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 3.3 - 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.

Who's less trustworthy? Flashback: Terra and Raven. NTT #34 (Aug. 1983)

-Teen Titans vol. 3 #34 (May 2006): "One Year Later Part I"
Events in Issue #34 depict what has happened one year after events in Issue #33. The intervening 12 months were later covered by the crossover 52, which immediately followed Infinite Crisis. During the back-to-back crossover events IC and 52, Gar tries to run several Titans teams. Over 20 members pass through the team. They are listed here. A variant cover of Issue #34 showed a memorial statue of Superboy, indicating to startled readers that a favourite character would die in an upcoming 52 issue. The issue opens with flashbacks of the yet-to-be shown events of 52.  This is done by showing Vic's recorded observations as he switched on and off: in front of him, Raven and Gar wistfully discuss their ship and the near-fatal disasters that have befallen Cyborg, Bumblebee and Mal Duncan. Vic also sees members of Gar’s broken teams fighting among themselves. One Year Later is the big turning point for Gar Logan; it shows that Gar’s initial stint as TT leader would fall apart during 52: Vic sees him relinquish leadership of the TT to go work with the DP.

Cyborg awakes to encounter Ravager: “What the hell is Slade’s daughter doing here?” Ravager: “Oh, don’t worry Cyborg, I’m not like Terra ... I’m a good girl now.” (After Terra 2’s death, Terra 1 is brought up constantly as the original ‘team traitor’ on a crumbling team riddled with enmities and lack of trust.) Tim sums up what happened in 52 (events that for readers at the time had yet to transpire). Gar and Raven broke up and both have left; Kory is still in space somewhere; Bart is “kind of retired”; Gar’s rejoined the Doom Patrol; and Superboy is dead. Cassie is chasing down Gemini and the Brotherhood of Evil, who appear in this issue; she is alienated by Superboy’s death, angry at Robin (who left the Titans for a year during 52 - this was something that also angered Gar).  Initially, she refuses to rejoin the team. Cyborg calls the DP and discovers to his surprise that Karen is also a member of the DP; he leaves a message for Gar. He doesn’t think Ravager and Kid Devil are viable Titans.

Garfield Logan after Terra 2’s Death and the Revival of the Original Doom Patrol, 2006-2007.
Gar’s history involves a musical chairs of parental figures. Dayton mysteriously disappears after the 1995 Crimelord arc. During the early 2000s, Gar is parent-less again. During Immortal Coil, he is still close to Deathstroke. In the BB mini, Gar tries to recall Rita Farr’s influence on his life and inadvertently also runs up against the Chief’s influence on him. Gar attempts, against his better judgment, to run Titans LA, but things are not stable. His faltering team appears up to Infinite Crisis.

First appearance of Dayton since the Crimelord arc - and not looking much better. TT #36 (Jul. 2006)

After Dayton finally (somehow) reappears, unhinged and struggling with Caulder, he apologizes to Gar for “that Crimelord business.” Mento’s moments when he regains self-control and self-assurance lend stability to Gar’s life. At those times, Gar immediately realigns himself with Dayton and a revived Rita Farr. He distances himself from Deathstroke, recovering his original hostility toward Slade.

As Gar’s personal life stabilizes, irrespective of arcs around Terra, his feelings for and about Terra become more sympathetic. He’s more inclined to believe she was manipulated by Deathstroke. By 2010, the picture is less black and white, and more gray. Gar starts to view the original Terra in a hostile light again, while ambiguously acknowledging his never-ending love for her. In the same period, he gradually distances himself from Rita and Steve – who have post-resurrection marital problems at Caulder’s instigation. There is a mysterious flashback to what happened between them in Doom Patrol #13 (Oct. 2010).

Gar rejoins the resurrected Doom Patrol. TT #35 (June 2006)

Doom Patrol Legacy.
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #35 (June 2006): "The New Teen Titans Part 2"
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #36 (July 2006): " The New Teen Titans Part 3"
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #37 (August 2006): "One Year Later Part I"
In this DP/TT crossover arc, there’s no reference to Terra. But Gar is shown as the now-grown-up junior member of the DCU team that stands on the dotted lines between madness, the moral value of life preserved at any cost, death and resurrection.

Gar and Cassie: Cassie's not listening. TT #36 (Jul. 2006)

Cassie rejoins the Titans to hunt down the Brotherhood of Evil. She is defensive and trying to do everything herself, to the point that she doesn’t listen to others around her. Eddie is wounded in the battle.

Gar helping Mal in the DP castle after 52. This is Vic's first communication with him since Cyborg's 52 injuries. TT #35 (June 2006)

The resurrected DP makes its first full appearance with Gar in the lineup. The Titans hang around in the DP’s crazy new castle HQ in Prague, owned by Mento. Caulder is able to help Kid Devil. But all is not well with this new DP team. The big retcon here is the continued presentation of the Chief as a semi-villainous figure.

Gar dealing with his freaked out adoptive father. TT #36 (Jul. 2006)

Gar's approach to Mento contrasts sharply with Caulder's approach. By the end of the arc, Gar is successful. TT #36 (Jul. 2006)

Issues #36-37: Niles’s toxic manipulation of Rita and Mento erodes the Daytons’ family unit. Issue #36: The Brain emerges triumphant in a newly cloned body. Issue #37: Robin is desperate to find out how Mallah cloned the Brain’s new body because he is secretly trying to bring Superboy back from the dead by cloning him.

Niles manipulating Rita over her resurrection - Drake, listening in, has been secretly trying to resurrect his friend. TT #36 (Jul. 2006)

This is typical of DP arcs, where cheating death and moral gray areas go hand in hand. Brain reveals that he was one of Caulder’s colleagues and Caulder destroyed him, making him the first prototype prior to Robotman and there were others – Human Cannon, Negative Girl and Electric Blu. Thus, according to Brain and Mallah, it’s Caulder who is the true evil mastermind. The Brain’s body disintegrates and Mallah puts him back in his mechanical jar. Tim realizes that the Brotherhood still haven’t cracked human cloning.

The Brain temporarily gains a cloned body and seeks vengeance against Caulder. TT #36 (Jul. 2006)

A huge retcon concerning the Chief playing God: The Brain explains why the Brotherhood hates him. TT #37 (Aug. 2006)

The Chief playing God: Huge retcon about the Chief and the origins of the DP and the Brotherhood. TT #37 (Aug. 2006)

Gar is the main heir to the Doom Patrol legacy; his approach to the legacy of DP leadership is contrasted against Niles playing God.  Gar stays on to help Mal, Karen and his parents deal with the disasters that have befallen them.  This used to be the more positive aspect of Caulder's leadership.  He was a doctor, who saved lives and administered medical treatments, not a fanatical scientist mastermind who toyed with others' lives for his own larger purposes.

DP leadership: Gar's attitude to helping DP members after their accidents is different to Caulder's approach. TT #37 (Aug. 2006)

Gar, is placed opposite the Chief as a strong, stable character and a voice of sanity. He manages to get through to Mento; Dayton takes off his helmet, regains his senses, and stops Caulder from interfering psychologically with Rita and undermining Gar. The Daytons and the DP close ranks against Niles, who skulks off to his lab.

Mento is caught between Caulder's influence and Gar's requests.  When Gar has temporary success with Dayton, the latter comes to his senses and reasserts his place on the team and in his family. TT #37 (Aug. 2006)

More of Gar's quietly developing style of leadership; he can handle insanity and trauma without judgment or manipulation - as Caulder once could. TT #37 (Aug. 2006)

The Titans leave the castle without Gar. The issue closes back in Titans Tower where Tim is secretly trying to clone Conner, and failing. Cassie discovers what he’s doing, and they kiss. But in trying to revive his friend’s life at all costs, Tim’s efforts are taking him down a dark path that resembles that of the Chief. Tim’s sympathetic depiction in this situation shows how the Chief could have started in the beginning, a brilliant surgeon desperate to save lives.

Raven’s Revival of Jericho and Deathstroke’s Protégés: Bombshell.
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #38 (September 2006): "Titans Around the World, Part 1"
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #39 (November 2006): "Titans Around the World, Part 2"
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #40 (December 2006): "Titans Around the World, Part 3"
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #41 (January 2007): "Titans Around the World, Part 4"
In TT #38, it’s revealed that Raven left the team during 52; she told Vic that the TT think she left because of Gar. In fact she has discovered a traitor in their midst and goes off on a journey around the world to track down who it is. She claims she doesn't want to add to his stress; and doesn't tell him what she finds out.  Beneath her superficial concern for Gar, this is disturbing because Gar is leading the team and Raven, who is involved with him, is supposedly supporting his leadership. Her emotional condescension toward Gar – her assumption that he ‘can’t handle’ things – is obvious. Instead of telling Gar that there is a possible team traitor and trusting him to cope with it, she publicly breaks up with him, destroying their relationship. This undermines him as leader firstly because the TT leadership model involves shipping. Raven's silence may reflect her uncertainties about herself; or it may demonstrate that she is threatened by his love for Tara and a repeat of Tara’s legacy. Oddly, she does not include Terra 2 on her list of possible traitors, but she does include Gar.

Raven's list of possible traitors includes Gar but doesn't include Terra 2? TT #38 (Sept. 2006)

Raven turns to everyone (Red Star, Zach Zatara, Miss Martian, Bombshell) but Gar – and fails to stop the traitor. When she determines who the traitor is and what the traitor intends to do – she again doesn’t tell Gar. She discovers that Bombshell, hired by Deathstroke, infiltrated the Titans to find the disk with Jericho’s soul on it.

By this time, Logan's leadership has failed and he has already left the team to rejoin the Doom Patrol. Instead of calling Gar for help, Raven revives Jericho, her ex, to save him from Bombshell and to have him as her ally against the traitor. Considering the track record of these two, especially together, this is bizarre. By choosing to handle this serious problem and not trusting Gar’s capabilities as a leader – presumably because of his history with Tara – Raven damages his leadership record. It’s on Gar's watch that another team traitor appears.

Raven clueless about Gar's Hollywood career. Titans #18 (Dec. 2009)

This is one of several turns in Raven’s thought toward Gar that are arrogant, weird or presumptuous. In Titans vol. 2 #8 she tells him she initiated their relationship because he was the leader and he ‘needed confidence,’ which is emotionally manipulative and condescending.  Also, the more the ship has progressed, the less confidence Gar has shown, indicating that Raven is disingenuous about her motives; that is, whatever influence she is exterting on him - it's not something that will make him stronger.  In Titans vol. 2 #18, she shows her lack of knowledge about his Hollywood background, and appears only interested in the fact that Gar sometimes makes her feel more at ease. – Thus, from her perspective, the ship is about her and her problems. She shows little inclination to look at the ship from his point of view, and does not credit him with having the knowledge or experience to deal with the things he has to handle.

Raven surprised by Gar's words of wisdom. Titans #18 (Dec. 2009)

When Gar tells Raven that she’s only as alone as she chooses to be, she’s surprised that he says something ‘pretty wise’ (more condescension).  She's involved with him, but hasn't looked past the clichéed role Gar played for years, the joking junior member of the Titans.  She's an empath, so she should perceive Gar's hidden depths, but doesn't.

Miss Martian, scanning all the scattered Titans' thoughts, finds the team traitor. TT #39 (Oct. 2006)

Her response in not trusting Gar when Tara’s team traitor theme reappears says more about Raven’s weaknesses than Gar’s. The repeat of Terra 1’s betrayal theme confirms that Raven is either the traitor’s nemesis or becomes the traitor. Either way, her motives and responses are complex, mysterious and sometimes dishonest. Issue #39: Bombshell accuses Deathstroke’s daughter, Rose, of being the traitor. Miss Martian scans all the Titans’ thoughts, revealing what various members of Gar’s disintegrating LA and Titans teams are thinking. When Miss Martian telepathically hits on the traitor, she reveals herself to be a white Martian.

Terra 1 pictured on the cover with other team traitors, Jericho, Raven, Superboy - and Miss Martian?  TT #40 (Dec. 2006)

Issue #40: the cover shows Terra opposite Jericho and Raven as one of the team’s past traitors, with Miss Martian and Superboy as new candidates. The issue opens with Bombshell weaving Terra’s and Jericho’s betrayals into her accusation of Rose. Bombshell also exposes Miss Martian, who has caught up with them, as a white Martian.

Bombshell (the traitor) mentions Tara and Joe in her accusation of Rose. TT #40 (Dec. 2006)

In another sign that the traitor storyline with Deathstroke symbolically relates Terra, Raven and Jericho, Raven revives Jericho. Raven says to herself that reviving Joe (her ex, who at one time was possessed by Trigon and the souls of Azarath, and who manifested a soul self of his own) will make the Titans “a family” again. This is strange, considering Cyborg trapped Jericho on a computer disk after Jericho had murdered Wintergreen and attacked the TT; and Raven stole the disk. Eddie and Cassie infiltrate Blood’s church and find Raven at the blood pool where she herself was resurrected; she is murmuring: “will give my blood to him so that he may rise again.” Eddie wonders if Raven is the traitor, due to “some weird multiple personality thing.” Raven provides Joseph with a new body in the same way she acquired one. For a time, Joseph joins the Titans and bonds with his sister Rose. He appears to be fine until the Deathtrap storyline.  Then some entity inside him trips him off, driving him insane and making him even more deadly.

The traitor turns out to be Bombshell. Deathstroke sent her to seize the computer disk with Joey’s soul on it. Raven tosses the disk in the pool of blood and revives Joseph in a new body (with a better haircut). Issue #41: Bombshell, playing Tara’s role, squares off against Joseph. The readers are privy to his internal monologue as he tries to make sense of what’s going on. He has a new body and can speak, but pretends he can’t. He sees something good in Rose, who stops short of killing Bombshell in revenge. Deathstroke has meanwhile invaded Titans Compound on Titans Island in NYC and reveals that Bombshell was one of his agents; he engineered her betrayal. Now he plans to set up his own Titans team to stir up a conflict that will let him get Rose and Joseph back. Somehow without being noticed, he takes over the HQ on Titans Island.  Around the pre-existing structure, he erects a giant wooden ‘T’ over the Compound, a hideous ugly twin of the old Tower. This rehash of the ‘team traitor’ story arc shows that Terra's legacy has four main aspects: its impact on Titans leadership; shipping arcs around Gar Logan and his development as a Doom Patrol legacy character; the presence of other long-standing Titans like Raven and Jericho - and now Superboy - who are also unstable and similarly capable of betrayal; and the ‘Deathstroke’s apprentices’ meme, which is a dark mirror of Batman and Robin and which connects Tara to Dick.

Looking for Tara's replacement: Slade chats with Batgirl (Cassandra Cain). WWIII #2 (June 2007)

Deathstroke’s Protégés: Batgirl (Cassandra Cain).
-World War III #2 (June 2007): "The Valiant"
Slade was conceived as a dark double of Batman by Wolfman.  So no wonder Deathstroke loves poking around in the Batverse!  Deathstroke seeks out Cassandra Cain. Using his usual manipulations, he convinces her to work with him and starts drugging her, taking her on as another replacement for Tara Markov.

Slade to Tim: the Batfamily and Slade's crazy grief-blame-revenge-ego-control-driven logic. TT #43 (March 2007)

Deathstroke’s Protégés: Titans East.
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #43 (March 2007): "Titans East, Part 1"
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #44 (April 2007): "Titans East, Part 2"
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #45 (May 2007): "Titans East, Part 3"
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #46 (June 2007): "Titans East, Part 4"

Slade drugging Batgirl, just as he drugged his own daughter and possibly Tara and Brion Markov. TT #43 (March 2007)

Slade forms his Titans East squad, a team of young villains whom he uses to provoke the younger and older Titans. He assembles his group on Titans Island in New York and a huge fight ensues. His aim is to further manipulate his children, Rose and Joseph. Deathstroke compares one apprentice, Sun Girl, to Terra 1. Issue #43: the drugging theme now associated with Slade’s mentoring hints again that Tara Markov was also drugged. Slade openly injects Batgirl (Cassandra Cain) with the serum that was used originally on him.

Batgirl plans to inject Robin with Deathstroke's serum while Ravager and Jericho fight their father. TT #44 (Apr. 2007)

Parallel scene: Jericho runs Deathstroke through with his father's sword, inverting the original panel when Slade killed Joseph in Titans Hunt. TT #44 (Apr. 2007)

Issue #44: in a reversal of the panel in which Slade killed his own son during the Titans Hunt arc, Jericho runs Slade’s sword through his father. Drake injects Cassandra Cain with a counter-serum and she regains her senses. Batgirl: “Yes he ... he took me ... drugged me ... used me like Terra ... like Ravager. I remember it all now Robin, and I’m going to kill Deathstroke for it.”

Batgirl: "He ... used me like Terra ... like Ravager." TT #44 (Apr. 2007)

Issue #45: Deathstroke has refurbished Titans Compound to include a room of statues of the Titans fighting their foes. – There's a statue of Terra fighting a statue of Changeling.

Deathstroke refurbishes Titans Compound with statues of Titans being defeated. Tara and Gar are on the right. TT #45 (May 2007)

Deathstroke’s protégés: Aftermath.
All these arcs reveal that Deathstroke’s family and teams have a certain symmetry opposite the Markovs and the Bat-family. Slade has two sons and an illegitimate daughter who is their half-sister – like King Viktor Markov – who had two sons, Gregor and Brion, and an illegitimate daughter, Tara. Deathstroke was also conceived by Wolfman as a dark mirror of Batman. He had a mentor and caretaker like Alfred Pennyworth in Wintergreen. He mentors foundlings and trains them to become his sidekicks, like Batman does. Tara Markov 1 was his first ‘sidekick’ and as such she darkly reflects Dick’s relationship to Batman. This is further confirmed by Deathstroke’s growing interest in Brion Markov, who is one of Batman's original Outsiders; Slade’s interference with Dick’s Outsiders team is another giveaway – all Outsiders teams are really Batman’s teams. Slade has also manipulated and worked with Batgirl.  He tried to get Batgirl to drug Tim Drake (Red Robin); and he has remotely controlled Damian Wayne, the new Robin.

Three big storylines come out of Deathstroke’s actions and the long aftermath of the Judas Contract. First, the Titans' problems with internal team cohesion continue, including tensions over leadership between Dick and Roy as well as Dick and Gar. Dick leads the revived NTT line-up starting with a new 2008 series, but mutual irritation still shows and the team soon breaks apart. Second, the problems with the Wilson family continue with the Deathtrap storyline; Joseph becomes uncontrollably insane, attacks the Titans and the JLA, and murders several people. To make it clear that Joseph’s trials are still karma revisiting Slade for his role in the Judas Contract, the arc closes with a title borrowed directly from the Judas Contract: "The Eyes of Joseph Wilson." Third, Deathstroke tries to use Brion Markov as a spy to destroy the JLA, and reveals he drugged Terra and is drugging her brother.

NTT Revival: Family Affair.
-Titans vol. 2 #1 (June 2008): "The Fickle Hand, Part Two: Today I Settle All Family Business"
-Titans vol. 2 #2 (July 2008): "Family Affair, Part 1: All Together Now"
-Titans vol. 2 #3 (August 2008): "Family Affair, Part 2: Sins of the Father"
-Titans vol. 2 #4 (September 2008): "Family Affair, Part 3: Daddy's Little Boys"
-Titans vol. 2 #5 (November 2008): "I Know Your Heart Because I Know Mine"
-Titans vol. 2 #6 (December 2008): "Together. Together Forever"
The theme of team traitors percolates beneath the surface as the NTT are reestablished and Raven's problems with her family temporarily reappear. Raven’s family is retconned to include six brothers, each representing a Deadly Sin (do the original NTT each represent a Cardinal Virtue?), and she is the Seventh Sin of Pride. Her brothers inform Gar that Raven’s hybrid soul will open the portal to let Trigon enter Earth’s dimension. But Gar is the key to opening the dimension. They want “the demon that lies in wait inside you!!” Raven informs him that the Trigon seed is still buried within him. Raven later reveals more about herself to him: “I’m wrong!! Do you not see!? We all pretend that I’m the same as anyone else, that I have this ‘dark side,’ but it’s not a problem because I am a good person and I want to do good! I am telling you – I don’t! I’ve come to believe that my true self ... the thing I really am ... is evil. This, myself, Raven ... is just the mask it wears. I am the think it uses to hide from the world.” When fully possessed, Raven announces to Gar that the Titans will carry the power of sin and rule by her side – except for Gar: “And you Garfield, are the key to making this wondrous dream a reality. Your ability to transform can be utilized. You are the vessel. The magic will flow through you and change them. You will not survive, but you will live through all of us.” So much for Gar trying to build a lovelife and leading role on a Titans team, based on this ship.

NTT Revival: Deathtrap, Guilt and Double Standards - Terra 1, Jericho and Deathstroke.
-Titans vol. 2 #8 (February 2009): "No Egress"
-Titans vol. 2 #9 (March 2009): "Faces of Evil"
-Titans vol. 2, #10 (April 2009): “Adult Swim”; Origins and Omens
-Titans vol. 2, #11 (May 2009): “Contact!”
-Teen Titans Annual vol. 3 (2009): “Deathtrap: Prelude: Home Invasion”
-Titans vol. 2 #12 (June 2009): "Deathtrap (Part I)"
-Teen Titans vol. 3 #70 (June 2009): "Deathtrap (Part III)"
-Vigilante #5 (April 2009): “Deathtrap (Part II)”
-Titans vol. 2 #13 (July 2009): "Deathtrap (Part IV)"
-Vigilante #6 (May 2009): “Deathtrap Conclusion: The Eyes of Joseph Wilson”
Raven’s romantic entanglements with male Titans provide a troubling subtext through these arcs, with Terra 1’s influence opposite Dick, Wally, Gar and Joseph as an absent mirror. Terra 1 is not only Deathstroke's original 'sidekick' opposite Batman and Robin.  She is the character that made Dick question himself as leader.  He did so again when Raven plagued the team during the Darkening and betrayed Koriand’r. The betrayal theme repeated itself with Indigo on Grayson’s Outsiders team.  Terra 1 was Wally’s friend and the only Titan she did not directly betray. Like Terra, Wally was also a target of the Manhunters and Terra’s and Wally’s fates were thereby related in the Millennium crossover. Gar is self-explanatory, since he’s been in up to his eyeballs with both girls. And Joseph was Terra’s counterpoint in the Judas Contract and her ironic replacement in its aftermath.

Once an artist and musician with an open, decent, and heroic heart and soul, Joseph readily reached out to Raven with his powers and tried to help her at her most desperate moment. He is now irretrievably broken because he did this. His powers have spun out of control and he is carrying fragments of personalities of every person he’s ever possessed. His old love of Raven and his powers going haywire resemble what happened with Wally and Gar. Wally fell in love with Raven and his powers began to kill him. Gar got mixed up with Raven when use of the Mento helmet made his powers spin out of control. When Dick (or his supposed double) became involved with her, he turned into an evil version of himself.  Given the evil doubles Raven created of the Titans in The Terror of Trigon arc, it looks like creating walking, talking reversed-moral doubles are part of Raven's illusion-spinning powers that she has inherited from her father.

Issue #8: A big retcon with Gar in a security check scene shows him admitting to the Titans’ computer system that his parents did not die in a boating accident. This opens up questions about how they died, how he got his powers and who was involved. There are a number of possibilities: Caulder, the Brotherhood of Evil, Register, Deathstroke (given his African connections). This also means he has been lying to everyone all his life about what happened. In Issue #11, Raven breaks up with Gar. She informs him why she kissed him back in TT #30: “You were in charge of the team. You were in doubt. You needed confidence. That’s all it was.” As Gar leaves, Raven envisions what each of the Titans are doing at that moment, starting with Wally. Her dumping Gar can be read two ways: either she’s telling the truth; or she cares, but she’s trying to spare him some future nightmare.

Issue #10: In the lead up to Deathtrap (Titans #8-11), Jericho disappears after an initial fight with the Titans and JLA, and prior to the Deathtrap storyline. Just before Joe disappears, Dick is possessed by Jericho and badly shaken by it. Dick determines that someone inside Jericho is controlling him. He confides to Donna: “Joey is a prisoner in his own mind, and whoever is driving his body and his powers ... they are more dangerous than we could ever imagine.” There is one dominant personality (not Joseph) inside Jericho that is driving him to do this – and that dominant personality wants to kill the Titans. Dick sensed who that dominant personality was. Of course, the most powerful individual Jericho entered was Trigon. It’s possible part of Trigon is still alive inside Joe's soul; and Raven has gone to Blood’s church and quietly furnished Joe with a new body to house that soul, with disastrous consequences.

Dick tells Donna that they have to help Joe. Yet in the same issue, Dick suddenly leaves the team. Dick’s always had pressures before to take up commitments in Gotham, and with Bruce gone, these commitments are serious. Perhaps the personality that Dick encounters in Jericho unnerves him and drives him away from the Titans. His actions resemble his behaviour during the Darkening, after Raven ruined his wedding to Kory. At that time, he left for Gotham similarly shaken, while his ‘darker double’ (who may well have been him) was sexually and psychically involved with Raven. His behaviour recalls Wally’s abrupt resignation from the NTT after he had been immersed in Raven’s soul self, during which he saw the evil in her soul.  Gar, too, made an abrupt departure to rejoin the Doom Patrol in Europe during 52. This was after Terra 2 died while Gar floundered as leader with Raven at his side.  Shortly after that, Gar cooled off toward Raven; a traitor joined his team, and Gar was on Raven's list of suspects!  This shows her lack of trust of the hero who was her boyfriend.

With Raven, it's hard to tell how many of these coincidences lead back to her, because writers often keep Raven's development very subliminal and covert. But perhaps something originating from Raven deeply scares these heroes and they leave as fast as they can, and get as far away as possible. When Grayson leaves in Titans #10, it's uncharacteristic.

In Deathtrap, Jericho, now deranged, attacks the Titans, the JLA, and murders several people. Near the end of the arc, his half-sister, Ravager pleads with him. Jericho inhabits the body of Raven and teleports them away. When Rose pleads with him not to kill the team, he takes it as a betrayal. Later he hallucinates confrontations with Deathstroke; he then battles Miss Martian mimicking Deathstroke.

When he’s finally captured, Jericho accuses Rose of being a “traitor to everything our father taught us.” Then he accuses Raven of making him see visions of the Titans, whom he thinks he’s killed. Raven declares she cannot heal Joseph’s soul – he is too damaged and his soul is too corrupted. Yet she is partly responsible for the derailment of his powers, his original insanity and she was intimately involved in his resurrection. The Deathtrap arc concludes with the Vigilante cutting out Joseph Wilson’s eyes so Jericho can no longer use his powers. This repeats the Wilson family’s loss of eyes (‘the windows to the soul’). It’s happened with Slade (right eye), Rose (left eye) and Joseph (both eyes). Right before Terra died, Gar flew into her right eye. The Wilsons commonly cover their empty eye sockets, which has its own symbolism: “covering of the eyes ... can mean mystery, not seeing the complete truth, or deceit.” Sometimes being blinded can lead the blinded person to see a higher truth – but if you cover a blind eye – are you covering up that second sight, again implying self-deception and deceit? (For the symbolism of eyes, including the ‘third eye’ that is represented by Raven’s red chakra on her forehead, see here.) Jericho’s grisly scene in Vigilante #6 is straight out of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, where the sins of a father bring destruction on his family and especially his children.

"The Eyes of Joseph Wilson" nods to Terra's Judas Contract storyline. Vigilante #6 (May 2009)

The title of Vigilante #6, “The Eyes of Joseph Wilson” directly references the Judas Contract story, “The Eyes of Tara Markov,” and the conclusion shows that Joe is now the sacrificial lamb. Did Tara, play a similar role of scapegoat?

There are several double standards around Terra 1. The creators and fans who eternally condemn Tara Markov for working with Deathstroke are the same people who applaud Gar’s conciliation and work with Deathstroke, hailing it as a fantastic and original twist in comics. The same thinking damns Tara Markov for being a traitor and killer, yet casually overlooks Deathstroke’s history as a killer, willing to lie and manipulate to achieve his goals, despite his self-proclaimed ‘code of honour.’ The same strange logic again overlooks Gar’s guilt in killing Madame Rouge and embraces the Raven-Gar ship as an alternative to his pairing with Terra. This is a preferred ship - despite the fact that Gar’s connection to Raven was founded on him being implanted with demonic psychic embryos called Trigon Seeds and doing horrific things on Raven’s orders in The Darkening storyline.

Why can Tara Markov never be forgiven – when other characters around her have done terrible things – and yet their reputations and characters are undamaged in fans’ and creators’ eyes? This series should draw the lines between heroes and villains within DCU legacies and families; but the rules about good and evil do not apply equally to everyone. If we condemn Tara Markov, shouldn’t we also condemn Gar Logan for seducing and eating (!) a young girl (who just happened to be a Tara look-alike)? Shouldn’t we condemn Slade Wilson for recruiting young girls (including a Tara look-alike) and manipulating young heroes? Shouldn’t we question the matching of Gar to Raven, when Raven’s repeated descents into evil result in team betrayals and the ravaging of men on Titans teams? Raven murdered several people, hunted down the Titans, helped destroy Kory’s planet and was partly responsible for the deaths of her parents. Why is she still a heroine in our eyes? All of these characters are torturously flawed. But the Blackest Night Teen Titans issues, which revived Jericho (with healed, regrown eyes), suggest that even he is considered salvageable despite his crimes. Only one character, Terra, goes unforgiven. It’s worth asking if this is due to the way her creators handled her, or if there’s something more to this double-think.

Of course all these characters express remorse, except Tara Markov, unless one considers Tara 1 and 2 to be bad/good facets of the same person (the latest retcon says this is impossible; earlier retcons hinted at it). Terra 1 likely goes unforgiven is because she has served as a scapegoat for the Titans team up to the Judas Contract and ever since. Terra 1 was shown to be a character who could free characters from their fates; but she is also associated with carrying the burden of others’ sins so that they can be freed. Meanwhile, Raven seems equally bound up with the sins of the Titans. But Raven somehow binds her teammates to their transgressions and forces them to absorb them and transform because of them. Both girls are tied to the secret failures of the team. Raven is considered good, but she ultimately drags the team back toward evil. Terra is considered evil, but she enables the team to return to good.

NTT Revival: Titans Leadership and the Final Collapse of the Original Titans Team.
-Titans vol. 2, #10 (April 2009): Origins and Omens
Coming out of the Deathtrap storyline with Joseph Wilson, Nightwing leaves the Titans and returns to Gotham as Batman. When Dick calls a meeting and resigns in Titans #10, the proof that he is not just leaving to go deal with troubles in Gotham is in subsequent events – when he regroups his team away from Raven! This is the story inside the story: Dick bails after seeing ‘one powerful personality’ inside Jericho. The remaining Titans deal with Jericho in the Deathtrap storyline. Shortly after that, practically everyone else on this team follows Dick. Kory, Wally, Donna, Roy and Vic all leave for the JLA – at Dick’s instigation and/or invitation! Only Raven and Gar, who has fallen under her sway, are not invited. Gar decides to mentor the Teen Titans in California and Raven follows him.

Just as there’s a ‘Raven’ dimension to Dick’s resignation, there’s also a ‘Terra’ dimension. The tensions between Dick and Gar arise from mutual recriminations over their respective lovelives, because each takes those decisions to be signs of errors in the other’s judgement. Through the 2000s, Gar has observed Dick pulling away from the Titans and moving back into the Bat-world of Gotham; he has sharply criticized Dick’s neglect of Titans teams. When Dick calls the last meeting of the Titans, Gar implies that the reason Grayson is being so serious is because of Dick’s Gotham girlfriends.

Gar to Dick: Have you knocked someone up? Titans #10 (Apr. 2009)

In front of Koriand’r, Gar makes pregnancy jokes at Dick’s expense, asking if Nightwing has knocked someone up. He may also be picking up on the previous possibility that Mirage’s child is Dick’s – hinting that knocking random girls up is something Dick does. As always, there’s something to what Gar is saying, given Dick’s hectic lovelife.

Dick to Gar: Let me remind you about your own lovelife. Titans #10 (Apr. 2009)

Dick responds to Gar by recalling Terra 1’s betrayal. Dick will not let Gar forget the damage caused to the team through Gar’s mistake of vouching for Tara – and far more painfully, his mistake of loving her (then and still). Rubbing Gar’s face in the Judas Contract yet again is the easiest way to humiliate Logan and openly question his credibility - although it doesn't quite get Beast Boy to shut up.

At the same time, how much blame can be passed around? Dick’s not just dumping on Gar. He’s acknowledging the Titans’ deep weariness and the unacknowledged love between people who have been to hell and back several times together. Some of them have even died and returned from the dead. What more is there to say? With this issue, Dick, the original founding Teen Titan, resigns from the Titans. His departure starts a process where the Titans team breaks apart with more finality than ever before. They all go their separate ways, causing shockwaves in the DCU. This issue gives us one last picture of the core team assembled together.  The picture shows the Titans' moral alignment, from potential evil to good, lined up from left to right.  Raven shows the most capacity for evil, Wally the greatest capacity for good, with Dick dead centre.  It's hard to see Cyborg, but it looks like Raven is the only one not making physical contact with the others.  They are also standing in a cross formation, with Cyborg at the top of the cross, and Raven at the bottom. This is the Origins and Omens issue: Roy will soon lose his right arm.  Gar and Roy are the two Titans who have challenged Dick's leadership most, as they made their own leadership bids.

Last picture of the remaining members of the NTT assembled together. Titans #10 (Apr. 2009)

It’s fitting that the Titans’ weariness should come at the end of the Deathtrap arc, a storyline that reminded them of their entanglement with the Wilson family, which started well before Tara Markov’s relations with Deathstroke, back in NTT #2 (1980). After Deathtrap, the Titans title features individual focus stories, and then Deathstroke takes over the title, with a new team of villains he calls ‘Titans.’ What is Deathstroke to the Titans? A murderous pater familias? A person who has divested himself of responsibility for those he yearns to care for? A person who allows his apprentices and children to pay the terrible prices for his crimes?  Brion Markov is the first person to step up to find out.




All DC Comics stories, characters and the distinctive likenesses thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © DC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding that last image...You read more into things than a hard-core shipper who is also a literature professor. I highly doubt that any "cross-formation in order of potential good/evil" was intended. Anyway, how does Starfire have more potential for evil than Nightwing? I think the only accurate thing you've picked up on is the fact that Raven is off to the side a bit, which is pretty typical of her.