Unearthing Terra

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As the Blackest Night spreads across the DC Universe, Broken Frontier unearths the histories of several of the key players in the event.
Spoiler warning:  Read no further if you’ve not had a chance to dig into your most recent Blackest Night titles…

Considering her significance in DC, specifically Titans, lore, the young woman known as Terra (real name Tara Markov) had a surprisingly short career.  Debuting in New Teen Titans #26 (December 1982), Terra clashed with the shape-shifting hero, Changeling, in a battle atop the Statue of Liberty.  Eventually, Changeling and Titans subdued Terra, learning that she was blackmailed by terrorists into using her earth-controlling powers for evil (New Teen Titans #28, February 1983).  Although most of the Titans were skeptical of her tale, Changeling was convinced of her authenticity, and the group aided Terra in fighting back against the terrorists who were holding her parents hostage.  The terrorists were defeated, but the young heroes were too late to save Terra’s family.

Over the next several weeks, Changeling worked closely with Terra, urging to embrace a career in super heroics.  Abruptly deciding to take up his offer to join the Titans, Terra adopted a new costume, becoming a full member in New Teen Titans #30 (April 1983).   Despite the additional power on the team, during a clash with the Brotherhood of Evil, Titans member Raven was kidnapped.  The ensuing rescue mission brought Raven to the edge of her sanity, merely one of several personal crises the individual Titans members faced during this period.  Along the way, Terra quickly became frustrated at her position in the Titans, claiming she felt an outsider in both adventuring and by being excluded from her team-mates' secret identities.  On her sixteenth birthday, an attack on the Titans by the arch-rival, the mercenary Deathstroke the Terminator, changed everything for Terra.  Taking on the vicious villain single-handedly, Terra won the admiration and faith of the other Titans.

Later that night, Terra met with Deathstroke at her apartment, revealing herself as a traitor, planted within the Titans to aid the Terminator in killing the young superheroes (New Teen Titans #34, August 1983).  Terra continued to adventure with the Titans, all the while gathering information for Deathstroke.  During an encounter between the Titans and The Outsiders, Terra is reunited with her similarly powered  (and Outsider member) half-brother, Geo-Force (New Teen Titans #37, Batman and the Outsiders #5, December 1983).  The frantic pace of the adventure prevented both teams from discussing much, although comments from Geo-Force began highlighting inconsistencies in Terra’s origins to the Titans. 

As events quickly moved to a head, Terra’s true motivations became confusing – even as she reported the dual identities of Robin and Kid Flash to Deathstroke (New Teen Titans #39, February 1984), she seemed to soften to Changeling’s romantic advances (Tales of the Teen Titans #42, May 1984).  After Terra nearly lost control of herself during a training exercise with the Titans, the Terminator elected to spring his trap, utilizing the information she has gathered to capture most of the Titans (only Dick Grayson, the former Robin escapes in Tales of the Teen Titans #43, June 1984).  Tipped off by the Terminator’s ex-wife and son as to Terra’s duplicity, Grayson set about mounting a rescue operation. 


Alongside Deathstroke’s son (Jericho, a mute capable of possessing people), Grayson (now known as Nightwing) confronted Terra and the Terminator.  Possessed by Jericho, Deathstroke seemed to align himself with the Titans against his own employers.  This seeming betrayal pushed Terra completely over-the-edge, causing her to lash out at both the Titans and Deathstroke’s employers.  In the ensuing maelstrom, Terra was killed by her own avalanche of earth and rock.  Her body returned to the Titans headquarters, the young heroes elected to keep her betrayal secret, telling Geo-Force that she had heroically sacrificed herself (Tales of the Teen Titans Annual #3, 1984).

Despite her betrayal, Changeling (who has resumed using his original code-name of Beast Boy) has long mourned Terra, believing in his heart, she could have been saved and become a true Titan.  Even though Terra’s duplicity has become known to the heroic community, Beast Boy staunchly defended her memorial remaining in Titans Tower.  On the most recent ‘Heroes Day,’ Beast Boy’s prayers for Terra were seemingly answered, as she returned from beyond the grave and into his arms at last…

…although, thanks to a Black Ring, Terra may not quite be as Beast Boy remembers her…

Worth noting, is that a second Terra (who originally had significant ties to former Titan Hank Hall) was also a member of the Titans.  Her origins long shrouded in mystery, this Terra was a genetic doppelganger of the original (albeit she chose a true hero’s path).  Given that she was brutally killed by Black Adam during World War III (2007), there may be another Terra to Unearth in a future column…

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  • Eric Lindberg

    Eric Lindberg Sep 3, 2009 at 11:31am

    There is another Terra, one that debuted in a miniseries by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner a few months ago. She's from a subterranean culture, the same one that Terra II was apparently from. She's currently a supporting character in Power Girl's book.

  • Andy Oliver

    Andy Oliver Sep 3, 2009 at 12:31pm

    Actually she debuted in SUPERGIRL #12 but the miniseries that was supposed to follow from that intro was so delayed that it prob seemed like she was a new character by the time TERRA #1 appeared. ;) The trade of that series is out now btw. It's a nice lead-in to the current POWER GIRL series as well given that #4 has the beginnings of PG and Terra's friendship and also features Satana, who played a significant part in the new Ultra-Humanite's origin in PG.

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