DC Universe Animated Original Movies (Part 28): Teen Titans: The Judas Contract

Hello, my friends.  As we band together in youthful spirit, I welcome you all back to another entry of…

DC Universe A.O.M.

As we head back into the New 52 Animated Universe, allow me to share a realizing thought that I’ve had for a long while concerning a noticeable trend that the series has been on thus far.  Following 2011’s “Green Lantern: Emerald Knights”, the series initially had it’s focus narrowed to films that involve Superman, Batman and the Justice League.  After 2013’s “Superman Unbound” however, that mindset narrowed even further as the series became centered on Batman and the Justice League for the last four years.  Thankfully, this entry will buck that trend as our familiar team of young heroes are coming off saving their mystical friend from her supernatural demonic father and look to add onto their name in a film called…

Our Title Card!.png

Originally premiering on March 31, 2017 at WonderCon before getting released for Digital Download on April 4 followed by DVD & Blu-Ray on April 18, this entry is based on a famous storyline from Tales of the Teen Titans #42-44 and Teen Titans Annual #3, originally written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by George Perez.  Believe it or not, an animated film adaptation was once conceived as the third entry of this series before getting shelved for nearly a decade.  Did that result in fresh ideas taking shape for this outing?  Let’s dive in and find out.

Teen Titans-A Beautiful Day For Patrol!.jpg

We open five years earlier when the Teen Titans had a different roster.  With Dick Grayson (voiced by Sean Maher) serving as the team leader under the guise of Robin, the rest of the group includes (in reverse-clockwise order) Wally West a.k.a. Kid Flash (voiced by Jason Spisak, reprising his role from “Young Justice”), Garfield Logan a.k.a. Beast Boy (voiced by Brandon Soo Hoo), Karen Beecher a.k.a. Bumblebee (voiced by Masasa Moyo, also reprising her role from “Young Justice”) and Roy Harper a.k.a. Speedy (voiced by Crispin Freeman, also reprising his role from “Young Justice”).  As they patrol the city in their T-Car, Beast Boy signs up for a social media site called “Tweeter”.

Teen Titans-Trouble From Afar!Starfire-Not The Earthly Introduction I Had In Mind!

Just then, they notice a battle going on within their city.  After stopping by the side of road, they see a group of alien warriors attacking a familiar figure: Koriand’r a.k.a. Starfire (voiced by Kari Wahlgren).  She’s ultimately defeated as the aliens knock her out and prepare to take her away.

With Robin giving the order to engage, the Teen Titans proceed to fight the armored aliens while Dick manages to relieve them of their hostage.

After she regains consciousness, Kori tries to inform him, but our heroes are unable to understand her since she only speaks in her native tongue.  Fortunately, they quickly notice a portal in the sky from which her captors came from.  As such, Speedy is called upon to close it as he fires a special arrow at it.

Kid Flash-I've Got You, Bumblebee!Beast Boy-Safety Under Weight!

As the portal starts to close, it also begins to suck up everything underneath it as the rest of the Teen Titans manage to withstand the fierce pull.

While the alien warriors are sucked back into the portal, Robin and Starfire try to hold on for dear life.  Unfortunately, one remaining adversary manages to grab Kori’s leg as she gets sucked upwards with it.  Taking a huge risk, Robin lets go of his grapple line and follows after them in pursuit.  After he throws a Batarang at the alien (which causes it to let go of its prisoner and get sucked back in), he manages to grab onto Kori just before the portal collapses as they ultimately land back on the ground.

From there, she proceeds to kiss him.  Suddenly, she speaks fluent English as she introduces herself and explains that she’s able to instantly learn another person’s language by kissing them.  Kori then explains why she’s here in the first place.  It turns out that her sister Komand’r has staged a coup and claimed possession of the throne back on her home planet of Tamaran, which forced her to retreat.  Robin then tells her that she’s more than welcome at staying with him and his teammates while she preps for an eventual return.  After she meets the rest of the team, the scene ends with Robin welcoming her to the Teen Titans.

Following the title card, we cut to the present day where a group of armored figures are doing some devious work within a storage facility.  Overlooking the operation from the observation deck are two figures in hoods who are suddenly contacted by their hired agent and get informed that the Teen Titans are within a minute of breaching their operations.

Starfire-All Clear, Titans!Teen Titans-Prepare To Go In!

Down below the cliff, a pair of guards are taken out by Starfire and Dick Grayson, who’s now in his guise of Nightwing.  As such, Kori alerts her teammates that the coast is clear as we see their line-up (from left to right): Jaime Reyes a.k.a. Blue Beetle (voiced by Jake T. Austin), Raven (voiced by Taissa Farmiga), their newest member Tara Markov a.k.a. Terra (voiced by Christina Ricci), Damian Wayne a.k.a. Robin (voiced by Stuart Allen) and finally Beast Boy.  Dick plans on having the team climb up the cliffside while the clouds cover the moonlight, but Starfire shoots that plan down since she’s the actual team leader (not to mention that he’s been away from the Teen Titans for a while) and says that Terra will get them up there.  As such, she creates an opening for her and her teammates to enter.

Teen Titans-Going Up!.jpg

With Starfire providing a light source, Terra proceeds to lift herself and the team up through the canyon towards their destination.  Despite a minor hiccup involving Blue Beetle’s scarab (which provides Jaime with his outfit and various powers), Nightwing informs the Teen Titans that their enemy is one that he’s been studying ever since he left the team.  He explains that their upcoming opponents are zealots and extremists who are more than happy to sacrifice themselves if it means stopping anyone who opposes them.

Terra-Oh, No You Don't!Blue Beetle-Going In!

Once inside, our heroes make their presence known and proceed to beat up the opposing goons.

Even when they’re opposed by construction mechs equipped with machine guns, the Teen Titans are able to dismantle them.

Meanwhile, the cargo van has its last piece of shipment ready to move out.  With the two heads ready to take their leave, one of them named Mother Mayhem (voiced by Meg Foster) thanks the lackeys for their assistance by shooting them before heading out.

Blue Beetle-We've Got 'Em On The Run!Beast Boy-On The Prowl!

By the time the Teen Titans make their way further into the facility, the two heads have already left.  While the rest of the team proceeds to fight the remaining henchmen…

…Nightwing had slipped away in order to reach the observation deck.  As Starfire arrives, he manages to manually override the door access and starts to mention how they should take their relationship to “the next step”.  By the time they fight their way towards the main console, the rest of the team managed to defeat the remaining lackeys and regain control over the facility.

As the Teen Titans regroup in the observation deck, Nightwing decides to announce his intention to have Starfire move into a recently-purchased apartment with him.  After she’s presented with her own key, Kori gladly accepts as the scene ends with the two of them embracing each other.

We then cut to the next day at Titans Tower where Jaime and Garfield engage in table soccer while Tara tries to have some pizza in the nearby kitchen.  However, she’s annoyed by Logan’s sly attempt to woo her and leaves.  After Jaime scores the winning goal, he notices what his friend was trying to do and gives him some quick dating advice before his cell phone gives him a reminder to make an important call.

A short time later, Starfire is in the training room as she defeats holographic versions of her past captors.  Just then, she notices Tara and invites her to train but gets declined.  After she explains that she’s just trying to hide from Beast Boy, she then notices Raven meditating nearby and asks about her demonic father who’s currently enslaved within her gem.  After briefly talking about Trigon, Kori suggests that she should talk to Raven sometime.  However, Tara declines and takes her leave with Raven subtly noticing.

We then cut to Jaime having a video chat with his family as he talks to his sister Milagro (also voiced by Kari Wahlgren) who’s celebrating her birthday and had just received his gift.  Afterwards, he gets to talk to his parents Bianca and Alberto (voiced by Maria Canals-Barrera and David Zayas, respectively).  However, Jaime’s scarab still has issues with his father as we learn from their conversation that it’s been attached to him for the past two years.  His parents end up getting into an argument as his father wonders why the superhero community isn’t helping Jaime remove the scarab from him.  From there, Bianca has to end the call when Aunt Consuela brings the birthday cake out prematurely as she goes to take care of their situation.  From there, the transmission ends with Alberto disappointingly stating that he misses “his son”.

Meanwhile, Dick is at work at the main computer console as he continues his investigation involving their recent run-in with H.I.V.E. and comes across an interview with its leader Brother Blood (voiced by Gregg Henry).  In it, he tells reporter Bryce Peterson (also voiced by Jason Spisak) that his church has good intentions and denies the claim that it’s nothing more than “a glorified cult” before walking out.

Robin-I Approve Of Your Unionship, Dicky Boy!.png

Just then, Robin comes in and says that his deceased grandfather would have been swayed by his efforts of running both a worldwide cult and H.I.V.E., while Dick says that they’re both the same.  As Damian exclaims that he’s heading out on patrol, he tells Grayson that he actually approves of his “cohabitation” with Starfire.

Starfire-How Goes The Investigation, Lover!Nightwing-I Should Have Something Soon!

Shortly afterwards, Kori and Tara arrive to hear how the H.I.V.E. investigation is going.  Dick exclaims that with all of the information that he’s gathered over the lengthy inspection, he says that their computer system will need a day or two to uncover the key connection.

Just as Robin heads out, Beast Boy arrives as he asks if anyone knows where Jaime is.  It turns out that the building’s security cameras catch him in the training room as he takes his recent anger out on a punching bag, to the point where he even knocks it off of its support ropes.  Sensing that something’s troubling him, Kori has both Garfield and Tara accompany him to help calm him down.

We then cut to H.I.V.E. headquarters on an island where Brother Blood’s pre-recorded sermons play out in the hallway.  Meanwhile, Mother Mayhem walks in on his literal blood bath and questions why he’s being so calm since the Teen Titans have recently relieved them of their third base.  Brother Blood exclaims that his plans have been challenged over nine centuries, but he’s been able to ultimately relive himself of his opposition, revealing that he actually killed reporter Bryce Peterson.

Brother Blood-You Still Escaped, Mayhem!Brother Blood-We Still Have Someone Guarding Our Operations!

As he gets cleaned off, he then says that even though the Teen Titans did put a temporary monkey wrench in their plans, they were able to escape because of their “guardian angel”.  He then exclaims that their hired agent will keep the heroes at bay, since he’ll be well-paid for his services as he and Mother Mayhem take their leave.

Teen Titans-Moral Support!Blue Beetle-Time To Make A Difference Out Of Costume!

Back in the city, Garfield and Tara tag alongside Jaime in order to support him.  Just then, they come across a soup kitchen called Gabrielle’s Horn.  Since his parents volunteer their time at their local shelter, Jaime decides to do the same.  Tara initially scoffs at the idea since they’re already helping out the city as superheroes, but Reyes states that it isn’t just about them using their super powers to save the day as he also exclaims that this could help his scarab become more comfortable around other people.

Blue Beetle-I Wish To Volunteer!.png

As such, they head inside as Jaime meets up with the youthful head worker named Traci (also voiced by Masasa Moyo) and tells her that he wishes to volunteer his time at the center.

Meanwhile, Tara sees a woman eating some soup as it suddenly brings up a quick flash of a painful memory.  When Garfield asks her what’s wrong, she says that she’s fine and heads out.

Brother Blood-I've Got Something Planned!Brother Blood-My Demonstration!

Back at H.I.V.E. headquarters, Brother Blood leads Mother Mayhem towards the main chamber.  He exclaims that he’s actually lived for nearly a millennium by slaying his enemies and literally bathing in their own blood.  He believes that he was meant to reach this age and have technology help him with his cause.  As such, his assistant activates a machine where four volunteers are drained of their energy before it gets dumped into their main subject.

Brother Blood-It Works!Mother Mayhem-Your Services Are No Longer Needed!

Afterwards, he gets hit by a crowbar.  Not only does he withstand the strikes, but he’s also able to bend the tool as well.  As Brother Blood leaves to take further preparations, Mother Mayhem proceeds to “thank” the subject for his service by firing a headshot as he collapses to the floor.

Teen Titans-Moving Day Is Upon Them!Starfire-This Brings Back Some Memories!

That night at Titans Tower, Dick and Kori are packing up their belongings as they prepare to move in together.  Just then, Starfire comes across a gemstone that she previously wore as a child and was the lone object that she was able to take with her when her sister sent the alien warriors after her on her way to Earth.

Just then, the building starts shaking as most of the team rushes to Tara’s room.  It turns out that she’s having a nightmare and is inadvertently using her powers in the process.  As such, Raven steps in and uses her empathic powers to ease her out of her dream.  Shortly after waking up however, Tara rudely says that it was nothing more than a bad dream and demands for her teammates to vacate from her room.

Robin-I Need To Know What You Saw In Her Head!Raven-What I Saw Isn't Any Of Your Business!

As Dick learns from Kori that this has been something of a regular occurrence, Robin wants to learn what Raven saw in Tara’s mind.  However, she states that it’s not his business in any way.  Damian counters and says that both he and the team should have the right to know, but she calmly argues back by stating that Starfire is the team leader and not him before she takes her leave.

Brother Blood-How Good That We Could Talk Among The Deceased!Deathstroke-H.I.V.E.'s Hired Agent!

Meanwhile, Brother Blood is talking to the various corpses within a graveyard.  Just then, his hired agent mentions how weird he’s being by chatting with the deceased.  However, Blood says that each corpse still retains “a tiny wisp of life”.  As his hired agent reveals himself, it turns out to be Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke The Terminator (voiced by Bob Morton himself, the [sadly] late Miguel Ferrer).  It turns out that Brother Blood resurrected him after the events of “Son of Batman” as he tells Deathstroke that he’s moving up his time table by a week and will double his original money offer if he captures & brings him every last member of the Teen Titans.  As such, the scene ends with Slade silently agreeing.

We then cut to the next day at Titans Tower where Starfire has gathered her team together for a training exercise.  In order to have her teammates be prepared “for everything”, she’s going to pair them up and have them fight each other until one is victorious.  She starts things off by dueling Nightwing as they tussle for a while before Starfire manages to trip him up and subdue him.

Next up, Blue Beetle and Raven are paired up as they proceed to combat each other.  When she manages to encase him within a shadowy sphere, Jaime’s scarab overreacts and fires a massive energy blast from its cannon as Raven is defeated and (thankfully) in tact.

Afterwards, Beast Boy and Terra get their turn as they proceed to fight each other.  After she constantly manages to evade him, Garfield turns into a snake and wraps himself around her as he starts to kid around.  However, this triggers another painful memory where she was captured by villagers as a little girl and was tied up & dragged around for a while before they prepared to kill her.

This causes her to vent her wrath as she unleashes her powers and knocks Beast Boy out.  With Terra losing control, the team is forced to step in as they save Garfield and knock her out of her crazed state.  Even though the Teen Titans offer her sympathy, Terra doesn’t accept it as she picks herself up and takes her leave.

Terra-I'm Outta Here!Teen Titans-Disagreement On A Teammate!

That night, she manages to sneak out of the building and make her way towards the city.  Back inside, Nightwing is confronted by Robin and Raven (alongside Starfire) as Damian exclaims that Tara needs to be kept under close watch since Raven has since sensed something off about her.  Dick exclaims that she’s in need of some understanding and doesn’t deserve to be spied upon.  However, Robin states that heartfelt decisions will ultimately end in tragedy as he and Raven head out.

Later, Damian proceeds to stealthily follow Tara.  However, she ends up confronting him since her powers allow her to feel the vibrations of nearby footsteps, even when they’re on buildings.  She then explains that she’s feeling annoyed by her teammates as Robin says that he can relate to her dilemma and that the Teen Titans only wish to help her.

Just then, they’re confronted by Deathstroke as Damian easily deduces that he was resurrected by a Lazarus Pit.  From there, they proceed to fight as Robin initially holds his own.  However, Slade starts turning the tide by grabbing his arm and roughing him up.

Fortunately, Damian recovers and manages to pin him down.  However, a rock flies in and knocks him off.  It turns out that Terra is working for Deathstroke as she proceeds to use her powers and trap Robin within a shifting pile of rock.

Blue Beetle-I Have A Possible Girlfriend!Blue Beetle-M Heart Is Racing For The Right Reasons, Scarab!

We then cut to the next day at Gabrielle’s Horn where Jaime is working in the kitchen in order to help feed several homeless citizens.  As he talks to Traci, he starts to develop some genuine feelings for her.  Just then, his scarab picks up his increased pulse as a sign of danger.  Fortunately, Reyes manages to get inside the food closet before he hilariously struggles to let it know that he’s not in any peril.

Meanwhile, Deathstroke is at his secret base as Tara shows up in a nightgown and expresses her love to him.  However, Slade discards her advances and says that they’re fortunate that they took Robin out of the picture first.  It turns out that she was also wearing camera lens in her eyes and Beast Boy inadvertently damaged one of them.  As such, she takes it out as Deathstroke prepares to place a new one in.  During this, we learn that she’s been helping Slade for the past year in supplying him with information on the Teen Titans.

Terra-Saved In Bloody Form!Deathstroke-I'm No Knight In Shining Armor!

At that moment, we cut to our final flashback when a young Tara is about to get executed.  Just then, Deathstroke saves her as he decapitates her executioner and scares off the villagers.  From there, he would recruit her to his cause.

Deathstroke-You Still Need To Do Your Part, Terra!.png

After cutting back to the present, it turns out that this “couple” is looking to form their own League of Assassins and that the money from Brother Blood’s contract will help out.  Despite her reluctance to return to the Teen Titans, Tara ultimately decides to continue with her act.

Nightwing & Starfire-A Minor Bad Vibe!Nightwing-You're Still Important To The Team, Starfire!

Meanwhile, Dick and Kori are moving their belongings into their apartment.  After Grayson quickly comments about his girlfriend’s weapons gallery, he asks her if something’s wrong.  She explains that following Terra’s training incident, he had a meeting with several team members without her.  Despite Dick telling her that it actually wasn’t a meeting, she’s still ashamed that they went to him despite her being team leader.  Fortunately, he tells Kori that she was still chosen to lead the Teen Titans and that he’s still happy that she’s moving in with him.

As they move to the couch in order to make out, Dick suddenly receives a text message from “Damian” who informs him of his solo patrol before the scene ends with Grayson letting Kori know that Robin approves of their partnership before they proceed to kiss.

Raven-Assembly Time, Terra!.png

Sometime later at Titans Tower, Raven stops by Terra at her room and says that she’s willing to give her some meditation in order to help her control her powers.  Raven also informs her that their teammates are gathering in the common room.  As such, Terra says that she’ll catch up in a moment.

Terra-Private Chat!Deathstroke-They Suspect Nothing, Terra!

Afterwards, she communicates with Deathstroke and feels suspicious about the team possibly knowing her hidden motives.  Slade assures her that they aren’t and that they still trust her.

Terra-Surprise Celebration!.png

As such, she makes her way to the common room where it turns out that the team is holding a surprise party for her.  The celebration is for the one-year anniversary of her joining the team as she tearfully states that she’s never had this kind of event held for her before.

From there, we have a quick montage set to the Oscar GS song “The World” as several pictures are taken of the party.  Afterwards, Dick and Kori are notified that the main computer has completely deciphered the files on Brother Blood.

Among the results is a newspaper article concerning a former H.I.V.E. scientist who was proclaimed dead despite no trace of his body.  They also learn that his own lab is still getting financially supported by a holding company owned by Brother Blood, prompting the team to check it out.

Meanwhile, Deathstroke checks up on his prisoner just as Robin’s cell phone is receiving pictures from the party.  Slade explains that he still holds a grudge due to Damian being chosen as Ra’s al Ghul’s successor over him.  Because he has Robin’s cell phone, he’s able to keep sending false texts about him being on patrol.  Just then, Terra discretely contacts him and let’s him know of the Teen Titans’ upcoming mission.  Just as the team heads out, Deathstroke takes his leave as well.

Later, the Teen Titans arrive at a facility where they spot the scientist working from afar.  Unbeknownst to them, he brings up plans for a contraption which he then sends out to Brother Blood’s headquarters before he starts to delete any remaining copy.

From there, our heroes make their presence known to him.  However, he sends out an army of mobile droids to engage them before he gathers his files and makes the computer self-destruct before running out.

Terra-The Planet Is My Sword & Shield!Blue Beetle-Can't Shoot Me!

Meanwhile, the Teen Titans take on their robotic foes and snuff them out one-by-one.

Starfire-There You Are!Starfire-Don't Let Him Get Away, Raven!

During the chaos, Starfire notices the fleeing scientist as she tells Raven to go capture him.

Back at the facility, the fight makes its way outside before our heroes emerge victorious and Raven returns with the vile scientist in her magical grasp as they prepare to interrogate him.

Unbeknownst to them however, a still-functioning droid manages to take aim and kill the scientist.  With Blue Beetle permanently scraping the robot in retaliation, the Teen Titans suffer a minor defeat since they’ve now lost their only lead.

Starfire-This Won't Be A Total Loss At All!Teen Titans-We've Been Secretly Captured On Film!

However, our heroes then notice the files that he was carrying as it turns out to be pictures from their recent past (noticeably from the previous Teen Titans film).

Teen Titans-Something Big Is At Work Here!Nightwing & Starfire-Something Sinister Is Coming!

Later at Titans Tower, Nightwing and Starfire look over their newly-retrieved evidence as they realize that the same foes that they’ve been defeating for the past several months has been secretly studying them.  Dick explains that this in-depth research covers them from their genetic makeups to the theories on their various powers.  Kori then states that despite his stubbornness, they need to get Robin back to headquarters at once.

Teen Titans-We Need To Be On Our Guard!.png

Meanwhile, the rest of the team sit around and eat the remainder of their cake in a less-than-festive mood.  Jaime states that he’s making lunch at Gabrielle’s Horn tomorrow while Garfield says that he’s invited to take part in a podcast with Kevin Smith himself over at MetroCon.  Just then, Nightwing and Starfire come in as Kori tells her teammates that with what they’ve discovered, everyone needs to keep a sharp-eye open and keep constant communication with each other.

Later, Tara is watching the sunrise while skipping stones across the water.  Just then, Garfield arrives and tells her not to let recent events ruin her one-year anniversary since he’s willing to stand by her side.  When she says that “it’s other stuff”, she proceeds to tell him how she ended up as an orphan.  She explains that her parents flipped out once she acquired her powers and thought that she was possessed.  Garfield then explains that each of their teammates have also had some rough times in their past.  From Starfire being an alien refugee who’s being hunted by her villainous older sister to Jaime’s family being somewhat distant to him due to his scarab having issues with them, he says that this emotional pain is what help fuels their heroic fight.  Being understanding to the various plights, Tara tells him that despite his green look, he’s got an online fanbase and she even likes his appearance.  Having become smitten with each other, they proceed to share a kiss with each other.  After one more affectionate smooch, Beast Boy get excited and turns into various animals in order to express his exuberant happiness.

Despite her budding feelings for him, Tara is brought back down to Earth by Deathstroke who contacts her and explains that he nearly bought her affections, letting her know that they’ll set their plans in motion tomorrow.  After Garfield lands back on the ground, she let’s him know that she’s heading back inside due to tiredness and takes her leave.  Despite her mixed feelings, the scene ends with Tara determined to stick to the mission.

Blue Beetle-I've Got This, Traci!Blue Beetle-Let The Cooking Begin!

As such, the day starts off simple enough as Jaime arrives first at Gabrielle’s Horn with the necessary food to prepare for the homeless as he patiently waits for it to cook by reading a newspaper.

Meanwhile, Garfield shows up at MetroCon in order to take part in the upcoming podcast.  However, he finds the auditorium to be completely empty as he makes his way to the desk on stage.  As he gets into the main chair, he finds a red button marked “Do Not Press!” on it as his curiosity starts to stir.

Starfire-Let's Do Take-Out, Dick!Nightwing-See You Soon, Kori!

Meanwhile, Kori is at home prepping dinner (unsuccessfully) as she tells Dick via a phone call that they should have another look at their acquired files.  After agreeing, Grayson says that he’s going to see how Jaime and Garfield are doing as the call comes to an end.

Starfire-An Unexpected Present At My Doorstep!.png

Just then, the door bell rings as Kori checks to see who it is.  While no person is there, she soon discovers a present in front of the door and notices its tag, believing that her lover is giving her a surprise gift.

Nightwing-First Stop!Nightwing-Something Strange Is At Hand!

Shortly afterwards, Dick arrives at Gabrielle’s Horn where the homeless citizens are waiting to be let in.  He asks Traci what’s wrong, to which she doesn’t know since the center should be open despite their new volunteer.

Sensing that something is wrong, he heads around back and unlocks the door.  He finds the kitchen empty as the smoke alarm blares due to the food burning in the oven.  He then notices the food closet opened slightly ajar as he discovers some car batteries in there with a trigger.  After discovering that it was hooked up to a H.I.V.E. device underneath a chair, he realizes how Jaime got captured.

The assailant hid inside the food closet and activated the device from there, viciously shocking him before carrying him away.

Nightwing-This Is An Emergency, Titans!.png

As he speeds off on his motorcycle, he sends out an emergency gathering for the team before trying to call his apartment and warn Kori.  However, he’s only able to get the answering machine as he tells her to get to headquarters while he goes after Beast Boy.

Nightwing-Hidden Speech!Nightwing-Another Revelation!

After arriving at MetroCon, Dick gets to the auditorium and inspects the main desk.  After discovering three hidden holes on the microphone and a dart sticking out behind him, he realizes how Garfield was taken.

Beast Boy-I'm So Curious!Beast Boy-I'm Hit!

Because of Garfield’s nature, he pressed the red button and caused three tranquilizer darts to fire at him.  Two were able to hit him, but he fell over before the third one could strike as well.

Nightwing-Not My Girlfriend, Too!Nightwing-I'll Find You, Kori!

After Dick gets back to his apartment, he finds out that he’s too late as Kori was also captured by another devious device.

Just then, Deathstroke swings down and crashes into his living quarters before he starts attacking him.  After Grayson grabs a pair of sais from the weapons wall, he engages Slade in combat, but he’s only barely able to defend himself as the assassin is able to counter his moves and even get some shots off from his energy lance.

As such, Dick is forced to jump out from his apartment as he uses a grapple line to save himself.  However, Deathstroke cuts it as Grayson manages to grab a ledge, but he ends up separating his limb in the process as he ends up falling safely onto a pile of garbage.

Nightwing-I Won't Be Chopped Up Today!Nightwing-The Fight For My Life!

With his left arm having gone limp, Dick is forced to run for his life as Slade follows after him through a farmer’s market before they end up tussling again.

Deathstroke-Checkmate!Nightwing-Down For The Count!

After the scuffle makes its way out towards the docks, Deathstroke ends the fight as he fires a single shot.  This hits Grayson in the chest as the battle wounds take their toll and he ends up falling into the water.

Terra-That's A Wrap For Raven!.png

Over at Titans Tower, it turns out that Terra managed to fight and defeat Raven off-screen as she confirms her success to Slade.

After the assassin takes his leave, Dick emerges and drags himself onto the pier.  It turns out that his life was saved by a chopping block that he grabbed at the Farmer’s Market as it stopped the bullet from striking his chest.  After ramming his left arm back into its socket to regain the use of his limb, he prepares to head out and save his team.

Back at Deathtroke’s hideout, Robin nearly gets his left arm free from the rocks.  However, Terra comes in and uses her power to quickly rectify it.  Damian then tries to convince her that Slade is lying to her about the world being out to get her and that he’s only taking her under his training regime with false promises.  However, Terra doesn’t buy it and tries to kill him, stating that she’s always hated Damian and the rest of the Teen Titans.  Fortunately, Deathstroke returns and stops her murderous intent.

Afterwards, Terra is packing up her belongings when she notices a picture from her party with the team.  Slade comes in and tells her that since she’s been undercover with them for a year, it’s understandable that she’s developed some feelings for them.  However, he wants her to concentrate on their ultimate aspirations since they’re almost done.  As such, she ends up deleting the picture from her cell phone.

Nightwing-Where Can I Find Terra, Computer!Nightwing-I Have You Now!

Back at Titans Tower, Dick sees the rumbling remains of the infrastructure as he orders the main computer to give him the location of Tara’s phone.  Thankfully, it shows her moving out towards the ultimate destination.

Brother Blood-Our Time To Rise Is Coming!Brother Blood-Hail Me, Brothers & Sisters!

That place turns out to be Brother Blood’s island where he gives a sermon to his followers as he prepares them for the sacrifice of some “false gods” and gain their powers for the group’s ultimate goals.

Deathstroke-We're Near The Finish Line, Terra!.png

Down below, Deathstroke and Terra stand by near H.I.V.E.’s secret contraption, which holds the captured Teen Titans in its grasp.  With the exception of Raven, everyone else regains their consciousness as they learn from Slade that the machine is suppressing their powers.

Afterwards, he delivers the shocking reveal to them that Terra has been his accomplice all along.  With the Teen Titans in utter disbelief (especially Beast Boy), she and Deathstroke take their leave.

Nightwing-I'm On My Way, Titans!.png

Meanwhile, a H.I.V.E. storage truck is on its way back to base.  Unbeknownst to the cronies inside, Nightwing is hiding out underneath in order to begin his rescue mission.

Back inside, Brother Blood and Mother Mayhem overlook the captured Teen Titans.  However, he notices that Nightwing hasn’t been caught and tells Deathstroke that their deal isn’t over yet.  Fortunately for them, Brother Blood knows someone who can replace the lone Teen Titan.  After Slade agrees, Mother Mayhem fires a tranquilizer dart.  It turns out that Terra is going to be used as the last sacrificial piece.  As she gets placed onto the machine, Deathstroke gets rewarded with his $200 million bounty, thus finally completing the contract.

With the final puzzle piece in place, the contraption rises up to the main stage.  From there, Mother Mayhem activates the machine as it starts to drain our heroes of their energy.  Afterwards, Brother Blood takes his place and begins to absorb their powers.

Just then, Nightwing drops in and attacks the guards.  He then fires a Batarang at the control console, causing it to explode and take Mother Mayhem out of the equation.  He then throws another Batarang at the machine and destroys it.

As the followers hurry themselves out (with Deathstroke following suit), the harnesses unlock as the Teen Titans become freed from their containment.

However, the team has a new crisis on their hands as Brother Blood is ready to engage them with his newly-acquired superpowers.  While Starfire, Beast Boy, Raven and Blue Beetle proceed to fight him, Nightwing and Robin head out to tangle with Deathstroke.

Brother Blood-Prepare To Crumble, Titans!Deathstroke-I'm Outnumbered, But Not Outmatched!

While the team struggles against Brother Blood’s variety of powers, Slade is able to mainly fend off Dick & Damian’s 2-on-1 attack.

Just then, Terra wakes up and overseas the confrontations.  As soon as she sees Deathstroke from afar, she becomes enraged and charges right at him (hilariously ramming Brother Blood along the way).

Terra-Stay Out Of This!Terra-I Don't Like Being Used!

From there, she separates herself from everyone else and begins to unleash her anger on Slade.

Beast Boy-Heads Up, Jaime!Blue Beetle-Blasting Brother Blood!

Meanwhile, the Teen Titans start to rebound as Beast Boy and Blue Beetle team-up to constantly smack and blast Brother Blood.

Afterwards, Raven finishes the fight by unleashing a demonic spell on him, which drains him of his powers before Starfire comes in and delivers the finishing punch.

With Brother Blood’s centuries-long plan fully crumbled and him being denied of his personal destiny, Mother Mayhem comes in and gives him a mercy kill by shooting him multiple times.

Meanwhile, Terra continues her fight against Deathstroke.  She’s able to fend off his strikes before she finally smacks him around and crushes him under the massive pieces of Earth.

With the building beginning to crumble, Beast Boy looks on from afar.  Ashamed for her actions, Terra uses her powers to get Garfield away from her while Mother Mayhem cradles Brother Blood’s corpse as they end up killed by the collapsing building.

With Terra using her powers to tear down the building, the Teen Titans are forced to retreat as the one-time Titan gives her life and brings the crumbling infrastructure down on her.

Kevin Smith-Cameo Time!Beast Boy-Podcast Central!

We then cut to sometime later as Garfield finally meets up Kevin Smith (voiced by the main man himself) in order to take part in a podcast.  When asked how one becomes a member of the Teen Titans, he begins by starting how it starts with “a strong sense of family”.

Blue Beetle-Mi Familia!Blue Beetle-No Probs With Pops!

While Beast Boy gives his speech, we cut to several shots of the team as Jaime works at Gabrielle’s Horn.  Suddenly, his family shows up as he hugs every last one of team, including his own father (whom the Scarab doesn’t harshly react to anymore).

Robin-Slade's Still Out There!Raven-Here's Our Newest Addition!

As Garfield tells Kevin that being a member isn’t just about superpowers, uniforms, or adventures, he adds that they also work to help each other grow.  During this moment, Damian looks over the only Deathstroke-related item recovered from the wreckage: his mask.  Just then, Raven joins him and reveals that she’s gotten them a dog as they further their relationship.

Wonder Girl-Quick Cameo!.png

Kevin even quickly mentions that the Teen Titans have recently acquired a new member, which turns out to be Donna Troy a.k.a. Wonder Girl.

Nightwing & Starfire-Together At Last!Beast Boy-I'm Willing To Talk About Terra!

While Dick and Kori chill in their apartment and watch Looney Tunes, Smith asks Garfield if their newest member will replace Terra.  Despite it striking an emotional chord, Beast Boy decides to talk about her.

Beast Boy-I Know You're There, Terra!.png

While the image of Garfield digging through the remains of H.I.V.E.’s base plays on, he tells Kevin how some people are unfairly given a rough life and can’t rise above it.  However, Tara showed her true colors to him through the adversary and became “a diamond”.

During this, Beast Boy finds Terra’s body as she’s just conscious enough to give a smile to him.  Unfortunately, her wounds were too severe as she loses her life while Garfield’s teammates look over in sadness.

Jericho-I Live!.png

And so, the film ends on a post-credits scene that takes place while H.I.V.E. headquarters was crumbling down.  As Brother Blood’s quote on how “there’s always a tiny wisp of life left” plays, it turns out that a certain test subject survived his gunshot wound to the head and lives.

Beast Boy-Train On!.png

Now that the story has passed, let’s move onto my character analysis.  To kick things off, let’s begin with practically the central figure of this iconic Teen Titans tale: Beast Boy.  The fun-loving animal shape-shifter does share some moments with Terra and to the film’s credit, it does show plenty of moments where the two share scenes together (much to her initial annoyance).  I’m sure that in the comics, there were several issues when she joined the team and they shared many more moments since she first appeared in New Teen Titans #26, but my trade only shows #39 through #41 in addition to the main four-part story.  Back to the differences, how Beast Boy gets captured is slightly different in translation.  In the film, he’s struck by a trio of tranquilizer darts hidden in a microphone.  In the source material, it’s a toxin within the sealing glue of several envelopes that he licks shut when he was sending out pictures of himself to his fans.  In terms of the character for this film, he serves as Terra’s shining hope for redemption.  Even though his chipper attitude served as an annoyance to her at first, his persistence manages to somewhat pay off as it managed to seat itself within his tragic teammate.  His upbeat nature and positive outlook towards the world continues to make him very likable, since Brandon Soo Hoo continues to carry the same level of energy he brought to the previous film.  As someone who grew up watching the 2003 animated series, he’s set himself alongside Greg Cipes in my mind for the definitive Beast Boy voice.

Nightwing-Rescue Time Is Go!.jpg

Next up, we have our resurgent hero in Nightwing.  In my “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” review, I complained about his lack of screentime since he was one of the original members of the team.  Apparently, my complaint was heard since he’s been made prominent again.  In New Teen Titans #39, he retired his Robin persona and stepped down from the team, giving Donna Troy the role of team leader while he sets out to decide what he wants to be going forward with his life.  It isn’t until Part 3 of the main story following his investigations into his teammates’ kidnappings does he debut his Nightwing persona.  During Brother Blood’s two-issue run afterwards, he was disguised as reporter Joe Walsh and tagged along a small group of honorable political figures to get to the bottom of the Zandian crisis.  However, Brother Blood’s team quickly saw through his disguise and brainwashed him into joining their cult.  Fortunately, he eventually breaks free of his mental prison and helps his teammates fight back.  Anyway, like the trade, we do get one venture with him as Robin.  In the comics, it sets up Terra’s eventual betrayal of the team.  Here, it’s an opening flashback that shows how Starfire joined and how their relationship was established.  With what we get from him here, he’s been investigating H.I.V.E. for a long while before he rejoins the Teen Titans in order to help him combat the devious group.  Also, his relationship with Koriand’r (which has its seeds subtlety planted in “Batman vs. Robin”) finally comes to the forefront as they handle Starfire’s position as team leader while they look to get take relationship to a new level by moving into an apartment together.  After his investigation and Deathstroke encounter, he sets out to rescue his team on his own.  In the comics, he gets an unexpected ally to help him out (which I’ll discuss later).  After he rescues his team, his teammates ultimately take care of the situation.  As revealed in the ret-conned opening scene, he’s always had the knack for being a leader, which retroactively gives an extra flavor to his leadership skills back in “Batman: Bad Blood”.  Having sitting out most of the previous entry, Sean Maher returns and his performance is fairly solid.  Nothing stands out too much, though he’s still very effective in his role.

Blue Beetle-My Scarab Isn't Interested In Losing!.png

Moving on, we reach our armored hero in Blue Beetle.  He has a character-building arc where his family (mainly his dad) is leery of him due to the lack of trust that his scarab has.  To Jaime, his solution is to work alongside people its never been around before in order it to trust him in public and outside of superhero business.  Because this is taking place within a film adaptation of a famous story line, I feel like it doesn’t get as much of the development that it deserves to have.  Maybe if this arc had been within another story and it had a couple more scenes of development, then this display of personal growth would have been wonderful for him.  Of course, he wasn’t in the original source material.  As such, he somewhat takes Cyborg’s role, especially when an electrified chair is what knocks him out and gets him captured.  Not much else to say about him, so I conclude with the fact that Jake T. Austin is mainly solid once again.

Starfire-Training Complete!.jpg

Next up, let’s quickly talk about our team leader herself, Starfire.  Starting off as a brief mention in two Batman films before finally earning a spotlight for herself, Koriand’r has come a long way within a few years.  This time around, her character arc has her dealing with Dick’s return (while he tries to remember that she’s the team leader) while their in-universe five-year relationship takes another step with them moving in together.   Other than a few minor hiccups to her situation, she’s mainly grown very stable within the time that she’s been on Earth.  There’s not too many noticeable differences between her version from the original material and what’s presented here, since how she gets captured by Deathstroke and H.I.V.E. plays out the exact same way.  If the character’s going to get more development in a future movie, then the opening scene did hint at her evil older sister who wanted her captured in her coup d’etat.  Maybe the series could have a Teen Titans film that takes a stab at that.  To wrap things up, Kari Wahlgren’s performance is light-hearted, gets a couple of chuckles and feels really genuine.

Raven & Robin-Lesser Roles!.png

Briefly, let’s get to both Raven and Robin, since there’s not much to discuss about them this time around.  After she was a main focus in the last film in order to stop her demonic father while he’s been given lots of character growth throughout four prior films, they’re both not given a whole lot to do.  They do have a ethical debate about whether or not Raven should share what she mentally saw in Terra’s mind while trying to prevent her from inadvertently bringing the building down.  Even though Damian has been in past character arcs where he’s had to learn how to work within a team, he still learns to keep both eyes open when someone close to you isn’t all what they seem.  Because of that, he gets captured throughout a good chunk of the film.  Meanwhile, Raven is relegated to a supporting role after her major story arc.  Though they don’t get much to do together, they do end up growing a little bit as a potentially-budding couple by the end.  With what they each have to work with, Taissa Farmiga and Stuart Allen are fairly decent in their roles.

Deathstroke-I Can Handle A 2-On-1 Strike!.png

Now, let’s move onto the villains, starting things off with Deathstroke.  His scheme here mainly plays out how it went in the comics: He has Terra spend some time with the Teen Titans in order to gather intel on them before he captures them and hands them over to H.I.V.E. so that they can enact their machine (which was called “The Enervator” in the comics) and have their powers drained as part of “Operation: Waterworks”.  One thing that the source material has over this film and his appearance in “Son Of Batman” is that it explains his backstory.  When Dick is approached by his wife Adeline and his son Joseph, she explains that she met him at boot camp in Camp Washington during the early ’60s when he joined at 16 (lying about his age, in the process) and was eventually taken under her wing and taught in the ways of “Mao Tse-Tung’s Chinese Communist Guerrilla Fighters” before graduating with honors as a Lieutenant Colonel.  They gained an ally in Major Wintergreen of the British Army (who eventually became Slade’s personal butler) and married.  While he fought in Vietnam, she gave birth to their first son Grant.  When he got back home however, he volunteered to give a guinea pig for a medical experiment that would make him resist truth serums, but sent his body into shock.  This ultimately ended his active fighting duties because the serum gave him Ingravescent Abrasia, where his flip-flopped from uncoordinated to superhuman.  During this time, their second son Joseph was born.  After he successfully accomplished an unauthorized rescue mission to save Wintergreen, he took up hunting before the fateful kidnapping of Joseph saw him rescue his son, but ended up with his voice box damaged.  After several days of never going to see his son in the hospital and informing Adeline that being an assassin is the only thing that gives him any purpose, his right eye was shot out by her.  Because of how this animated universe was shaped, we had the minor alteration caused by Damian.  Other than that, there’s not much else about his backstory that we know from this universe.  Anyway, a major difference as to how the Titans are spared from the devious machine is changed.  Here, Nightwing takes care of it during the rescue mission.  In the source material, both he and his son Jericho were captured.  Deathstroke was ultimately doomed by his son who used his power to take over him over in order to slap Terra away and shoot the machine in order to free the Titans.  His ending has also been changed.  While it’s left ambiguous as to whether or not he survived an entire building crumbling onto him, he gets captured at the end of the story following a vicious struggle by both Terra and the Titans.  Either way, he remains a force to be reckoned with for anyone and has to rely on both his cunning intellect & his combat skills to stay alive.  For what was ultimately his final role before his untimely demise, Miguel Ferrer’s performance is deep and gravely, but stern and commanding.  In the end, he turns in a respectable outing for his final hurrah.

Brother Blood-Shall We Fight, Titans!.png

Next up, we reach our main mastermind in Brother Blood.  In preparation for this review, I picked up the 2017 reprint trade for this iconic storyline.  As it turns out, Brother Blood actually only appears in New Teen Titans #40 & 41, before the actual four-issue story begins.  Either way, I’ll try to point out differences between the source material and the film.  In the comics, Brother Blood has existed for more than 700 years.  Meanwhile, the movie makes a minor tweak by adding two centuries to his life span.  Like the source material, Brother Blood has his own sadistic cult where his enemies’ own spilled blood has extended his own immortality and his ultimate endgame has him sacrificing the Teen Titans in order to gain their strength.  While he met his demise after the Teen Titans stripped him of his powers and defeated him in battle before Mother Mayhem shot him in order to prevent his incarceration, he’s ultimately crushed by technological debris after his base is blown apart for military forced led by the President of the island nation of Zandia, Rafael Marko.  The feeling I got from watching Brother Blood is that he’s presented as an a man who comes off as omnipotent and wishes to spread his devious beliefs to the world.  However, the film mainly relegates him to his base as his only public appearance there was talking to a reporter whom he ultimately kills due to the growing claims of his place of worship being less-than-noble.  In the comics, he convinces the viewing audience during a news conference that his group has the best of intentions and that Zandia’s leader should be the one at fault for the nation’s growing crisis.  Maybe if Brother Blood has one or two more scenes of development, then I could gain a better grasp on him.  Either way, Gregg Henry’s performance is delightful.  His tones give his character lots of powerful deliveries in his voice, especially during his sermons.  In the end, Brother Blood was entertaining enough.

Terra-Furious Rumblings!.png

Finally, we reach our tragic character in Terra.  Just like the second season of a particular 2003 animated series, she’s a misguided young girl who backstabs the Titans for her master Deathstroke, but not before Beast Boy’s supplanted kindness give her a later chance for redemption.  In the comics however, she had no remorse for the team whatsoever.  It was only disguised by her arrogant snarkiness and witty banter.  Even though she does spend some time with Beast Boy in all versions, she was more than willing to see the Teen Titans be slained in the source material.  Another difference is how she goes on a vicious rampage on Slade for betraying her.  As I mentioned when I talked him, Deathstroke was possessed by his captured son Jericho and slapped her before freeing the Teen Titans.  Because she’s not entirely familiar with his son, he tries to kill him.  Here, he gives her up to Brother Blood just because he couldn’t capture Dick Grayson.  After she gets freed, that’s when she begins her angered assault.  Just like the animated series, there’s no mention of her heroic half-brother Brion Markov a.k.a. Geo-Force.  Even though he explains during her funeral that they her family wasn’t never close-knitted to her and that she was sent to America to avoid a court scandal, he still cares for her since he was told that she died a hero.  Even though she never displays extreme levels of a despising nature towards the Teen Titans at any moment, she’s mainly annoyed by Beast Boy until his charm and caring nature manages to partially wins her over enough to develop some genuine feelings to him, especially when she brings down H.I.V.E.’s base in a heroic sacrifice.  For her performance, Christina Ricci comes off as genuine and skilled in her delivery.  Her range suited the character and boosted the tragic figure’s portrayal really well.

Teen Titans-Happy Anniversary, Terra!.png

The story is well-told.  Important details are made clear and it has a good sense of pacing, allowing for a stable balance of action and exposition.  As far as the animation goes, it’s mostly competent.  However, I did notices two flubs.  One is during the initial facility where the team takes out various H.I.V.E. agents.  When Blue Beetle’s scarab starts firing at random people, Terra manages to lean out of the way.  However, she then just snaps back into a standing position.  I know she’s in the background, but no one who worked on this noticed this error.  The more minor one is when Robin is about to head out, but then Beast Bot comes in as a bug and lands on Damian’s face.  It unnecessarily holds for a second or two and made me wonder if there was something wrong with the film.  Other than that, it’s still mostly fluid and comes with a pleasing color pallet.

Cyborg-Not In This Movie!Jericho-Superpowered & Tested!

Now we reach a special section concerning Teen Titans members that were in the original source material, but omitted in some way, shape or form.  While Wonder Girl only gets a brief appearance near the end, she was a fully-established character in the comics.  She inherited the role of team leader from Robin, she has a strong relationship with a human man named Terry Long and had a job as a free-lance photographer.  Next up, we have Cyborg who’s been left out entirely in this adaptation.  In actuality, he didn’t have much to do except for his duties on the team.  In a similar sign that Blue Beetle has taken over his role, Victor Stone (at least in the source material) lives within his old rundown neighborhood and looks to one day help turn it around for the better.  However, the biggest change came from whom Brother Blood tested his machine on.  If you notice that when you watch it, he never makes any noise from his mouth at all.  When I saw the familiar color scheme of his clothing, I realized that this was Jericho.  In the comics, his ability allowed him to take control of someone else if he manages to give them eye contact first.  He actually made his debut during the original Judas Contract in issue #43.  Throughout the original story, he was accompanied alongside his mother Adeline Kane whom she tells of her backstory and how she met her husband: Slade Wilson himself.  After the highly-skilled captain trained him during their time in the Army, they eventually got married before having a son named Joseph.  However, he was later kidnapped by agents who worked for a terrorist named Jackal.  Even though Deathstroke saved his son, Joseph’s throat was cut just enough so that his voice box was forever severed and made him mute.  In the source material, he joins Nightwing to help out in his rescue mission.  Even when they’re ultimately captured, Jericho becomes the Teen Titans’ main ace as he takes over his father and destroys the entrapping machine while making Terra think that her partner is betraying her.  In this film, I have to wonder about this: If Slade’s son has been in this base all this time, how did he never find out about his own kid being worked on for H.I.V.E.? I guess he’s out with Terra fulfilling their deal, but it seems odd that Deathstroke never knew about his son’s presence within the base.

Gabrielle's Horn-Another Reference!Traci 13-Nice Nod!

One last thing that I’ll bring up are a few notable references to past Teen Titans from the comics.  The name of the soup kitchen “Gabrielle’s Horn” is actually a reference to a past Teen Titans member named Malcome “Mal” Duncan who originally was a hero named Guardian before a fight against the Angel of Death named Azrael gave him possession of Gabriel’s Horn, thus becoming the hero Hornblower.  As for Traci (as well as the number on her shirt), she’s a reference to Traci 13, a heroine who possess “Urban Magic”.  Essentially, it let’s her use the magic of cities to cast various spells.  Just like in the Pre-New 52 comics, she also develops a relationship with Jaime.

Teen Titans-Titans Together!

Overall, this is an entertaining romp.  Despite a few hiccups, it’s still competently put together with solid acting, a good sense of pacing, engaging action, exposition that never overstays its welcome and an adaptation that was well-worth the near-decade.  Not too shabby for a film that was originally meant to be an early entry for the series, especially since it’s a well-deserved break from a long stream of Batman films.  The characters are likable, the situation is timely and it’s highly recommended for Teen Titans fans, comic book fans and those who enjoy the high-spirited ventures of those of young minds & hearts.  Either way, it’s more than deserving of a watch.  So get your team together and have the grand trust of a good time to be had.

Next Time: It’s back to Gotham City for us, but not in the New 52 Animated Universe.  Something wicked is growing here, but the Caped Crusader can’t stop it on his own and will need some unexpected help to take it down.  It’s multiple shades of justice that only Bruce Timm could pen as we dig into “Batman & Harley Quinn”.

Teen Titans (created by Bob Haney and Bruno Premiani) are owned by DC Comics.

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