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Monday, August 17, 2015 

A Clinton "crime-family" comic strip

The American Thinker pointed to a comic strip panel based on Hilary Clinton's email scandal that's now the subject of a major investigation.

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More political cartoons?

Speaking of comics, I find that The Judas Contract is overrated and sexist.

As told from this site (http://www.titanstower.com/deathtrap-conclusion/):
It never ceases to amaze me how many fans still pooh pooh Terra 2 and praise Judas Contract, failing to realize that that “poignant, moving story” is how we got into this mess in the first place.

It was Judas Contract that set the precedent, that started us down this path. Terror of Trigon and then Titans Hunt reinforced it, and now it just doesn’t stop.

And it never will, until we turn our back on the mistake of Terra 1 and the shocking cheap twist.

Till then, Didio and his successors will continue to laugh at us.


And from this site (http://historiesofthingstocome.blogspot.com/2010/05/dcu-continuity-for-terra-part-34-remade.html):
...Tara’s not like Raven, who is always on a – by now, unfair and dubious – double standard granted an ethical choice between good and evil (and continually fails only to come back and try again). She’s unlike Rose Wilson, who has similar cards stacked against her but chaotically chooses good and is granted the benefit of sympathy through larger context, where Terra is not (because we were never told Tara’s larger context). Terra 1 was given no choice. The all-knowing narrator at the end of the Judas Contract says she was given a choice – while simultaneously stating that she was too crazy to make any choice other than, well, be crazy and evil. DC’s creative teams need her DNA to keep the powers and the mask going, so now all Tara Markov 1 is is a DNA farm and another Titans ghost.

Or is she? Ironically, Terra 1’s condemnation constituted her creators’ deal with the devil. By reducing her to pure evil, Wolfman diminished Tara into a mere story-telling tool. She was nothing but a flat plot device for breaking story-telling rules, not a character proper. This ‘traitor’ was the clincher in his reversed Kitty Pryde story. In addition, the Judas Contract justified the total destruction of a female character in order to build up the male characters around her – Slade (above all), Gar, Dick, Joseph, and Brion. Not great as far as sexism in comics goes, but it’s a standard superheroic narrative trope. Aside from the fact that five male characters were built up on her back, blaming everything evil in the Judas Contract on 15-16 year old Terra 1 is simply not credible. This was a very young female character who was completely alone in the world, probably drugged, deeply seduced by a dominant male thirty or forty years her senior. That is one of the most troubling aspects of the story. Fans and creative teams who unthinkingly accept Tara Markov 1 as a villainess should ask why the older man in this scenario who is having sex with her is stripped of blame. They should also ask why, in a story about teen suicide – a serious contemporary theme in what was once a socially conscious book aimed at teen readers – the suicide is treated as botched homicide. It’s not exactly a reassuring message to young fans who would find something compelling in Tara 1’s alienation, rebellion and self-immolation. Teen Titans should be a book about how much people can screw up in their youths; yet even the most broken person might find a way back from terrible mistakes. Instead, the JC is a highly conflicted and disturbingly ambiguous cautionary tale. It’s the story about the friend ‘who didn’t make it.’ The problem with that approach is that Terra 1 is surrounded with mitigating circumstances that could allow her ‘to make it after all,’ but these circumstances are denied. And they’re not denied because DC cares about superheroic values, although that was what her creators claimed. Tara does not go unforgiven because she was ‘evil’ and heroic ‘good’ had to be reasserted. ...

I don't mind the rant against the Judas Contract, but what the hell does that have to do with this topic? Wait until Avi does a Titan-related thread, first. But I feel like answering this, just because and because I've been re-watching the Titans Animated 03 series, lately.

Speaking as a Titans fan, and who has actually read the whole thing, I see it as more "fair for its day." Critically, yes, as you said, Terra I was basically a plot device and Wolfman always goes up and down, 'she's evil, evil, evil.' However, what drove the JC is less on her than on the superhero tropes that Wolfman and Perez were deconstructing at the time, like heroes being so naive, despite all the clues that Terra wasn't who she said she was, and all the dramatic ironies with the audience waiting to see when she and Deathstroke would enact their endgame. And Wolfman has been occasionally stymied that people liked Terra I anyway in spite of the informed ability of "she's evil, she's evil, she's evil." If you can't engage the JC for what it was meant to address, you may miss its true point.

I don't disagree with the Deathstroke/Terra ship being very problematic, but Wolfman and Perez opted for full shock value, which, honestly, a lot of their creations had (Cyborg with racism, Starfire with sexuality, Raven with non-consensual birth -- and the latter I'd argue would be a touch pointless, as Raven was an interesting enough character with her rare-at-the-time anti-hero female shtick, so Wolfman decided to add things further to contrast Starfire's more open sexuality, I suppose -- and whether the shock was necessary, we can debate that all day long. And one of the interesting aspects of JC was Deathstroke's "lion in winter" act, as per his gradual (and justified) paranoia over Terra's sociopathy and gaining/losing ground -- he's fully aware the HIVE manipulated him and caused the death of his son, Grant, but for reputation's sake, he continues anyway -- and his increasing desperation, plus, of course, all the foreshadowing toward his other son, Jericho, becoming a Titan. So, really, Deathstroke's life slowly falls apart during the JC, and got worse during Titans Hunt (had to stop a evil-possessed Jericho by killing him) and the 1999 comic series wrapped up his wife in a dark way (Starfire vaporized her as part of a mercy killing), so karma did catch up with him, eventually. Plus, Beast Boy tried his best to pin the proper blame on Slade during the immediate aftermath of Terra's death, so.

I liked the Judas Contract for what it was, but I don't idolize it, either. I can appreciate what they did, even though, I don't have to personally like certain aspects (e.g., the incessant "she's evil" theme). And for the record, I did like Terra II, and I didn't like how Geoff Johns flippantly killed her off in WWIII. But the issue is becoming a little academic, if you actually read New 52 Terra, who acts more like her 2003 animated counterpart -- who sincerely loves Beast Boy, as the Ravagers finale indicated -- and Terra III is popping in the current Starfire ongoing, so, hopefully, they can compensate for what Terra I did (plus her half-brother Geo-Force and his more heroic actions). As for the overrated ness, these days, the audience is way more sophisticated, so a JC done today is far more predictable and wouldn't have the same impact, so I could agree with this in theory. But again, you have to consider things when the story was being written vs. when viewed 30 years later, when we have hindsight/retrospectives to aid us.

I don't know if I properly answered you, but it was worth a shot. I'll try to think of other points later.

Extra reading material:

http://robot6.comicbookresources.com/2010/06/grumpy-old-fan-titans-go-away/

Or how Wolfman and Perez wrapped up everything even before the Judas Contract finale and "where do you go from up?" with post-80's Titan stories.

That said, while I'm more or less fine with the Judas Contract, I'm far more critical of the other major Titan milestone, the "Terror of Trigon" arc, as Raven was really through the wringer -- was outright in Trigon's thrall, was part of a disturbing sex fantasy with Wally's evil manifestation and then had to die to defeat Trigon. Conversely, I personally found that the 2003 animated version was far more emotionally satisfying, especially with Raven's friendship with the Titans (a lot less unease compared to the comic versions, though, the latter is understandable when read fully). More to say on that for a future thread, commentary, etc.

The second blog brings up a good question, "why?" Wolfman never answered it and closed out the story by breaking the fourth wall to do so, he created a "Rosebud" for some readers to puzzle over. All he cared about was giving Deathstroke a get out of jail free card for his role, at the time.

From the comments section of one of the first entries:
"The JC was full of double standards and cognitive dissonance. Even today there are loads of people who blindly accept the characterization and the underlying fourth wall decisions and don't question them. The main problem I have with the JC is the Fourth Wall decisions that were taken and the Fourth Wall logic. It is not so much the characters, because they are just tools in the hands of the creators. It is the fact that the JC was supposedly a story about right and wrong - but the **creators** made a bunch of decisions around the story that were really, really disturbing. Wolfman and Perez made right into wrong, and wrong into right here. And fans went along with it - also troubling."

Plus, wasn't The Judas Contract just another repeat of a tragedy that Deathstroke keeps bringing up from Changeling's previous team the Doom Patrol? (He had already played out the "life for life" gambit that resulted in the death of the original patrol with him and the Titans replacing Zhal and the Doom Patrol respectively)

Indeed, the Deathstroke trial was annoying in that "can't legally prove Slade Wilson is Deathstroke, LOL" -- after watching years of "Law & Order", I was both amused and annoyed with Wolfman's logic of the legal system -- but it did lead to a nice moment with Slade and Gar discussing Terra and how Slade wanted to hash things out man-to-man at a diner. You may disagree, though, I did enjoy that epilogue.

Right, once you get into the subversion aspects and again, Wolfman and Perez wanted to go full shock value, that's why the JC worked, but also created its own problems, because there was no reconstruction to make up for the subversion (and other disturbing aspects like Beast Boy pining for a girl who truly hated him in reality or how Terra implied to have killed Beast Boy's childhood guardian during her time in Africa, though, Slade tried to address that with him). Like many said about how Watchmen and DKR creating the Dark Age of comics. The 2003 Animated series tried to compensate for this by making Animated Terra far more sympathetic, but it had its problems, too (the series' episodic nature, time concerns, back stories removed, the pressure to convert the arc properly for a younger audience and the cost of getting Ashley Johnson for more than 5-6 episodes).

Having read the Doom Patrol/Brotherhood return arc you speak of, it's a decent comparison. At least, it wrapped up characters and concepts that were originally ended in the late 60's and matured Beast Boy in a more serious way than his time with Terra did. (The 2003 animated series loosely based Season 5 on this, combining with Titans Hunt.) And yet, back to the subversion, and I'm sure to snark on Kitty Pryde, as X-Men was the New Teen Titans' main competition (even though, they did do a later crossover).

As for the living prop argument, Terra wasn't the worst, IMO, as consider Grant Wilson (his death jump-started everything and was only around for two issues) and, worst of all, Raven. If you channel your criticism on Wolfman's early writing toward her, then I'd be lot more sympathetic. (As it is, Len Wein mandated Raven, as Wolfman originally didn't want a magical character, as "too much female Phantom Stranger.") This is why I can see why people prefer her 2003 animated version, though, she has her problems, too (her epic sarcasm addiction and her standoffish personality). Reading her early issues can be rather depressing, and again, I can see why people would prefer the Animated, especially when dealing with the Trigon influence issue (the animated series did it once a season or less vs. the comic addressing the matter nearly every other issue). And that's not getting into the 90's with Evil Raven and Wolfman's self-admitted brain fog and what we got from editors like Jonathan Peterson.

His more recent efforts with Raven haven't been as bad (the 2009 mini-series) and even somewhat interesting (he undid Raven's "birth by rape" origin in New 52 by making Arella/Trigon fully consensual), and he'll try again for next year's Raven mini-series. Hopefully, Wolfman will learn his lesson with her. We'll see.

I can't stand soap operas and shows like CSI and Law&Order (not to mention similar series set in the same fictional universe) myself, never really saw what people like in them. At any rate, I think the key to finally produce something like Judas Contract: Part 2 in order to close the door on that piece of history lies in not only the blank space between Terra's birth and her first appearance in the NTT strip, but also finding out whatever happened to both her mom and Brion's mom (remember, they're only half-siblings).

As for Raven's recent resurrection and the headaches that creates, I think the problem lies with DC's inability to properly get their fallen heroes out of the muck, either their wiped squeaky-clean or the muck remains dried on them for all to see.

As for the Kitty Pryde comparison, I'm more and more inclined to believe that in her pre-Excaliber days she's more like a Creator's Pet than an actual hero. Call me old-fashioned if you must, but I prefer the Original 5 X-Men and their friends Havok and Polaris to Claremont's pack of international hoodlums that joined up during Giant-Sized X-Men, at least until they matured and had a couple years worth of good stories and personality upgrades under their belts.

yes, It is not so much the characters, because they are just tools in the hands of the creators.

toronto magician

While I mostly see the points in these statements, one thing that people constantly get wrong, INCLUDING the "Histories of Things to Come" Blog is the double standard for Terra as compared to Raven and Rose Wilson. Such as saying things like "Terra had no choice" and other such "millennial nonsense" as some I know like to call it. If anything Rose and Raven had LESS of a choice as compared to Terra [it's kinda stupid to put "soul/mind control-destiny" under "convinced by a guy" in the actions-and-consequences ladder]. While it's true that she was convinced by Deathstroke to work for him...in the end it was her personal choice. But that of course doesn't excuse the living prop arguments and "lack of reconstruction after aversion or deconstruction" arguments, which are far stronger standpoints in my opinion.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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