Tara Markov (Terra I)

Tara Markov was the illegitimate daughter of the king of Markovia. Like her half-brother Brion, the legitimate prince of Marvokia, she was experimented on by a doctor named Helga Jace, who gave both children the power to manipulate earth and rock. Brion became the superhero Geo-Force, while Tara was sent to America to avoid a scandal. There she adopted the name Terra and started using her powers to steal. When the New Teen Titans apprehended her, she explained that she’d been kidnapped by terrorists, who were forcing her to steal for them. The Titans took down the terrorists and offered Terra membership.
Unbeknownst to the Titans, though, the whole thing was a set-up, and Terra was a spy, employed by their enemy Deathstroke the Terminator to join the team and ferret out their secrets. While the Titans saw her as a scared and defensive young girl (and Beast Boy found himself smitten with her), she was in reality a ruthless sociopath who was disgusted by the Titans’ do-gooderness and gleefully anticipated their deaths. Even her employer (and lover, because creepy) Deathstroke was alarmed by her power and heartlessness.
Terra helped Deathstroke capture the Titans, but before the prisoners could be killed, Deathstroke was possessed by his heroic son Jericho, who released the Titans. Furious at what she perceived as Deathstroke’s betrayal, Terra went completely insane and pulled the entire complex down on herself while trying to kill…well, basically everyone else. The Titans gave her a heroes’ funeral and kept her betrayal a secret in an attempt to protect her brother, but it has since become common knowledge, at least in the superhero community.
So What’s So Great About Her?

Since the original Terra plotline, there have been several other takes on the character. A heroic Tara Markov doppelganger showed up claiming to be from the future and displaying the same powers as the original Terra; though it’s not clear whether she is really the original Terra somehow brought back to life or not, she’s certainly allied with the side of good. The most recent character to take on the Terra mantle (that’s a little geology joke for you), Atlee, is also unshakably good at her core (zing!). And the animated version of Terra in the 2003 Teen Titans show is what readers expected the comic book character to be: a troubled but essentially decent girl who is led astray by Slade/Deathstroke.
But the original Terra doesn’t bother with any of that. She was a shock when she was introduced: a somewhat rabbit-faced little blonde kid, cute as a button, and determined to slaughter the Titans without a hint of remorse. She never betrays any compassion or affection for her teammates, and goes to her grave absolutely crazy with hate. Even knowing how her story ends, reading The Judas Contract today is surprising, with its uncompromising depiction of her sheer maliciousness.
Even beyond the context of her story and the power of the betrayal, Terra’s a fantastic character to read. For starters, she’s a powerhouse, an elemental force who gives the far more experienced Titans and Deathstroke a run for their money. She’s not just a strong fighter, she’s a cunning fighter who learns fast and is an effective member of the team before her true nature is revealed. She’s also smart enough to live with the Titans for months and still manage to hide the truth. And to be perfectly honest, there’s something refreshing about her foul-mouthed disregard for the Titans. Even though the Titans are a likable bunch, it’s hard not to be delighted when Terra mocks their sanctimoniousness and melodramatic romantic entanglements. Sure, she’s evil, but she’s such a fun evil.
Terra had a very brief lifespan, all things considered only about 20 issues. But she’s an enjoyable character and a memorable villain, and her actions continue to have ramifications for the Titans today. Not a bad legacy.
Notable Appearances:
New Teen Titans v1 #26-40
Tales of the Teen Titans 41-44, Annual #3
…Or you can just pick up the trades Terra Incognito and The Judas Contract.

Beatriz Da Costa (Fire)

Publisher: DC Comics
First Appearance: Super Friends #25 (October 1979)
Created By: E. Nelson Bridwell and Ramona Fradon

Bea originally debuted in Super Friends as the Green Fury, with inconsistently-defined flame-based powers courtesy of ‘Brazilian mysticism.’ Luckily, that didn’t last long, and post-Crisis she returned as a former model and showgirl who became a secret agent for the Brazilian government. An accident on the job with a substance called pyroplasm endowed her with the ability to exhale green fire, because comics. She named herself Green Fury, then Green Flame, and joined the Global Guardians, an international team of superheroes funded by the UN.
When the UN withdrew funding from the Global Guardians in favor of the newly-formed Justice League International, Bea and her best friend Tora Olafsdotter (Icemaiden II) signed up with the latter. Soon after, they changed their names to Fire and Ice, and Bea got a major power up that enabled her to turn her whole body to green fire, fly, and shoot fiery blasts from her hands. Bea served the longest continuous term of any JLI member, even through Tora’s death, which devastated Bea.
With the dissolution of the JLI, Bea joined up with Checkmate, a cloak-and-dagger UN-sponsored agency dedicated to monitoring metahuman activity. There she was blackmailed by Amanda Waller, Checkmate’s White Queen, into performing covert assassinations in order to cover up her father’s past war crimes. Eventually she agreed to turn her father over to the authorities instead.
Bea has currently teamed up with several old JLI teammates (including a resurrected Tora) and their successors to track down their former-friend-gone-rogue Max Lord in Justice League: Generation Lost.
So What’s So Great About Her?

Like all of the characters associated with the banter-y, lighthearted Justice League International, Bea is often dismissed as a goofy joke character. She spent the late 80s trading quips with the likes of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, gleefully showing off skin in what’s now a hilariously dated outfit, and dragging the much less brazen Tora into zany situations.
Of course, later issues of Justice League America, post-Tora’s death, showed a deeper side of her, as she struggled with her grief and her confused feelings about Tora, original Icemaiden and new teammate Sigrid Nansen, her own sexuality, and a budding relationship with Tora’s former lover Guy Gardner, who she’d previously hated. And a follow-up miniseries by the original JLI creative team, I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League, delved deep into Bea’s anguish, still painful after all these years, when she encountered what may or may not have been Tora in what or may not have been Hell (and the miniseries itself may or may not have been canon). But she’s still JLI, and JLI characters still tend to get painted with the ‘comical failure’ brush.
The recent Checkmate series, though, and the current Generation Lost show a radically different Bea than JLI one: a woman who has been trained to kill since childhood, a woman who will use her incredibly destructive power or her bare hands to commit murder in order to protect a father who does not deserve her loyalty. This Bea struggles with the balance between superhero and government agent, but internally; no pyrotechnic outbursts for her.
While the Checkmate characterization may seem like a drastic departure from earlier depictions of Bea, a lot of it was already present in the character. She’s had the secret agent backstory almost from the beginning, she’s always been more complex than she lets on, and she’s always has loyalty in spades. It’s the tone of the book (and the dialing-down of Bea’s flamboyant, temperamental personality) that makes her seem so different. And heck, she has reason to be down at least five of her oldest and dearest friends had just kicked the bucket at the time, one going evil along the way.
Now with the JLI reunited, I’m calling for a return of the brash, hot-tempered, breezily sensual Bea of the JLI but afforded the kind of respect characters like the competent, conflicted Bea of Checkmate get. After all, her power set is basically identical to Marvel’s Human Torch, and people take him (reasonably) seriously. Why not Bea?
At her core, Bea’s a bright, flashy character with a deep love of life, and a ton of fun to read. She’s got a sense of humor; she’s got a temper; she’s got a healthy dose of self-confidence. And now, thanks to Checkmate, she’s got a level-up in badass Checkmate and that’s only fitting. Because at the end of the day, Bea, like her JLI fellows, can be silly and flawed and painfully human but she’s still a superhero, and she can still kick all kinds of ass.
Notable Appearances:
As mentioned above, Bea served the longest term on the Justice League International. Her branch was renamed Justice League America with issue #26.
Justice League International v1 #12-25
Justice League America #26-113
Martian Manhunter #10
Formerly Known as the Justice League
I Can’t Believe It’s Not the Justice League
Checkmate v2 #1-31 (especially #11-12, which reveal the backstory with her father)
Bea is currently co-starring in Justice League: Generation Lost.