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The Lazarus Contract: Reading the Fine Print

The Lazarus Contract: Reading the Fine Print

By Meg Downey Friday, May 12th, 2017

An old enemy and a classic storyline return in “The Lazarus Contract,” a four-part crossover taking place this month in TITANS, TEEN TITANS and DEATHSTROKE. In this series of columns, writer Meg Downey breaks down each new chapter, uncovering things you may have missed.

If you’re anything like me, “The Lazarus Contract” represents a moment you’ve been waiting for since basically the very start of Rebirth. After all, Rebirth is all about looking at the legacy of the DC Universe and it’s hard to get closer to the heart of the Teen Titans legacy than by looking into “The Lazarus Contract’s” spiritual predecessor, “The Judas Contract”—which is one of the most iconic Titans stories of all time (and also a newly released animated movie).

That being said, don’t worry if you’re not up on “The Judas Contract.” You’ll be just fine. You can take a look at our breakdown of that classic story’s impact here, if you’re curious, but like each of the Rebirth crossover events, “The Lazarus Contract” stands alone if you want it to. All you’ve gotta know is that the story is taking place in the pages of Titans, Teen Titans, and Deathstroke, and starts in this week’s TITANS #11—so maybe read that one before you continue any further here.

Ready?

Great!

So we open on a flashback to a moment that might feel a little familiar to you if you’re a big Teen Titans history buff. It’s the death of Grant Wilson, aka Ravager, son of Deathstroke and agent of H.I.V.E. Grant’s death is something that actually happened in NEW TEEN TITANS #2, way back in 1980. It happened basically exactly how you’re seeing it in this issue today, with Grant’s body essentially burning out from the inside thanks to the experimental powers H.I.V.E bestowed upon him.

Tragic as Grant’s death was, it served a bigger purpose: to lock in his father, Slade Wilson’s, eternal grudge match against the Titans. That’s something that would eventually earn Deathstroke the title of the team’s arch nemesis.

You can see a lot of how that played out here, today, in this version of the story. Slade obviously didn’t handle the situation very well.

...And he continues to not handle the situation very well, now that he’s had those memories shaken loose.

Let it never be said that Slade Wilson is not a man of action. Not even a week out of a major surgery and he’s already plotting a massive full-scale revenge scheme. Though, who could expect anything less from the Terminator, right?

This is where the Titans themselves come into play. Just in case you need a refresher for what they’ve been up to lately, things have been...well, a little strange for them. The Fearsome Five and a shell corporation named Meta Solutions have tampered with the memories and powers of Karen Duncan, aka Bumblebee, making her a total amnesiac. What’s more, Nightwing was able to trace Meta Solutions back to—you guessed it—H.I.V.E.

So, that’s where we catch them today, as they work to track down H.I.V.E’s operations in hopes of saving Bumblebee and taking out groups like the Fearsome Five once and for all.

Except, of course, it can never be that easy. The H.I.V.E operatives they’ve found are basically useless, mind wiped to the point that even Omen can’t get any information out of them, and offering up only one cryptic message when pressed: someone named “Lazarus” says “the deal is off.”

Pretty ominous, right? And that’s even before the dust clears and the team realizes that Wally is missing.

Yikes.

It turns out Wally hasn’t just run off or even been pulled back into the Speed Force (something that Garth very bleakly suggested—c’mon man, maybe not the time.) No, it’s actually much, much worse. Wally’s been kidnapped right out from under the team’s collective noses by one of the only people in the world who has the skill and the resources to make something like that happen.

That’s right, Wally’s been taken prisoner by Deathstroke.

Slade’s plan is pretty simple, if not totally deranged. He understands that as a Flash, Wally can manipulate the time stream, and as such, it’s totally possible for Wally to jump back in time to the moment that Grant was killed and save his life...right?

Of course, anyone who’s ever read FLASHPOINT knows how wrong Slade is on those counts, but being understanding and willing to see reason aren’t really character traits anyone would assign to Deathstroke the Terminator, even on his best day. And to make matters even worse? If Wally from the Titans won’t help him out, Slade’s secured himself a backup in the form of the other Wally West—Kid Flash of the Teen Titans.

It’s bad news all around, but I have to kind of give it to Slade’s planning here. I’m sure we can all agree, it’s always good to have a back up speedster when you’re trying to bend the fabric of time and space. I can’t really think of a situation where two Flashes aren’t better than one.

Meanwhile, back at the Titans’ base, the mystery of “Lazarus” and what their deal is gets even thicker as Dick Grayson lies to Omen over it—which, on one hand, is kind of amazing. Lying to a psychic? Chalk one up for training under the Batman. On the other hand, though, this is pretty deeply concerning. What could possibly be so bad that Dick would activate a mental lock box strong enough to keep Omen from learning about it?

It’s definitely worth noting here that “The Judas Contract” got its title because the story features a pretty major betrayal of the Titans trust, so it goes to follow that “The Lazarus Contract” is probably going to feature someone returning from the dead—something that would definitely jive with what Slade is trying to pull off, of course.

But if the currently deceased Grant Wilson’s the titular “Lazarus” in this situation, who’s going around making deals with H.I.V.E?

See you next week!
 

Meg Downey writes about Rebirth for DCComics.com and covers DC’s Legends of Tomorrow for the #DCTV Couch Club. Look for her on Twitter at @rustypolished.

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