The relationship in DC Comics' Teen Titans titles between Slade Wilson, Deathstroke and Tara Markov, Terra, has been a heavily criticised by a number of commentators in the past. Deathstroke, initially created as an antagonist for the Teen Titans, has been portrayed as an anti-hero in various media. And in the recent Justice League: The Snyder Cut, saw him working with Batman in the Knightmare future.
But in today's The Other History Of The DC Universe by Oscar winner and Twelve Years A Slave screenwriter John Ridley, published by DC Comics, the publisher unequivocally states that Deathstroke is a paedophilia rapist. No wiggle room, no weasel words, that is the exact language used.
Brion Markov, the crown prince of Markovia who battled alongside us under the code name Geo-Force, had a half sister. Tara. Like Brion, Tara had been given elemental abilities. And like Brion, Tara became a hero who fought with the Teen Titans under the code name Terra.
History would record Terra as a traitor who sided with Slade Wilson–Deathstroke–in plotting the Titans' demise. Tara was "crazy," the meme went. Tara was "psychotic."
And when Tara died by her own hands, Tara "got what she deserved."
History has a convenient way of blaming the victim.
Slade Wilson raped Tara Markov. Not with physical force. He coerced an underage, mentally unstable girl into having sexual relations with him. Again, and again, and again. And Slade used that sexual dominance to manipulate Tara.
Basically, Tara was trafficked.
Slade was a known villain, but there was a legion of "respectable men"–giants of business and politics and media–who were with horrific regularity using their positions of influence to drag women into the shadows of society, and do to them what Slade had done to Tara.
For many years Brion would have to deal with his half sister being remembered as a duplicitous sociopath. That was made all the more painful as Deathstroke developed a cult following for being a "badass," and a "man's man," but rarely was he called out for being what he was: a pedophiliac rapist. Tara deserved more than what she got, and she deserved to be remembered as being better than the nature to which she succumbed.
But history is written by the living. Not by the dead.
The original Judas Contract storyline by Marv Wolfman and George Perez had Deathstroke use the villain Terra to pose as a new team member to gain the trust of each Titan until they reveal their secret identities. It also implied a "romantic" relationship between the late-middle-aged Deathstroke and the fifteen-year-old Terra when first published by DC Comics in 1980/81.
Later storylines that flashbacked to the story would show them in bed together, as in the scenes recreated for The Other History. The animated movie also emphasised that aspect. The storyline would also lead to Terra's death at her own hands trying to kill the other Titans. Previous summations of their history by DC have included "'It's complicated' doesn't even begin to explain it when talking about Slade and Terra" and "Their complex relationship is at the heart of one of the most iconic Teen Titans stories of all time."
Three years ago, writer Christopher Priest took it on himself to scrub a sexual relationship from continuity in the Deathstroke, and also to remove Terra's death,
But did so by having Deathstroke return her affections, with a kiss, and for his manipulation of Terra to be challenged by others.
But one of the jobs of The Official History is to sort this kind of retroactive continuity out, and it is unequivocal in its language. How this will be referred to when Deathstroke inevitably returns to DC Comics continuity is not yet known. And maybe Dick Grayson really shouldn't have worn that mask in Future State: Teen Titans.
The Other History Of The DC Universe Book 3 by John Ridley, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Cucchi and is published today by DC Comics.
OTHER HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE #3 (OF 5) (MR)
(W) John Ridley (A) Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi (CA) Giuseppe Camuncoli, Marco Mastrazzo
1983. Japan. Tatsu Yamashiro's life has been taken from her. Her home, her children, her husband are all gone. With nothing left but a burning pain and the sword that stole her family from her, Tatsu begins a long journey of healing, self-discovery, agency, and rebirth. This is the story of Tatsu Yamashiro, the woman known to many as Katana—a hero who became more than the world ever intended for her, ultimately making a family of like-minded Outsiders who rally together for the common good amidst xenophobia and oppression. The long-awaited miniseries written by Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, Let It Fall) and beautifully illustrated by Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Cucchi continues to look at the mythology of the DC Universe as seen through the prism of DC Super Heroes who come from traditionally disenfranchised groups. Retail: $6.99
I bought my copy from Piranha Comics in Kingston-Upon-Thames. Piranha Comics is a small south London comic store chain with a small south-east store in Kingston-Upon Thames's market centre, and a larger south-west store in Bromley, with an extensive back issue collection and online store. With a new store planned for Watford, if you are in the neighbourhood, check them out. Call ahead, they are offering curbside service for the next two weeks until non-essential retail stores open up.