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 3.1 - A Remade Reboot of the Original: Terra in the 2000s

Gar meets Black Lantern Terra. Blackest Night: Titans #1 (Oct. 2009)

The 2000s

By 1997-1998, the comics industry had slumped to one of its lowest points ever, although it was revived in the crisis atmosphere after 9/11. The Titans came out of the 1990s reeling, but the team had a hopeful string of reboots. Initial optimism from the turn of the millennium is evident in issues from 1999-2000. This was quickly replaced after 9/11 with hard, grim themes, and even more characters’ deaths in sweeping successive crossover events.

At the turn of the Millennium, everyone went in for new-fangled retro. After ten years of the Titans being turned inside out beyond recognition, fans demanded new series with a return to the original, recognizable characters in original, recognizable lineups. Gar switched his name from Changeling back to his pre-teen Beast Boy persona. At least Dick didn’t go back to being Robin! For ten years, writers tried to recapture the old magic, and established new teams modeled on the 1960s-1970s Teen Titans founded by the original five members (Nightwing’s team, 1999-2003); Lilith’s 1970s Teen Titans West franchise (Beast Boy’s Titans LA, 2000-2003); and the 1980s New Teen Titans roster (Nightwing’s second team, 2008-2010).

Gar making the transition from the original Teen Titans West team to NTT and back again. LoDCU #2 (Jan. 2000)

All had problems as optimism kept slipping into troubled nostalgia. The characters, visibly older now, with nagging family commitments or new personal griefs, constantly fought among themselves and stated, “It’s not the good old days anymore,” while their old villains wearily returned (even Trigon was totally worn out and couldn’t get off his crumbling throne for a few deathstares!) in familiar story arcs. The older Titans broke apart upon the death of Donna Troy in the Graduation Day arc.  Some Titans formed a new team of Outsiders under Dick's leadership, then the original NTT reunited after Donna returned.  In 2010, the core team broke apart again. This time, they scattered across the DCU, with some graduating to the JLA, which a few of the original Outsiders (including Brion and Black Lightning) also briefly did. Yet the classic Titans seemed helpless to prevent a string of tragic deaths endured by a revived, junior Titans group of Young Justice members and many other new recruits, mentored variously by Gar, Kory, Vic and Raven (2003-present).

In this age of reboots and remakes, Terra’s development finally reached a fractured culmination, again reflecting the mood of a decade in which ‘old was the new new.’ Just as Terra 2 was about to get significant attention in 2000 regarding her origins on Gar’s Titans LA team, the series was not greenlit. What to do with her? By the 2000s, death was cheap at DC. If Terra 1’s death was one of the biggest events in the history of superhero comics, Terra 2’s death in 2007 was a non-event.

Terra 3 (Atlee) promotional image (2007)

After 16 valiant years in the trenches, Terra 2, who was already a rebooted character, died and got a remake in Atlee, with a new face, new name, new costume, and new hero (Power Girl) to toss rocks around with, well away from all those messed up Titans. Then the 2009 Terra mini sort of retconned the previous two Terras to make Atlee more comfortable. She even checked in with Geo-Force about the retcon and he was ok with it. After she checked in, Atlee’s Strata pals erased Brion’s memory about the meeting.


Atlee: Earth powers may corrupt their bearer with madness. Terra #3 (Feb. 2009)

But troubles on the Titans team reboots proved that you can’t, to turn a phrase, hide old wine in new bottles for very long. The old problems, when left unsolved, always return. And something about Terra still makes her a big problem for these characters and for DC.

"Always the same questions." Terra #3 (Feb. 2009)

Terra 3 has the same codename, same DNA, same powers, and the same nagging questions lurking that were never answered by the other Terras. Terra’s continuity points to earth powers being a blessing and a curse for those who bear them.

Meaning of earth powers? Earth is the missing link between life and death (or between life and non-life).  Seven Soldiers: Guardian of Manhattan #1 (May 2005)

Do earth powers fracture their bearers’ identities and drive them insane, or do these powers impart immortality and potentially a higher level of awareness? What is the role and significance of the primary female earth elemental in the DCU?

Meaning of earth powers? Brion describes clay's healing properties. Outsiders #22 (Nov. 2009)

What is the connection between the House of Markov and Atlee’s underground earth colony, the source of all these earth powers? Are the Markovs the geo-counterpart to the Aqua-family? Atlee hasn’t checked in with Beast Boy yet, but as of mid-2010, neither Gar nor Brion has been quite himself lately. Brewing problems for Atlee, Brion, Gar and Deathstroke in separate, upcoming arcs in 2010 could see Terra 3 sucked back into the history of this powerful, conflicted and troubled character.

Terra 1 still haunts Brion, Gar, the Titans, the Outsiders, and Deathstroke. Through the impact Terra still has on these men and these teams, it gradually becomes clearer who Terra was and what her powers meant: in Brion’s descent into power-laced madness; in Gar’s struggles to become a respected Titans’ team leader (or at times even respected team member!); in Deathstroke’s mentoring young girls and drugging them, as well as his controlling Geo-Force and the current Robin; and in the Titans’ and Outsiders’ fragile cohesion. Terra 2 is even more intangible. As Terra 2 fades, the first two Terras might start to blur into one character, 2009 retcon or no 2009 retcon, hence reinforcing Terra's duality.  This time the contrast is between Tara Markov 1 and 2 weirdly hybridized into Black Lantern Terra (who is a two-sided character herself) versus Atlee.  That reinforced duality says something larger about the good-evil nature of Terra’s powers, and what they can do to and for the woman who wields them.

Beyond the meaning of earth powers, Terra's problems with uniform identity are shared with other characters across the legacy-ridden DCU, where families of heroes come perilously close to cases of split personalities.  This was evident when all the Titans in the 1990s turned into evil versions of themselves.  That trope was repeated in the Titans Tomorrow arc in the 2000s.  In that sense, legacies - initially a familial symbol that was as source of strength repeated throughout the DCU, starting with the Teen Titans - became a source of weakness.  Legacies are now subject to the pervasive late 20th and early 21st century phenomenon wherein power is acquired through the simultaneous expression of unwanted aspects of identity and divestment of responsibility for those aspects.  This erosion of the Cartesian self is a hallmark of Postmodern fiction.  In The Play of the Double in Postmodern American Fiction, Gordon Slethaug writes: "The double in postmodern fiction explores a divided and discontinuous self in a fragmented universe."  When confronted with this fracturing of identity, comics fans are often traumatized as one version of the 'mask' in a DC legacy is killed off.  It perhaps helps to consider that all of these characters are facets of one original.  But DC is approaching a point where killing off facets of increasingly crowded central heroic identities is proving intolerable for fans.  The cultural, cognitive and narrative discomfort that is generated by too much death as a form of legacy (read: heroic identity) management will likely lead to the creation of a new measure of identity in Post-Postmodernism.  It seems that DC is inching toward a convergence in its understanding of heroism.  In that regard, a notoriously fractured character like Terra may enjoy a resurgence or even a healing of sorts in the future.  I am writing more about this in my posts on DC's Revolving Door of Death here.  In the meantime, we are still locked in a tough period of transition, working toward new cultural ideals that no one fully understands.  These tumultuous (and often distressing) themes in comics are part of a much larger pop and high cultural evolution.  We are generally searching for new standards and values to suit the changing times.

One way of making sense of what a character like Terra might represent as a heroic value is to consider how her story has naturally developed from 1982 to 2010.  I'm not talking about the intentions of individual writers or editors, but rather the momentum and direction that the character's whole story has built up over time.   Tara Markov (1 and 2) remains a female character who is the sum total of what people (creators and characters) say about her and how they perceive her, but because of she is continually forced into the rigid Judas Contract mould, you never get the whole story or the full truth. Yet Terra’s history is an extreme example of how a story can defy the intentions of its creators and even the antagonistic predisposition of many readers. Because Terra’s downfall centred on a mystery surrounded by so many powerful tropes, the story has over time acquired a life of its own. A simple, highly confined story of betrayal morphed into a complex love story mingled with blocked destiny, when it was never meant to be one. Moreover, it became a complex love story precisely because it was not conceived as such. If Terra had been imagined as Gar Logan’s girlfriend, and paired with him in the ways typically established in comics (as with Kory and Dick, Donna and Terry, Garth and Tula, Cassie and Conner – or – Kitty and Piotr), then this thwarted romance would never have taken on the power it still has to grab the reader’s attention. By virtue of its failure, it engenders reverse psychology that succeeds in conveying tragedy, love, chemistry and fate gone wrong.

No matter what editorial mandates Terra confronts, there is a sense that the unintended love story, as well as the hidden Markovian back story, and other continuity elements, will find ways to have themselves told. This bizarre defiance of the narrative itself makes the original Terra and her duplicate incarnation a riveting female character.  The narrative resists, even when all identity and power have been forcibly removed from the character by repeated interference across the Fourth Wall.  That interference brought about the character's third incarnation. Perhaps no greater compliment to Wolfman and Perez can be made than to say that they created a story and a character far greater than the limited arc they presented in the Judas Contract, amazing as it was, and far greater than they intended. But they could not have reached that degree of artistic success - unless they had never meant to do so in the first place. This is one of many ironies around Terra, a character who shatters narrative expectations and conventions.

Ambush Bug explains to Cyborg how a continuity builds up and takes on a life of its own. Tiny Titans #30 (Sept. 2010)

Terra’s now subterranean continuity is part of an ongoing intermingling of some of DC’s greatest teams - the Titans, the Outsiders, the Doom Patrol, the JSA and the JLA – whose revived classic characters now constantly cross paths in successive cosmic events, timelines, magical dimensions and roster shake-ups. Starting with Brightest Day, they acquire brand new perspectives of old archetypes they once effortlessly embodied.


Doom Patrol Legacy.
-Legends of the DC Universe 80 Page Giant #1 (September 1998): “The Doom Patrol: Lights, Camera and Too Much Action”; “The Secret Origin of the New Teen Titans” [Flashbacks]
A flashback to the original Doom Patrol introduces a decade when the original team will finally be resurrected and re-enter the DCU. Many of the DP themes of transformation and loss of self are repeated in DP stories that follow. In this issue, Rita receives a letter from a Hollywood producer, but she wants nothing to do with reviving her film career: “Throw it in the fire, Larry.” The Chief convinces her to go along with the rest of the team. They fight unexpected attacks by monsters on set. It turns out the director wanted to revive his failing career by having monsters made to attack the team, film them, and come out with a DP movie. The Chief demands to see the effects man who made the monsters. It turns out he’s a space alien who was planning to invade the earth with these monsters, so the DP inadvertently saved the day twice. Rita: “So you didn’t want ‘Rita Farr, actress’ ... you just wanted ‘Elasti-Girl, freak hero.’ Well, at least I’ve learned my lesson. It’s good-bye forever, Hollywood!

The same issue has a Titans story which gives another flashback of Raven observing all the Titans except Wally West before she approached them to form the NTT (Wally’s parallel story with Raven is in Legends of the DC Universe #18 (July 1999)). We follow Raven’s reasoning as she selects the members of the NTT. As she sifts through the possible former Titans, it appears that her empathic interest in the Titans she chooses for this new team is not just their abilities and powers. She wants them to combat her father, and her main concern is that each Titan has a critical emotional vulnerability which will enable them to work as a team, while challenging each other. With Dick she says: “He was born in the spotlight, to the applause of thousands, but now he disappears in the dark shadow of another. ... If this boy is not permitted to grow, his loneliness may very well someday destroy him.” Raven gives Dick hope for a future Titans team. On Gar, as she hovers above Dayton’s mansion: “This one will do.” Unseen, she lurks in the shadows as Gar and Jillian break up the first time at Dayton’s mansion. After Jillian leaves, Gar begins to smash things. Raven (in the shadows, and unseen): “Control your anger, Garfield. Do not allow it to control you.” Raven struggles to break through Donna’s sense of being abandoned and lost as an infant, and Vic’s self-loathing and hatred for his father. She saves Vic’s father’s life, preventing him from commiting suicide. Raven finds Kory imprisoned on a slave ship. She gives Kory the strength of will she needs to escape.  She says that Kory will give life to the team; the team will give Kory hope and she will find love with Dick.

Gar as Nightwing's afterthought. Titans Secret Files and Origins #1 (Mar. 1999)

-The Titans Secret Files and Origins #1 (March 1999)
The founding five Titans put together a new team and forget to include Gar. At Dayton’s mansion, Vic wonders if he should join and he and Gar discuss the aftermath of the Technis Imperative.

Gar declines to join the Titans after having been overlooked. Titans Secret Files and Origins #1 (Mar. 1999)

When Dick finally remembers to include him, Gar declines the offer, setting the stage for a decade of tension between them. This was done by the writers in order to set Gar with his own team in Los Angeles, but the series Titans LA was never greenlit. As a result, Gar was left in on-off creative limbo for much of this decade, with a number of projects for him that were not developed But at this point, the plan was to turn him into a new Titans leader, with new series showing those adventures.  Growing tensions between Gar and Dick were later repeated between Roy and Dick. In this issue, a separate flashback story shows how Roy’s 1990s team, which included Terra 2, broke up prior to the refounding of the Titans under Dick in this issue. Terra: “Geo-Force is always after me to visit Markovia. Maybe I oughta take him up on the offer.”  The next time we see her, she's working on Brion's Outsiders team in Markovia.

Tara and Brion in Markovia. Day of Judgment #4 (Nov. 1999)

-Day of Judgment #4 (November 1999): “The End of the World as We Know It”
Terra 2 joins the Outsiders for a time, at Brion’s invitation. She is shown fighting alongside the Outsiders in the Day of Judgment crossover.

One of the hazards of having a long superheroic history: Gar coincidentally seated next to Mister 104. LoDCU #2 (Jan. 2000)

Doom Patrol Legacy.
-Legends of the DC Universe 80 Page Giant #2/3 (January 2000): “Beast Boy Passenger 15B”
This prequel story to the Beast Boy Miniseries shows Gar battling an old Doom Patrol villain, Mister 104, on his flight from New York to Los Angeles. The story also sees him change his codename from Changeling back to Beast Boy.  This sets up the tone of what writers Raab and Johns intended to be BB’s further development – future stories strongly referencing Gar as the heir apparent to the DP legacy in the DCU.
Never that close: in all the Titans' books up to the BB mini, this is the only private conversation between Dick and Gar; it occurred when Vic planned to leave the team. NTT #48 (Oct. 1988)
Doom Patrol Legacy.
-Beast Boy Miniseries #1 (January 2000): "Nobody's Hero"
-Beast Boy Miniseries #2 (February 2000): "A Face of Mistaken Identity"
-Beast Boy Miniseries #3 (March 2000): "Gemini!"
-Beast Boy Miniseries #4 (April 2000): "Beast War!"
The BB mini starts the decade on promising note as Gar returns to his Hollywood career. The mini has a superficially light tone but deals with darker themes. It concerns Gar confronting the hidden dynamics of ‘family as team,’ as he shifts from being a Titans member to becoming a Titans leader. All the plot points that will shape his fortunes in the upcoming decade are here: the return of the Doom Patrol; his occasional spats with Dick Grayson as he becomes Dick’s rival as a Titans leader; and the impact of his relationship with Terra on his bid to be a Titans leader (later echoed in similar problems with Raven).

The Titans are, as Gar has said, all "a little in awe" of Dick because of his training with Batman, although they are aware that Batman is a harsh taskmaster.  That Bat style becomes more and more apparent in Dick's approach to the leadership as he grows older and the situations the Titans and Outsiders confront become more serious.

The bottom line in Bat leadership: Dick's relations with Batman after Jason Todd's death. NT #55 (June 1989)

In moving forward to run his own Titans teams, Gar faces the main problem that Grayson is the original Teen Titan and has been the original leader for almost the whole history of the team. Others have led briefly, but Dick Grayson wrote the book, and all team leaders (Donna, Roy, Garth, Vic) have been temporary back-ups or replacements for Dick.

The bottom line in Bat leadership: Don't challenge me or I'll knock your block off. NT #55 (June 1989)

They, like Cassie Sandsmark, follow Grayson’s top-down leadership style and all (even Vic) are part of the Titans’ JLA model. The problem is that Gar is the first Titan to come forward who is not a replacement of Dick, and he’s not JLA legacy either. He is a contender to be a different leader with a completely different legacy to uphold. He’s hampered by his usual uncertainties about himself, which leave him emulating Grayson, then rejecting that.

Gar returns to Hollywood to follow his adoptive mother's legacy. BB mini #1 (Jan. 2000)

The BB mini uncovers some of the ways Gar is different from Dick Grayson and why. He deals with problems inductively, not deductively.  He’s not logical like Nightwing. Gar figures out what is happening to the people around him emotionally and resolves that, which means he often cuts through things that on the surface make no sense. Sometimes, however, this makes him the one who goes off the deep end. His emotional sensitivity gives him a consensual concept of authority, based on personal alliances and deep loyalties, rather than strict hierarchy. On both the Doom Patrol and the Teen Titans in this decade, he will sometimes act as an advisor who leads the team through bizarre emotional or other psychological quagmires, while the team simultaneously sustains a separate battle leader in the field. But he also runs teams and acts as battle leader.  Gar can manage in messed up situations where Dick’s Bat formula of detective work, deduction through observation, manipulation, hierarchy and power (that is, intense rationality, supreme psychological control, followed by doses of pure violence) just doesn’t work. This alternative makes sense because Gar’s a shapeshifter, who would look at the essence of people and events, not their superficial appearances.

Niles Caulder and Doom Patrol leadership.

The Doom Patrol is a team that challenges the boundaries of superheroism. They will cross any line, leave no escape route, and are the last to go down in battle. They can deal with freaky situations where the normal conventions of superheroics are no longer functioning. They can also deal with madness, loss of identity and loss of self, since all of their members (even Mento, who lost his body in the Crimelord arc) have suffered some traumatic accident or fractured personality.

Doom Patrol leadership.  Maybe Niles can explain the relationship between Terra 1 and Terra 2 with Buddhist philosophy.

Dr. Niles Caulder, the DP’s long-time leader, has in later DP series been portrayed as an evil manipulator, who caused the DP's accidents in order to create his team. Another retcon in the 2000s suggests that he created his arch-enemy, The Brain. Gar has only shown this type of manipulative behaviour in the wake of Tara 1's death, when he posed as Deathstroke and used the Mento helmet to dupe his teammates, including Lilith who normally would be able to penetrate such subterfuges.  That encounter between them, incidentally, means that Gar Logan is possibly a more powerful telepath than Lilith Clay, although he's never been shown developing this innate ability.

Despite his transgressions, Niles's approach to leadership is the model when it comes to dealing with truly insane battles between good and evil in the DCU. Ironically, Caulder's early tutelage makes Gar well-suited to dealing with Tara Markov's madness and Terra's subsequent broken identity. In addition, the DP’s grey areas, combined with their all-or-nothing values, strongly resemble the approach to power taken by the Markovs.  The Markovs, too, are willing to descend into madness in order to accomplish their goals.  For both the DP and the Markovs, its the upswing back out of insanity that is the sticking point.  In the BB mini, Gar shows an uncanny ability to reassert sanity in the insanity.

Gar dealing with a nightmarish scenario in which Gemini is impersonating him and committing crimes. She will soon remind him that he's not totally innocent.  BB mini #3 (Mar. 2000)
The first tensions between Dick and Gar over these different leadership values start in the Beast Boy mini. Their friction shows how conventional JLA and unconventional DP traditions reappear inside the conventional Titans (junior JLA) and the unconventional Outsiders (Batman’s out-of-the-limelight special ops squad, who do jobs the JLA can’t). In this decade, both Dick and Gar lead Titans teams, as well as teams that constitute the Outsiders or have Outsiders on them. Gar is linked to the Outsiders through Terra 1 and her brother as well as Terra 2; he also briefly works with Metamorpho on Thayer Jost’s Doom Patrol team. At the beginning of the 2000s, the Titans were still clearly building a legacy that is separate from the JLA legacy, until they absorb Young Justice. After that, Dick finally does a 180, gives in totally after over two decades of being a separate individual, becomes Batman and joins the JLA with Donna, Kory and Vic. As a leader, Dick mixes Batman’s approach with the JLA model in varying degrees. Gar’s leadership style is pure Doom Patrol, except with regard to how he thinks of authority. The more they exhibit these different styles, the more distant they become from one another.

Nightwing battles Gemini, who is impersonating Gar. BB mini #3 (Mar. 2000)

Dick shows up to help Gar out (he foreshadows Gar’s future and the choices Gar has to make). Gar has a proxy fight with Nightwing (it’s actually Madame Rouge’s daughter, Gemini, pretending to be BB; she's framing Gar with murder to destroy his credibility in Hollywood and then kill him). We get to see ‘them’ duke it out, although it’s not them.

Dick finds the real Gar Logan in prison and bails him out. BB mini #3 (Mar. 2000)

Although Dick figures out that Gemini is an imposter and bails Gar out of prison because he's been arrested for the murders Gemini has committed, the later verbal confrontation between Dick and Gar over Logan’s messy handling of the situation is no less loaded. Gar tells Nightwing he needs to move out from under Dick’s shadow (something Dick needed to do with Batman).  He also needs to figure out by himself which shapeshifter is trying to frame him.  This leads to Gar and his cousin using some of Dick's deductive techniques.  So Gar shows not only Dick's influence on him, but that he can adapt and employ techniques he's unaccustomed to using.

Dick and Gar resolving their first big argument. BB mini #3 (Mar. 2000)

Terra does not appear BB miniseries. However, she’s covertly present all the way through. In Hollywood, the Patrol’s history is haunting Gar.  Overtly, he's there to pick up his Hollywood career again and follow in the footsteps of his adoptive mother, Rita Farr.  But the larger legacy he starts to come to terms with is the history of the Chief, and of Caulder’s complex and dangerous love affair with the Brotherhood of Evil metamorph Madame Rouge, who was also Rita’s DP nemesis. In the closing arcs of the first Doom Patrol series, Rouge was a villain who fell in love with Caulder, lived with the DP for awhile, then turned on the team. Just like Terra, Rouge was mentally unstable. Like Rita, she was a silver screen actress. The ‘acting’ theme repeats around Rita, Rouge, Terra and Gar. The idea that these characters act, or are actors, plays around with the fact that they can distort perception and rational observation; they can alter their own or others’ grasp of reality. ‘Acting,’ especially to hide weakness or moral failure, can easily slip into a loss of self, disguise, deception, lies, and is symbolized above all by shapeshifting powers.

This history of the DP’s original leader repeats with Gar (see Terra’s continuity, Part 1.1). DP history and the events around Rouge’s death explain a lot about Gar’s good and bad views of Terra and why he just won’t let go of her. But DP history didn't fully repeat itself with Gar and Terra. While Rouge’s betrayal led to Caulder and the main DP team dying, Terra killed herself, either accidentally (Wolfman), or on purpose (Meltzer). Her death ended the Judas Contract between her and Deathstroke. It also allowed Gar, the Titans, and Deathstroke to all walk away alive. Then Deathstroke gave up his larger H.I.V.E. contract against the Titans, and the Titans destroyed the H.I.V.E. Terra’s weird symmetry with Madame Rouge is offset because Terra took her own life. In classical dramas, once a tragedy begins, someone has to die, and Terra’s life was exchanged for everyone else’s. Although she didn’t kill herself to save everyone whom she might – or should – have loved and everyone she certainly betrayed (this was no self sacrifice!), her death accomplished exactly that. Terra thereby reversed the moment when the DP’s fate could have repeated with the Titans. This strangely positive contrasting fate for the New Teen Titans’ generation gives Tara’s suicide yet another sad nuance. There’s a great line in the movie Crimes and Misdemeanors that sums up the enigmatic exchange that occurred between Gar and Tara: “You will notice that what we are aiming at when we fall in love is a very strange paradox. The paradox consists of the fact that, when we fall in love, we are seeking to re-find all or some of the people to whom we were attached as children. On the other hand, we ask our beloved to correct all of the wrongs that these early parents or siblings inflicted upon us. So that love contains in it the contradiction: The attempt to return to the past and the attempt to undo the past.” The JC suicide makes Caulder’s and Rouge’s paired destiny different from that of Gar and Terra, despite similarities between DP and Titans histories.

Gemini, also a shapeshifter, appears impersonating her mother and surrounded by Gar's celebrity fan gear. BB mini #3 (Mar. 2000)

Now Gar is left to finish that sequence of events; and like Terra with Rouge, he follows Caulder's path, but forges a different fate. Madame Rouge’s daughter Gemini, also a shapeshifter, comes back seeking revenge against Gar for killing her mother – thus she exactly mirrors what Gar did to Madame Rouge in NTT vol. 1 #14.  Their confrontation resembles Caulder's final conflicts with Rouge.  Unlike Caulder, Gar attacks Gemini and does not give in.  Up to now, he's been less decisive with Terra, although by the end of the 2000s, his showdown with Black Lantern Terra could be taken as a bookend to his fight with Gemini - they are both evil Madame Rouge figures.  In each case, he sees the human side to their madness and still loves Terra as Caulder loved Rouge, but nonetheless ruthlessly and decisively fights back, in a way that Caulder, when placed in a similar situation, did not.  Because he does this, he survives these haunting revived conflicts and karmic encounters, even though he is partly guilty and in some ways deeply imperfect.

Gemini sees Caulder as a villain who destroyed her mother's sanity, and Gar as a monster who murdered her mother. BB mini #3 (Mar. 2000)

At the end of the mini, Gar defeats Madame Rouge’s daughter by taking human form and punching her lights out. She falls, crying, “I t-tried Mommy. I tried s-so hard.” Gar ends the whole sorry cycle of lost love and violence with a statement about family legacies and how they can crush you: “Poor kid. I know how she feels. In a way, I guess I’m partly responsible. Losing a parent. Inheriting their legacy. Then, losing yourself. The pressure to live up to their example weighs you down so heavily, you wanna just throw in the towel and call it quits. But you can’t.” He decides to follow Rita’s example. He rejects rebuilding his Hollywood career (Rita also left Hollywood behind) and turns, as she did, to superheroism. Given Rita’s subsequent death and troubled resurrection, this choice does not necessarily promise Gar an easy path.

Gar defeats Gemini while she impersonates his mother - Rita Farr. BB mini #4 (Apr. 2000)

Typically for Gar, he turns a huge mess into something of a success; the incidents with Gemini revive Hollywood's interest in him.  This again shows how he operates: at the beginning of the mini he tries pounding the pavement in a conventional way and nothing works.  It's when disaster catches up with him that his potential shines.  Another plot point is Gar’s reunion with Flamebird, who is Dick’s long-standing obsessed super-fangirl, although she had an earlier, pre-Crisis history as Batgirl. Formerly Gar's fellow teammate on the old Titans West team, she’s trying to move out from under Nightwing’s shadow too. While they have that in common, it’s a hard to say if it’s wise for Gar to build his team (and potentially a relationship) with someone who would see him emotionally as Nightwing’s replacement. She is very friendly here, but in later cameos up to 2003 she rebuffs his advances, becomes increasingly distant, and as of 2010 is working firmly in the Bat-verse. She seems to cool off toward him after she sees him interact with Terra 2 at the Titans LA recruiting drive, although Gar and Terra are very distant with one another.  Tellingly, both Terra 1 and Terra 2, are implied behind Flamebird’s blonde self-reference as Bette convinces Gar to set up Titans LA: “Because you can’t resist a cute blonde and a smile.” Gar: “Never could, Bette. Never could.”

Rita Farr watches over her son from the stars.  BB mini #4 (Apr. 2000)

Finally, Gar gets a supporting character here in the form of his cousin, Matt Logan. Aside from Galtry, later retconned to be Gar's maternal uncle, this is the first immediate family member of Gar’s we’ve seen who is still alive. He’s a slacker who turns out to have quirky insights into people and things. His parents are apparently dead, although we don’t know the circumstances of their deaths or why he's alone in the world.

Titans cross-ships. Titans Annual #1 (2000)

-Titans Annual #1 (2000): "The Way of the Warrior"
Gar and Bette (Flamebird) go to Japan. Nightwing gets first notice that Bette is switching her affections from him to Gar, although the truth is that behind closed doors their friendship is platonic.

Gar possessed by a Tengu. Titans Annual #1 (2000)

In the first storyline that sees Gar associated with magical and elemental powers, he is possessed by a Japanese spirit, a Tengu. They are aided by Bushido, who later joins Titans LA, and still later is killed off in a crossover event by Superboy Prime, which shows how the initial investment in Gar in this period disintegrated by mid-late decade.

Gar invites Vic to Los Angeles. Titans Secret Files and Origins #2 (2000)

-The Titans Secret Files and Origins #2/2 (October 2000): “Shifting Gears”
-The Titans Secret Files and Origins #2/4 (October 2000): “Super Friends, or, How Many Titans does it Take to Trash an Apartment?”
In the second story in this issue, Vic’s body has finally stabilized in the Omegadrome-clone body. Gar invites him to Los Angeles, and Vic later briefly joins Gar’s LA team.

Gar and Bette arguing over establishing a Titans LA team. Titans Secret Files and Origins #2 (2000)

In the fourth story, Matt Logan sets up the Titans LA recruiting drive; Gar recruits Terra 2 for Titans LA; there is some tension between Flamebird and Terra, though they cooperate to handle criminal party crashers.

Titans LA suddenly gels. Titans Secret Files and Origins #2 (2000)

After being recruited to Titans LA, Terra 2 returns to Markovia where she undergoes genetic testing to confirm her identity. I’ve always wondered about her running back and forth between teams led by Gar and Brion in this period. Aside from obvious editorial juggling, her movements beg for a retcon showing that the two heroes privately discussed her and decided to cooperate to help her.

Terra 2 is much less certain that she's not Terra 1. Titans Secret Files and Origins #2 (2000)

Markovia and the House of Markov. Suggestion that Terra 1 and 2 were the same.
-The Titans Secret Files and Origins #2/3 (October 2000): "Who is Tara Markov?"
Tara 2 leaves LA and returns to Markovia; with Brion’s help, she has a DNA test confirming she is identical to Terra 1, but her brother lies to her about the result, saying they are not the same, to her relief.

"Maybe I'm a figment of someone's imagination." (This is, in fact, true!) Terra's identity crisis continues. Titans Secret Files and Origins #2 (2000)

-Who’s Who in the DC Universe, vol. IX (Nov 1985) “Geo-Force”
Repeated Comment on the first two Terras and DNA manipulation: The need to have a royal Markov’s DNA explains why the first two Terras are genetically identical – Terra 2 had to be identical to Terra 1 in order to bear the treatment. So either (A) Terra 1’s original body has been stolen, has been preserved, and is being used to harvest her DNA for subsequent Terras (currently the accepted view); 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 keeps resurrecting herself. Note that Geo-Force has come back from the dead through contact with the earth, which regenerated him, so either explanation, or even both, may be possible.

DNA Match positive. Titans Secret Files and Origins #2 (2000)

Possible suggestion that Terra 1 and 2 were the same.
-Details here at Titans Tower. The Titans editor in the mid-1990s, Pat Garrahy, wanted to explore if the original Terra was really “rotten to the core” by bringing her back. When the series ended at #130, this question became a hanging plot thread. Terra’s identity crisis was picked up by the writers of the Beast Boy mini, Ben Raab and Geoff Johns, when they placed Terra 2 on Gar’s new team, Titans LA. The Secret Files and Origins story from 2000 significantly advanced the notion that Terra 2 and Terra 1 might be the same person.

Terra 2: Gar as a new Titans leader.
-Because series weren't greenlit, the trajectory and quality of Gar's Titans leadership is sketchy.  He is shown pulling together several teams with different members, including members of the Doom Patrol, Outsiders, Atom's Titans team, Roy's Titans team, and his own LA team.  As usual, his efforts are dismissed by various people, but we never really see a solid run of stories that explain how things pan out, except when they go wrong in crossover events.  But by the mid-to-late 2000s, killing Titans becomes a common feature of these events, and it's unfortunate that that dismal editorial policy reflects negatively on this character's record as a team leader.  The introduction of Young Justice characters in Titans titles from 2003 has generally coincided with declining editorial commitment to Gar Logan's development, leading to poor decisions which by mid-2010 have almost derailed the character.

Doom Patrol Legacy.
-Doom Patrol #4 (March 2002): "Blink and It's Gone"
-Doom Patrol #5 (April 2002): "Fade"
-Doom Patrol #6 (May 2002): "Without a Trace"
-Doom Patrol #7 (June 2002): "O, Captain, My Captain"
-Doom Patrol #8 (July 2002): "But When I Wake ..."
-Doom Patrol #9 (August 2002): "My Dreams Have Lied"
-Doom Patrol #10 (September 2002): "Asphalt and Good Intentions"
-Doom Patrol #13 (December 2002): "Do Over"
-Doom Patrol #14 (January 2003): "Over ... Done"
The clearest and most consistent depictions of Gar's leadership abilities are in his guest appearances on recent incarnations of the Doom Patrol. In the third DP series (2001-2003) written by John Arcudi, Gar appears a few times, visiting from Los Angeles, and acts as a stabilizing influence for the beleaguered team, which has Robotman on it, along with four novices: Fast Forward/Negative Man (Ted Bruder, a precog), Fever (Shyleen Lao, a molecular manipulator who sets things on fire), Kid Slick (Vic Darge, a telekinetic who eliminates friction around his body) and Freak (Ava, possessor of prehensile hair).  Ted, an arrogant yet weirdly appealing chain-smoking good ol' boy from the South, leads under Robotman's mentorship.  One of the first things that happens to them is that their corporate sponsor, Thayer Jost, hires Gar, Dr. Light, Metamorpho and Elongated Man as an alternate DP squad to improve the team's public profile, with the Outsider Metamorpho designated as leader.

Thayer Jost's replacement DP team. DP vol. 3 #4 (Mar. 2002)

The two DP teams encounter each other foiling a heist to steal Chinese armour from a museum.  Weirdly, Robotman doesn't recognize Gar when he goes up to talk to him.  Soon after, to the shock of both teams, Robotman dematerializes and disappears completely.

Robotman disappears. DP #5 (Apr. 2002)

In the aftermath of this event, the first DP team is left reeling, having befriended someone who did not exist, or who may have been an imposter or a double.

Ted tells Shyleen that doppelgängers can't be trusted.  DP #6 (May 2002)

The team's faith in reality is shaken. DP #6 (May 2002)

Shades of Terra 1 and 2: How do you mourn for a lost friend whom you never really knew and/or who possibly never existed? DP #6 (May 2002)

Shyleen: if you can't trust the evidence of exernal reality, how can you trust anyone - or yourself? DP #6 (May 2002)

Shyleen is left questioning her whole perception of reality and of the tangibility of the reality of others, a common DP trope.  She's not sure about the bridge between subjectivities anymore.

Gar and Ted: How to cope when you've had a doppelgänger in your midst? DP #6 (May 2002)

The second DP team quickly disbands. They thereby reveal something that is a common test of 'real friends' in any difficult situation in which normal, dependable reality has broken down due to some traumatic event.  Who stays true when the going gets tough? It's no surprise that Gar, given his experience, is troubled but not floored by what has happened. The parallels with Terra 1 and 2 are obvious. There are also parallels with Raven's creations of dark doubles of the whole Titans team in the 1980s and 1990s. And there are further similarities with Raven's whole split personality in general.  Gar stays on and helps see the first DP through the crisis.

Ted to Gar: You gonna bail on us too? DP #6 (May 2002)

Gar settles down to sort everything out.  He begins doing research on Cliff's death caused by a teammate (Dorothy) in the DP second series.  In so doing, he has elected to go below the surface of DP history, to go deeper and see tougher truths about this team, which already exists on the most intimidating fringes of reality.  Gar's willing to get to the bottom of the doppelgänger problem, which is something that has haunted him with Terra 2 ever since she appeared on the scene in 1991.

Gar begins to see the Chief's bigger picture. DP #6 (May 2002)

One sign that Gar is coming closer to understanding the meaning of these deeper truths and the cost of DP leadership is that he inadvertently discovers the Chief's dark history.  He also discovers the long-neglected piece of information about Cliff.  His research shows Dick Grayson's influence, yet his approach to how he uses deduced information is pure DP.

Showing Grayson's influence: Gar stumbles on the missing piece of information about Cliff. DP #6 (May 2002)

With the team openly fighting down in the kitchen, and Ted, the team's leader, about to quit, Gar pulls the group together and brings order to the madness.
Calming the team down. DP #6 (May 2002)

Every time Shyleen gets upset, she almost burns the building down and everyone in it. Gar calms her down and gives her a special suit to help her control her fire powers.  He breaks up a fight between Vic and Ted, bandages Vic's wounds, and prevents Ted from resigning.
Gar bandaging Vic's burns while the team's leader berates him. DP #6 (May 2002)
Bandaging Vic's burns. DP #6 (May 2002)
Gar informs them that Robotman's head was never found, meaning that his brain may still be alive.
"Cliff's not actually dead." DP #6 (May 2002)
Gar organizes a trek across the South to the Smoky Mountains and the team finds the location where Cliff died.  This issue #7, "O, Captain, My Captain," is one of the strongest in the whole series.  While on the trek, Gar reveals his sense of interpersonal relationships that drive teams, hold them together - and can break them apart.  His comments on Vic's attachment to Shyleen are similar to his later reading of Cassie Sandsmark's attachment to Conner Kent.
More ships. DP #7 (June 2002)
Gar constantly ignores the barbed defensiveness and insults of the team members, something he had to negotiate in the old Titans and still confronts in the newest Teen Titans teams.  He sees the team through its emotional hurricane, and as a result the team successfully finds and digs up Cliff's head and brings it back to their HQ.

"How can we bring him back?" DP #7 (June 2002)

Gar takes on Caulder's role of undoing the 'doom' of a teammate, but that role depends on having vision. DP #7 (June 2002)

Gar hires and funds a robotics expert, Dr. Kolodenko, to revive Cliff and give him a new body. Gar's initiative saves Cliff's life (again). It also shows that, like the Chief, Gar has crossed over into a way of thinking where 'death is relative.' He can see beyond it. By saving Cliff's life in this incarnation, Gar has inadvertently taken over Niles Caulder's lifesaving role in the DP. Normally, it is Caulder who brings the doomed team members back to life.

Gar hires Kolodenko. DP #7 (June 2002)

Cliff is naturally unsettled by his resurrection.  When he comes to, the team are happy to see him, and act like they already know him, although they have never met the real Cliff.  Surrounded by strangers, Cliff freaks out.  It's only when Gar enters that, again, sanity comes back to the madness and some sympathetic order returns to the scenario.

Old teammates reunited. DP #8 (July 2002)

Even so, like other characters very close to Gar (Terra, Mento, Rita, Victor, Raven), Cliff shows signs of extreme mental distress, transhuman physical disembodiment and psychological dissociation.

Cliff starts losing his grip. DP #8 (July 2002)

Gar's presence is a tonic for this and he soothes Robotman.  But when he returns to his team in California, Cliff rapidly undergoes an identity crisis.

Gar: "We're all real." DP #8 (July 2002)

After Gar leaves, Cliff suffers: "Crash and burn, crash and burn, crash and burn." DP #13 (Dec. 2002)

-Doom Patrol #17 (April 2003): "No Hope for a Robot?"
-Doom Patrol #18 (May 2003): "Once Upon a Time ... In China!"
-Doom Patrol #19 (June 2003): "Home Invasion!"
-Doom Patrol #21 (August 2003): "Salvation Through Terror"
Later in the series, in a sign that he is recovering, Cliff seeks out his brother.  These beautiful panels reaffirm Cliff's essential humanity in a character who has had everything we associate with humanity taken from him. 

Cliff reunited with his brother and his brother's family. DP #17 (Apr. 2003)

The touching family reunion goes haywire when a villain, Tycho Bray, controlling a violent Chinese spirit creature seeks Robotman out.  Cliff finds that Gar is already possessed by the spirit, and this time, it's Cliff who is the voice of reason who pulls Gar out of the depths.

Tycho Bray attacks with Gar fully possessed by a Chinese elemental animal spirit. DP #19 (June 2003)

Cliff tries to bring a possessed Gar to his senses. DP #22 (Aug. 2003)

-Doom Patrol #22 (September 2003): "A New End"
In the end, the Robotman doppelgänger arc uncovers a whole new level of Asian magic and mystery at work in the DP continuity, of which Gar is part. This is the third time he's been shown possessed by a magical or elemental force - first by Raven and the Trigon seeds in the Darkening, then by a Japanese Tengu (Titans Annual (2000)), and now by this Chinese spirit.  At the close of the arc, Cliff warns Gar against indulging in two kinds of guilt: first, the guilt from being unable to prevent collateral damage from these conflicts that cause innocents to die; and second, the guilt that goes along with being a repeated survivor, while others around both Doom Patrollers continually die.

More death, another funeral: Robotman counsels Gar against self-blame. DP #22 (Sept. 2003)

These DP arcs establish Gar as being accustomed to successfully coping with death, resurrections, ghosts, imposters, duplicated identities and other such tropes that all characterize Terra.  The DP arc reveals that the doppelgänger problem somehow partly emanates from Gar's powers and may be mystically connected to his deeply hidden, elemental bond with the animal kindom! So what does that make Terra 2 to Gar? Is she a figment of his imagination? Gar is an unacknowledged and unhoned telepath (something that Raven clearly picked up on in 1990s' stories); so is Terra 2 an illusion he creates unconsciously, possibly with Raven's help and/or interference, to cope with mourning Terra 1? Whatever the more straightforward explanations that have been given for Terra 2, of which there are now several, Gar learns a hard lesson here derived from being a Doom Patroller. The most bizarre explanations, no matter how odd, can never be discounted as a possibility when dealing with suffering, broken people. Grief can fuel power just as intensely as evil or revenge, and if one does not know oneself, that power can take strange, unknown forms with which one must battle until they are reassimilated. It's perhaps significant that after the resolution of these DP arcs, Gar is much more distant toward Terra 2, although that could just be the result of editorial decisions and shallow crossover treatments, rather than any substantial in-story character development.

Terra 2 on Titans Teams: 2000-2005.
From 2000 to her death in 2007, Terra 2 does not join Nightwing’s teams or the new TT team established through a merger with Young Justice in 2003. She serves intermittently on Gar’s Titans teams (led with Flamebird’s or Raven’s support, depending on the team), who appear in crossover events. She also has cameos in both Titans and TT books when the general membership comes together. She is usually shown with her friend and fellow former Team Titan, Mirage, in group scenes such as a surprise party for Donna (Titans vol. 1 #25); a Young Justice/Titans recruiting call; and a meeting of all Titans after the Tower is destroyed (Titans vol. 1 #39).  When the plans for Gar's series do not materialize, the treatment of Terra becomes increasingly scattered.  In some ways, Gar acts as an anchor for Terra 2, until his relationship with Raven supercedes her. His preoccupation with Raven very quickly leads to Terra's decline and death. Without a regular series to support her, and give her any other plot developments, Terra 2 is marginalized and finally killed off.  In this period of the character's decline, Terra 1's haunting influence on Gar, Brion, Dick, Joseph and Slade Wilson becomes an increasingly-used alternative plot device around Terra as a character.

Terra 1: Tensions between Dick and Gar over Titans leadership.
-Titans vol. 1 (1999-2003); Outsiders vol. 3 (2003-2007); and Teen Titans Outsiders Secret Files and Origins (Oct. 2005)
While Gar runs ancillary teams, Nightwing returns as the senior leader on the Titans and the Outsiders. But the two heroes don’t cooperate peaceably. Since the 1990s when his and Kory’s wedding failed (NT #100), Dick has had significant problems acting as the Titans’ leader. He continues to have violent conflicts with Roy Harper over team leadership issues.  Just as Beast Boy's reincarnation of Titans West falters, so does Dick's reincarnation of the original founding five members with additional recruits.  Dick’s problems as leader in the wake of his breakup with Kory say a lot about the Titans’ complicated ‘family,’ or ‘nakama,’ team model and related leadership dynamics. Kory and Dick were the team’s original golden couple and helped stabilize the team for many years; she was also the powerhouse behind his decisions. But as his commitments to Gotham become all-consuming, Dick’s romantic life gets complicated. As the head of the 1999-2003 Titans, Grayson is stressed and focusing more on Gotham (read: Oracle and other women), so that Donna, Roy and Garth constantly have to back him up, to the point where Garth’s marriage collapses.

Despite Kory’s and Dick’s split, Gar can’t say any of his romances have even come close to their example, and his status as a leader suffers accordingly. In an ideal world without the Judas Contract, Gar and Terra 1 would have stepped into the model set by Dick and Kory. Gar’s alternatives, Flamebird and Raven, have not been stable enough as romantic interests or as teammates to support Gar as a team leader. As Grayson’s strain increases, he sometimes attacks Gar’s place as rival leader of the other Titans teams. The quickest and easiest way for him or anyone else to denigrate Gar’s team status is by casually mentioning Terra 1.  First signs of this appear in a new Deathstroke arc.

Dick's team doesn't have a jet. Gar drops in for a visit and gives them one. Dick isn't that grateful. Titans vol. 1 #10 (Dec. 1999)

-Titans vol. 1 #10 (Dec. 1999): “The Immortal Coil - Part 1 of 3"
The Immortal Coil (summarized in a section on Slade which is in the next part of Terra’s continuity) picks up on themes around Deathstroke from the 1990s, including how his sons and wife were bound up with a terrible karmic backlash associated with the Judas Contract. In keeping with the Dick-Gar opposition, at the beginning of the arc, Slade is still playing ersatz father-figure to both heroes, as he did in the 1990s.  The fact that Deathstroke does this shows that Dick and Gar are remarkably similar in their hidden vulnerabilities: both orphans, both adopted by heroes and subjected to their legacies.  But where before the team tolerated Slade's influence on Dick and Gar, now the Titans are sceptical of their leaders' continued trust of the villain. In this arc, Slade’s status as an anti-hero dissipates. Over the course of the decade he becomes a much more evil figure, returning to the stance he took around the time of the Judas Contract.

Dick and Gar still under Slade's anti-hero spell. Titans vol. 1 #10 (Dec. 1999)

-Titans vol. 1 #13 (March 2000): "Fallout"
The team is left reeling after the Immortal Coil arc and Dick calls them together to chastise them. The meeting is a disaster.  The team challenges Dick's leadership openly.  Kory fires a starbolt at him.  Wally behaves erratically, as a future version of himself weaves in and out of the proceedings.

Ships, leaders, team dynamics. Titans vol. 1 #13 (March 2000)

With the team shocked by Kory's attack on Dick, Cyborg draws the parallel between Dick-Kory and Gar-Tara to the new members: “Oh, that’s nothing. You should have been here when Gar and Terra would go at it. Talk about tracking mud all over the house.” Gar (who is still visiting from Los Angeles): “Hey! What’d you have to bring her up for? I don’t need that.”  His concern is less an indication of his private emotions about Terra 1 (which are later to revealed to still be nagging at him).  Rather, Terra 1 becomes shorthand for members to diminish Gar's credibility.  He is the guy who wore his heart on his sleeve, was duped and cuckolded, and then later looked up to his romantic rival and murderous enemy, Deathstroke, as a father figure and an anti-hero.  Given that they don't know the context, such as Mento's bouts of insanity, one can see how this would make new members question Gar's judgment.  Gar quickly turns the discussion back on Vic.  It's revealed that Dick admitted Victor to his new Titans team because the JLA insisted that Cyborg be monitored in the wake of the Technis Imperative.  Vic is stunned, humiliated and hurt - he feels this is typical of the kind of manipulative thing Batman would do to his team members.  He sees Nightwing turning into Batman, something that as a Titan, Dick always worked to avoid.

Dick showing increasing signs of using Batman's tactics as a leader. Titans vol. 1 #13 (March 2000)

Vic leaves and searches out his ex-girlfriend at STAR labs, only to find her paired with a new scientist.  Gar follows and explains that Dick's move actually helped Victor - and prevented the JLA from treating him more severely.

Gar shows an alternate leadership style. Titans vol. 1 #13 (March 2000)

Victor is not the only member who is angry and upset.  After the meeting, Jesse Quick resigns.

Jesse Quick resigns. Titans vol. 1 #13 (March 2000)

-Titans vol. 1 #39 (May 2002): "Picking Up the Pieces"
Dick shouts at Gar in a big confrontation in front of all assembled Titans members at the site of the ruined Titans Tower. 

More tensions. Titans vol. 1 #39 (May 2002)

Dick is failing and the two heroes argue over the right way to lead the Titans teams. Gar feels Dick is neglecting the Titans and spends all his time in Gotham and Blüdhaven. Dick plays the 'older brother' card, and talks down to Gar in front of all assembled, calling him irresponsible. Dick later tells Oracle that he blew up at Gar when he shouldn’t have.  Ironically, Dick's relationship with Oracle confirms that Dick is more firmly in Gotham and Blüdhaven than he is in New York - and that Gar is right.

Dick pulls rank. Titans vol. 1 #39 (May 2002)

These arguments continue through the 2000s as Dick inexorably changes into Batman.  All along, he meets with more critical comments from Gar and open fights with Roy.

"That's not like me.  That's Batman's style." Titans vol. 1 #39 (May 2002)




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