This isn’t the eighties comic nor the mid 2000’s animted series very PG stab at it. This is isn’t a version of the nu52 anymore this is………………………
Okay so I’ve spent a long time telling you what this movie isn’t and maybe I should explain why. See shortly after DC started turning out animated motion pictures based on their biggest stars and story line Bruce Timm always wanted to take a stab at ‘The Judas Contract’ a stand out story line from the eighties. Because of various reasons he never got that chance until today where the story had been rolled into the new DC animated universe that started as a paint by numbers repeat of the nu52 comic line until that went belly up about three movies in and WB animated aren’t ambitious or crazy enough to try and lead straight into a ‘rebirth’ run on their twice a year motion pictures. Hence they did what they could to salvage the universe and the characters inside it adapting story lines and team ups, reworking the dialogue, story lines and characters until they had something that actually made sense. Where does that leave us? Well with ‘The Judas Contract’ and hour and some odd minutes follow up to last years ‘Justice League vs. Teen Titans’. Here they will face the evil machinations of Brother Blood a cult leader out to take over the world.
Except the story isn’t really about him. It’s more to do with the man he has hired to see that the Titans don’t get in his way a man known as Deathstroke the Terminator, still alive after ‘Son of Batman’ though now voiced by Miguel Ferrer. Though you could argue the story isn’t about him either, at least this time, as we ditch his backstory and family ties to spend even more time with the mole he has placed inside the group; a mole known as Terra Markov. She’s spent a year with the team getting to know them and worm herself into their confidence (terribly I might add) and now it’s time to strike.
So for those of you who want an animated version of the original tale like we got with ‘New Frontier’ or ‘All Star Superman’ well tough luck. Though truth be told you’re not too far off. Sure Jericho is shot before we can start and the team is different but a lot remains the same. Shots feel lifted from my hazy recollection of the original; from the present left for Kori to Slade swinging in through Dick Grayson’s window. Yeah they change things and sometimes for no real reason at all, like Dick busting a shoulder on the way down the outside of his apartment block rather than his ankle but too much stays the same; from the design of the machine at the end to the “partnership” between Terra and Slade. Though it’s interesting that this time round we have a more manipulative Slade who manages to feel like he’s using her rather than a Slade who feels like he’s “using” her. Though that could be my own interpretation of events.
Terra herself isn’t quite true to form and feels like a half way point between her original appearance and Teen Titans the animated series. They create a far more nuanced character with backstory and all and that makes her slightly less interesting for me. She’s too dickish to route for and too tortured to really hate. Fortunately the rest of the Titans are here to pick up the slack character wise.
So for those of you who have no idea about the original comic and are actually getting into this new DC animated Universe here’s why you should get this one. The Titans were all a little one note last time aside from Damian and Raven who was rerunning every story line he has ever had. Here however we get to see some of Dick and Kori’s background including a five minute flashback at the start of the series soley to set up the two of them and rope in two Young Justice members to warm up their vocal cords before they start back up again with season 3. Oh and to show they have a black person on the team. In the present Damian is absent for much of the run and so we get to spend some time with Jamie aka the Blue Beetle and Gar Logan aka Beast Boy who manages to work as a fairly decent example of show don’t tell or as close as we may get from a super heroic animated movie. There since the beginning and yet still a second rung member obsessed with bad puns, selfies and tweeting. Some might decry this version of Beast Boy and yet it rings fairly true to the on I remember from the comics.
Though most interesting might be who’s not in the movie. Yep theres not a peep from Batman in this one not even a mention of Wayne Enterprises. Though for those of you who may think this is going a bit far you’ll be pleased to know that Kevin Conroy will be teaming up with Harley Quinn for the next one.
Until then this is a fairly good addition to the world DC is building here. Not their best DVD out there but a long way from the worlds beginning in ‘Justice League: War’. Though that does reaise the question. Does this mean that the teen sidekicks were a team even before the Justice League in this reality?