Teen Titans: The Judas Contract Adapts Classic Comic into Current DCAU Continuity

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Teen Titans: The Judas Contract

Marv Wolfman and George Perez's NEW TEEN TITANS: THE JUDAS CONTRACT is one of the seminal stories in comics history. Not just a four-part tale, the story served as an endcap to a long-running plot, revealing that one of the Teen Titans had actually been operating undercover as a spy for Deathstroke, the Terminator.

While this story couldn't be captured accurately in the DC Animated Universe, writer Ernie Altbacker and director Sam Liu came as darn close as they could to the feel of that story and its touchstones, while also staying true to the established DCAU continuity.

The film opens with a vignette of the original Teen Titans: Robin (the Dick Grayson incarnation), Speedy and Kid Flash, with Beast Boy and Bumblebee taking the places of Aqualad and Wonder Girl. The scene details their first encounter with Starfire as they find her in battle with aliens. It's also the first kiss between Robin and Starfire, since Tamaranians absorb language through kissing.

We then flash forward to the new Teen Titans (although they don't use the "new" in their title). Starfire (voiced by KARI WAHLGREN) is the leader of the group, but Nightwing (SEAN MAHER) has been around a lot, and while he doesn't mean to undermine her authority, the team naturally looks to him for leadership. Nevertheless, they're both the adult members of the team, comprised of the new Robin (STUART ALLAN), Blue Beetle (JAKE T. AUSTIN), Raven (TAISSA FARMIGA), Beat Boy (BRANDON SOO HOO), and newest member, Tara Markov, aka Terra (CHRISTINA RICCI). Terra is a loner, which the team is used to -- they were all loners when they came to the Titans, with their own sets of problems, until they learned to trust and become family. Beast Boy relates this to Terra explaining that it's the hardships that make a hero, forming them into a diamond or crushing them.

But Beast Boy -- in fact, none of the Titans -- know just how broken Terra already is. In this story, she's been with the Titans for exactly one year, gathering information on them for Deathstroke (MIGUEL FERRER), who in turn has been gathering it for Brother Blood (Gregg Henry), who has contracted Deathstroke to capture all of the Titans for his own pseudo-science purposes. One by one, traps are sprung for the unsuspecting Titans until they're all captured and at the mercy of Brother Blood.

The adaptation has plenty of good points to it. The humor in places is definitely more mature, and there's an underlying sensitivity to the whole thread that culiminates in Beast Boy's interview with Kevin Smith (played by himself), giving a layer of depth to the animated version of the character. The writers also artfully avoided -- while still acknowledging -- the controversial implication of the relationship between Deathstroke and Terra that was seen in the comics. Here, while we still see the unforgettable nightgown and overdone makeup scene, it's a situation where the dynamic is altogether different.

Extra-bonus: Get the Blue Beetle figure with the Blu-ray / DVD / Digital release!

The battle with Brother Blood is a bit derivative of the Justice League vs. Amazo, as Brother Blood finds himself imbued with the powers of all the Titans. But it's this battle where other layers of betrayal come to light, and the turning point is reached that brings everything to its inevitable tragic conclusion, ending with an anticlimax that promises more to come with the Teen Titans facet of the DCAU, including the addition of a "wonderful" new Teen Titan to the mix.

This release includes a sneak peek at the next DCAU feature, BATMAN AND HARLEY QUINN, with classic BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES stars KEVIN CONROY and LOREN LESTER as Batman and Nightwing, joined by THE BIG BANG THEORY's MELISSA RAUSCH as Harley Quinn. The completed scenes look very much like B:TAS, which shouldn't be a surprise with Bruce Timm on board. However, it's very much divergent, and has some themes that would never have flown on the all-ages cartoon series.

On the Blu-ray portion only, you will also get an interview bringing together Marv Wolfman and George Perez to retell the origins of the story, a featurette focused on Deathstroke, and two classic bonus cartoon shorts.

Grade: 
4.5 / 5.0