TIMES, TIME, AND HALF A TIME. A HISTORY OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

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

Unforgiven: DCU Continuity for Terra

Tales of the Teen Titans, Vol. 1 Annual (1984) The Judas Contract, Part 4: "Finale"

I’m putting together a continuity for Terra to place the famous Judas Contract story in the larger context related to Geo-Force, Markovia, Titans and Outsiders, because recently it seems that many readers look at the four issues of the JC story, and only that, to get their whole take on this character.

DCU Continuity for Terra: The Rosebud of the Citizen Kane of Comic Books

Gar: "Of course.  But this is -- all wrong?" Blackest Night: Titans #1 (Oct. 2009)

Why write a continuity for such a hated character?  I wrote this continuity and analysis because I’ve always been deeply impressed by the Judas Contract as one of the greatest stories ever told in superhero comics. It is an undisputed classic, the height of what can be achieved in the medium. As a young fan in the 1980s, like many teenaged readers of the New Teen Titans at the time, I bought the issues at a newsstand, and yes, Marv Wolfman and George Perez ruined the summer of 1984 for me with the death of this charismatic and troubled character. Reading a story like that at such an impressionable age was like sitting in a master class on the tremendous power this genre of pulp fiction can have when it’s at its best. The serial format also meant that the full story – including the NTT Doom Patrol arcs – unfolded from about 1981 to 1984. There were no solicitations, no previews, no internet boards to give you a hint of what was coming. The aftermath stories are still unfolding today. It is impossible to convey to younger comics fans, or newer fans of the Cartoon Network version of Terra, what that long time delay did in terms of understanding this story and the character.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 1.1 - The Material Girl: Terra in the 1980s


Tara has a postcoital debriefing with Slade Wilson. NTT #39 (Feb. 1984)

The 1980s

In the 1980s, the New Teen Titans plugged into the mood of the decade. The title especially reflected the feel in New York at the time: the city was a background character in the book. In this ‘greed is good’ decade of conspicuous consumption, Wall Street  glitz had a 9 1/2 Weeks and Bonfire of the Vanities dark underside. With Raven’s back story, the title picked up on the events from the receding 1970s like Jonestown, and added early 1980s’ economic stresses that turned into a financial boom, inner city crime waves, vigilantes, terrorist scares, the Iran hostage crisis, the Cold War, and presidential anti-drug campaigns. But from the start, the NTT team members also had 80s-styled dynamism and optimism – and money, accomplishment, power, celebrity, or privilege – that let them float above darker problems. Brought together by Raven, they immediately clicked through old and new interlocking friendships. It looked like they could have it all. Their mutual confidence was shaken by a succession of villains, as well as self-doubt and tragedy, but was not fractured until Terra betrayed them in 1984’s Judas Contract.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 1.2 - The Material Girl: Terra in the 1980s

Terra's first appearance on the Statue of Liberty. NTT #26 (Dec. 1982)

1980s Continuity continued

Terra: First Appearance
-New Teen Titans vol. 1 #26 (December 1982): "Runaways"
Changeling encounters Terra at the top of the Statue of Liberty but she escapes. The Statue of Liberty is an important symbol in relation to her character; the second Terra makes her first appearance there as well.

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


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

1980s Continuity continued

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

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

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 2.2 - The Elemental: Terra in the 1990s

Dick Grayson remembers parallel karmic figures, Tara Markov and Joseph Wilson. NT #113 (Aug. 1994)

1990s Continuity continued

Titans Hunt Aftermath. Karma Karma Karma.
In the Titans Hunt aftermath, Tara Markov I and Joseph Wilson are confirmed as karmically-related characters – for Deathstroke, Dick, Gar and Raven. The post-Titans Hunt arcs repeat the theme that Joe’s death is Deathstroke’s payback for what happened to Tara. The fallout from the Judas Contract and Titans Hunt tie Tara Markov I and Joseph Wilson to Deathstroke’s relationship with Dick and Gar. Raven quickly becomes part of that chessboard of characters as well.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 2.3 - The Elemental: Terra in the 1990s

Terra on a Darkstars mission in space. NT #124 (August 1995)

1990s Continuity continued

-New Titans #114 (September 1994): "24 Hours"
Raven attacks Gar and with the help of Nightwing’s dark double, Deathwing, implants ten Trigon seeds in him. Gar, already half crazy before Raven got to him, rapidly descends into full insanity.

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.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 3.2 - A Remade Reboot of the Original: Terra in the 2000s

Black Adam kills Terra 2. 52: World War III #3 (June 2007)

2000s Continuity continued

Graduation Day.
In the 2003 Titans/Young Justice Graduation Day arc, DC killed off Donna Troy. In fact, they had just sent her on an inter-dimensional exploration of her identity. While reassuring fans that Donna was alive in other dimensions, the impact on the Titans was huge. DC used the opportunity to do a complete overhaul of the Titans franchise, reflecting deep crises in leadership. DC mashed up one half of the NTT with Young Justice and the other half of the NTT with the Outsiders.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 3.3 - A Remade Reboot of the Original: Terra in the 2000s

Working for Deathstroke? Ravager accused by Bombshell of being a Titans traitor. TT #39 (Nov. 2006)

2000s Continuity continued

One Year Later: Interlude.
During the period between Terra 2's death (2007) and Terra 3's Miniseries (2009), the legacy of Terra 1's betrayal runs through several storylines. Terra 1 is a foil for Raven and Jericho, and her lingering influence still hangs over Deathstroke, Gar Logan and Brion Markov.

DCU Continuity for Terra: Part 3.4 - A Remade Reboot of the Original: Terra in the 2000s

 
Terra 3 is a perfect genetic match with Terra 2, who was a perfect genetic match with Terra 1.  Terra #1 (Jan. 2009)

2000s Continuity concluded.

Geo-Force: Walking a mile in his sister’s shoes? 2001-2010.
The seductive injustice of scapegoating goes a long way to explaining why Brion Markov’s unwavering loyalty to his sister is justified. If Brion is still in Tara’s corner after all this, even if it means his destruction as a hero, then we may have to ask again who Tara really was. We may have to look beneath the cardboard-cut-out ‘traitor-who-deserved-to-die’ label that’s been slapped on her, and question the double standard that condemned her, while forgiving others who have done the same or worse. DC is currently making Geo-Force, a clearly heroic character, relive his sister’s hellish descent. We have to go back to Markovia and ask: who are the Markovs and what is their legacy?

Through this period, Brion shows growing signs of mental instability followed by a frightening decline into madness. He has blackouts and acquires Terra’s powers. His wife Denise has already died under unknown circumstances. He begins wearing the same uniform that both siblings wore when they first appeared, signifying his growing identification with Terra 1. The same themes begin to surround him: insanity, drugs, Deathstroke, mental manipulation, brainwashing, memory wipes, and a loss of moral direction combined with a massive increase in his geo-powers.