This particular issue, New Teen Titans #34, was the big reveal, the "holy shit!" issue where readers learned the shocking truth about Terra, the annoying buck-toothed heroine with the Prince Valiant haircut who was inducted into the ranks of the Titans - she was Amish! No, wait - she was a traitor, a mole planted on the Titans' by their mortal enemy Deathstroke the Terminator.
I love this storyline because I got to experience it in real time as it unfolded every month. I’ve already extolled the virtues of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s densely packed, more superhero for your buck run on Titans and how the colorful and shiny cast of DC heroes was a perfect counter-balance to all the Marvel books I was getting at the time. I got hooked on the issue where the young heroes battle giant animated Hindu statues in the snow and had to get every issue thereafter.
Terra Markov was a brash heroine with a boulder/chip on her shoulder who could telekinetically manipulate rock and earth – the perfect character for artist George Perez, the master of drawing rubble. For several issues she bitched and whined and tried to worm her way on to the Titans roster, until she finally proves herself in a (staged) battle with Deathstroke in this issue.
I dig Terra's powers - they look great - but I'm not a huge fan of the character herself, and this issue just confirmed that Young Dave was right to not like her! Vindicated!
Anyway, after seemingly vanquishing Deathstroker (that's a dumb pun, not a typo), the rest of the Titans decide to invite Terra to join their special club.
The Titans were perhaps not the most sensitive peer group. Terra’s hard luck story about being raised by terrorists falls on deaf ears among the team, who each have traumatic histories that would put most people in therapy. Here they blow off Terra’s attempts at inducing sympathy:
“Big fucking deal, girl. I got all burnt and exploded and now look at me – I’m a goddamn robot. I’m all hideous and shit.”
“I sympathize, Terra, but my father is a demon lord and I occasionally grow extra eyes on my forehead and try to kill my friends. Beat that.”
“I’m a total fox, but I have like, twenty different origins and I’m in love with a red-haired loser with a beard. A beard.”
“I was a slave for years and I have no pupils. I also trip over my hair all the damn time. Then again, I'm stacked.”
“I have green skin and hair and have to wear this red and white outfit. Plus: no penis."
“Two Face killed my parents and I wear bikini bottoms. And I grew up in a cave full of goddamn bats and a psycho drill sergeant surrogate father who regularly thrust me into combat unarmed against people with guns. Every other night I got knocked out or tied up or strapped to a giant cue ball. So I ain’t trying to hear that shit you're talking.”
“I’m a Republican.”
Nope, not a lot of empathy for the buck-toothed rock girl in Titans Tower.
The other thing that this issue had going for it was Deathstroke the Terminator, one of the coolest villains ever, a man who dresses in blue and orange and somehow makes it work; a man with perfectly good eyesight who covers up one eye because it wouldn't be fair to his opponents if he used two; a man who sports a DC Beard (see Green Arrow, Warlord) when he's not in costume; a man with not one but three kick-ass names (Deathstroke/The Terminator/Slade); a man who uses 90% of his brain at all times because it wouldn't be sporting to use the full 100%. He is perhaps the most bad-ass villain in the DC Universe this side of Kobra - and he knows it.
At this point in the Titans Timeline he is just referred to as The Terminator. I'm not sure where he picked up the "Deathstroke" handle. Prison? Don't judge, man, we all do what we have to in order to survive.
Anyway, it turns out Deathstroke is the chief architect behind the whole Judas Contract plot, which doesn't really pan out in the end, but must have seemed like a good idea at the time. I'm just glad it was Deathstroke and not somebody lame like Clock King. I won't even mention his prison name.
Man, DC was firing on all cylinders in the Eighties. If you'll notice in the barcode box on the cover, they attempted a rebranding. They were "The New DC" and there was "no stopping them now!" I'm glad they settled on that slogan as opposed to some of their other attempts at hip, edgy branding:
Yeah, maybe a little too agressive...