Category Archives: DC Comics

Sandman (2022): A Review

For the first time in a long time, I found myself enjoying a new series. That series being the recently released The Sandman series on Netflix. Going into this series, I was pretty hopeful. And having read the first two volumes, which this season covers, I can honestly say it was a pretty faithful adaptation.

Since this show is still relatively new, I will avoid spoilers as much as possible. But in any case, POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD.

The Synopsis

When Morpheus, better known as the Sandman and Dream, is captured in an attempt to resurrect a man’s son, he spends the better part of a century (one hundred and five years to be exact) trapped and without his tools. Upon his release, Morpheus is on a mission to retrieve what was stolen from him and get revenge.

Along the way, he will return to his home in the Dream World, meet Matthew, his new raven companion, and visit Lucifer Morningstar as he retrieves what was once lost. And as the dust settles, he will be reunited with his sister, the ever charming and insightful, Death and learns of someone known as The Vortex, which could prove catastrophic if not approached accordingly.

This first season covers the first two volumes of The Sandman series, Preludes and Nocturnes and The Dollhouse.

Positives

When it comes to positives, I think there are quite a few. The most significant for me being, the story, the characters, the casting, and how it translated as an adaptation.

I also like the darker fantasy tone it had. As someone who enjoys fantasy, it’s always nice to fins a good series, book, or what have you in this genre. And The Sandman does that really well for me.

Its also worth noting that Neil Gaiman, the creator of The Sandman comics. So while I do think they did really well adapting it, it’s neat that Neil Gaiman did have a hand in the production. So I would hope he enjoyed how the show came out.

The Story

As a story, The Sandman is an intriguing one. The idea of the personifications of things like dream, death, desire, despair, delirium, destiny, and destruction living among us is a concept that can certainly create some interesting and philosophical story. And it was.

In general, what I think this season did really well was the approach and set up. It sets up the world and characters well. It knew what it wanted to do with it’s story and setting and did it in a way that I felt was well executed.

As an adaptation of the first two volumes of the comic, I think it did really well. While Neil Gaiman had a hand in it’s production, it was able to, not only tell the story pretty accurately, but have necessary changes and additions that worked.

The Characters

The characters were also interesting. Each one having their own story to tell. There’s Rose, who’s looking to find her brother after they were separated when they were younger, Doctor Destiny (a.k.a. John Dee), who, after escaping an Asylum, wants “everyone to live with their truth” and for a “more honest” world, and Corinthian, who wants to be his own person and prevent Morpheus from stopping him. Though not all of the characters we get to see outside of The Endless, these are just a few examples.

While only four of the seven Endless (the group of entities that Morpheus is apart of) appear in this season, they were all unique and fit what they personify well. Morpheus takes his job as the ruler of dreams very seriously, knowing how it effects the waking world and how destructive the lose of it can be.

Desire, though not appearing as often as Morpheus, makes a great impression and sets up what to expect with their relationship with Morpheus. As well as their twin Despair, who does make a brief appearance. Should a season 2 get green lit, which I’m confident will happen, I feel that these two will get a lot more attention and development.

And then there’s Death, the oldest Endless introduces thus far, and the second eldest over all. She was the one that Alex Burgess was looking to capture when he got Mopheus instead.

Casting

I do believe that the casting choices were great. I know casting can cause debate on initial reveal and sometimes after, but I think that the casting choices were good. Some of my favorites include Mason Alexander Park as Desire, David Thewlis as Doctor Destiny, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death, Vivienne Acheampong as Lucienne, and Gwendoline Christie as Lucifer. Tom Sturridge also pulls off Morpheus really well. Not only in appearance, but in voice too. He sounded how I would expect Morpheus to, so I really enjoyed his portrayal.

And of course, there are other casting choices I thought were really well too. Even in voice work like Patton Oswald as Matthew the raven and Mark Hamil as Merv Pumpkinhead.

Overall, I do think that the casting choice was good. It’s also pretty diverse, which I think is pretty cool. I also think it works. For instance, with Desire being very ambiguous as far as their identity (in the comics Desire is often referred to as sibling). So casting Mason Alexander Park (They/Them) in the role, I feel was a good choice. Plus, I really think they bring a real charm to the character, and I can’t wait to see how the character develops from here (Death too, because I really want to see more of her too).

Critiques

I don’t really have that many negatives for this season. However, while I might think this show is really good and a great adaptation, I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s flawless. That said, my critiques are very minute.

One being that I feel like it could have been an episode or two longer. It might not need it, but I feel like another episode or two would be a nice way to help develop things a little further. That’s not to say I think it’s rushed, which I don’t. I just feel that there could have been an episode that made helps explore Desire a little (without giving too much away), and maybe an episode that explored Rose and Jed Walker past a little more. Again, not exactly necessary, but something. Plus, Desire will probably get more development and screen time in later seasons.

That’s all I can really think of as far as critiques. I suppose upon a rewatch, I might find something else. However, I don’t really have many critiques of the show at this time.

Conclusion

I would give this show a ninety percent. I do think they did a great job adapting the first two volumes of Neil Gaiman’s iconic comic. The casting and characters were great, the story was told really well, and it has an aesthetic that really fits this gothic, horror fantasy. The effects were also really good too. And while it might have one or two flaws in the form of maybe being a little longer, overall, I think this is a really good show and I would recommend it.

Of course, I know it might not be a show for everyone, which is fine. The comic and the Netflix adaptation are a bit dark (I’ve heard that the diner scene was kind of unsettling for one or two people), so I wouldn’t expect it to be for everyone. However, if you are looking for something a little different and/or a dark fantasy, I would recommend it.

With that said, I leave you with the following questions: Have you seen the show yet? If so, what were your thoughts? Are you planning to watch it? Since it’s pretty much a guarantee that a second season will be made, what are some of your hopes going into it? Do you think it will, or should, cover the next two volumes (Dream County and Seasons of Mist)? If you have read the comics, do you think it was a good/faithful adaptation?

My Hopes/Expectations For Netflix’s Sandman Adaptation

What if I told you I only recently got into Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series? Much like Watchmen, Sandman was a series I always know about, but never got into it when I was younger. It wasn’t until I finally started getting into graphic novels/comics and after I was given a recommendation that I checked out both. Watchmen has become one of my favorite comics and I am steadily making my way through Sandman (I’m currently two volumes in and own the first six with plans to get the entire series) and I am enjoying it.

With Netflix’s adaptation coming up fast, I thought I would take a moment to discuss a couple of hopes/expectations I have going into the series. Three to be exact. I plan to watch the series when it’s released, since I am interested in it and it’s one show I am excited to watch. Whether I watch a few episodes a day or binge the entire season in one, we’ll see.

Following the Comic as Closely as Possible, While Still Adding Its Own Flair

When it comes to adaptations, creative liberties are expected and usually fine. Sometimes things get cut or added for the sake of adaptation. And sometimes somethings are tweaked.

For example, Peter Jackson removing the scenes Tom Bombadil when making the Lord of the Rings trilogy. While a case could be made that he should have been left in the movie, since he was where the Hobbits got Bill the horse, I don’t think cutting Tom Bombadil was a bad call. Especially since he didn’t really return after his appearance in Fellowship of the Ring.

Back to Sandman, I do think it should follow along with the comic. Not to a tee perhaps, but still following along as close as possible. It would appear that the first season will follow the first two volumes (Preludes & Nocturnes and The Doll House) and is planned to be a faithful adaptation with a few tweaks (ex. the series taking place in 2021 as opposed to 1989 and Morpheus/Dream being imprisoned for 105 years as opposed to 75). And with Neil Gaiman having a hand in this series, I’m sure he will approve of the direction this series takes.

All and all, I am hopeful that this will be a pretty faithful adaptation with tweaks and creative liberties taken as needed.

Good Special Effects When Needed.

Special effects and CGI are things that can be either really good or really bad depending on the execution. For instance, The Mummy Returns is known for its dated CGI, specifically when it came to the Scorpion King, while Lord of the Rings, which used practical and special effects, would be considered a good use of special effects and CGI.

While I may not be trained in using CGI and the like, as a viewer, I do know how bad effects can ruin or diminish the quality of a property. Put it simply, I would hope for good special effects as well as it not being overly used. I know that the series would need special effects given the nature of the series, but that doesn’t mean it needs to rely too heavily on it. So long as it’s presentable and not too heavily relied on, I think that will be okay.

A Good Time Viewing

As odd as it might sound, so long as it’s a fun/enjoyable time. Granted, the series does tackle some grim/dark topics, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyed. So long as it is done well and in a way that can be enjoyed, that’s all I can ask for.

I know some of it’s topics won’t be for everyone, which is okay. I wouldn’t expect it to be. I would just hope it tackles everything in a good and tactful way.

And even if it is dark, I think that’s something that should be explored. Not every show will have themes and stories that are positive. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be good or positive moments (I do feel like Death will have a few of these), just that it shouldn’t be afraid to tackle some of the darker themes and stories from the comics.

And even though I think this can, and likely will, take a darker tone thematically, that doesn’t mean it won’t have positive or good moments. Shows can mix positive and negative traits. Some shows just might lean on some more than others, with sprinkled in aspects of the other, while other shows balance the two. So long as it is well written, it can be enjoyable.

Conclusion

I know open the floor up to you. Are you excited for The Sandman? Are there any expectations you have for the show? Is there a character, or characters, you can’t wait to see brought to life? Are there any series you’d like to see get adaptation into a televised/animated series?

Sources

Teen Titans (2003) vs The Judas Contract (2017): Teen Titans Most Divisive Arc and How the Animated Series Did it Better.

For anyone who is familiar with Teen Titans, this is a notorious arc. Acting as a sort of climax for Slade get revenge on the Titans for the death of his son Grant (who’s death was caused by trying and failing to mimic the experiment that gave Slade his enhanced abilities), The Judas Contract would go down as an iconic and controversial arc. This is an arc that has been adapted three times (three and three quarters if you want to include Jericho and Slade’s backstory in Titans and Terra having traitorous/evil tendencies in Teen Titans GO!), in Teen Titans (2003), Young Justice, and the 2017 animated movie of the same name.

I want to discuss the Teen Titans adaptation of this story that took place over the course of its second season as well as the 2017 animated movie. Both tell the same story, but one was geared more towards a younger demographic and the other rated more so for adults. However, I would argue that the 2003 adaptation was a much better than the 2017 movie. But before I do, allow me to take a moment to discuss what made The Judas Contract controversial as well as my general thoughts on the story and how these adaptations where different.

Why So Controversial?

The reason that this particular arc has garnered it’s questionable reputation was for the relationship between Terra and Slade “Deathstroke” Wilson. Mostly the fact that a grown man was having a relationship with a teenager. While I cannot speak in depth about the reasons behind it, I know that Wolfman and Pérez (rest in peace) did decide to go with it to shock readers. They did want to go with Terra as the traitor of the group, which I can understand. Some of the choices made with it, like the relationship and her appearance when with him, not so much.

My General Thoughts on The Judas Contract

While I certainly agree that the Terra and Slade relationship was questionable at best, to put it mildly, I don’t think it was a completely terrible story. And while I would consider Deathstroke as one of my favorite DC villains, Ra’s al Ghul being my all time favorite DC villain, I won’t defend the relationship between him and Terra. I don’t think it should be, and I assume Wolfman and Pérez wouldn’t either (even if they have said it was meant to be as shocking as possible). I definitely think it’s one of those arcs that has historical importance in some ways, even if it isn’t a good story.

What I liked about Judas Contract was the fact it was Nightwing’s debut, it expanded on Deathstroke’s backstory and family, and introduced one of my favorite comic book characters in the form of Joey “Jericho” Wilson. I don’t think I’m wrong in saying that Nightwing is iconic and a fan favorite, who needed a proper introduction, even if it was here. And Jericho is an LGBTQ+ character (currently bisexual), so I wouldn’t want to scrap this story and potentially scrap what would become representation later on (the thought about making Jericho gay, but ultimately didn’t due to him potentially coming off as a stereotype). Because of that, I don’t think Judas Contract was a total loss.

Teen Titans vs The Judas Contract: What Were the Differences?

The biggest differences these adaptations had, was the target audience. Teen Titans was created for a much younger audience, as such, a lot of the more mature aspects of Terra and Slade’s relationship had to be censored. Instead of making her a traitor from the get go, she was conned into going to Slade for help controlling her powers and betrayed the Titans because of him manipulated her into becoming his apprentice.

The Judas Contract movie was more so geared towards an older audience, as it had a PG-13 rating. It tried to follow the basic structure of the comic, but in the animated universe where Damian was Robin, Dick was already established as Nightwing, and the Titans consisting of Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle (Jamie Reyes), Terra, and the aforementioned Nightwing and Robin. It also mixed in the rivalry between Robin and Deathstroke, which had been established in Son of Batman, which is one thing I was never really a fan of, but I’ll get to that later. The only thing it didn’t include from the comics was Grant, Slade’s eldest son who died, and it heavily reduced Jericho’s role.

What I Feel The Judas Contract (2017) Did Wrong

I’ve narrowed down what this movie did wrong to two main reasons: The Deathstroke and Damian rivalry and the reduced role that Jericho played. While I’m wasn’t expecting a frame for frame replication of the comic, and am perfectly okay with taking creative liberties as needed, these are just two reasons that I felt hindered the movie. The latter a bit more so since the movie could have gotten away with telling Jericho’s story in a PG-13 setting when compared to the 2003 animated series.

The Rivalry

Starting off with the Deathstroke and Damian rivalry, I was never really a big fan of it. Granted, it only really appeared in Son of Batman and Judas Contract, but it’s something I felt wasn’t needed and put a bit too much focus on Damian. An issue I feel isn’t one that only I had.

For some movies, I could understand that, like Son of Batman and the Justice League vs the Teen Titans. Others, not so much. This and Batman vs Robin especially. The latter, I feel like should have been focused on Dick more since it dealt with the Court of Owls, which Dick had familial ties with. There’s also the issue of Jason and Tim not being in these movies at all despite the first and fourth (fifth if you include Stephanie) Robin, but that is a completely different issue.

Basically, all the attention Damian was getting was kind of annoying. I know I thought it was, and I kind of doubt I was the only one given how much some people disliked Damian around this time. And maybe still do.

Circling back to the Judas Contract, the reason I found this rivalry’s return bothersome, was for a couple of reasons. Deathstroke feels better suited to be a Nightwing villain and by extent a Batman and this rivalry with Damian, a child (ten to fourteen year old), feels shameless and/or unnecessarily problematic.

Though Deathstroke did start off as a Teen Titans antagonist, with characters who were in there late teens early twenties, once the New Teen Titans came to an end, readers did get to see him make a gradual change to becoming a Nightwing antagonist. And while I wouldn’t necessarily say antagonizing a group of late teens and young adults is much better, the reason why he didn’t like them wasn’t because he felt like a kid showed him up. It was because he blamed the Titans for his son’s (Grant) death.

Shifting from a Nightwing antagonist to a Batman antagonist I can let go for the most part since becoming a Batman antagonist isn’t unfathomable and makes sense. I just think keeping him as a Nightwing rogue just would have been better for Nightwing with his solo picking up in the nineties and Deathstroke feels like he fits into Dick’s rogues gallery.

My issue is with making him an antagonist for Damian. I can see Deathstroke being at odds with the League of Assassins as well as having brief ties to them. However, if DC wanted to have him at odds with the League, I feel like it’s better for him to antagonize Bruce, Talia, or even Ra’s than Damian.

Ra’s because he is the head of the League, both literally and in name (yes, I know Slade killed him in Son of Batman, but given how often Ra’s comes back, I doubt having him and Slade at odds makes sense). Talia, because she is one of the higher members of the League, despite not being next in line due to Ra’s feeling he has to be succeeded by a man (he respects female fighters like Cass Cain, Shiva, and his daughters, so I wouldn’t say he’s sexist so much as he has a traditional way of succession). And Bruce because he is who Ra’s considers as a worthy successor, even if Bruce doesn’t accept the offer.

All three of these characters are adults. And while I wouldn’t say Damian can’t fight Deathstroke, having Deathstroke as an antagonist feels off when you consider Damian in these movies is a tween to early teen. It feels odd that a grown man would be fighting a character around that age because he felt like this tween showed him up and feels like defeating him would give Slade the honor of leading the League.

I also felt like having the two at odds in Judas Contract takes away from the main story. It’ll be going through the motions and then it gets to a scene where it wants to bring up this antagonistic rivalry because Deathstroke wants to get Damian taken care of first and reveal that Terra’s the traitor here.

Jericho

With that said, allow me to jump into Jericho. First by saying, while I don’t mind that they took a few liberties with why Deathstroke was working with Brother Blood and H.I.V.E. I don’t think nixing Jericho’s role should have been one of them. After all, this was Jericho’s origin just as much as it was Nightwing’s and is just as important to the story as Terra’s downfall.

If they didn’t want to throw Grant in the mix, or just forgot about Grant (forgetting about him isn’t hard since he was dead after the first arc of New Teen Titans and never really got the resurrection Jason did) that’s fine. Not being able to work in Slade losing his eye from his now ex-wife Adeline because Damian did, that can be altered as necessary. If they had to alter it so that maybe Slade was working for H.I.V.E. to protect Jericho, that is works.

Do you know what they did? Had Jericho make a brief cameo and never brought up again.

Without writing the entire plot of Judas Contract, I want to take a minute to discuss what made Jericho so important. From who he was related to, what happened to him that caused his parents to split, how important he was to Slade despite the separation, and why they could have used him in the movie.

Jericho was introduced in the Judas Contract after all of the Titans but Dick were captured by H.I.V.E. (Deathstroke assumed Dick wasn’t worth perusing and potentially dead after attacking him while Dick was in retirement). Adeline had managed to get into Titans Tower with her son with the intent of revealing what Deathstroke did, revealing Terra as the traitor, and allowing her son to help rescue the Titans with a now Nightwing Dick Grayson.

During this exchange, readers are introduced to Joseph “Joey” Wilson, Slade’s second son, also known as Jericho. He could not speak, after an accident involving his father (He does use ASL). It’s revealed that Joey was abducted by the target Slade’s client wanted killed. And rather than giving his captor the name of his client due to honoring the integrity of the contract, Slade decides that he can save his son. He does, but because his reaction time was a second slow, Joey’s throat was cut. And while the hospital was able to save his life, it would render him permanently mute (He does get it back when he is possesed by the souls of Azarath and when he is revived in the Geoff Johns Teen Titans run, but it has been permanent with every relaunch). Because of this, and the anger she had towards Slade, Adeline tries to kill him, only being able to shoot his eye out because his reflexes caught on in time.

As I previously mentioned, that could have been altered given Damian was the reason for it. The same thing happened in Arrow with Oliver shooting Slade’s eye out, but I wasn’t not a fan of how they approached Jericho in Arrow for other reasons. In Judas Contract, they could have said that Adeline tried to shoot him, but missed completely or left it at Adeline and Slade divorcing before Jericho left the hospital and Adeline, Joey, and Grant were briefly put into witness protection while they moved.

Jump to the present and Adeline states that she and Joey wish to help. Adeline gives Dick the information he needs while Joey joins Dick as Jericho to help rescue the Titans. It’s also here that readers get a taste for Joey’s powers, which involve him being able to possess and take control of others, as he possess Nightwing to prove it.

They go off to save the Titans, but do end up captured. When they are brought before Slade, Terra, and Brother Blood, Slade is disturbed. This is the first time in years that he had seen his son, who he still loved, and is troubled by the fact that his son as been put into a nostalgic situation. Terra starts to realize that Jericho is Slade’s son, having seen photos of Slade’s family previously.

Jericho, upon regaining consciousness, possesses his father to help free himself and Nightwing as well as working on freeing the Titans. It around this point that Terra, in a deteriorating mental state, starts falling apart and attacks Slade and the Titans. She would ultimately die with Slade surviving and the Titans getting a new member. There is also a brief moment where Jericho feels guilty for hurting his father, who he still very much loved, despite knowing that it had to be done.

Because of this Jericho was crucial to the story. And while Teen Titans 2003 didn’t include Jericho in their Judas Contract arc, it mostly has to do with it being a show geared towards children and wouldn’t have covered half of what the comic did in this arc. Jericho also appeared later in the show and, had they continued, maybe viewers would have gotten something about Jericho and Slade’s relationship.

The Judas Contract movie doesn’t have the same excuse. It was a PG-13 movie and considering that they slipped in the comic version of Slade and Terra’s relationship, they could have easily gone over Jericho’s story. Even if they had to bump it up to an R rating because of the violent nature of Jericho’s accident, it would still be possible.

Keeping Jericho’s appearance to a minimum in the movie undercuts important elements of the comic. I remember seeing a discussion mentioning how both Terra and Jericho were a Judas in the arc. Terra is the Judas of the Titans while Jericho was a Judas against his father. Note: If I happen to find the post I will link it. And again, with Judas Contract being Jericho’s debut, he should have had a bigger role in the movie.

Because of that, I don’t think Judas Contract should have limited Jericho. I feel like including him could have worked if they had to cut some of the Damian and Deathstroke scenes and/or had a longer run time. If run time was an issue than that’s fine, but if that were the case, I do feel like they could have reworked or tweaked the movie a little bit to make it work out.

The character of Joey “Jericho” Wilson shouldn’t have been cut due to how important the character was to the source material it was adapting. It also had the rating to tell Jericho’s story. So I don’t know why they wouldn’t have included it.

With all of that said, allow me to jump into the Teen Titans version of the Judas Contract and what it did better.

What I Feel Teen Titans (2003) Did Right

When it comes to the Teen Titans animated series there a a few things to remember. That is was geared to a younger audience and as such, certain aspects had to be changed. Of course it did have mature moments, like the entirety of the episode Haunted, but there were certain things that they had to censor for the targeted demographic. Some that sound kind of silly in hindsight, like going with Slade instead of Deathstroke (because Deathstroke wasn’t kid friendly), and some censoring that made sense, like the whole relationship between Terra and Slade. That said, Teen Titans 2003 has gone down as a classic Cartoon Network program. As well as one of my favorites. That doesn’t effect why I felt it did the Judas Contract better, as there are episodes and such I can critique like Things Change and Every Dog Has His Day, but I would be lying if I said it wasn’t one of my favorite CN shows then and now.

What I felt season two, the season that focused on Terra and the Judas Contract, did right comes down to three factors: How they approached the Terra and Slade dynamic, Terra’s arc being a refreshing take on the character, and how it approached loss and betrayal.

The Slade and Terra Dynamic

One thing I think I can say most people appreciated is how the dynamic between Slade and Terra was changed. Granted, I never knew about the creepy romantic side of it until I was in my teens, years after the show had ended. That said, knowing that now, I think it was for the better. Not only because it wasn’t appropriate for a younger audience, but because they could still approach Terra joining Slade without it.

Despite it being a “kid’s show”, it was able to approach this dynamic well. It went with the apprentice route from season 1, but with Slade conning Terra into believing he could help her control her powers. And while that might have helped, he also talked her into joining him without much trouble, unlike Robin, who he had to threaten to destroy his friends if he didn’t do as he said.

Slade basically gave her what she wanted while manipulating her into thinking the Titans were her enemies. And even though she agreed, Slade did have a contingency plan if she decided to defect. That being his ability to control her through her suit.

It wouldn’t last as she did regain control and sacrificed herself in order to save the Titans and kill Slade. Slade may have learned from season one, but he still failed to get an apprentice in season two.

Terra’s Character Arc

This is probably one of if not the only time Terra wasn’t pure evil. Unlike in New Teen Titans, the Judas Contract movie, Teen Titans GO!, and the comics (the Young Justice animated series also had a Judas Contract arc, but I haven’t caught up), Terra wasn’t inherently evil. She just wanted to find a home and family while also learning to control her powers.

Whether or not viewers liked Terra will depend on the viewer, and whether or not they like to ship them another issue entirely (shipping when someone pairs two characters romantically). However, this version of Terra is different than most, if not all of her other versions/adaptations. She wasn’t always a villain, looking for help wherever she could, and was redeemable.

What made this Terra unique, and possibly enjoyed more, was the fact that she could be redeemed. She wasn’t too far gone to realize she she messed up, even if it did take a while to realize that. She also wasn’t always evil. Of course, her actions while she was working with Slade aren’t excusable. However, she at least recognized that she was in the wrong and tried to make up for it however she could.

This came in the form of Terra sacrificed herself. It wasn’t because she had a vendetta, but because she wanted to protect the people who truly mattered (the Titans and Beast Boy especially) and reverse the damage she had caused.

Though she can still be critiqued for her decisions, I do thing that this version of Terra is one of the better ones. She was a character that wasn’t looking for chaos, but help, and unfortunately found it in the wrong place while in a state of naïveté. I’m sure that if they wanted to go with the ‘always evil’ route, they would have figured out a way to do it. I don’t think they would have wanted to for the sake of the show’s demographic and the fact she was a member of the Teen Titans, unlike Slade who was always the villain, but they could have. However, I think that by not doing it, Terra’s story was pretty effective.

Betrayal and Loss

It also addressed betrayal and loss in a fairly reasonable way. It almost feels like the five stages of grief with everyone approached her betrayal differently. Denial could be seen with how Beast Boy refuses to see that she is completely lost. Bargaining could be seen when Robin fights Terra, using his own time as Slade’s apprentice to try and reason with her. Anger was a common sentiment. This is seen the most when Raven fights Terra. Depression can be seen with Beast Boy after she defects in Betrayal. And acceptance can be seen after she thinks she destroys all of the Titans and it seems that even Beast Boy believes she isn’t realizing her situation and accepts that she has to be stopped.

As for loss, while viewers don’t get to see how the Titans are effected much. However, they do get to see how the Titans honor and grieve over her sacrifice. And when she returns in Things Change, Beast Boy tries to bring back Terra’s memories in the hope of having her become a Titans again, which unfortunately does not come to pass (which may or may not have been explored more in a sixth season if the show got one).

Those are three ways that I feel that Teen Titans 2003 did Judas Contract better.

What About Jericho?

For those of you who might be wondering why I’m not critiquing Teen Titans for including Jericho, the answer is pretty simple. Target audience and missed opportunities. Because of the target audience, Teen Titans did have to censor some aspects of what the show was based on. Sure, episodes like Haunted and the entirety of season 4’s Trigon arc were dark, but there were some things that were avoided.

Including the odd reason behind the whole Slade instead of Deathstroke name change, Teen Titans didn’t cover Grant’s death, which was a big reason why Slade was so dead set on destroying the Titans, and the sensitive nature of Starfire’s slavery and Blackfire’s role in it. It certainly wasn’t 4Kids levels of censorship, but I can understand why they would censor those aspects. With that in mind, I don’t see Teen Titans covering the nature of Jericho’s injury. At least to the same gravity as the comics did.

As far as missed opportunities, Jericho does show up towards the end of season 5. Why that late, I can only really speculate. I believe that was either because, it might have felt odd to throw a new character in at the same time as Terra, Slade’s son at that, or with the final showdown with the Brotherhood of Evil, he wasn’t the only new face to be with the Titans, and fit in with the Titans expanded team.

In the case of the former, I feel it is more excusable for Teen Titans as opposed to the Judas Contract movie since it was adapting the story over the course of a season and had to take some liberates due to what they had to cut out. Judas Contract 2017, on the other hand, was a straight forward adaptation with tweaks needed to fit into the DC Animated Movie Universe. Much like Hush and how Justice League War being an adaptation of the first few issues of New 52’s Justice League. So Judas Contract 2017 had the ability to stay closer to the original story as possible, unlike Teen Titans, which had to censor quite a few things in order for it to get to it’s target audience.

Plus, Teen Titans had a habit of having seasons focus on a specific character. There would be episodes that would focus on the team, but, the season would focus on a specific character for the season’s overarching story. Season one focused on Robin and his obsession with Slade, concluding with the Apprentice two parter. Season two focused on Terra. Three dealt a lot with Cyborg, H.I.V.E., and Brother Blood. Trigon was the center of season four’s conflict, which put Raven at the center stage. And five focused a lot on Beast Boy, his Doom Patrol roots, and the Brotherhood of Evil.

Which brings me to my next point. The nonexistent sixth season. While Teen Titans was ultimately cancelled after five seasons and given a movie to give it a proper conclusion, a number viewers would have liked a sixth season. This sixth season could have addressed how Terra came back to life and the creature they were fighting in the finale. I also like to think that season six could have addressed Jericho being Slade’s son.

Cancelling it did leave some questions and plot points unanswered. And while it briefly lived on in tie in comics titled Teen Titans Go! (not to be confused with the comedic reboot), but to my knowledge, they never addressed it there. Rose, Jericho’s sister, however, did show up in it, which might explain why she appears in the Teen Titans Go! series.

Conclusion

Teen Titans’ second season and The 2017 animated adaptation of The Judas Contract both told the same story. One had to be a bit more censored to fit a young demographic, while the other had the rating to explore elements that the other didn’t. Even so, how Teen Titans approached it was better. Because, while the 2017 Judas Contract was able to cover ground that Teen Titans couldn’t, focusing time on the Deathstroke and Damian rivalry and not including Jericho hindered it. More so than Teen Titans, which didn’t bring up the character until later for whatever reason the showrunners had. Teen Titans, though censored, was able to tell the Judas Contract story in a way that felt compelling and it was a refreshing take on Terra.

I know turn it over to you. What are your thoughts on the Judas Contract story? Did you like the 2017 adaptation? Why or why not? What were your thoughts on Teen Titans adaptation in season two? What are your thoughts on Terra, in general and/or in either adaptation?

Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point Review

This was a book suggested to me by a friend. While looking for a book to review, this was one that sounded pretty interesting. Admittedly, I am not the most savvy or invested in Fortnite. It is a game that I never really got acquainted with, nor had much interest in. However, Batman/Fortnite: Zero Point is certainly a curious idea.

This may be a smaller review, given that this is only a six issue event, but I found a few things to discuss. Expect some minor spoilers, but not many.

Review

I certainly wouldn’t expect his kind of a crossover. While Batman certainly could fit into Fortnite as a skin or what have you makes sense, I wouldn’t think that the two franchises would work as a comic crossover. Sure, DC certainly has a lot of weird universes and crossovers (for instance Doomsday Clock, Flashpoint, and Dark Metal), but if you asked me if I thought they’d actually do a Batman/Fortnite crossover, I wouldn’t expect it.

That said, it is an interesting and pretty fun read. I may not be much of a Fortnite player, but I thought it was neat to see how they approached it: a wormhole opening up and Batman, Catwoman, Harley Quinn, and Deathstroke all found themselves pulled into the world of Fortnite. No one remembers who they are or knows where they are. Every twenty two minutes the time is reset and everything they did prior to it is wiped from their memories.

As Batman tries to figure out what’s going on, and encountering Catwoman (again), he tries to get familiar with the world. And once they figure out the first puzzle, they find themselves trying to figure out the next.

With it being only six issues, I feel like it had enough time to do what it wanted to. It didn’t feel too rushed or like it needed longer. I don’t think it would suffer if it was an issue or two longer, but keeping it at six worked.

Overall, I would give this a 7.5 out of 10. It had some great art and a fun concept that I feel people may be able to enjoy. And while maybe not something on the scale of The Killing Joke or Death in the Family, it certainly was an amusing look into a crossover with two well known franchises.

A Review of Red Robin

One of my favorite DC Comics reads is Red Robin by Fabian Nicieza and Christopher Yost, alongside artists Ramon Bachs and later Marcus To. It’s a twenty-six issue long Tim Drake run from 2009 to 2011 and is his second solo run starting off around the time of Dick Grayson’s time as Batman and Damian Wayne as Robin.

I will be going over what the pros and cons are of this series, followed by why I would recommend it. However, before I do, I would like to briefly go over who Tim Drake is and why he took up the Red Robin moniker. Because while I know anyone familiar with DC and the Batfamily (the characters associated with and/or members of Batman’s family, by blood or adopted) will know who he is, not everyone will.

Who is Tim Drake?

Tim Drake is the third Robin introduced in 1989. After Jason’s untimely death in the four part Death in the Family story, Tim was brought in. Due to Batman becoming more volatile after Jason’s death, Tim believed that Batman needed Robin. Initially, he tried to convince Dick Grayson, who has been going by Nightwing since 1984, to become Robin. Dick refused, due to some previous tension and Nightwing being his preferred mantel, but agreed to try to approach Batman. At one point, even Bruce refuses the notion of taking in another Robin after what happened to Jason.

Tim would later get involved in a case that Batman and Nightwing. And after helping with getting them out of a tough spot, Bruce agrees to train him as Robin. During this training, he would learn what he needed to and lost his mother due to a business trip gone wrong involving his parents. His father would live, but not his mother, and his father would later remarry.

Tim, unlike his predecessors, was the first Robin who had living parents, and at first bounced between normal life with them and working alongside Bruce/Batman. During this time, Tim would also work alongside Young Justice (a group of young heroes similar to the Teen Titans, but much smaller) and eventually the Teen Titans alongside his Young Justice teammates, including the likes of Conner Kent (Superboy) and Impulse (Bart Allen). Tim would also have to deal with a recently resurrected Jason Todd, who wasn’t fond of Tim becoming Robin, nor all to pleased with Bruce. He and Tim would have a rocky relationship, though Tim never outright hated Jason.

However, Tim’s father would find out about Tim’s Robin duties and have him retire for a time. During this time, Stephanie Brown, then girlfriend of Tim’s, briefly took over. It wasn’t until after her supposed death that Tim returned as Robin, with his father’s approval.

Unfortunately, Tim would go through a slew of loss. After Stephanie’s supposed death, Conner would die during the Infinite Crisis while trying to fight Superboy Prime. His father would also die during this story, murdered by Captain Boomerang. These three characters would be people he would later contemplate reviving with the Lazarus Pit (pools of green water-like fluids that can restore injuries and revive the dead). However, he would decide against it and Stephanie Brown and Conner Kent ultimately returned alive and well later.

Unfortunately, Tim would go through a slew of loss. After Stephanie’s supposed death, Conner would die during the Infinite Crisis while trying to fight Superboy Prime. His father would also die during this story, murdered by Captain Boomerang. These three characters would be people he would later contemplate reviving with the Lazarus Pit (pools of green water-like fluids that can restore injuries and revive the dead). However, he would decide against it and Stephanie Brown and Conner Kent ultimately returned alive and well later.

Why Did Tim Become Red Robin?

Depending on the continuity, Tim Drake becomes Red Robin for one of two reasons. In the New 52, it had to do with him respecting Jason’s memory. However, before the New 52, where the Red Robin comic took place, Tim became Red Robin after Bruce’s supposed death (he wasn’t actually dead, just shot back in time from Darkseid’s Omega Beam). Dick took over as Batman and promptly took Damian Wayne as his Robin.

There are a few things that contribute to it. One being that Damian was made Robin. Tim was not counselled about it, but the reason for this was because of Damian’s history in the League of Assassins and needing someone to lead him in the right direction. Another being because he thought he could do more if he was not Robin. This is a reason that is further addressed in the latter part of his solo Robin run.

In the New 52, it was out of respect for Jason (his predecessor) and I don’t recall if Rebirth went in depth with it, but it may have been similar to the pre-New 52 continuity or a mix of the pre-New 52 and New 52 continuity. Funnily enough, Jason used the Red Robin moniker very briefly before Tim around the tail end of his Robin run. It was also used by Dick Grayson in the Elseworld story Kingdom Come. Neither used it for long, so Tim ended up taking it, and neither used it after the New 52 relaunch/reboot/timeline.

The Review

Now that I have addressed who Tim Drake is and why he became Red Robin, I would like to get into the review. I will go over some positives and negatives, followed by a conclusion. While this series may not be everyone’s cup of tea, nor am I expecting everyone who reads this to read the series, I would recommend anyone who hasn’t read Red Robin to check it out.

Positive: A Solid Tim Drake Solo

Out of the Robins, Tim Drake is probably the most underrated. The same could be said to Jason in the grander scope of the Batfamily, where the more utilized characters in it are, Batman, Nightwing, and Robin (Damian Wayne), as well as maybe Batgirl (barbara Gordon). However, since Jason has had his own series since the beginning of the New 52, and Tim Drake has been relegated to mostly team comics since (up until recently), I would argue that Tim Drake is the more underrated of the two and one that isn’t utilized as much.

With that in mind, the solo series Tim does get, are usually good. His solo Robin runs are some of the more fondly remembered series of the Modern Age and Red Robin is no different. Though a short series, only running for about 26 issues, what this series did for Tim were great.

It continued to develop Tim as a character and let him grow. It gave him cases that suited him and antagonists worth his skills. There were also characters that did really well in here, like Cass Cain (Batgirl and later Black Bat), Ra’s al Ghul, and the Teen Titans. And even Tim himself.

Negative: Some Arcs Weren’t as Good

While this series certainly has some good arcs and action, some arcs are certainly better than others. One area I wasn’t too fond of was the whole reaction to Tim having a contingency plan for Damian. While these two have a history of butting heads, I just wasn’t to invested in this arc. It was in character to a degree and I can understand both sides, fighting about it while on patrol wasn’t the place to have this issue brought to light.

Another arc I thought was weaker, was the Firefly arc. It certainly utilized Tim’s intellect and strategy, and utilized Miss Martian’s abilities well. However, I don’t think it was as strong as some of the other arcs.

Positive: The Art

This series transitioned from one artist to another. The first few issues were done by Ramon Bachs and the rest (for the most part) by Marcus To. Personally, I’m more of a fan of Marcus To’s work in the series. It’s sleek, the colors are bold, and I like the style. His style is what gave the series that added personality, giving each character the look that they needed, and didn’t look out of place.

Art is certainly a subjective area, and just because I like this style, that doesn’t mean everyone else will. That said, Marcus To is certainly a talented artist, and is certainly one of my favorites.

Negative: Some Characters Felt Out of Character at Times

While I do think that the characters were done really well for the most part, I would be lying if some characters felt off or out of character at times. I feel like this is more of an issue in the earlier issues and how some characters approached Tim in regards to Bruce’s “death”. Mainly, Dick Grayson.

On the one hand, it can be argued that Dick was trying to help Tim come to term with Bruce’s death. From his perspective, it could be seen as Tim denying the reality of it and not thinking straight. And in Dick’s mind he wanted to help him accept it. That said, how he approached it could be considered questionable or out of character. He approaches Tim a bit too bluntly and doesn’t seem to want Tim to come to term with it on his own terms. He even has Cassie (Wonder Girl) try to talk to him, but still doesn’t get through to him.

Once again, this could be seen as Tim being stubborn, being in denial, and teenaged angst. However, how it was went about could have been better. It also might have partially contributed to Tim getting in contact initially after he asks Dick to trust him. And when it was revealed that Bruce was in fact alive, there was no apology. No “I should have believed you” or “I shouldn’t have been so antagonistic with you”.

Positive: The Ra’s al Ghul Arc

If you ask anyone who has read the series what their favorite arc was in this series, they’ll most likely say the Ra’s al Ghul arc. I, personally, agree. It was also the arc I first jumped into after being strictly a manga person for years (which I still enjoy to a lesser extent). Bias aside, however, this arc is probably its strongest.

It has it set up where Tim finds himself working alongside the League of Assassins for a brief amount of time. He deals with the Council of Spiders and works alongside League of Assassins member, Pru. But when he goes against Ra’s, the centuries old assassin takes it personally and decides to take it out on everything and everyone Bruce holds dear.

Tim is not about to let that happen, and with the help from a few allies, including Batman (Dick Grayson), Robin (Damian Wayne), Conner Kent (Superboy), and the Teen Titans, Tim formulates a plan. This plan comes to a head when Tim finds himself fighting Ra’s al Ghul, a man he knows he does not have the physical strength to beat. Not that that won’t stop him from trying.

And while Ra’s al Ghul has gone up against the Robins in different ways, I would say that the rivalry/antagonistic role he has with Tim is one of, if not the best. Ra’s respects each of the Robins and is the one behind Jason’s revival and the maternal grandfather of Damian, as well as having an antagonistic approach to Batman (think the Moriarty to Batman’s Sherlock). However, his and Tim’s confrontation is a great one, and I’d even argue that Ra’s is Tim’s best villain.

Ra’s notes how Tim just how different he is from Bruce, Dick, and Jason, once noting how Tim already knew he won a particular fight. Tim also has an underlying respect for Ra’s, noting how Bruce had for how resourceful he is. Tim also knows that Ra’s isn’t one to take lightly, which was why he took Ra’s’ threat so seriously. It’s also worth noting that Ra’s refers to Tim as Detective at the end of their fight (before kicking him out of a window). “Detective” is an honorary term that only Bruce holds, and was Ra’s’ way of showing Tim respect. Because, while not able to beat Ra’s’ in a one v one (physical) fight, the fact that Tim was able to outwit him, was enough for him to respect Tim’s skills.

With this arc also taking up around the first half of the series (issues 1-12, which also tackles Dick approaching him about Bruce’s “death”) it certainly had time to develop the story it wanted to. Ra’s al Ghul was also a pleasure. He’s a villain who never gets used as often as say the Joker, Catwoman, or even the Riddler. So seeing him used was a great addition to the series. I only wish that they used Tim and Ra’s’ dynamic more.

Conclusion

Red Robin (2009-2011) is a wonderful series that appreciates one of Batman’s lesser appreciated allies and is a great title for Tim Drake. While there may be some instances of out of character moments and some arcs that aren’t as good as others, the art, Ra’s arc, character development, and being an overall solid story, makes this series a great read.

It was one of the first series I picked up after an age long stint in manga and was what helped me come to love the character. So, if you are looking for a good Batman/Batfamily read, I would recommend this series.