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TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT REVIEW

 

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Posted April 20, 2017 by

Starring: Miguel Ferrer, Sean Maher, Christina Ricci, Meg Foster, Kevin Smith, Stuart Allan, Jake T. Austin, Taissa Farmiga
Written by: Ernie Altbacker, Marv Wolfman, George Perez
Directed by: Sam Liu
Rated: PG-13
Run Time: 84 minutes

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!

First up, I am not a DC Comics fan. So after watching Justice League Dark and seeing the first look at Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, I was intrigued. To hear that this was one of the most revered comic book stories of its day had me excited for it. I even thought about seeking out a trade paperback of the original tale. What I am a fan of is DC’s animated universe. I believe I have seen everyone and certainly every title that has emerged since DC established a new voice cast for the Justice League. Yes, the cast that replaces Kevin Conroy as Batman with James O’Mara. This new era of Justice League voice actors and stories has included the Teen Titans. I enjoyed Justice League vs. Teen Titans, so I was ready for another round with the Titans.

Sadly, this was a mess of an adventure.

From the get go, one should not be looking up when Twitter was founded after Beast Boy establishes his fascination with the new social media tool. Why would I look this up (it’s 2006 FYI) because this story opens with the titles “ FIVE YEARS AGO”. So does this establish the current story actually taking place in 2011? It sounds odd but when we are out of the flashback, Robin (better yet Damian Wayne) talks about how hard it was for him to join the team to Terra, the newest member. Another big issue with the flashback is that it only establishes the moment/ incident that Starfire meets/ joins the Teen Titans. The villains from the flashback have no connection to the story’s present course of events. So was this just to establish that Beast Boy really likes Twitter?


The story of “The Judas Contract” is littered with plot holes, character inconsistencies, and at times feels inconsequential to the overall DC Universe. There is a religious cult of villains who want to take over the world with their leader Brother Blood being the main bad guy. His overall bad guy arc is to suck the powers from all the Titans, via a transfer device, and ascend from human to God in his cult, then, of course, conquer the world. Brother Blood feels and looks like a religious fanatic, but I just kept thinking that this “F” list villain would have been a lunch break for the likes of the Justice League (or even Batman) with 5 minutes to spare. Are we really to believe that there are villains that are so coy that they fall outside of the Justice League’s radar and the B-team, the Teen Titans, are to handle them? In short, the threat felt lame.

“The Judas Contract”, specifically, deals with one member of the Titans betraying the team. When it is revealed, it is really no surprise. However what it is a surprise is the amount of ickiness that transpires between this teenager and the villain she is in co-hoots with, Deathstroke. He has to be like, what, 50 years old and they have the turncoat in her lingerie throwing herself at him. He actually promises to made good on this after their mission is finished. I was glad that I told my 9-year-old nephew the film was PG-13 and that I should watch it first before he can see it.
One aspect of “The Judas Contract” that is part of the Titans’ overall story is the personal relationship between Starfire and Nightwing. They are in moving in together, so we are forced to deal with jokes and sexual nuances that would best be accompanied by Beast Boy saying “That’s what she said” or “That’s what he said”. Another sore thumb that kept sticking out is the sexualization of Starfire. She wears practically nothing, but they still kept blatantly putting in rear and cleavage shots. I thought there was a new found respect for female Comic Book heroes? To turn that point on its ear, how come Starfire wears next to nothing while she battles bad guys, but at home wears jeans and a sweatshirt? Usually, your home attire is more relaxed, but in relation to her work “uniform”, one would think Starfire would walk around naked in her own apartment.


The last thing I will bitch about is Brother Blood’s transference of the Titans’ powers. He becomes this amalgamation of them and has their abilities. Nightwing arrives and releases the Titans. A quick battle takes place where the “super powered” members battle Brother Blood, where Nightwing and Robin go toe to toe with Deathstroke. Funny how that always works out that way. It is practically a given in the comic book universe during giant combat scenes. What I had a problem with his that the Titans are already back to full strength and ready to fight after being drained. How could this be after the power transfer?  Furthermore, Blue Beetle’s powers come from the Scarab, yet Brother Blood somehow develops his own?!

Perhaps I should have read the original story by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. Then again, aren’t these stories supposed to be for the masses and new fans to come in fresh? Warner Brothers had to establish a strange and unnecessary backstory for “The Killing Joke”, so why not with this one? Oh, and I would not be a card carrying geek if I didn’t point out the odd Kevin Smith cameo. I liked where it ended up, especially with Beast Boy, but to have him appear at a comic con with his own daughter’s namesake walking around in the background was too “Meta”. So in this universe, does Kevin Smith have a daughter named after a psychotic killer that is a chief henchman of The Joker? This is just one more thing, you have to scratch your noggin about while watching Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, when all you’ll really care about is watching the tease for “Batman and Harley Quinn” in the special features.

Blu-Ray Extras

Sneak Peek at at the next DC Universe Original Movie, Batman and Harley Quinn, featuring the talented creators and voice cast. (9:08)

Titanic Minds: Wolfman and Perez: This revealing documentary explores a creative partnership that has lasted decades as Marv Wolfman and George Pérez come together to discuss their careers and one of the most famous runs in Teen Titan history, The Judas Contract. (27:00)

Villains Rising—Deathstroke: When the super-soldier Deathstroke appears, the forces of good will be in the fight of their lives. This short featurette reveals the origin and unique abilities of this villain. (9:00)

From the DC Comics Vault – Two Bonus Cartoons from the Teen Titans animated series


Robert Trate

 
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Columnist and Critic for Action Figure Junkies and Cinema-Stache. Jedi Knight and friend to Captain Solo. Co-Host on Megapodzilla.


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