Title: The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
Writer(s): Marv Wolfman
Illustrator(s): George Pérez, Dick Giordano, Mike DeCarlo & Romeo Tanghal
Publisher: DC Comics
Format: Hardcover – Deluxe Edition
Original Release Date: January 1st 1990
Genre(s): Comics, Science Fiction
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆
Are you unfamiliar with the Teen Titans? These young heroes have been dealing out justice in the shadow of the Justice League all their life. Their camaraderie is iconic and their passion, unquenchable. Being young and inexperienced, their development has always been impregnated by a touch of innocence and a whole lot of trial and error. With members like Robin, Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg and Raven, the Teen Titans have been a peculiar group of heroes with their own set of flaws, but also a powerful team that finds their footing thanks to their unparalleled friendship.
But what exactly is The Judas Contract about? This is the ultimate and quintessential Teen Titans story about new beginnings and betrayals. Collecting The New Teen Titans #39-40, Tales of the Teen Titans #41-44 and Tales of the Teen Titans Annual #3, this story features the origin story for both Nightwing and Deathstroke, the introduction of Jericho and Tara Markov, as well as the retirement of Kid Flash. However, it is the betrayal of a Teen Titan that highlights this story arc and identifies it as a classic canon DC story worth visiting as the events that unfold will shock the Titans to the core and bring them to experience something that they are likely to not forget anytime soon.
What readers need to keep in mind while picking up this story arc is that it was created in the 1980s. There are plenty of implications in that fact alone and one of them is that it struggles to survive the test of time. The artwork alone is an indisputable indicator of the era in which it was all thought up, but it is far from being a flaw in this case. The style portrays colourful and detailed looks at some of our heroes original designs and begins to focus a lot more on facial expressions and movement to convey the drama in constrast to the previous era’s art style.
The artwork also conforms itself to the traditional panel structure and makes it easy to observe how extremely dialogue-heavy the story is. In fact, it’s safe to say that Marv Wolfman was very fond of the telling-rather-than-showing style, but what made it much more difficult to read was all the internal monologue that were impossible to believe. As much as I wanted to believe that those were the words they uttered to themselves in the mist of danger and what not, I was too baffled by how much cringe it instigated in me to overlook it.
It still remained that it was fun discovering the personality of all these Titans through the eyes of Marv Wolfman. They all had their own stories to tell, and some were even carrying over emotions from past events. What however struck me the hardest was the sexual touch that was lingering throughout the banter in this story arc. Some of these characters are teenagers, yet they make jokes that seemed a little bit too exuberant and spicy. Although Starfire has always been portrayed as a beautiful innocent orange-skinned alien, and I expected to see that being focused on here and there, the rest sort of came out of the blue.
While the plot revolves around a major betrayal that could potentially lead the Teen Titans to their demise, the execution took away a lot of the tension and suspense that you would expect from it all. In fact, there are no surprises in this volume. Everything is pretty predictable. This forces you to seek enjoyment and appreciation elsewhere, leaving you feeling a bit underwhelmed. Ultimately, The New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a story to pick up to enlighten your knowledge on an iconic event, but it is far from being the most impressive story to grace the DC universe.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!
This story arc also got an animated adaptation—with
some modifications loads of improvement! Check out the trailer above!