New Teen Titans 42-44 and Annual 3

Betrayal Among The Titans As Nightwing Is Born!

If writer Marv Wolfman was cooking, this would be a slow boil beginning - no fight scenes or heavy drama. It's an effective starting point that gives the reader an opportunity to relate to the Titan's, not as masked heroes, but regular people. It also shows Tara taking pictures of her teammates every so often - I just don't know exactly how. Here eye is shown then the next panel is a camera aperture with a 'click' sound. Is the camera implanted in Tara's eye?

The panel below shows a detail that has stuck with me since I first read this in the 80s. The raft. The sleek, plain metal raft that Tara is standing on. Such a  minor piece of technology - Reed Richards could probably build one of those during his lunch hour - but so impressionable. It is the paucity of these seemingly small details in both art and script and the way they add up to a coherent whole  that makes the Wolfman/Perez  Titan run  the standard to which all subsequent (and previous) Titan books are held up to.


The romance between Gar and Tara has been building up for some time now and is foundational to the emotional heft of the Judas Contract storyline


Back in costume, Cyborg is shown during a workout session. I've always wondered about this guy's strength class. I've always assumed he was stronger than Spider-Man but weaker than the Thing, but he seems very strong here.


Who's the better fighter? Starfire or Wonder Girl. And the answer is . . .


I love it when these 'who's better' questions get resolved. Don't you?

This first issue of the arc is definitely the calm before the storm and is a great setup issue for what's to come. I can actually sense a kind of rhythm in this storyline. If this issue was a drum solo it would begin with soft, muted drums, beats spaced very far from each other. As we come to the end, the beats come closer to each other as Wolfman builds steadily and never drops the subtle tension that becomes the springboard for the second issue of the arc.

Tales of The Teen Titans 43

Cover Date : June 1984 | Writer : Marv Wolfman | Penciller: George Perez
Inkers : Dick Giordano and Mike DeCarlo | Letterer : Ben Oda | Colorist : Adrienne Roy
Editors : Marv Wolfman and George Perez

In contrast to the structure of the first issue, which was a gradual buildup, Marv Wolfman throws us right in the middle of the action in this issue.

The story begins with an attack on an out-of-costume Dick Grayson. I simply love the way Robin handles this situation - skilled and smart. When he moves on to some detective work that uncovers what happened to the other Titans,  I swear I could see the heir of Batman in action

Tales of The Teen Titans 44

Cover Date : July 1984 | Writer : Marv Wolfman | Penciller: George Perez
Inkers : Dick Giordano and Mike DeCarlo | Letterer : Todd Klein | Colorist : Adrienne Roy
Editors : Marv Wolfman and George Perez

The issue begins with the origin of Deathstroke the Terminator! Do not miss.

As I mentioned. I read this back in the 80's and this scene has always stuck with me somehow. Just wanted to share it.

Deathstroke's son, Joey, gets kidnapped and held at knifepoint. Deathstroke, ever the believer in his own skill, launches into action. I love how Perez gets across that this guy is absolutely lethal!

Oh yeah, last but not least : The end of Robin and the introduction of Nightwing!

Tales of The Teen Titans Annual 3

Cover Date : July 1984 | Writer : Marv Wolfman | Penciller: George Perez
Inkers : Dick Giordano and Mike DeCarlo | Letterer : Ben Oda | Colorist : Adrienne Roy
Editors : Marv Wolfman and George Perez

With most of the Titans captured, this issue starts with an infiltration attempt at H.I.V.E headquarters by the intrepid Robin and Jericho. The attempt looks to be a success until they encounter Terra.

Here's a revelation. Terra and Deathstroke are lovers.

The next twist in the plot reminds me of E.M. Forster.  E. M. Forster wrote these novels which go along pretty smoothly until a coincidence is introduced that skews the tale into new and interesting paths. Marv Wolfman does that here by having Deathstroke be surprised that one of the H.I.V.E. captives is his son, Jericho. Now it gets interesting.

This is a great one page splash of the Titans escaping from H.I.V.E.

Nightwing doesn't use a batarang, he uses a Frisbee-like object.

Now that we've finished the fourth and last issue in the 'Judas Contract' story arc, let's disentangle ourselves from the details and move back a bit. Far enough to see how Marv Wolfman has divided the story between all four issues

The first part of the story in issue 42 introduces us to the betrayal. Much like throwing a pebble into a still pond, there are ripples, but nothing violent - it's a placid issue but there is a slow buildup of tension underneath it all. 43 is the explosion. Not a natural progression from 42. The slow pacing of that issue is thrown out the window as if it never was. In 43 we are punching, kicking, running. The change of pace is abrupt, brilliant and delightful. 44 finds our heroes down but not out. The tension from 43 is in the background but the pace slows down a bit for some much needed explanatory flashbacks. Changes and additions are made. By the end of 44, this being the penultimate issue in the arc, we know that the wrap up happens in annual 3. From the relative quiet of 44 we take a deep breath and dive in. As expected, annual 3 is action and revelation taking us to the slam bang ending

Look at the structure, look at how wonderful it is. The pace is slow, fast, slow, fast so delightfully simple and effective

For those who've read it before, the tale is worth a reread, several actually. For those who haven't read the Judas Contract before, this is worth a look.

Posted by  Pete Albano - December 1,  2010 / Updated March 6, 2011

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