearance, name and powers of Terra 1, but insisting that she was a different girl. She also reflected the mood of the decade. Where in the 1980s, Terra was half-sweet-pretty-Markovian princess, half-evil-mercenary bitch (really, the ultimate Material Girl) – in the 1990s, Terra was recast as an ancient earth elemental derivative, who just happened to be suffering from a postmodern identity crisis, with some time travel thrown in. The creative teams toyed with a few concepts for Terra 2 as the decade’s fads rose and fell. Was she a female John Connor raging against a possible future destiny? A grrrl power lesbian earth mother who defended the environment? Or a Prozac-addled blonde Trinity to match Gar’s green Neo? She referred to him as “Neo with chest hair” at one point.  When Terra 2 debuted under Wolfman, she was never sure who she was, except that she was not Terra 1. In 2003, he repeated his original intentions.

-2003 Wolfman Interview: Comment on Terra. Links here and here.
“Tara was insane and stayed that way right until the moment she died. By the way, she IS dead. I don’t know what other writers will do with her – if anything – but if they want to honor the original series they will leave her dead. The Terra from Team Titans was – as stated – some kid the villain kidnapped and physically and mentally altered her into looking and acting like the original. But she was NEVER the real Terra.”
If Terra 2 was meant to rehash a traitor arc in the Team Titans' origin story, wouldn’t it have made sense to have her not look like Tara Markov? Wouldn’t looking and acting like Tara Markov, taking her name and having her powers, raise suspicions about a new member trying to gain access to a team’s secrets? In that regard, Wolfman’s revival of the betrayal arc for Terra 2 made no sense at all, while at the same time denying any and all connections between Terra 1 and 2. His protests are counter-intuitive.

The Wiki entry on comic book death indicates that this kind of revival maintains character continuity, without having to deal with the implications of having a continuous character. It's a 'have your cake and eat it too' option:
Time travel, reality manipulation or other narrative tricks may also be used to undo big changes in the fictional universe (such as the death of characters) by setting them out of continuity and restoring things to a previous point. A less controversial solution is to make a dead character remain dead, and have a similar one assume his super-hero or super-villain identity and replace him as a successor. Sometimes this even leads to the creation of complete successive timelines of people assuming the role.”
This raised the question of why bother having a doppelgänger around at all, if not to make her and everyone else assimilate Tara 1’s legacy and move on. Again, Wolfman refused to answer the central, constantly nagging question around Terra: ‘why?’ So Terra 2 was an imposter, cut to look like Terra 1 and infected with a DNA virus to make her a genetic match. She was an imposter, created by the villain Chaos from another, future timeline. Wait - no she wasn’t. She was from this timeline. Huh? If Terra 2 was certainly an imposter, a completely different girl entangled in the Team Titans’ futuristic storyline, why was it necessary to make her from Terra 1’s timeline? The simple answer – so she wouldn’t be wiped out like the other Team Titans when timelines realigned. The only other characters who survived this timeline wipe-out were also Titans imposters: Mirage (a character whose very powers made her an imposter – she posed as Kory’s double) and Deathwing (Nightwing’s imposter). Wolfman’s run on the NTT ended with the birth of a child whose parents were Kory’s and Dick’s fake doubles, while the real Kory and Dick were irretrievably separated, literally a universe apart.

Was Terra 2 a fake like Mirage and Deathwing? The less simple answer of why Terra 2 came from Terra 1’s timeline was that she was really Terra 1. As the decade ended, editors and other writers mounted more and more hints that Terra 2 was real. They suggested she was the same girl as Terra 1, who had used her earth powers to resurrect herself. By contrast, the 2000s ended with Gar denouncing Black Lantern Terra 1 as a fake. Between 1991 and 2009, the fake girl became real and the real girl became fake. The 2009 Terra mini mashed Terra 2 up even more, retconning her into a Stratan hybrid like Terra 3. But reading forward, during the 1990s, Terra 2 froze under conflicting mandates. If she was really Terra 1, she would be a heroine in complete denial of her whole identity and nature; unwilling to take responsibility for her breach of the Titans’ trust, while continually proving herself on their teams; and unable to function – except as a fraction of herself. Other readers followed Wolfman’s line that she was a look-alike, clone or duplicate, surgically altered and DNA enhanced, but a separate heroine with a good soul. Either way, Terra 2 lived in the shadow of Terra 1 and could not develop a full personality. She never knew who she was.

Terra 2 had some wistful and intelligent speeches in which she reflected on her impotence and existential crisis; after a Team Titans #1 retread of the betrayal storyline (in which this time she chose the good path), she showed courage, kindness and loyalty to her teammates; and she displayed her predecessor’s impatience, temper and trademark sarcastic humour that was similar to Gar’s. But despite her appeal, Terra 2 lacked the bad-assed unrepentant nastiness, the in-your-face snottiness, the all-or-nothing decisiveness, and the mercurial vulnerability that made Terra 1 larger than life. That’s odd, because Wolfman intended Terra 1 to be nothing more than a flat plot device. But Terra 1, in her short run from 1982 to 1984, still pops off the pages almost thirty years later. By contrast, Wolfman and other writers had 16 years, from 1991 to 2007, to build Tara 2 as a good character and yet she remained strangely bland. It’s tempting to say that Tara Markov just could not work as a good character. But because Wolfman said Terra 2 was not Terra 1, that’s not a fair conclusion. It’s hard to say if Tara 2’s blandness was due to lack of creative commitment to her (except for her romantic arc with Damage, she never had a full-focus story that was not related to Terra 1); maybe it was because the series after 2000 in which she was supposed to feature and in which she would have been seriously developed as a character were not greenlit (Titans L.A.). Her time under Brion’s leadership in the Outsiders in the early 2000s (after her recruitment to Titans L.A. but before that team really got started under Gar’s leadership) has never been shown.

In the 90s, what sank Gar was Raven, not Terra.  NT #92 (Nov. 1992)

During the 1990s, Tara 2 and Gar replayed their 1980s’ relationship almost to the letter. But this time, they swapped places. Now Terra was the loving teammate who was constantly rejected, but never gave up hope that their love would work out. Gar flatly rejected her, while sending out vague, covert, mixed hints of needing her. Gar took over Terra’s role of the increasingly unhinged lunatic who, due to worries over Vic, personal insecurities and disastrous decisions, fell under the bad influences of other things (instead of Tara’s drugs and bad sex, he had the Mento helmet and bad sex) and bad people (instead of Deathstroke, he had Raven). He then committed unspeakable acts and almost helped Raven kill the team. Terra gradually became his devoted teammate to the point where she lost her new boyfriend, Damage (who was dealing with his own horrible problems). As she helplessly witnessed Gar’s descent into madness, she seemed to understand what was happening to him and why, far better than the other Titans, who barely registered what was going on with him. They still saw him as the immature comedian with little credibility – until he was at their throats.


Terra's first reappearance since her death - in an apocalyptic future. NT Annual #7 (1991)

-New Titans Annual #7 (1991): "2001: A Titans Odyssey" [Flashback]
-Team Titans #1 [Terra] (September 1992): "Terra" [Flashback]
The annual shows the apocalyptic and authoritarian world ten years in the future in which the Team Titans operate. The world is ruled by Donna's son, who is a godlike despot called Lord Chaos.  The Team Titans have mobilized to stop him.  Almost all the original Titans that we know are dead.  The only ones we see in this terrible future that we recognize are Dick and Tara.  First appearance of Terra 2.

Terra recast as a heroine. NT Annual #7 (1991)

Terra uses her powers to the point of exhaustion. The future Nightwing (later Deathwing after the implantation of Trigon seeds in the present), scoops her up as she collapses, and confirms that Terra had proven herself. In this future, the Titans are all dead, but Nightwing tirelessly searches for them in case they have escaped the Wildebeest attack, which is repeatedly described as the point when they were all killed, ten years before in 1991.  Nightwing is a noble, driven and broken-hearted figure.

First origin story: Donna's son, Robert Long aka Lord Chaos, creates Terra 2. Team Titans #1 (Sept. 1992)

Except for Nightwing and possibly Terra, the only surviving former member of the Titans is an operative they call the Leader, who is running several Titans teams, although his identity is kept secret (it might be Hawk or Danny Chase). He brought the Team Titans together to fight Chaos. Nightwing questions him relentlessly about the other teams and the old Titans. The operative tells him that all the other former Titans were killed. Dick refuses to believe it. On his orders, the Team Titans invade Chaos’s HQ and Chaos reveals he is Donna Troy’s son, Robert Long, living god and tyrant. The Leader sends the Team Titans back in time from 2001 to 1991 to kill Donna Troy, to prevent her son from being born and prevent the future from coming to pass.  In so doing, they hope to save millions of lives, and save the Titans in the past as well.  What they encounter is an ungodly mess, courtesy of Raven.

Terra joins the Team Titans. Team Titans #1 (Sept. 1992)

-Team Titans #1 [Nightrider] (September 1992): "Nightrider"
-Team Titans #1 [Redwing] (September 1992): "The High-Flying Origin of Redwing"
-Team Titans #1 [Mirage] (September 1992): "The Shape-Shifting Origin of Mirage"
-Team Titans #1 [Killowat] (September 1992): "The Electrifying Origin of Killowat"
-Team Titans #1 [Terra] (September 1992): "Terra"

Terra joins the Team Titans. Team Titans #1 (Sept. 1992)

Before the Team Titans travel back in time, their origins have to be explained, especially Terra's!  In Team Titans #1, the opening story on Terra has the Team Titans investigating her origin in their future timeline. When she first joins, Terra 2 claims she is Brion Markov’s daughter, but the Leader, who knew the original Titans in the past, knows this is a lie. The Leader orders the team’s vampire, Dagon, to visit Terra’s grave in their future reality.

The Leader knows Terra is lying. Team Titans #1 (Sept. 1992)

The grave has been defiled and the headstone smashed. Terra’s bust has been knocked from the headstone and partially shattered, the coffin ripped open, and her bones exposed. Raven’s grave stands directly opposite Terra’s.

Terra's gravesite in the future. Team Titans #1 (Sept. 1992)

They discover Terra 2 was planted in their team as Lord Chaos’s spy, and there is a mini retread of the JC betrayal storyline. The team captures Terra 2, conducts a mind probe and shatters her mental conditioning and memory implants. They discover that Chaos has brainwashed her to be his spy, made her undergo cosmetic surgery to resemble Tara Markov, and injected her with the original Tara’s DNA to give her Tara’s powers.

The Judas Contract revisited. Team Titans #1 (Sept. 1992)

The Team Titans determine that Terra will die within a week's time, since her body is unable to sustain geo-powers.  Somehow, the Team Titans physically stabilize her so that she can survive exposure to Tara Markov’s DNA. Outraged at how she has been used and abused by Chaos (who was happy to have her deliver inside information on the Team Titans to him and then have her drop dead), she attacks him and joins the Team Titans in earnest, choosing a path of good.  Strangely, Terra's transformation into a heroine involves her turning on the man who set her on her path as a spy, a twist similar to the original Tara's attacks on Slade Wilson.  This merely confirms that she retains her duality and she is still a wild card character who can turn good or evil.

Terra becomes a heroine. Team Titans #1 (Sept. 1992)

Chaos: Big deal, you weren't that important. Team Titans #1 (Sept. 1992) 

-Who’s Who in the DC Universe, Vol. IX (Nov 1985) “Geo-Force”
Comment on the 2 Terras and genetic manipulation: The need to have a royal Markov’s DNA explains why the 2 Terras are genetically identical – because Terra 2 has to be identical to Terra 1 in order to bear earth powers. Interestingly here Terra doesn’t need exposure to Jace’s treatment to get her predecessor’s powers. She just needs to be injected with Tara Markov’s DNA – that means that maybe it is the Markovs themselves who are actually mutants with earth powers or an old family of earth elementals. Either (A) Terra 1’s original body has been stolen, preserved, and is being used to harvest her DNA for subsequent Terras; or (B) Terra 1 has powers that allow her to regenerate her life and new bodies, and the second Terra not only has the same DNA, but is the same person, who resurrected herself. Geo-Force has come back from the dead through contact with the earth, which regenerated him, so either explanation may be possible. At this point, the story asserts that (A) has happened. Later in this series, things get cloudy and the only indication of whether (A) or (B) has happened with Terra 2 depends on the perspectives of the other characters. Gar and Brion pick (B), and everyone else (including Terra) picks (A).

Titans Hunt: Jericho’s big meltdown.
Titans Hunt. NT #71-85
-New Titans #71 (November 1990): "Beginnings... Endings... and (We Promise) New Beginnings!"
-New Titans #72 (January 1991): "Death of a Hero!"
-New Titans #73 (February 1991): "Paradise Lost"
-New Titans #74 (March 1991): "When Pantha Strikes"
-New Titans #75 (April 1991): "Countdown to Doomsday!"
-New Titans #76 (June 1991): "Tower of the Damned!"
-New Titans #77 (July 1991): "Red Star Rising"
-New Titans #78 (August 1991): "Mind Over Machine"
-New Titans #79 (September 1991): "Prelude..."
-New Titans #80 (November 1991): "The Once and Future..."
-New Titans #81 (December 1991): [No Title]
-New Titans #82 (January 1992): "The Jericho Gambit, Part 1: The Saviors!"
-New Titans #83 (February 1992): "The Jericho Gambit, Part 2: A Thousand Souls!"
-New Titans #84 (March 1992): "The Jericho Gambit, Part 3: Endings... and Beginnings!"
In the 1990s’ story, Titans Hunt, Deathstroke continues building his post Judas Contract, anti-hero fatherly image. When all the Titans are mysteriously kidnapped, Slade even works with other Gar’s foster father Steve Dayton and Raven’s mother Arella to find them. This story fits in with Terra’s continuity because it explores Deathstroke’s moral characterization in relation to the Titans, post Judas Contract, as a parent of a team member. This time, he’s on the other side. Incredibly, he does mention infiltrating the team to Steve Dayton (who had regularly had Tara at his house, paid to have her tutored, and had to help Gar through a very messy JC aftermath), stating he’s surprised at how trusting the Titans are. This casual aside is likely not something Dayton forgets, given his later Crimelord vendetta against Slade.

Joe as team traitor. NT #75 (Apr. 1991)

Titans Hunt is firstly all about the Judas Contract and secondly all about Raven, thus linking four Titans in a quadrangle of cross-ships: Terra, Gar, Raven and Joseph.  This story ties together all four characters as people who have had sins of their fathers visited upon them (before the JC, the quadrangle cross-ship was Gar, Wally, Terra and Raven). All four characters die and are seemingly reborn in interconnected stories related to familial legacies.

Firstly, this arc involves karma coming back to haunt Deathstroke for his actions in the JC, because this arc is the first major repeat of the ‘traitor’ meme, this time with Jericho rather than Terra in that role. Jericho occupies Terra 1’s place as the incurable psychotic team traitor continually after this arc, right up to current storylines. Titans Hunt is the price Deathstroke pays for his role in the Judas Contract.  The story mirrors the Judas Contract very closely, forcing Deathstroke through turmoil similar to that endured by Gar when Terra revealed herself to be a spy. Parallel scenes between Nightwing and Joe (issue #79) show Jericho denying he’s being controlled – just as Terra denied she was being controlled.  In issue #83, Joe mentions Deathstroke’s father and how neither he nor Slade ever showed emotion. Deathstroke picks up on the doubled identities theme – he says repeatedly – “You’re not my son.” But Joe insists he is. Issue #83: Deathstroke denies that this is really the way Joe is or how he feels, just as Gar argued with Terra about what she really felt. Deathstroke pleads with Joe to fight being controlled – in panels that parallel Gar pleading with Terra to fight being controlled.

Parallel scenes. Gar: don't let him control you. TotTT Annual #3 (1984)

Parallel scenes. Tara denies being controlled. TotTT Annual #3 (1984)

Parallel scenes. Joseph denies being controlled and mentions how he resembles Terra. NT #79 (Sept. 1991)

Parallel scenes. Slade gets a taste of his own medicine.  NT #79 (Sept. 1991)

Parallel scenes. Slade crawls a mile in Gar's shoes and his paternal motives in the JC come back to haunt him. NT #83 (Feb. 1992)

Slade: You're not Joe. Joe: Yes I am.  And btw you're a bad father. NT #83 (Feb. 1992)

More of 'this isn't you' - 'oh yes it is.'  NT #83 (Feb. 1992)

In the 1990s, just as the Titans confront evil doubles of themselves, they also confront doubled story arcs: Titans Hunt is a dark mirror image of the Judas Contract, which binds Jericho's Titans Hunt and Raven's Darkening arcs to Gar's Doom Patrol history and Mento's related grief and struggles.  Even the Titans' enemies - the Wildebeests - are duplicates.  At first they're guys in suits.  Later, they are real monsters, products of Steve Dayton's genetic experiments.  It's a total mess, but all of these arcs come back again and again to Terra, Gar and Raven and Jericho.

Parents: Arella and Slade discuss their kids' ship. NT #79 (Sept. 1991)

We do not know if Terra 1 was being controlled by Slade (yes, Wolfman emphatically denied it, but Brad Meltzer retconned that, following Wolfman's single line that Terra was drugged).  But we do know that Jericho is being controlled by the souls of Azarath and Raven’s father, all originating from his initial romantic attachment to Raven. Raven’s and Joseph’s romance started right after the Judas Contract and continued through the Terror of Trigon arc at the beginning of this NTT Baxter series.

Joe tells Raven: It began with you and it will end with you. NT #78 (Aug. 1991)

Joseph manifests a soulself like Raven’s. NT #78 (Aug. 1991)

In a plot point that will tie Deathstroke’s and Dayton’s sons together, Arella discusses Raven’s attachment to Joseph Wilson. Of course, this mirrors Raven’s later romance with Gar Logan.

Is this about their kids' ship, or about family legacies crushing their kids?  NT #82 (Jan. 1992)

Arella repeatedly tells Slade that she thought their kids made a great couple. Slade thinks that Trigon may be influencing his son.

Slade: Is it Raven's father?  Arella: No.  NT #82 (Jan. 1992)

Arcs come together: Gar and Slade on either side of Joseph, who is channelling Raven's father and people, with a Wildebeest. NT #83 (Feb. 1992)

The corrupted souls' intention is to enter Raven and her friends in the short term. They use Jericho to collect and imprison the Titans. But since they will eventually kill even the Titans, they need time to perfect Steve Dayton's genetic experiments to produce superbeings that can absorb the corrupted souls of Azarath and survive.  This 'transfer of souls' idea in the Titans Hunt arc seems uncomfortably close to the 'implantation of Trigon seeds' which Raven begins in the Darkening arc.  Is Raven actually engineering this disaster involving Joe and the Wildebeest experiments begun by Gar's father?

Just before he dies, Joe begins revealing the big picture regarding Raven. NT #83 (Feb. 1992)

Jericho explains that the souls of Azarath, tainted by Trigon, need hosts. NT #83 (Feb. 1992)

The souls impel Joseph to set up labs where the Wildebeest experiments can continue, including one on the former site of Azarath itself! Real, genetically engineered Wildebeests are intended to be the final vessels for Azarath's corrupted souls. These are the same genetic experiments that produce Baby Wildebeest and Pantha and later turn Dayton into Crimelord. As Jericho reveals this, he temporarily regains control of his body.  He says the possession is killing him and he's about to die anyway.  He begs his father to kill him while the corrupted souls of Azarath are still in him, before they are implanted in the Titans.  This will stop this evil Trigon-related plan for world destruction from coming to pass.  So, of course, Slade kills his own son, and the souls migrate into the Titans anyway.

Jericho momentarily regains control of his dying body and Deathstroke murders his own son. NT #83 (Feb. 1992)

But the souls only migrate into certain Titans, namely, the ones who are later planted with Trigon seeds. Issue #84: As Slade mourns Joe, the souls transform Raven into her dark form. She takes over Gar and Kory and forces them to attack the Titans. Then she releases them and battles with Arella and Danny Chase (Phantasm). Arella gets absorbed by the souls of Azarath. Danny dies and the souls of Azarath, purged of Trigon's influence, inhabit Danny's costume to form a new incarnation of Phantasm. The Titans are warned by an unearthly voice – not Raven, Danny or Arella – to leave Azarath before they are doomed. Presumably this is Phantasm's voice. Everyone runs back across the dimensional stairway to the portal that existed in Joe’s old apartment, where Steve Dayton is standing guard to guide them back.

This arc with the Wildebeests is a prelude to what happens with Dayton.  The 1990s start off with Dayton seemingly being very helpful toward the Titans.  But that benevolence quickly veers off into the Crimelord arc. That arc started back in the 1980s when John Constantine drove Dayton off the deep end until Raven apparently healed him. Raven crossing Dayton's path appears not to have good results now; it's that healing session, when she deep-probes his mind, that she presumably finds out all about his genetic experiments. The Crimelord arc starts in 1991, when all still seems well with Dayton and the Titans. But Gar's father is secretly developing an alter ego who wants to take over the world. Power-mongering is not his main issue here. In becoming Crimelord, Dayton repeatedly targets Deathstroke. The genetic experiments are Dayton's secret project to seek his own vengeance against Slade Wilson. Dayton's clones are partly intended as weapons in a plan to get back at Slade playing father figure to Gar, and for Slade's making Gar relive the Doom Patrol's history during the Judas Contract (again this is another line of karma coming back to haunt Deathstroke for his commissioning of the JC, this time from one father to another). On top of this, Dayton approved and approves of Gar's relationship with Tara (both 1 and 2) and consistently encourages it. This implicitly shows that he thinks Slade is to blame for the whole Judas Contract betrayal nightmare.

Thus, Raven and Gar's father are bound up with the karma associated with Terra’s plotline.  The three arcs where Slade loses Adeline and Joseph – Titans Hunt, The Immortal Coil, and Deathtrap – can be taken together as the combined price Deathstroke directly pays for his commission and execution of the original Judas Contract in misguided revenge for Grant’s death.

If there needed to be any further indication that this karmic storyline involves Terra as well as Gar, Dayton, the Wilsons and Raven, Wolfman gives it. A double of Terra returns in issue #79: First appearance of Terra 2 in current timeline. The Team Titans (Killowat; Mirage (Miriam Delgado); Nightrider (David; Dagon); Prestor Jon (Jon Levine); Redwing (Carrie Levine); Terra 2 (Tara Markov 2)) are a future Titans team sent to the past to kill a pregnant Donna Troy because her son will become a evil god in their timeline, ten years in the future in 2001. They enter the Titans’ present timeline at the Statue of Liberty (NT #79-80). Thus, Terra 1 and Terra 2 both make their first appearances at the Statue of Liberty in parallel scenesThe association of Terra with the Statue of Liberty is symbolically important
Foreshadowing: Gar's fate crosses over his future with Tara. NTT #11 (Sept. 1981)
Before Gar meets Terra 1 there, he crosses over the statue as he is dying - hurtling from one Doom Patrol arc engineered by Deathstroke, to his fateful encounter with Madame Rouge, to his first encounter with Terra.

Parallel scenes. Gar first encounters Terra 1. NTT #26 (Dec. 1982)

When Terra 1 first appears, she is trying to destroy the statue.  In fact, she does nothing there except meet Gar Logan, explain her powers to him and fly away on a stream of lava, which suggests that her fate twists when she meets him - as much as his turns when he meets her.  Her first mission is probably to make contact with him, but both are affected by the encounter, not just Gar.

Team Titans appear in the regular timeline, the year is 1991. NT #80 (Oct. 1991)

Parallel scenes. Terra 2: Her first appearance in the regular timeline is at the Statue of Liberty. NT #79 (Sept. 1991)

When Terra 2 first reappears at the Statue, the Team Titans are planning to kill Donna.  Again, this destiny changes completely, and the Team Titans shift from being Donna's would-be killers to her boarders and close friends.  Terra 2, in particular, later depends on Donna heavily and comes closest to considering that she may be Terra 1 while talking to Donna; while doing so, at one point she starts telling Donna she's sorry.

Theia crosses paths with Liberty on her way into modern America - where she finds her daughter and is freed from her power-mad destiny. NTT #8 (May 1985)

In an earlier arc, Lilith's mother, the Titan Theia, a power-mad goddess, is linked to the Statue. At first she crushes, manipulates and abuses people in modern America, with an attitude not too different from Terra 1's.  But this path leads her to Lilith and the Titans, and finally to the end of the Titanomachy - she is freed from thousands of years of power-mongering and makes peace with her children.

Parallel scenes. Dick works with Slade and crosses Tara's and Gar's fateful meeting place.  NT Annual #8 (1992)

When Dick begins his rapprochement with Deathstroke and unbelievably pays Deathstroke to stay around (!) and work with him on a case, he's heading into Terra territory.  His stable destiny as a Titans leader changes drastically.  Sure enough, Slade and Dick fly over the Statue.

Donna explains the meaning of Lady Liberty in the same issue in which Terra 2 confronts her connection to Terra 1. NT Annual #11 (1995)

Later, Donna visits the statue with Minion and explains the significance of Lady Liberty. This occurs in the same issue in which Terra finds out part of her origins from the Time Trapper, and then stops his message before she can hear everything.  It seems that Liberty is linked to Terra because she is an unfree character who has the ability to free others from their destinies.  Whether she can free herself from her own fate is another matter.  This is what she tries to do in NT Annual #11 (1995), only to be brought to a startling conclusion, which sucks her back toward Terra 1.

Joe's and Danny's funerals play out before Tara's grave. NT #85 (Apr. 1992)

Titans Hunt Conclusion.
-New Titans #85 (April 1992): "Dirge"
This issue opens with Joseph Wilson’s and Danny Chase’s funerals at Valhalla Cemetery. Wally West and Frances Kane attend the funerals, although they are standing separately. The opening splash page has one of the most evocative pictures ever of Terra 1’s grave, as the funerals play out before her headstone with Changeling looking at it.

The funerals. NT #85 (Apr. 1992)

The two coffins are left on either side of Tara’s grave, and her bust silently looks down upon all assembled. After the Titans leave, Slade comes and stands before her headstone wondering about Joseph: “Did I betray you?” while gazing at Tara’s statue.

Slade's karma comes full circle. NT #85 (Apr. 1992)

Now Slade’s karma comes full circle, and he finally pays the price for commissioning the H.I.V.E. and Judas contracts against the Titans by taking his son’s life. For the next few years, Terra 1’s grave becomes a repeated symbol. Jericho is buried next to her.  Even with Wolfman reiterating Tara Markov's ultimate evil, it's hard not to see that as a writer he is grappling here with Slade's responsibility in the Judas Contract, to the Titans, his family and even Tara herself, regardless of Terra's true nature.  After these funerals, Terra's grave appears again, and again – and again.  Phantasm, no longer Danny Chase, but a vessel for the cleansed souls of Azarath, returns with Baby Wildebeest from Joseph’s lab in now-destroyed Azarath. The Team Titans follow the Titans, but don’t make themselves known yet. The Titans face bad publicity in the city everywhere they go.

Continuity note, from Terra 1 to Terra 2.
-Titans Secret Files #1 (March 1999): "The Titans Timeline"
-Titans Secret Files #2/3 (October 2000): "Who is Tara Markov?"
Titans Secret Files #1 continuity: Tara Markov 1 spent just over a year with the NTT. In this timeline, Tara Markov 2 appears three years after the Judas Contract. This doesn’t agree with Titans Secret Files #2/3 continuity, where Tara 2 says she appeared one year after Tara 1 died.

Parallel scenes. Slade refuses to fight Gar over Tara. ToTT #55 (Jul. 1985)

-New Titans #86 (May 1992): "If This Be Chaos!"
Nightwing attacks Deathstroke for killing his own son, and Slade refuses to fight him, just as he refused to fight with Gar after Tara 1’s death (TotTT #55). These parallel scenes again hint that Jericho’s death is karmic payback for Slade’s involvement in the Judas Contract. 

Parallel scenes. Slade refuses to fight Dick over Joseph. NT #86 (May 1992)

The parallel scenes also start a new theme. Having lost both his sons, Deathstroke starts playing quasi-father-figure to Dick and Gar, which shapes both of them as current and future Titans leaders. That brings him into violent conflict with Batman and Mento, their actual father figures.  Deathstroke ends his confrontation with Dick just as he finished his showdown with Gar - with a paternal chat.  Meanwhile, The Team Titans go after Donna.

Gar's first glimpse of Terra 2. NT #86 (May 1992)

As if on cue, Gar encounters Terra 2 for the first time at Dayton’s estate as she tails him, trying to locate Donna. Terra: “Nothing is permanent Changeling, not even death.”

Nothing is permanent - not even death. NT #88 (Jul. 1992)

-New Titans #88 (July 1992): "Bringing Up Baby"
Redwing attempts to kill Donna Troy. Tara 2’s first encounter with Gar continues. He’s so upset that it turns into a minor skirmish. She dumps a mound of rocks on him and flees, hoping he’ll think it was all a dream.

Death, rebirth and earth powers. NT #89 (Aug. 1992)

Meaning of earth powers.
-New Titans #89 (August 1992): “With Every Little Step We Take”
The first suggestion that Terra 2 and Terra 1 were the same character depended on their identical appearance, name, and powers. After his first encounter with her, Changeling simply assumes her earth powers revived her. Dick: “She can’t be revived and she can’t be alive.” Gar: “Why not? Why don’t we just say what we’ve always wondered. Terra’s powers were earth-based. Isn’t it possible the ground preserved her?” He’s wondering if she is immortal. Even when her story repeatedly changes, and the other Titans accept that Terra 2 is a different girl, Gar never says or does anything to contradict his initial assumption that she is Terra 1. He holds her at arm’s length, but sometimes covertly confirms their mutual attraction. He makes several comments that suggest he thinks she’s the same girl. Out of all the characters, Gar and Brion assume that Terra 1 and 2 are the same person, right up to the end of Terra 2’s history. On different occasions, they even express frustration with the increasingly heartbroken Terra 2 when she is not enough like the tough, confident Terra 1. The other characters might think she’s really Terra 1 and humour her because she can’t face that awful truth (Donna says some ambiguous things along those lines) – but they never say anything explicit.




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