Bio Check out my comic review blog: NerdyN8sNotes.com / https://nerdyn8snotes.wordpress.com
I am an up-and-coming editor entering the publishing world, hoping to become a developmental editor. If I could have, though, I would have majored in comic book culture and taught students about comic books. Alas. Still, working in publishing is a nice alternative. But my heart will always be aligned with comics.
I love young heroes, and my DC specially is all things Titans-related. Any questions regarding Titans / Teen Titans / New Teen Titans — basically ANYthing Titans...I am your guy.
As promised, I've been reading Vigilante on the side and have finished the issues that comprise Act I (#1-#11). This won't be an issue by issue breakdown, but general impressions and commentary.
- I believe first three issues are the most important and set the tone for the subsequent issues. Issue #1 introduces Adrian as the violent yet justice seeking crime-fighter dealing with some dark, scummy criminals. While the thug Brand is easy to hate, Mr. Quilt, despite being deplorable in every other way, just wants to see his kid. Immediately we're made to know this isn't just a shoot'em up story, it's a complicated story with no clear hero. Nevertheless, we understand why Adrian is committed to his crusade, only to see that devotion shattered in issue #2 when we see the possibility that he attacks an innocent man come to fruition. Thus, he's forced to realign and refocus, even questioning his life as Vigilante in the first place. And finally in issue #3 we get to see his philosophy directly tested against another hero he respects in Cyborg (awesome cameo). The most common talking points surrounding the "should superheroes kill" debate are addressed up front, clearly define Adrian and his worldview, and establish that the comic is about something more him killing crooks - in fact, Adrian swears off killing unless in self-defense, which he affirms when he refuses to kill the Controller after J.J.'s death.
- I think it's interesting who Adrian targets. He doesn't attempt to vanquish all crime in New York, he targets those who have evaded the law on technicalities or misfiled paperwork. He's intentionally attacking those who exploit the legal system, not those who disobey the law outright. So the series itself seems to be more about the failures of the court system, of the politics and human error that prevent criminals to be tried and convicted as intended. I think that sets Adrian a part from, say, the Punisher. His crusade is against the legal system more than it is on crime itself. Even when the mob families assembled to launch different crimes at once, Adrian was going after the Controller because of J.J. dying. His crusade is personal both in motivation and execution.
- I like that Wolfman didn't firmly root the comic in ultra-realism, especially since Adrian got his start with the super-heroics of the Titans. His origins had a supernatural element to them, J.J. could invent any high-tech gadget he needed, the main antagonist in the Controller was almost all machine, etc. It added a sense of flare and fun to otherwise heavy subject matter in a way that didn't take away from the impact. At the same time, Adrian is far from Titans Tower. He operates out of a trailer it seems, with a computer whiz and a single-mom as his back-up. When he's hurt, he needs to go to the hospital and get the records scrubbed by hand. He operates at the mercy of the cops and the courts. I like that Wolfman distinguishes him from other vigilantes.
- Ending this act with Adrian becoming Judge was an interesting move, even though we saw him act as one during Slade Wilson's trial. He was committed to his life as Vigilante full-time here, but to see that duality as a judge and as a vigilante will be fascinating to see going forward.
Those are my most immediate thoughts. I'd be curious if you have any insights I haven't considered. I'll keep reading and post again here when I finish Act II. Until then.
Hey, Quilty. You finished Act I fairly quickly. Nice going. I reckon I'll give you a combination of my responses to your thoughts as well as some thoughts of my own, not necessarily separated as I tend to do for the Titans posts.
You touch upon how the comic is not so rooted in ultra-realism. Indeed, despite the fact that Adrian's Vigilante is mostly a skill-type character, the stories of Act I have enough comic-book-y elements to keep it somewhat light, despite the weight of the themes addressed throughout. To me, Act I felt like it actually belonged in the "superhero" genre, with perhaps a splash of "secret agent" thrown in. This tone is present throughout Act I, the only act wherein Marv Wolfman both writes and edits the comic throughout. The reason the somewhat lighter tone can exist within this premise seems to be because Adrian felt like he had this cone of invincibility around him. With the death of J.J. and the departure of Terry, Adrian's outlook changes, and you already can see that in the final two issues of the act.
As for the first three issues setting up Adrian's philosophy, Marv actually wrote in an editor's note that the comic reads better if you read issue #3 before issue #2. That way, you go from Adrian being extreme in issue #1, to him being softer and not wanting to face off against a hero he respects in issue #3, to coming to the striking realization in issue #2 that his strict ideals may be too rigid. Now, the comic still reads fine and makes sense as #1, #2 and #3, but either way works, interestingly enough.
The philosophies expressed in this title vary as the series progresses, as adopted by Adrian Chase and other characters in the cast.
Speaking of the cast, I liked the addition of Marcia King to Vigilante's supporting cast. She's intelligent but fun and frisky. Adrian's friend, the judge Alan Welles, offers him a judgeship, which he does not actually accept right away—yep, you jumped the gun a smidgeon on that assumption, haha. Oh well. You already know thanks to NTT that it does happen in due time. These two supporting characters become more important as the book progresses. What were your thoughts on them? How do they compare so far to J.J. and/or Terry? I must admit that I loved the gadgets and such that J.J. had been able to give Vigilante, giving him a really cool array of tools he can use, particularly his motorcycle. If I played a D&D version of Adrian Chase as Vigilante, the gadgets that J.J. gave Adrian really makes his character worth it for me. Although, that said, as I think about it, the healing at will and high charisma score would also make him a good choice … okay, I digress. Forgive the tabletop RPG references; I regularly listen to D&D-based podcasts.
Alienstein was named in issue #16. I started and finished SBatR this weekend—fun read all-in-all. The overarching story wrapped up nicely, almost as if all 19 issues (plus the Genesis appearances of the team) made up a novel.
Oh cool. I must have missed it. I remember liking it quite a bit when I read it. I'm still disappointed most of the core team only appeared a handful of times at most after the series ended. And Nightshade's time as a member of InterC.E.P.T. was never mentioned again at all lol.
Of course it wasn't, haha. Nightshade's membership on InterC.E.P.T. made sense, given her connection to the Nightshade Dimension, and I am pretty confident that Eve was the most recognizable character in the series besides Superboy. Granted, the series mostly relied on characters original to the title.
As for the Ravers, I grew more attached to the Earth Clique partygoers than I thought I would. Half-Life's powers were more interesting than I expected, the way his ectoplasm could change between certain properties, depending. And I liked the idea of someone who grew up in the '40s/'50s before becoming a permanent teenager, until his death. Byron's noting of the Golden Age heroes he was a fan of was fun. Kaliber was interesting—not many heroic Qwardians. Moreover, he is a meta-Quartdian with size-altering powers on top of the usual infrared vision his race has and the energy-blasting gun he uses. Pretty unique, plus he had a pronounced personality. Aura was always drawn beautifully, and she was not as apathetic toward her teammates as she initially seemed.
I read the series because I am planning to read all comics featuring Titans members. SBatR had three: Superboy, Hero Cruz and Sparx. Even though the latter two were in Titans teams that lasted a very limited amount of time, they are still Titans, so I care about learning about them. Hero's levelheadedness (outside of his mild obsession with mastering the H-Dial) and other personality traits made him my favorite among the group.
I like Sparx well enough, and I especially like the Force Family. I'm always looking for more superpowered young characters for my Potential Titans list. So Piston, Anastasia, Stat and Minnie were all fun to add to said list. I like that the family members' names are puns on their powers. However, that makes me wonder. When their powers activate, are they somehow subconsciously influenced by their names? Or, are the family members renamed to reflect their powers? Sigh, I doubt the latter, since D.C. already had her name before gaining her electrical powers, and it didn't change. But I refuse to believe that it's all coincidence, which leads me to think that a Force family member could potentially name their child based on what power they want the child to have, and there may be a solid chance the child actually develops a befitting power. Then again, I'm sure readers like me weren't supposed to think that hard on it and just appreciate the puns. But I get immersed in the worlds I read about.
I digress. Sorry to subject you to a Titans rambling.
You're fine. I think I might be the biggest fan of the younger heroes on here, next to you. You'll probably notice most of these books were filled out by me.
You have an interesting thought on the Force family's names. It would be cool if they were ever to go into it, the idea that your name somehow subconsciously influences your powers. It's unlikely we'll find out now since I don't think Sparx has even appeared in the New 52 yet.
D.C. Force has not appeared in Prime Earth, no. DC put out spiritual counterparts during the 2016 miniseries called Bloodlines. None of the characters introduced in the title have adopted monikers. We get an Eddie Walker, who is the only New Blood to be given a Prime Earth counterpart. He has the same powers he had as Loose Cannon in New Earth. The main difference is that PE Eddie is a teenager, which doesn't go against my interests. Now, Prime Earth had a Loose Cannon already, with a similar design and power set as NE Eddie. However, this Loose Cannon was a one-off villain in the New 52 Teen Titans series (Vol 4). I believe that this villainous Loose Cannon and PE Eddie are separate and coexist in Prime Earth, despite being so "coincidentally" similar.
Other New Bloods had the basics of their powers carried over into new characters. Geist (Dwayne Geyer) "became" a skateboarding child named Albert, who could also become invisible. Razorsharp (Rae Sharp) "became" Haley, who could summon blades from her body. She seems to be almost a combination between Razorsharp and fellow New Blood, Edge (Thomas O'Brien). Anima (Courtney Mason) has a villainous counterpart named Faith. And then Sparx (D.C. Force) "became" a girl named Dana. Dana is largely similar to Donna Carol Force. I'd almost consider her a direct counterpart, as the two look uncannily similar, whereas the other pseudo-counterparts are largely different from the original characters that inspired them.
Personally, I welcome the PE "New Bloods." However, I do not love the idea of them completing replacing the NE New Bloods that inspired their creation. I like the original Geist, the original Razorsharp, the original Anima. I especially want a return of Anima/Courtney Mason. She is a Titan, and I find her specific character and power set to be very interesting. I could, though, potentially accept Dana as the new Sparx if she is later shown and referred to as Dana Force. I'd be even more okay with her if she was given a middle name starting with C. Otherwise, don't mess with my Titans, DC! Don't write them out of existence by replacing them with indirect counterparts! Sigh.
For my pre-Ravers readings on Sparx, I decided to read the Bloodlines annuals that featured D.C., plus the Boodbath mini. I had previously read most of the Bloodlines annuals during my causal reading of other titles that participated in the event, so I was familiar with most of the characters anyhow. I really like almost all of the New Bloods. Many of them were quite original, and the annuals largely did a solid job fleshing out the character's personalities in one swoop.
I know that Bloodbath is not necessarily known as having the best plot among DC's events, but I really appreciated the attention paid to allowing each character present to really highlight a bit about themselves, be it in terms of using their powers/skills or in terms of showing their personalities. The first issue used 35 non-New Blood heroes, plus Amanda Waller. Now, I'm used to events having a whole bunch of characters present. And I have seen the Bloodbath appearance list many times before, as I am constantly doing research on characters (I like making recommended reading lists that put the characters' appearances in what I believe to be the most logical reading order; I have other ongoing comic-based research projects as well). Well, when I saw just how many heroes were helping out, I assumed it would be the sort of thing where characters are vaguely shown in extended cameos. No, each of the 35 heroes had a role, had some lines, did something cool. That's hard to do in a story that had only about 100 pages or so, and the creative team accomplished that feat in really just the first issue of Bloodbath! The second issue put the New Blood heroes in the foreground, and we got to see 24 heroic New Bloods do really cool things or otherwise be important. Anima was critical to defeating the Taker. Like, they could not have done so without her, and I like that a Titan was that important during an event (similar to how another Titan, Damage, was critical during the Zero Hour event).
I also liked that the first issue split the 30+ heroes into teams. I love when characters are placed into ad hoc teams and have to work with characters they normally don't/wouldn't work with. I find the dynamics that result very fun and interesting.
And, of course, you know I am a fan of just how many teenage/young heroes spawned from Bloodlines. Anima and Sparx became Titans, but I included some of the others on my Potential Titans list (a list of DC characters who debuted as teenage heroes or who are otherwise young enough to potentially be considered for Titans membership one day; currently at about 400 characters): Mongrel, Razorsharp, Jamm, Nightblade, etc.
So, while I would concede that Bloodbath isn't the most exciting event title DC has to offer, I do believe that it accomplishes some noteworthy and praiseworthy feats. I found it worth reading.
I think I’ve read every New Blood annual as well as mini and ongoing that spun off with a New Blood lead. I’ve also tried to track down every guest appearance I could find but there’s no way to know if that list is complete. Besides that, I have a sketchbook I take to cons and I’ve made a goal of getting a sketch of as many New Bloods as possible done by the artist on the book they debuted in. I’ll never get them all because some creators have moved on to other lines of work and don’t do conventions and at least one has passed away. But I’ve managed to get as least 5 Or 6 so far.
Excellent! That sounds like being a New Blood fan to me! Haha. I read Blood Pack this weekend for Sparx's appearances, and I have read Anima because, of course, she is a Titan. I have read most of the Showcase issues that came out after "Bloodlines." That's about as much of I have read of the New Blood titles. I did buy all of Gunfire for a total of $4 from my local comic shop during a Free Comic Book Day sale of past. I haven't read the title yet, but I have read Gunfire in other titles, and I find the concept of his power very interesting. I need to read Psyba-Rats, since those youngyuns are on my PT list. Because I have read all of the Wally-Flash run, I have read a number of Argus appearances, since he was an ally (even if he and Wally butted heads), but I want to read his mini. Of course, I know that Hitman is regarded as one of the best comics DC put out during the '90s, along with Starman Vol 2. So I'll need to read it eventually. At this point, since the other titles are on my to-read list, I may as well read Loose Cannon, too, ha.
What were your personal reviews of the post-Bloodlines/New Blood titles? I would like to compare them to my own thoughts when I get to them.
Ah, yes, that's a danger of the wiki's Message Wall system. You have to refresh the page before typing to optimize your chances of the message going through. Even then, I've learned to highlight and copy all the text first before publishing the reply.
I haven't read most of these in several years so my impressions should be taken with that in mind.
Argus Vol 1: This was probably my least favorite. I didn't care for the art and I feel like there was no real driving motivation in the story arc. He had no real supporting characters that did anything outside of maybe MacAlistaire. The only thing notable was that he was able to regrow his eyes after they were gouged out (ouch).
Anima Vol 1: I liked this more than I expected but it was also the last one I got around to, by a lot. I wasn't a fan of Malcolm Davis' art but once he left, the book grew more on me. I think it's because Anima's powers never seemed that clearly defined. We did get to see how the Animus was a member of a primordial race with each member representing some archtype (or something). I liked the members of Boojum and especially like Pockets. I'd love to learn more about him and his powers. I wonder what happened to O.D.D.? Just another one-off secret government agency? DC is lousy with those. The scene with the dead rock stars was memorable as well.
Psyba-Rats Vol 1: Another one that isn't overly memorable. I feel like Rae didn't get to do much other than slash stuff, which is neat visually but meh as far as a plot. Channelman was amusing but I wonder if his powers could be more useful or at least entertaining in today's world. All the Psyba-Rats for that matter. Back then the internet was new and scary but now it's in everything, which is even more scary. Did they actually do all this stuff to stop a guy named the Collector and it all had something to do with Soder Cola? Ok...
Gunfire Vol 1: Gunfire was a mixed bag for me. He had probably the most developed supporting cast in the shorter run books. His powers were neat visually but his costume was bland to me. And he spent most of the run fighting is father? Who was dead or something? Also, is it weird that the guy who can turn anything into a weapon runs a weapons manufacturing conglomerate? Maybe this would be more effective if he were a school teacher or something. I know that DC One Million mocked him pretty hard; harder than was probably deserved. While not at the top of my list, I did enjoy most of this book.
Hitman Vol 1: By far my favorite and in my top 5 all-time favorite ongoing series. It's not often to see an writer/artist team stick together for a run this long with no major fill-ins or shakeups. Ennis writing is hilarious even when considering the at times dark subject matter. McCrea's art starts out feeling very rough to me but it gets more and more polished as the series goes on. It also contains one of my favorite scenes in a comic. When Natt the Hatt and Tommy were attacked by some British government agents in a burger joint, the bad guys just start shooting everyone, civilians included to get to them. They shoot this huge fat guy eating his dinner and Natt and Tommy are swept out of the restaurant in a tidal wave of blood and guts and digesting food. Totally gross and demented but the art had me laughing instead. This book also got me close to tearing up towards the end when Natt and Tommy know it's the end of the road. This book has so much love in it. For a group that is a bunch of serial killing hitmen, there is more love, brotherhood, friendship, and loyalty between them than most of us have in real life.
Blood Pack Vol 1: I really enjoyed this book, probably more than it deserved. Geist, Nightblade, and Ballistic are some of my favorites so I might be biased. I liked the idea that there was actually a team formed from the Bloodbath aftermath. This was the only book (that I recall) that heavily featured an established DC character in Jade, which makes sense. Somebody has to guide these neophyte heroes. I don't feel like the Quorum was the strongest villain. I know that they were somehow connected to other characters but even with all the reading I've done, I couldn't tell you anything really about the Quorum. I liked the reality tv angle ok I guess but, again, I feel like maybe that would play better in today's world. What were the other shows airing at the time? Real World? Maybe it read better then than now. The whole "attitude" thing doesn't hold up but that's a product of it's time.
Loose Cannon Vol 1: Another book I barely remember. I know he's DC's Hulk but his powers are him getting stronger and dumber the madder he gets. And he fights Bounty, Inc. which, besides some somewhat interesting character designs, does nothing. I don't remember him doing much and I even like the blue skin, blond ponytail character design. Maybe I need to refresh on it but it seems real forgettable now.
Other thoughts: The Bloodlines Vol 1 titles was fine but I would have preferred to integrate the New Bloods into the New 52 line instead of rebooting them. I'd been a fan of J.T. Krul in the past so that was disappointing.
Other than Joe Public, Shadowstryke, and Lionheart I don't really have much attachment to the other New Bloods not part of a book listed above. Maybe because they didn't get much run in the couple years (or decades!) after Bloodlines but they just don't hold the same level of interest for me outside just being part of the event.
I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the various New Blood comics, and I'm glad to hear talking about the titles have made you nostalgic. I hadn't responded yet because I planned to read some of the titles and get back to you with my own impressions so that we could compare notes. Work life keeps me pretty busy, and I juggle a number of hobbies, although comics are the one I indulge the most. I have my own priority list for comic readings, but perhaps I can squeeze in some New Blood books so that we can chat about them. Happy reading! Let me know if rereading Bloodbath gives you additional thoughts.
No problem , I wasn’t worried about you not responding because I know we’ve all got things going on. I’ve got several things lined up both on here and irl for me as well. But I’m always excited to talk New Bloods with someone so if you do read some, it’d be great to hear your impressions.
Hey N8! I wanted to to take you up on your offer and message you on some Titans comics I'm reading. At your recommendation, I took a brief hiatus from NTT to read Dan Abnett's Titans Hunt mini-series.
And wow, what a read! I thought I'd space it out over the course of a few days, but I enjoyed it so much I binge-read the all eight issues today! Naturally, I have some thoughts I'd like to share and some questions I'd like to ask.
I'll start with the former.
-I really enjoyed Abnett's writing. The dialogue between the Titans had some nice, witty banter, very endearing. Even Mister Twister's loud-mouthed, black charisma monologues were captivating. But the narration took it to another level for me. I loved that the narration tonally shifted from character to character. More straightforward yet reflective for Roy Harper, more poetic and epic for Gnarrk, and culminating in a storybook introduction to open the final issue! I look forward to reading more by Abnett.
-I love this cast of characters! I've always been fond of Dick Grayson, but I was equally excited to see heroes I am familiar with, but have not had as much exposure to. Roy Haroer was immeditaelty recognizable, and upon further recollection, I realized I encountered Mal, Gnarrk, and Karen from the Teen Titans cartoon. Hawk and Dove I know from both their appearance in Justice League Unlimited and the live action TV show.
Lilith was the only one I was unfamiliar with, but her power set makes me immediately interested in learning more about her. And of course Garth and Donna Troy! As much as I was frustrated in their inability to remember each other, I will admit their fight on the beach into the Teen Titans clubhouse was one of my favorite moments.
-I appreciate how accessible this comic was (for the most part). Abnett seemed to be striking a balance between creating an understandable jumping-on point to help newer readers be more comfortable with diving into his Titans series while also paying tribute to long time fans of Titans who I am guessing were disappointed with the Titans being disassembled at this point in time. I would be interested in hearing how an experienced reader like yourself reacted.
-The last panel! What an awesome reference to the imminent return of Wally West! I'm not ashamed to admit that it gave me chills, and I'm really excited to start reading "The Return of Wally West."
Now, a few questions:
-Mr. Twister ... who is he, exactly? The comic explained him well enough - demonic sorcerer trying to bring a more menacing demonic being to Earth through the Titans - but I have to believe Abnett chose this particular villain due to him having some connection to the Titans outside of this context. To add onto that, do you know who this mysterious demon Mister Twister was serving?
-Going off of that, the plot, felt a little convoluted. Perhaps I wasn't reading carefully enough. I gather that he was using Mal's powers to draw the Titans together with his demonic amplifier. And I even understand (in a suspension of disbelief kind of way) that Twister was using some form of demonic magic to control the Titans and essentially use their life-energy to free his master. But why did the Titans suddenly forget everything? Was that Lilith who wiped their minds, even her own, so they forgot their identity as Titans, and thus were useless to Twister? The source and reason for their amnesia, and the world's amnesia at that, was a little unclear to me.
-Lastly, I'm confused as to what the original Titans roster looked like. I know at least one incarnation of the team was first formed by Dick Grayson, Wally West, and Garth, with Roy Harper and Donna Troy. This comic seemed to indicate that there were ten original Titans, and I recall in my post from the other day you mentioned there was in fact 16 original members. Could you help me sort this out?
I think that's all I have for now. I apologize for the long-winded nature of this message, please don't feel obligated to read all of it or respond to every question, simply what you feel inclined to or what you have time for, haha. I will be continuing with NTT issue #9 and Dan Abnett's Titans series, and if your offer still stands, I'm sure I'll have questions to ask and thoughts to voice.
Well, Quaintly Quilted (I'm going to shorten that to Quilty for my sake; enjoy your new nickname, ha), because I know you are the type who is willing to read a long message, I am willing to give you all the context you could ever need. So, prepare yourself for a long response. To answer your various questions, I am going to give you some historical and editorial context.
To start, let me fill you in on the Titans history you missed by skipping the original series and diving straight into New Teen Titans.
1. There are three issues that lead up to Teen Titans Vol 1 #1 (1966): The Brave and the Bold v1 #54, Showcase v1 #59, and The Brave and the Bold v1 #60.
In BatB #54, Robin (Dick Grayson), Kid Flash (Wally West) and Aqualad (Garth) team up for the first time to face off against Mr. Twister. While the Teen Titans had not officially been formed yet and did not form in this issue, Mr. Twister is often considered the "first" or at least "proto" Titans villain. Titans Hunt was the first part of the Rebirth initiative, for which DC had many elements of pre-Flashpoint lore be folded into Prime Earth in some fashion. Abnett did his homework. Because his run was creating a re-imagined version of the "original" Titans, he used the villain known as being the Titans' first, Mister Twister. Pre-Flashpoint, Mister Twister was just a human with a magic staff that allowed him to control the weather, creating thunderstorms with pouring rain and tornadoes he could control. He could also project lightning from either his storm clouds or his staff, and he could create a force field.
For Prime Earth, Abnett decided to revamp Twister and have him be a demon trapped outside of the mainstream universe. Back in the day, he attempted to get into the mainstream universe again by manipulating Herald (Mal Duncan), who had spatial manipulation abilities. Twister could project a mirage of himself into the main world. Abnett gave Twister mind manipulation/possession powers, which he did not have in previous incarnations but made sense given the plot of this title. Twister used these to try to force Mal into opening up a rift to allow a demon armada onto Earth from the dimension in which he was trapped. The ruler of that dimension claimed they could help Twister fully realize himself in physical form on Earth, as opposed to his ability of sending a simple projection of himself.
The Teen Titans defeated him, but to do, Lilith (Lilith Clay) had to use her alpha-class telepathic powers to mind-wipe everyone on Earth, including the Titans members. That is one of the most impressive feats of telepathic prowess in DC history, as she even mind-wiped other psionic characters. Years later, the Titans began to recover their memories, and Twister was able to telepathically link to Mal Duncan again, which led to the events you read during the present-day story of Titans Hunt.
As for Twister's master and who that is, you will learn as you read Titans (Rebirth), so don't worry. It will be answered. However, Abnett revealed that the person he made be the master of Twister (and another villain the Titans face in the Rebirth title named Key) was not the character he had originally planned. As Abnett loves borrowing from established lore, I want to think he had planned for Twister's master to be Antithesis, a being from another dimension that longed to gain physical form on Earth. Mister Twister (Bromwell Stikk) had a connection to Antithesis, as the entity had empowered him and transformed him into another supervillain named the Gargoyle, who clashed with the Titans on a couple of occasions. And because Antithesis wanted to take physical form on Earth, I feel that Abnett wanted to use Antithesis, which brings me to my next point.
You say the plot of Titans Hunt was a little convoluted. I can understand what you mean, but let me offer a possible explanation why that was. See, Titans Hunt was originally slated to be 12 issues, not eight. However, DC decided that they wanted it to be over by summer 2016, as they had decided to go through with the Rebirth initiative. Abnett, though, had already finished the first six issues by the time they made that choice, so the writer was forced to cram his last six issues of content into two. If you pay attention upon rereading the title, you will see that the plot progression from issues #1-6 feels one way, whereas issues #7 and #8 felt a little rushed. Now you know why. Now, this is purely speculation based on what I know about Titans lore and about Abnett as a writer, but I speculate that Abnett may had planned to use Antithesis in the finale of Titans Hunt, as Antithesis was the Titans first villain, chronologically, in the pre-Flashpoint timeline (I will explain more on that further down). Even if that's not the case, the story should have had at four more issues, which would have made the conclusion be a little more natural. It may have even allowed Abnett to actually explain a little better than he was able to. Plus, we would have seen more content for Gnarrk and some other Titans who don't necessarily get a lot of appearances, which I would have loved. So yes, part of me truly wishes he could have had all 12 issues, but when I keep in mind that Abnett suddenly had to wrap up his storyline with only two issues when he planned for six, well, it makes me respect his writing ability—as the story didn't end poorly, just a little more abruptly than planned.
2. You ask about the original roster. I'm going to explain the Titans publication history a bit further, as I started above but got sidelined with the natural explanations of Twister and Titans Hunt.
As I said, BatB #54 had Dick, Wally and Garth team up for the first time. Then, all of a sudden, Showcase v1 #59 was the first (publication history-wise) appearance of the Teen Titans! Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, and Wonder Girl (Donna Troy) just appeared out of nowhere as a team. The formation of the team happened beforehand, off-panel. So, as far as we knew, the Teen Titans was founded by those four. They faced off against criminal rockstars named the Flips. The TT have another adventure in BatB #60 against the Separated Man, a supervillain. Then, the team gets their own title, starting with Teen Titans #1.
As for the Teen Titans series itself, it can be split into what I refer to as three "waves" (an unofficial term, but I feel you will understand that the points of separation are valid): Issues #1-24, issues #25-43, and issues #44-53.
Wave One is referred to as the "Teeny Bopper" era. All 24 issues take place in the Silver Age, which ended at the start of the new decade (the '70s). So, all 24 issues are published in the '60s. The Teen Titans start out as Peace Corps volunteers and go on missions here and there, mostly stopping crime rather than supervillains. Some criminals had costumes and monikers (Mad Mod, Captain Tiger, Scorcher, and some others), but most of them did not have any powers or anything. Of course, that's not necessary. Anyhow, the issues are filled with the members (over)using '60s teenage lingo. So the whole era is super cheesy, but if you go in knowing that, the stories have their own charm, for sure. During this wave, Speedy (Roy Harper) appears and helps the team in issues #4 and #11. In issue #19, Aqualad takes a leave of absence to babysit Aquababy during a series of stories taking place in the Aquaman title. At the same time, Speedy shows up and decided to be a full-time Titan from there on. The Teen Titans have a couple superhero team-ups with other young characters, including Beast Boy and Hawk and Dove.
Note that during Wave One, the Teen Titans face off against Ding Dong Daddy, who was simply a criminal pre-Flashpoint. You may remember him from the animated series. Post-Flashpoint, Abnett re-imagined him to be a mech-mage and merge with his car. That was a cool way of updating him into a formidable enemy. Honey Bun was originally a robot controlled by a criminal, but it was not humanoid in the least. It was mostly a water tank with legs. Abnett took the robot aspect and name to create the PE Honeybun (one word instead of two), and he made her an android of sorts. It was a neat pairing to have with the updated Ding Dong Daddy, renamed D-Daddy.
In issue #25, the first Titans issue set in the Bronze Age, the four Titans meet Lilith (Lilith Clay) at at a discotheque she is working at, and she uses her precognitive powers to predict that they will unwittingly cause the death of an innocent life. Later, the Titans and Hawk (Hank Hall) and Dove (Don Hall) are stopping criminals in a reckless way that ends with a peace-promoting philanthropist to be fatally wounded by a stray bullet. As a result, Robin leaves the Titans, while Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Lilith, Hawk and Dove solidify as a new roster of the Teen Titans. One of the richest men in the world, Loren Jupiter (respectfully known as Mr. Jupiter) offers to be the Titans benefactor. Thus begins Wave Two of the series.
During Wave Two, the Titans (and DC at large) began putting emphasis on characters being heroes as civilians. So, the six abandon their heroic uniforms and begin adventures as civilians wearing purple jumpsuit uniforms that Mr. Jupiter provided. And they declare that they won't use their powers anymore. Shortly after the new roster forms, they encounter a fellow teenager in issue #26 named Mal Duncan, who helps the team fend off a street gang of thugs to save his young sister, Cindy. The Titans and Mal spend time together, and Mal wins a champion boxing match against a thug. Mal is then invited to join the Titans. He had no powers or superhero name. He simply had his boxing skills and the heart of a hero, whose bravery ended up shown time and time again. Naturally, Mal was created to represent the purpose of this time in publishing (no powers, no costume, no moniker). Plus, he diversified the team as its first black member.
Aqualad visits the team in issues #28-29, unaware of the changes the team has undergone. He convinces them to use their powers, costumes and names again. The team of seven help Aqualad and Aquagirl face off against Ocean Master. Afterward, Hawk and Dove decide to leave the team and return home to D.C. The remaining five have a couple more adventures until Mal Duncan and Kid Flash accidentally travel through time and bring back a teenaged Cro-Magnon to the present. Lilith establishes a psychic connection with him, and she and Robin (who returns to help in this situation) help civilize him through a combination of telepathy and literal teaching. Identifying himself as Gnarrk and being given the civilian name John Gnarrk, the now gentlemanly and English-speaking Gnarrk stays with the Titans as a member, despite not going on many missions or otherwise being shown. His strength is superhuman, as he is even able to best Wonder Girl in strength. Robin also decides to rejoin the team following his helping Gnarrk learn to pass as a modern-day human. While everyone else had a costume/moniker, Mal Duncan continued being a Titan using his real name as his public persona. His uniform of choice was either a purple, gray or tan jumpsuit. This new team of seven (mostly six, as I said Gnarrk often stayed home or wasn't shown) had many adventures with Mr. Jupiter continuing to be their benefactor. After issue #43, though, the title went on hiatus for three years in real-time, which is why it's the end of Wave Two. In-universe, the team disbanded sometime after #43, the groups members doing this and that on their own.
Wave Three begins with issue #44. In this issue, Mal Duncan, who had been maintaining the Titans HQ all this time, sends a call out to the past Titans members to reunite to fight against a threat. Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, and Speedy heed the call but are captured. Mal, underestimated, is spared. He makes the villain regret this, though, as Mal raids the Titans storage supplies and finds equipment to re-emerge as the superhero Guardian. Guardian, who has superhuman strength thanks to an exoskeleton and superhuman durability when using the shield, defeats the supervillain on his own. Thus, Mal proves himself even further as a Titan, now officially a superhero. This makes Mal Duncan DC's first black superhero, which is a big deal that is undersold when it comes to Mal, in my opinion.
Aqualad rejoins the team in the following issue. Speedy teases Mal for adopting another hero's moniker as his own. Around this time, Mal obtains a mystical horn he earned by defeating the angel Azrael in hand-to-hand combat. The Gabriel's Horn projects sonic blasts and can create miracles, causing Mal to be able to manipulate events to his advantage. Thus, Mal adopts a new costumed identity as Hornblower. Next, Robin invites Joker's Daughter (Duela Dent) to join the Teen Titans. After proving herself to the team, she changes her heroic costume and moniker to Harlequin. Shortly after, Bumblebee (Karen Beecher), Mal's girlfriend, joins the team. Note that in Titans Hunt, PE Karen has powers that come from being a metahuman. Pre-Flashpoint, Karen was a genius who built her own power suit that simulated superhuman abilities. Those powers didn't include size manipulation either, as shown in her animated appearances. Read Titans (Rebirth) to learn her current power set, though.
Anyhow, this roster of the Teen Titans (totaling eight) ended up assisted by a second branch of Titans during the three-part finale of Teen Titans #50-52. This new branch, Titans West, is formed in issue #50. Titans West consists of some returning Titans such as Hawk, Dove, Lilith, and Gnarrk, but it also gives three other heroes Titans status for the first time, including Bat-Girl (Betty Kane), Golden Eagle (Charley Parker), and Beast Boy (Gar Logan). Mal also becomes Guardian again.
I call issues #50-52 the finale even though there is an issue #53. Issue #53 is a sort of epilogue that gives us something that had been missing for a decade and a half…an origin story for the Teen Titans. So, issue #53 reveals how the Teen Titans formed. Furthermore, it revealed that Speedy was actually a founding member! So, the founding five are Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Speedy. Roy simply decided that while he would be a Titan, he would only be part-time and help out when he can. This retroactively means that his instances of helping the team out in issues #4 and #11 were as a Titan! We just didn't know until issue #53. From here on, these five are often referred to as the founding five throughout Titans history thereafter.
The Teen Titans and Titans West both disbanded off-panel shortly after the Teen Titans title ended.
When I say there are 16 "original" members, I mean that there are 16 Titans who were members of the original incarnation of the team. The first five are "founding Titans," but the other 11 are "originals," too. Aquagirl (Tula) is the 16th, being retroactively given Titan status as an honorary member for her times assisting the team. Honorary means that they are full-fledged members, just ones who were not part of an active roster.
So, the 16 original members are thus: Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Lilith, Hawk, Dove, Mal Duncan/Guardian/Hornblower, Gnarrk, Joker's Daughter/Harlequin, Bumblebee, Bat-Girl, Golden Eagle, Beast Boy and Aquagirl.
You may know that the event called Crisis on Infinite Earths created a new mainstream universe mostly based on the previous named New Earth. With the creation of New Earth, some history changed. Post-Crisis history made it so that Harlequin and Gnarrk weren't members in the New Earth timeline (that's fine; as they still are original members to me). Post-Crisis Titans history also made it so that Betty Kane, now Bette Kane with an 'E', was never Bat-Girl but instead became the superhero Flamebird. Golden Eagle and Bumblebee were given redesigns and upgraded abilities. Mal Duncan still had his adventures with the Teen Titans under his civilian identity, but he never became Guardian or Hornblower post-Crisis. Instead, he built a tech-based Gabriel's Horn that projected sonic blasts and had spatial manipulation functions and started operating as Herald. So, NE Herald has sound and space powers via external means (equipment). PE Herald has sound and space powers via internal means (metahuman abilities).
3. Okay, so I should have probably broken all of that up into more points, as I thought I would have a third point. Instead, I'm using this bolded number to separate this final part of the message from the rest. I am not sure if I ended up touching upon everything you had questions about, but I am here. So use me as you need me and ask me anything you want about Titans or give me as many comments of your own about Titans that you may have.
Edit: Oh, I remembered that I didn't tell you who all were founders of the Teen Titans in PE. Well, like in Earth-One, the origin story of the Teen Titans in Prime Earth has not been shown yet. The earliest roster of the team we have seen chronologically had the normal founding five, plus Lilith. All other additions to PE's "original" incarnation came afterward. Perhaps Lilith is a founding member in PE. Maybe she's not. One day, we may know.
Hey N8! Thank you for the detailed overview of Pre-Crisis Titans lore, that was very insightful and definitely clears up much of my confusion from Titans Hunt. I've saved it to my computer for future reference. I'm actually interested in reading those comics now to experience them for myself sometime down the road!
-I had forgotten that Mal's powers included spatial manipulation. That makes more sense as to why Twister needed him so badly, since it was only through Mal that he could open the portal to let his master in (I can't wait to find out who that mysterious demon was!).
-The fact that Abnett originally envisioned a 12-issue mini series instead of eight issues only increases my appreciation of Titans Hunt. I assumed the quickened pacing at the end was just Abnett wanting to get to the climax, but his story was still really well-told and complete despite having to cut out 1/3 of his original plan.
-I thought that was Ding Dong Daddy! The name change to Daddy-D threw me off, but his unique speech definitely reminded me of the DDD from the cartoon. Man, that's such a cool redesign of a villain who never struck me as all that impressive (but boy, I sure thought that episode was hilarious!).
-Lilith pulling off a telepathic feat of that magnitude is shocking to me, given the DC Universe has no shortage of powerful telepaths who weren't immune to Lilith's mass mind wipe. Definitely looking forward to seeing more of her.
-You answered by question regarding the original Titans throughout your post, so I don't have much more to add there for now.
Additionally, I thought let you know I've now read through issue #15 of NTT, I think the series has only gotten better since the end of the original Trigon story (not that those first six issues weren't fantastic in their own right). These comics take me longer to read than the Titans Hunt issues did, so I'm progressing slowly (but surely). Some things that stood out for me in the post-Trigon issues:
-#7 and #8 are my favorite two issues from the series thus far, in no small part due to Cyborg. While I of course understood his frustration in the first six issues, I was relieved to see him reconcile with his father before Silas passed. That epilogue in #7 struck me on a personal level, and although seeing the Titans take on the Fearsome Five in their own headquarters was awesome, those final pages were the best.
Cyborg actually may be my favorite Titan right now (or Gar - more on him later). I loved that moment from #8 where he finds a group of kids with prosthetic limbs he soon volunteers with, which I believe an early episode of the cartoon adapted ( if it wasn't obvious, I have very fond memories of coming home from school and watching the Teen Titans cartoon when I was younger, and seeing the parallels between the comics and the show makes me appreciate the faithfulness of the show's adaption of the material).
I also liked Wally in #8. His struggle over wanting a normal life feels more meaningful because he actually has such a normal life when he's not with the Titans, as compared to someone like Dick Grayson who's life has been marked by tragedy and super-heroics. But Wally has loving parents he turns to for advice, he goes to school, seems to have a friend group outside of the superhero community ... I'm interested in seeing where his story goes.
-#9 and #10 felt like pretty standard superhero-supervillain stories. Not that I'm complaining, because they were super cool! The Puppeteer was a fun villain (perhaps an inspiration for the cartoon's Puppet King episode?), but I especially enjoyed seeing the return of Slade Wilson, the fact that he can keep up with the likes of Starfire is very impressive. Is this series his first appearance in comics? And man, did issue #10 leave off on a pretty serious note, with Slade almost killing Gar. Plus, it was cool to see more of Hive, who I'm guessing are soon going to play a much larger role.
-#11 and #12 were probably my least favorites thus far. It felt like Wolfman and Perez got too caught up in the novelty of writing about the Greek Titans in a series that features a superhero group called the Titans, to the point where the Teen Titans felt like supporting characters in their own book. The writing was still engaging, with an interesting take on the resolution of the conflict between the Greek gods and Titans, and Perez drew some epic actions scenes between the Gods and the Titans, but the story went too far in a different direction.
And Donna's lovesickness for Hyperion was ... awkward. It felt unnecessary and diminished her character throughout these issues. Perhaps I'm biased since I adore her healthy relationship with Terry Long (I do think Wolfman's handling of the aftermath in #13 was well-handled by means of Terry's character), but the whole scenario left a sour taste.
-Thankfully, #13 - #15 were awesome! I loved Season 5 of the cartoon with the Doom Patrol and the Brotherhood of Evil, so seeing a 3-part story about them was a treat! Madame Rogue and General Zahl are pretty easy-to hate villains (Rogue is a little more sympathetic, but Zahl was an actual Nazi for crying out loud! My goodness, they literally massacred a small country), but the story was engaging and epic through and through.
Gar is probably my favorite Titan other than Cyborg, mainly because of these issues. It was nice to see the beginnings of Gar and Vic's friendship, and even more compelling to see the usually quick witted, flirtatious Gar let down his comedic barrier and show a very raw, vulnerable side of himself. His quest for vengeance culminating in his accidental killing of Rogue was artfully written.
I did notice though that while he was chasing after Rogue, Gar turned into mythical creatures, like a giant seas serpent? Was he always able to do that, or was that a result of him being exposed to the Amazons' "purple ray?"
That's where I left off. The next few issues seem to focus on Starfire, which is exciting considering Wolfman has been building her up for some major story throughout these past issues. I may take a break here though and finally start reading "The Return of Wally West." I'll leave another message with any thoughts or questions I have.
Thanks N8! I'd love to hear your thoughts on these early NTT issues!
P.S. - "Quilty" is a fine nickname, haha. I'm not particularly attached to this username, so call me whatever is easiest.
I'm glad I was able to answer your questions about Titans Hunt, Quilty. My only responses to your comments regarding the miniseries was that (a) yes, I agree that D-Daddy's new premise is much more dynamic and makes him more of a threat, and (b) yes, the inference is that Lilith was able to erase the memories of other powerful telepaths as well, such as Psimon and Martian Manhunter. Pre-Flashpoint Lilith had not been as strong of a telepath. Her New Earth self actually ventured into more supernatural abilities as she adopted the Omen identity for the first time. Prime Earth Omen's powers seem to be more metahuman-based, rather than mystically based. I am fine with the differences, as I was always able to imagine both possible routes her initial power set could have evolved into. This way I get to experience both pathways, just in different continuities. PE Omen (Lilith Clay) is a much more powerful telepath than her previous version, while NE Omen is about equally as resourceful due to other abilities that PE Omen does not have. Anyhow, I digress.
I know you may have potentially already started, but I hope you make sure to read the Titans: Rebirth one-shot before you start the main title, as the one-shot precedes issue #1. I assume you will (or already have), as it is found on the same page as the main Rebirth title for Titans on DC Universe.
As for your New Teen Titans assessments, I am so pleased you have been reading further into the series. It certainly does get stronger the further along you get into the title. Of course, comics from that era had more content (more panels, more text), so it makes sense that you would be consuming those stories at a slower pace than you did, say, Titans Hunt. Nevertheless, I absolutely love that you gave individual assessments of each issue/story. I plan to respond in kind. I hope you continue to give me more play-by-plays of your progress, as it is greatly enjoyable for me to relive the nostalgic moments by discussing each part of the series as you go along. I find that we already largely agree, although we could disagree, and I would still have fun conversing with you on the subjects.
I want you to know, though, since you are getting close, that once you finish issue #20 of NTT, then you need to shift gears and read the | Tales of the New Teen Titans miniseries, as that is where the four-issue series takes place, chronologically. The miniseries has the team going camping, and Cyborg, Raven, Changeling and Starfire share their origin stories, each giving far more detail than any earlier issue describing their backstories. So you're in for a treat there, as you will grow to understand the heroes even better. Afterward, you may resume with NTT #21. Read on until #25, and then the arc you will be on by that time concludes in annual #1. Of course, now that I look at DC Universe, I see the service places the annuals where they ought to be, so you should be fine there, but I knew I needed to tell you when you needed to read the miniseries that expands the origins of those four characters.
Responses to your assessments:
• NTT #7-8: I agree that these are the strongest issues of the initial part of the run. Yes, the first six issues that cumulate into Trigon's defeat are excellent in their own rights, but these are the issues that allowed Marv Wolfman and George Pérez to explore their characters on deeper, individual levels. Issue #7 having both the reveal of Victor's accident/origin and how his mother Elinore died made the Vic's reconciliation with his father Silas more impactful and satisfying, for me. And then issue #8 added even more layers of depth and three-dimensional characterization to the cast. Also, yes, that one scene from the show with the child with a prosthetic hand was inspired by the parallel comic scene. Additionally, if you recall the character Sarasim from the animated series (from the episode Cyborg is sent to the past), her name is an allusion to Sarah Simms, as both characters had brief romantic feelings toward Cyborg.
• NTT #9-10: (A) Yes, the animated series' Puppet King was loosely based on the comic villain Puppeteer. (B) Yes, Deathstroke's first appearance ever was in NTT #2. He was specifically created for this series, and he was almost exclusively a Titans character until much later in his publication history. (C) Yes, H.I.V.E. plays a major role in further Titans stories, so these two issues further developed them as an organization that the heroes would need to eventually face more directly.
• NTT #11-12: I can honestly say we are in perfect agreement here. These two are probably the weakest issues in the first NTT run. As you note, Pérez' art is phenomenal, and he seems to excel at creating large spreads featuring many characters with distinct looks at once. While Wolfman's storytelling ability was still present and identifiable, the plot seemed somewhat cobbled together, and I did not care for how "damsel-like" Donna acted in said story.
Interestingly, Wolfman and Pérez decide to take a new approach with incorporating the Titans of Myth into Titans lore after Crisis on Infinite Earths allowed them to more easily alter continuity. I think the post-Crisis version of the ToM works better, in my opinion, as the group are actually allies of sorts to the heroic team, due to a connection with a certain member (if you know, you know, but I shan't spoil it for now). Of course, in so creating a connection with this Titan post-Crisis, Wolfman/Pérez had to retcon a connection he gave the ToM to a different Titan in the pre-Crisis continuity (in a later story you have not read yet). Oh well, sometimes to streamline continuity, there are moments of give-and-take when it comes to retconning.
• NTT #13-15: I feel that issues #13-15 could not have been better placed—as, like you, I felt that this arc was incredible and made up for the almost lackluster two issues that preceded it. Despite being only three issues, the story had so much content that it felt like an epic. These issues were my introduction into the mainstream universe/comic version of the Brotherhood of Evil. While the Doom Patrol's demise had been known in the comic universe, I had not personally known this just yet, so the revelation and the repercussions of the facts on Gar's character really connected me to him. Gar, already orphaned, had finally found adoptive parents in Rita Farr/Elasti-Girl and Steve Dayton/Mento, and then his new mother dies, and his step-father (as Gar calls him) goes missing.
These happenstances help to explain Gar's comedic exterior. Sure, when Gar changed his heroic identity from Beast Boy to Changeling, he removed a physical mask from the equation. Instead, Changeling began to wear an invisible mask—his wise-cracking facade. Underneath that now obvious defense mechanism is a vulnerable guy desperately seeking attachments, as every bond he seems to make is forcibly ripped apart.
Of course, even as he finds long-term, meaningful relationships with his friends/teammates, he later has to push passed the comedic persona he had created, as he later uses it as a crutch, not allowing himself to portray a serious demeanor due to a sort of inferiority complex. Gar is always working on himself, but not everyone reads the stories that show just how three-dimensional he really is. Many writers have done stories with Gar as simply the goofy character, but he historically has more depth than the general public realize. This is why NTT made Gar the prominent character he is today and why I feel fans of the character should read this title.
Gar accidentally killing Madam Rouge was a chilling moment that forced me to pause for a moment to take it all in. She was sympathize-able, as was Gar. The whole event was both justice and not justice. It just was.
As for the Brotherhood (BoE) as a whole, I found learning of the comic differences and such from the animated series interesting. The original BoE consisted of The Brain, Monsieur Mallah, Madame Rouge, General Immortus and briefly an alien named Garguax. Immortus was the general we saw in the cartoon, although he never actually clashed with the Titans. He joined and left the BoE in the early days, and had been seemingly killed later on before the NTT appearance of the BoE. Captain Zahl took his place as a BoE associate, and he showed up in this storyline as a member going by General Zahl. So, while Zahl was the military BoE member the Titans actually faced, I imagine Immortus was used for the cartoon to avoid Nazi imagery. Of course, Zahl's connection to the BoE was severed when he indirectly killed himself with his own bullet. I appreciate that Wolfman did not simply write him out and actually gave him a proper ending, as he did Rouge.
By severing ties with older BoE members, Wolfman and Pérez were able to use this storyline to introduce new, never-before-seen members: Houngan, Phobia, Plasmus and Warp. I am sure you recognize the names Plasmus and Warp from the animated series (their comic counterparts a quite different from their cartoon ones). All four are interesting, and it made the BoE oddly diverse as far as villainous teams went at the time.
Fun tidbit for you, in the foreword of the new version of the New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1, Wolfman says that the cover of issue #13 is his favorite of Pérez' NTT covers.
Whoops, almost forgot to explain the part about Gar's turning into mythical creatures. Okay, so, near the beginning of their NTT run, Wolfman and Pérez experimented with their characters' abilities. For example, when they introduced Raven, she had precognition, illusion-casting and force emotion. However, while those abilities were pertinent to the initial plot, they realized those abilities did not particularly work with the character dynamics they had wanted to portray through Raven. So they fazed them out, not using them anymore. Post-Crisis, it may as well be assumed that their exclusion was canon to Raven from that point on.
Similarly, when Wolfman and Pérez got ahold of Gar Logan, they changed his name from Beast Boy to Changeling, and with that, they played around with the idea of him being able to shape-shift into more than just Earthen animals. This is why he transformed into a Gordanian in the opening arc, and he later on occasion shifts into the shapes of mythological creatures, although this was rarely done. Over time, they decided they preferred Gar use animals—except for his post-"Titans Hunt" tenure on the team, when he adopted monstrous forms due to a reason I won't say at the moment. Note: "Titans Hunt" is an epic saga taking place from New Titans #71-84 in the early '90s. You'll get there eventually. After New Titans: Titans Hunt, the "Titans Hunt" name was used a couple other times for different storylines, as well as for the miniseries you just finished reading. Anyhow, either way, late '90s-onward, Gar has almost exclusively transformed into animals/beasts. In any event, mythological creatures are not a regular part of his power set. Additionally, NTT has Gar able to transform into animals at larger sizes than they normally would be. That gets fazed out over time as well.
So, I hope you enjoyed reading my responses as much as I did yours. If you have any follow-up comments/questions, feel free to list them. If you would like to wait until you have read further and have more assessments to give, I understand. That would be fine, although my preference is to have my part of the conversation acknowledged, if possible. But you, of course, are free to do with your own free time as you wish.
That happened to me recently as well when I was advising another user. The trick is to always refresh the page before typing at all. Even with that, I have gotten into the practice of copying all of the text on Message Wall responses I am typing just before I publish just in case they go into the ether. Anyhow, I'll look forward to the response tomorrow. Until then, goodnight.
Good Morning N8. I'm sorry that my technical blundering stifled our conversation. Nevertheless, I enjoy these chats with you too much to give up so easily, so here I sit with my coffee and banana bread, retyping my responses to your own comments.
I am relieved to hear you get as much enjoyment out of these exchanges as I do. I do plan on continuing to converse with you throughout my Titans reading journey, both to archive my first reactions to my first read through of various Titans titles and also since I always love conversing (possibly debating, if we ever cross that bridge) with a fellow fan.
You brought up a number of points I either failed to address in my previous post that I would like to talk about here, as well as topics I'd like to revisit and expand upon. I shall strive to keep my thoughts organized for both our sakes.
-I was actually going to ask you about the "Tales of the New Teen Titans" in my next post, but I really appreciate knowing to read them after issue 20 (almost there!). DC Universe does seem to do a good job of keeping the main series in chronological order, but where to read the tie-ins was never clear to me.
As long as we're on that topic, I was scrolling through my library when I noticed that the main "New Teen Titans" series title shifts to "Tales of the Teen Titans" at #41. Is there any significance to that? Was the title of "New Teen Titans" simply outdated at that point since the team and the characters were no longer "new?"
-I did see that Abnett's Titans series has an issue #0, but thank you for the reminder. I have more free-time today, so I plan on sitting down and at least getting through "The Return of Wally West." Maybe I'll read a few more issues of NTT as well.
-One thing I failed to bring up, but you so graciously reminded me of, was how amazing these covers for NTT are! I can definitely respect Wolfman's pick of #13 being his favorite, but personally, I would have to go with #15. Seeing Gar and the Brotherhood of Evil united together was a beautifully drawn treat. May I ask if you have a personal favorite cover from this series?
-I do remember the cartoon character in reference to Sarah Simms (that was a fun episode). I think she's a very fine addition to the Titans supporting cast and a great friend for Cyborg, especially after his being rejected by his past girlfriend. I'm relieved to see Sarah, and Terry Long for that matter, are not simply liabilities that the Titans have to rescue from the villain every issue (Sarah's kidnapping by Slade felt pretty quickly resolved). Terry in particular I think is a really strong confidant for Donna who doesn't just serve to emphasize her power compared to the average joe, but an emotionally intelligent partner who Donna can trust and rely on (as compared to, say, Grant Wilson from #1). I look forward to seeing more of him and Sarah.
-It's funny, at first I didn't think that the Hive I saw appear with Slade in #2 was the same Hive from the cartoon, since I was looking for super-villains dressed like bumblebees, haha. Wolfman seems to be building something up for them, and I can't wait to see the fruits of their evil ambitions in later issues.
-I am a little relieved to hear #11 and #12 are the weakest, in your opinion. I think we agree that there are merits to the story that make it worth reading (mainly Perez's art), so if that's as bad as it gets, I'm very optimistic. They weren't unreadable, but they don't measure up to the other 13 issues I've read thus far.
Were the Titans of Greek Mythology always tied to the Titans, or is this the last we'll see of them with the Teen Titans? I know you vaguely (for the sake of no spoilers) indicated that they have some connection with two different characters from pre-Crisis and post-Crisis respectively, so does that mean the ToM are continued characters in Teen Titans books?
-From here on out, I'm going to focus on #13-#15, as that's the story I've been left with the most thoughts on.
As it happens, I actually knew that the original members of the Doom Patrol (DP), The Chief, Negative Man, Robotman, Elasti-Girl, died at the hand of General Zahl while saving a small town. Another supehero cartoon I used to watch, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, adapted this story in one of their episodes. It actually has always stuck with me, how the DP heroically sacrificed themselves to save a community no one would really noticed destroyed, only to have that community rename their town to "Four Heroes" in the DP's honor. For a long time, that was the truest standard of heroism for me.
(Now in that episode, I thought General Zahl was really just General Immortus, from the Teen Titans cartoon, but now realize they are two different characters. Understandably, Zahl was simply a megalomaniac rather than a nazi warlord).
I feel like I inappropriately glossed over Madame Rogue and Zahl's plan in my last post. They didn't build some doomsday device and fire it from afar, or hold some country for ransom. They savagely murdered helpless people in the streets without remorse. The panels of corpses coupled with Wolfman's narration that no one would know about or care about the people they were slaughtering was heartbreaking for me.
But I love the parallel between the Titans here and the DP sacrificing themselves. Both groups of heroes risked (and in the DP's case, gave) their lives for people that no one else would care about or simply ignore. Wolfman and Perez constructed a situation that puts the Titans in the same impossible circumstances, and the Titans prove they have just as much courage and nobility as their DP predecessors.
Despite how sadistically evil Zahl was, I couldn't help but plead alongside Robotman for him to stop firing his gun. I can't say him being struck by his own bullet wasn't deserved after the massacre he orchestrated, but the fact that he wanted his last words to be "Heil Hitler" just caused me to pity him for living and dying with so much blind hate. He was a very effective villain, I think, and I wouldn't have minded seeing him appear in future stories, but his death was well-executed.
Madame Rogue was a villain I despised in the cartoon, since she was just so darn evil, so I was surprised to see her in a more sympathetic light here. I got the impression that unlike Zahl, who simply lusted after conquest and carnage, Rogue was lashing out for all the tragedy and pain in her life. The Brain drove her into this life and Rogue believed she had no choice but to continue down it.
I can't help but thinking if Rogue's plan here was nothing more than one violent suicide note. Part of me feels like she wanted someone to stop her, even kill her, based on her relief at rather than fear of her death at Gar's hand. If so, I can't think of a sadder ending for someone. I'd be curious to hear if you had a different take.
Speaking of Rogue's death, I frantically kept reading thinking she'd be relieved to have survived, but all I was met with was Gar's visceral disgust at his actions. I took me a while to fully appreciate what Rogue's accidental death meant for Gar.
Gar's character really resonated with me for a number of reasons. Wolfman had previously established that Gar uses comedy and flirting as a coping mechanism of sorts, and to see that barrier he constructed be torn down by his sudden lust for revenge (after having been orphaned twice in his life and now nearly killed by his step-father he hasn't seen in months) was a big step for his character. Breaking down and being vulnerable in front of the other Titans could easily have been a melodramatic scene, but instead is full of raw emotion. Very powerful moment.
Also this idea that Gar feels the need to prove himself a man by bringing down Zahl and Rogue by himself at any cost. You mentioned Gar desperately seeks some form of meaningful connection with people after a life full of tragedy, yet he paradoxically keeps everyone at arm's length, perhaps due to feelings of inferiority like you said. He's self-sabotaging himself, mimicking confidence and what he thinks is masculinity without realizing he has everything he needs with the Titans (not that they negate the loss Gar's endured).
His revulsion at his accidental killing of Rogue I think was a huge step for him realizing he still has a lot to learn as a hero, about self-control and trust. I love his mini-debate with the Brain at the end regarding the acceptability of killing one's enemies. Furthermore, I was super happy to see Gar and Steve finally embrace each other as father-and-son, and that Gar got to walk off with Cliff and Steve reunited with him. His journey was rough, and he deserved a happy ending at the end of this story.
I want to echo your thoughts and say it's amazing how much content and weight Wolfman and Perez were able to convey in just three issues. Bravo.
-Lastly, on a lighter note, I loved seeing the Brotherhood of Evil here! When I saw the Brain, I instantly heard that monotone drawl from the cartoon. I recognized Mallah, Warp (whom I recall was a time-traveler in the cartoon, but here seems to open rifts in space), and Plasmus, but Phobia and Houngan were new to me. I wonder if there will be any more additions down the road, as I think the Brotherhood of Evil is a very cool super-villain group for the Titans to match-up against.
Well I think that's all I have for now. I actually like how I worded my thoughts better this second time around, so perhaps the deletion of my first draft was a blessing. Please feel free to respond to any of the points I made or bring up a topic from your previous post that I didn't address.
Otherwise, you can probably expect more of my thoughts on Abnett's Titans and perhaps some more issues of NTT later today or tomorrow.
Alrighty, it's been quite a while since you posted this, so you may have already been reading "The Return of Wally West," which I imagine should not take too long to complete. You will be fine if you start with the Titans: Rebirth one-shot, as it depicts the key points of Wally's debut, but note that Wally's actual return was in the DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot. It's a powerful special anyhow, so it may be worth going back and reading it even if you have already started Abnett's Titans (Rebirth) series, for additional context and to experience that powerful moment.
Now, to unpack your response.
1. Let's start with "Tales of the Teen Titans." The reason for the name change has a bit more behind it than a whim. See, DC decided to launch an initiative informally called the "hardcover/softcover" initiative. For this, they chose three titles that would have their stories printed twice—first in a more expensive edition with higher-quality printing and paper distributed exclusively to comic book specialty stores, then republished a year later in the original format, distributed to newsstands. New Teen Titans was one of those three titles (alongside Batman and the Outsiders and Legion of Super-Heroes).
NTT was unique, though, as DC decided to restart New Teen Titans with a new issue #1. In preparation for that, DC decided to rename the current New Teen Titans series Tales of the Teen Titans, as Wolfman/Pérez had more to their ongoing story to tell before the new issue #1 came out. So, Tales of the Teen Titans began with issue #41 and continues where NTT v1 #40 left off, and then New Teen Titans Vol 2 #1 came out right after Tales of the Teen Titans Annual #3, which concludes the famous "The Judas Contract" storyline. However, the two titles continued to be published at the same time. TotTT continued printing original stories up through issue #58.
Afterward, issue #59 reprinted two older stories. The first was DC Comics Presents #26, which contained the preview for NTT, which is the first technical appearance of the NTT, although it was as a precognitive dream Raven put into Dick's head. The second was Best of DC #18, which takes place after NTT v1 #15. The story has the NTT team up with guest stars Aqualad (Garth) and Speedy (Roy Harper), who were the two founding members who weren't included in the NTT roster—as the other founding members, Robin (Dick Grayson), Kid Flash (Wally West) and Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), were all members of the first roster of the NTT incarnation. So it was a reunion story. I wish you could read the Best of DC issue, especially since it takes place just after where you incidentally left off last I knew with NTT, but I can't find the title on DC Universe, sadly. Doubly sadly, TotTT #59 also is not on DCU, so it seems you would have to buy the issue somehow to read it. DC Comics Presents #26 is on DCU, though, if you haven't read that one yet. I digress.
Back to TotTT. After issue #59, starting with issue #60, TotTT continued to publish, but this is where the "softcover" issues came in, as #60 reprinted NTT v2 (the second series) #1. Subsequent TotTT issues continued to reprint NTT v2 issues, barring a few backup tales and an annual, until TotTT ended with issue #91, which reprints NTT v2 #31. Part of the reason for ending there was that NTT v2 #31 finished a saga in the NTT title.
Anyway, this may leave you wondering about what falls where in the timeline. Yes, New Teen Titans v2 #1 published the same month as Tales of the Teen Titans #45, with both series concurrently publishing original stories. Let me simplify this for you. Tales of the Teen Titans #45-58 all takes place before New Teen Titans Vol 2 #1. It may have been a little confusing for fans reading both the new NTT series and the new TotTT issues at the same time, but for us, all we need to know is that the reading order is (loosely) NTT v1 #1-40, TotTT #41-58, and then NTT v2 #1-49 and New Titans (another name change situation but less complicated) #50-130. There is approximately six months of in-universe time between TotTT #45 and NTT v2 #1.
Let me know if I didn't explain that very clearly or if you have any further questions about the reading order or anything.
2. Of the first NTT series (issues #1-40 and annuals 1-2), I have a few comic covers that really strike out to me. I tend to become emotionally attached to covers for stories that really strike a cord to me. If I really love the story, there is a good chance I will find myself liking the cover art enough that I wouldn't mind looking at it for a while. I also really like stories that have the team work with another hero or otherwise feature an ally to the team. For example, I love looking at the cover for NTT #18, one of my favorite issues in the first NTT run, as it features the first Starfire, Leonid Kovar, who later changes his name to Red Star and joins the Titans. I feel similarly about NTT v1 #32, which features Thunder and Lightning (Gan and Tavis Williams), longtime allies who very nearly became official Titans (as in, editorial almost included them on an official Titans team, but things got in the way). They were members in the animated series, which is cool. I just really wish I could include Gan and Tavis to the sentiment I like to say when referring to the Titans as "my 95 best friends." I wish, as closely connected as they are to the team, that they became official members so that I could have said "my 97 best friends." Oh well. I shall live.
I also like the two main Terra-centric covers: NTT v1 #28 and #30. I think the latter is more dynamic, and I like the body language of the other Titans hanging onto her archway of earth, but for some reason, I find myself even more drawn to issue #28's cover.
The cover of issue #22 is really dynamic. Brother Blood is very prevalent on the cover, while the Titans are effectively falling in front of him. The concept of the cover is very intelligent, and I like that, and the body language of all seven looks very realistic for people falling, and I like it, especially since all seven are falling in different positions.
Meanwhile, I absolutely love the art style employed for the first NTT annual. It somewhat looks like it was done with color pencils. I am not an art expert, so I can't comment too much on the elements that make up artwork. I just know I like the look of that cover.
Of the three NTT Drug Awareness Specials—three independently published one-shots that seemingly take place after issue #27—the cover that I feel is most powerful is the one done in conjunction with Keebler. That one has Speedy in the forefront, carrying the limp body of a teenager who overdosed on drugs. The background has the other Titans as well as an array of young children looking very downtrodden. One of the children is crying, and Cyborg has his hand resting on the shoulder of another youth to comfort him. And Protector is kneeling. The cover alone lets the viewer know the tone of the book. It's powerful.
Sidebar: Protector (Jason Hart) is an honorary Titan who pre-Flashpoint only appears in these three specials and one cameo at a Titans recruitment drive. Protector was created for these specials. His role was initially Robin's, but since these specials were put out by other companies besides DC, Robin could not be used, since his merchandising rights were elsewhere due to pre-existing contracts. Anyhow, Protector had to be drawn over the art of Robin, which is why Protector (Jason Hart) has similar skills as Dick Grayson. His status as a Titan was made official in an issue of Who's Who? And then he has been almost completely absent otherwise, besides the aforementioned extended cameo. Interestingly, he appeared in the recent Heroes in Crisis series, wherein a little over a dozen heroes were killed by a singular event I won't spoil. Protector was sadly one of those slain, but the video archives allowed readers to experience more of Jason Hart. So his PE version has a lot more depth than his NE self, which is cool. I think it's a shame he's dead, since he could have been more, but it's cool that he was used at all. Anyway, I don't believe the three drug specials are on DC Universe, so you can't exactly read them that way, but if you find them in a comic shop one day, they may be worth checking out.
Speaking of one-shots that are not necessary to read but are fun additional ones, Marvel and DC put out a crossover issue called Marvel and DC Present #1, which featured The Uncanny X-Men and The New Teen Titans. So you got to see the two teams meet. It's not exactly canon, but it's fun nonetheless. I digress.
As far as Tales of the Teen Titans covers go, I absolutely love #44, as it visualizes the iconic debuts that issue had. Wow, such a great issue, and it's part of "The Judas Contract," too. Issue #50 is very great to look at as well. It's very ceremonious, which fits the occasion. And then issue #52 was very powerful for me, even though the Titans were only depicted as posters on a board being scratched by Cheshire, who is the focus of the cover.
That's all I shall say on NTT/TotTT covers for now.
3. Issues #11-12 were the first appearances of the Titans of Myth in DC Comics at all. They are not connected to the Titans as a team in pre-Crisis lore, but they are connected to them for a certain reason post-Crisis, but you won't learn that until far later into your readings of the NTT era. As for your other question, no, this is not the last time you will see the ToM in Titans comics. There are long gaps between appearances, but they show up frequently enough to consider them recurring characters in a way. They have been enemies, allies, neutral parties, everything really.
4. I am sorry to be nit-picky, but I do work as an editor for a living, ha. It's Madam Rouge, not Rogue. It's spelled and pronounced like you would see in Baton Rouge in Louisiana. I digress. That was super minor, forgive me. Now, you may know the following bit of information I am about to give, but just in case, let me provide additional context on Madame Rouge, which may affect how you view the storyline found in NTT #13-15.
So, Madame Rouge's origin is that she was an actress who, after being in an automobile accident, suffered from dissociative identity disorder (DID), with her morals splitting into two directions, forming a very evil personality and an honestly good personality. The Brain found Rouge and helped suppress her good side so that she could be an asset and member of the Brotherhood. Eventually, her good side resurfaced, and she became an ally to the Doom Patrol and a romantic partner of the Chief (Niles Caulder). Sadly, over time, her evil side became dominant again, and she helped orchestrate the events that seemingly killed every member of both the Doom Patrol and the Brotherhood of Evil. Flash-forward to the NTT storyline you just read, the Brotherhood survived and grew, and the Titans go against Rouge. As Rouge dies, that moment of softness was her good side re-emerging, as she called out to Niles, whom she still loved. I wouldn't be adverse to playing into your violent suicide note theory, as she seemed to be suffering.
As for the Brotherhood's lineup, yes, Warp has spatial abilities in the comics, and Plasmus is not the sympathize-able guy afflicted by a condition that forces him to be a villain. He's just bad. Phobia and Houngan are new, and the former is wickedly scary, too, which is appropriate given her power set. I will tell you there is one more character who joins the Brotherhood during the NTT era (and one fake-out "new member"). Three more characters join during the 2000s.
5. Well, that's all I have for now. Feel free to comment on these responses or combine them with your next assessment of comic issues you have read.
Hey N8. Sorry for the delay, but I have some time now to sit down and talk about Titans. First, to address your comments:
-Thanks for the detailed explanation on the title change, I have saved your explanation to my computer for future reference. I'm curious, is your ability to clearly delineate the Titans' publication history owed to your career in publishing or your general passion for Titans knowledge?
-I have also saved your thoughts on the NTT covers. I agree that our views on the covers are often informed by our appreciation of the story within. As such, I'll hold off for now on responding to your comments regarding your favorite covers, and instead address them as I get to the issues you listed. That way, I can understand your appreciation of each cover better. I just don't want you to think I've ignored your comments on them.
-You would think that, as an English minor, I would be able to correctly differentiate "Rouge" from "Rogue." Tis a sad state of affairs (in all seriousness, feel free to correct my spelling or grammar; I know that such observations bother some people, but I just see it as an opportunity to improve my writing).
Anyways, I did not know that about Madame Rouge. Upon reflection, such an explanation is perhaps more faithful to Wolfman and Perez's intention during her death. I have a tendency to read too much into things, so I appreciate your patience if I over-eagerly propose my own theory or interpretation without understanding the full context.
Now, I've finally read through "The Return of Wally West" story arc from Dan Abnett's Titans. Additionally, I've also read through #20 of New Teen Titans. I wrestled with the idea of combining my thoughts on these into one message, but I decided the conversation would feel less crammed and more organic if I separated them.
Here are my thoughts on "The Return of Wally West":
-I took your advice and read the DC Comics Rebirth issue that saw Barry help Wally escape the Speed Force. The issue was a little confusing to me, as I didn't recognize several of the characters Wally attempts to contact, but some light research clarified that. The reunion between Barry and Wally was very touching.
Now, the ending made no sense to me at first. It felt like a big reveal that I simply didn't understand. I did some digging, and this is how I understand it:
The DC Universe, and by extent the Titans, had their timeline reset by 10 years, in which events from their past lives (New Earth) are similar yet differ slightly in their current timeline (Prime Earth). This tampering was the orchestration of Dr. Manhattan, an omnipotent being from a comic set in an alternative universe called Watchman. Why Dr. Manhattan did this is not clear, but that ominous blue and black hand reaching out in #1 was his. Does this all sound correct?
-Jumping into the story itself, I thoroughly enjoyed it. There were so many lovely moments that solidified the idea that the Titans are long-time friends despite only just remembering each other.
One scene in particular was after Linda Park was kidnapped by Kadabra, Wally and Lilith have a bit of a break-down. I love Dick Grayson's dialogue here, which I think is worth me posting
EDIT: Ah, it seems as though I didn’t correctly comply with the website’s criteria for adding an image to a post. Can’t show you the image (it’s from #4, pg. 7).
This is easily my favorite Dick Grayson moment from any of the Titans comics I've read. While most of Abnett's dialogue is lighter and more reminiscent of friendly banter, these small moments where the Titans can be honest with each other fills me with joy.
-Quick acknowledgement of Brett Booth's art. I like his slender designs and he draws some very cool looking superhero poses. A minor and weird critique would be that his faces don't always look right, but I enjoy this style and I think he's an artist I would want to follow in the future.
-Quick revisit to Lilith as well. Abnett again showcases her immense psionic ability by having her reawaken Abra Kadabra from his false identity. I would venture to say that she's the most powerful member on the team, except maybe for Wally, and I love how Abnett continues to push the limits of her abilities.
-Speaking of Wally, #5 was incredible. I don't think I can fully comprehend just what exactly Wally accomplished. Super-speed is always hard to conceptualize, but Abnett does a nice job of subtly dropping hints about how fast Wally is moving (e.g. Wally is thinking in picoseconds, Kadabra having to bend light and time to keep up). His accomplishment and sacrifice was a true display of heroism, and his relinquishment of the blissful life in the Speed Force leading to his triumphant return in #6 was endearingly wonderful. Naturally, Wally was my favorite Titan in this story.
-Abra Kadabra was immediately an interesting villain to me because of his egoistic showmanship. It's a nice touch that Abnett wrote most of his dialogue to be magician puns. Since Kadabra is from the future, it would make sense that he talks as though everything he knows about magicians is from a book he read, rather than actual knowledge. He had some pretty interesting motivations too; his narcissism isn't just a result of him being a megalomaniac, but the fact that he's from a dystopia where he is utterly unimportant and unimpressive.
I was surprised how powerful he was as well. He could bend space and time, take on all the Titans with ease, and even seems to have knowledge of Dr. Manhattan's tampering when very few others did (he observes that history has been meddled with, and that its was "his handiwork," which coupled with the fact that Lilith saw the name Manhattan when she read his mind, I feel like Kadabra has a pretty good idea about what Manhattan has done).
Besides, the title of "techno-mage" just sounds like an awesome RPG class!
I even enjoyed his plan. Abnett dedicated a good amount of time in explaining how Kadabra would trap Wally in the Speed Force, but these were pretty abstract, hard-to understand concepts, so I appreciated that Abnett spelled it out for me. As far as defeating a speedster goes, it actually was a pretty creative scheme that of course was foiled by Kadabra's underestimation of the Titans' love for each other.
-One thing about Kadabra though, which I'm quite certain is just me being an over-observant nut job. There's this small scene in #3, right after he vaguely alludes to Manhattan. He stops his monologue and observes there was blood on his clock, but this is never readdressed, he just keeps talking about his plan as if nothing happened. I can't decided if this was just Abnett attempting to show Kadabra's insecurity of his vulnerability or if it was a reference to something more.
I would be interested as to your thoughts on this page:
EDIT: Ah, foiled again. I’ll have to ask for clarification about what the requirements are for uploading an image in a message. #3, pg. 15 is the page in question.
-And man, was it cool to see Slade at the end! I'm super excited to see what Abnett has planned for him!
Well, I think that’s all I have for now. Thanks for the recommendation on this one, it was well-worth the read! As always, please feel free to respond to any of my comments and/or give your own impressions of this story. You can expect my thoughts on #16 - #20 of NTT very soon. Hopefully, I will get around to reading Tales of the New Teen Titans in a few days.
I think my natural inclination to be an "all-in" type of guy led me to become so passionate about Titans that I have been acquiring as much Titans knowledge as possible for years, far before I entered the professional publishing sphere. Additionally, I seemingly have considerable recollection and retention capabilities. Memorization has always come quite easy for me, which helps me keep track of decades of lore. My memorable is still fallible, for sure, but I like to consider myself a resource for others who are interested in the topics I have learned so much about. I am also very organized, so I like indexing and such. I digress.
Noted on everything up to your "The Return of Wally West" analysis. Now, to address your points.
1. I'm sorry that there were a number of aspects of the Rebirth special that you were not necessarily clued in on, but I hope you ended up poking around and learning enough that the experience of reading the special was worth it—especially for the Wally West-Barry Allen scene.
But yes, the gist of it all is that Doctor Manhattan has had a heavy hand in altering reality to create the Prime Earth readers had been experiencing up to the point of that one-shot. So, rather than being solely due to Flashpoint, Doctor Manhattan was directly involved in altering reality, which included time being rewound in some ways. I wouldn't get too caught up in the "10 years" bit, as it seems to be a thread that DC touches upon some but not fully. I think DC has moved on from that point, largely as the powers that be among DC's bigwigs have changed positions and such. But yes, you get the gist of it.
2. Yes, Dick's ability to calm everyone and command the scenario with both compassion and authority is impressive. It's a good scene, for sure. I don't know what my favorite Dick Grayson comic scene would be. I don't think this was the one that impressed me the most, but it was definitely impressive and heartwarming, so I think it's totally one befitting of your praise.
I have similar thoughts as you on Booth's art. I feel like his bodywork is well done, but his faces can indeed be a bit off—lots of gaping, angular jaws and the like. But he does a great job with kinetic imagery. The characters look like they are moving, and you can imagine them going from scene to scene in your head fairly easily due to Booth's art.
Omen has become a powerhouse in Prime Earth, for sure. She continually shows more and more impressive feats.
Since reading this story the first time around, I have gone and read all of Wally's title as Flash, which features Abra Kadabra quite a few times. So I now understand Kadabra's hatred toward West at a much higher level than I did the first time I read this. I think Abnett did a good job recreating that disdain present in Mark Waid's and other Flash writers' runs that included Kadabra. And "techno-mage" as an RPG class sounds fun. Time to break out my d20.
3. The scene you are talking about from issue #3 where Kadabra comments on the blood is indeed a hint that connects to the Rebirth mystery. At the time the story came out, Doctor Manhattan's involvement in the Rebirth mystery was implied but not completely confirmed. Some threads started in the Rebirth special were continued in post-Rebirth comic titles, and some of these had hints about the greater picture. Titans was one of those titles. The blood on the watch was a callback to the Watchmen, and specifically the Comedian, whose smiley button had blood drops on it. The imagery is something of a mascot/symbol for the Watchmen, so the brief scene was further indicating that Manhattan was directly involved with Rebirth. It also hinted at the upcoming crossover called "The Button," which took place between the Batman and Flash titles and was one of the next major threads along the Rebirth mystery.
Based on your Slade comment, I'm assuming you stopped reading after issue #6 of Titans (Rebirth), which is fair. I think you'll have fun with the next storyline in the series, as you may see some familiar faces—albeit re-imagined a bit for Prime Earth. I'm happy to hear you caught up to issue #20 of NTT, and I look forward to your thoughts on them, as well as your thoughts on the TotNTT miniseries, which I highly recommend you make time for this weekend.
Always a pleasure to read your comments and insights N8. I don't have much to add to your commentary, but a few things:
- No worries about the DC Rebirth special. While I suppose I missed out on some surprise appearances of characters that were unfamiliar to me, like Johnny Thunderbolt, Barry remembering and embracing Wally was still a poignant moment that left me satisfied. Besides, knowing a little more about the state of the DC Universe is only helpful.
- Speaking of which, I do see what you're saying with the Watchman button in relation to that panel from #3. Thanks for entertaining my interest in this small detail, Abnett strikes me as a writer who doesn't include something without purpose.
- I too am even more interested in following Wally's career as The Flash after seeing a sample of his interaction with Abra Kadabra. I understand that Flash has a very rich rogues gallery, and I would like to see more of how his relationship with Linda Park developed. Something to look forward to, I suppose.
As to NTT #16 - #20, I thought these were all entertaining issues, to varying degrees. I have two general thoughts I'd like to briefly mention, then I'll transition to more issue-specific comments.
- One thing I appreciate is how all the characters are accounted for. For example, Gar was absent in #16, but the other Titans mention it's because he's on vacation with Cliff and Steve. Starfire isn't in #17, but Donna mentions she's taking time off after Franklin's death. It's not a big thing, but a nice pattern I observed.
- For the most part, these issues felt more episodic than previous issues, more self-contained. I'm tempted to say they feel like the calm before the storm that is Brother Blood. I don't know if you felt the same - obviously, each issue has their own share of high-octane action and drama - but it's not an unwelcome change of pace.
Now, some more specific thoughts.
- #16: I have mixed feelings about this issue. The back-up plot of the Titans fighting some street crooks felt a little forced, as if Wolfman and Perez felt the main love story between Starfire and Franklin Crandall was too boring and needed to add some more action. Perhaps it was to show that no threat is beneath the Titans' notice, but it just felt a little out of place relative to the main narrative.
It was a big issue for Starfire though. Seeing her give fully into her opposite emotions of unfiltered trust and joy when she was with Franklin, then bloodlust and rage against H.I.V.E. #7 was uplifting and chilling respectively. It felt like a pretty big emotional roller-coaster that Wolfman was building towards, even if Franklin wasn't honest with Starfire. In any case, the epilogue with Donna silently comforting a grieving Starfire was a bittersweet moment. I like that sisterly relationship they have.
I also want to briefly touch on Raven. I love the fact that she's attending college. Out of all the Titans, Raven has the most obstacles to overcome when it comes to integrating with society. Her brief monologue on ancient philosophy and sudden embarrassment in front of her classmates reminded me of some of my own ill-fated attempts at public speaking. An effectively illustrative moment that reinforces how much Raven has to offer everyone, yet how impeded she is by her own insecurities.
A brief tangent on Raven if you'll indulge me: she fulfills an interesting dynamic in the Titans. Her emphatic and healing abilities are crucial assets for the team on multiple occasions, and as Robin observes, she silently takes on the suffering of others on top of her own inner turmoil. My goodness, I remember in #8 she had to contend with extra-dimensional horrors just to reclaim her soul-self.
Seeing how much Raven denies herself out of a strange combination of her Azar philosophy and general social awkwardness/self-loathing is one of the more interesting background character arcs to follow at the moment, and I'm hopeful to see some improvement for for in the coming issues ... I'd like to see her happy. But I digress.
- #17: This might be my least favorite of the bunch. I've never cared for plots involving characters being able to summon otherworldly forces from their living room, for reasons that are mostly inexplicable. Perhaps I've just seen it played out too much? It strikes me as a little lazy.
Now, I thought the twist at the end was clever. I didn't suspect Dr. Polaris was behind all of the drama surrounding Frances (the fact that he'd cause such torment to her just so he could escape speaks to his villainy), but it explained a number of otherwise confusing details, and I guess resolved the "occult in the dining room" cliche I had a problem with. But my retroactive enjoyment of the issue doesn't take away my lukewarm impression while reading, if that makes sense.
- #18: You mentioned before that #18 was one of your favorite issues, and I can honestly say I'm in agreement. I think it's significant that Leonid was DC's first Russian superhero and yet written in such an endearing manner, especially considering the historical context of 1980s Reaganism and Cold War fears. I guessed his engagement to Maladi before he revealed it at the end, but his solemn delivery of the news still left me speechless. Despite the Titans denying him the closure he sought, he simply walked away. I admire his character's integrity and his kind-heart.
Leonid being able to take on all the Titans in battle was significant to me, although I noticed he was lacking energy powers like he has in the cartoon (I wager he develops those later on). Even still, his super soldier abilities made for some truly fantastic action scenes (Perez excels at drawing large scale, dynamic battles, in my opinion).
I see why you like this cover so much; I really love the glimpse we have at the final battle in the churchyard, with the new Starfire unconscious at the feet of the old Starfire, everyone poised or panicked. That's definitely a great pick!
I also agree with Wolfman's choice to use Wally as the vehicle for anti-Soviet dogma. Wally was the only member of the Titans who grew up in suburban America, most likely raised by the dominant Cold War paranoia of the time (not the mention his dad fought in Vietnam). Of all the Titans, he felt like the most appropriate choice.
- #19: I don't have much to say about this issue. It was pretty straightforward. I appreciated seeing Hawkman guest-star, reminding us that the Titans exist in a larger superhero community. Once again, Perez's art is the stand-out in this issue, and it was a nice, simple superhero team-up battle after the previous, emotionally charged issues. It was fun and entertaining, but it didn't blow my socks off.
- #20: This was another great issue, a rare first-person view through Wally's eyes. Him writing a letter to his parents was a sweet gesture, I find it endearing that he isn't ashamed of how much of a healthy, loving family he has. The decision to focus on some of quieter moments like Cyborg's birthday, as well as Wally's impressions of all the Titans, was touching, and it made for a compelling analysis of the Titans from a relatively "normal" point of view.
Disruptor was obviously a sad villain, desperately trying to win his father's approval. I thought it was an effective contrast with Wally, especially in an issue focusing on Wally's honesty with and appreciation for his parents. That funny side story at the end with Marv Wolfman and George Perez meeting the Titans was silly, but definitely made me smile.
That's all I have for now. You correctly surmised that I left off with #6 in Titans (Rebirth), and I still I have to read "Tales of the New Teen Titans." Once I finish with TotNTT, I'm considering just trudging ahead with NTT for some more issues, as I'm quite eager to see Brother Blood's appearance. I'll definitely resume my reading of Titans (Rebirth) so enough, though.
I would agree that issues #16-20 are more episodic, but I appreciate that they all either continue subplots in some way or introduce new ongoing ideas for the title.
1. Issue #16 showed that Dick felt jealous of Kory being romantically involved with another guy, which is another step toward their eventual romantic relationship. Additionally, as you noted, it showed Raven enrolling in college and trying to become more adjusted to life on Earth. Plus, we see Victor contemplating the status of his relationship with Sarah Simms. The rage Kory felt after Franklin's murder was raw, but her ability to suppress that killer instinct with Donna's coaxing showed that she is learning to control her wild emotions—a shift from her culture and the survival-centric mindset she had to develop during most of her adolescent years (you have learned of some of what all she went through during her time in slavery, but you shall learn more in later issues; it's dark). Adapting to earth customs and ethics has been tough on her, but I can respect the efforts and growth.
2. For someone who didn't know what was really going on with Frances Kane going in, I can imagine how issue #17 would seemingly have a vaguely tacky premise. I still believe the characterization and character growth were well done elements that made the issue worthwhile. I also still have an appreciation for the campy stories, so I was okay with that type of thing, even if the premise would not have seemed as strong as other issues' ones did. That said, I reread the issue today before I replied. Knowing the truth about the scenario changes how you read it, I believe. I think it's interesting that DC casually used the NTT title to bring back a long-standing villain they wanted to use elsewhere. I'm not used to individual titles doing things that benefit the larger universe but have little to do with the title itself. That said, I really appreciate the issue for the introduction of Frances Kane, who later adopts the Magenta identity.
3. I'm glad you enjoyed issue #18. I like that Wolfman and Pérez chose to use issue #18, specifically, to bring back Starfire (Leonid Kovar), as his most recent appearance (at the time) had been his debut, Teen Titans Vol 1 #18. It's a nice homage for both titles to use the same character during the same issue number.
As for Leonid's power set, it evolves over time. When he first received his powers, he had superhuman strength, durability, speed, stamina and agility. That's the power set you see here. In later appearances in the Titans title before he joins, he shows that he has acquired the ability to absorb certain types of energy and use it to increase the force behind his physical strikes (typically depicted by his fists glowing with energy). During the storyline that has Red Star join the team, he is wearing a red/yellow uniform but features the same powers. Later in his tenure with the team, though, he unlocks the ability to shift into a sort of "solar" form, wherein he appears to be a humanoid whose body burns so hot that he looks like a white silhouette, with flames coming from his head and eyes. In this form, he was very hot, and he could project orange flames from his hands. Later in life, during/following his second tenure on the team wherein he wore another green uniform, he showed that he learned to project flame-like energy from any part of his body without entering that sort of fully-flame state. He also had developed the ability to fly under his own power. So, when comparing his comic power set to his animated version's, know that his comic self mostly gets the same, or at least a similar, power set as the cartoon one's over time.
Now, I have much to say about issue #18. Back when I had been running a comic review website, which I hope to get back into eventually, one of my first reviews was on this specific issue—as there was so much to unpack. My degree in English certainly helped me appreciate all the content worthy of literary analysis that the issue had to offer, especially when looking at it through a historical lens. For my full thoughts on the issue, check out the review here.
4. I can see your point about issue #19. I reread it today as well. It was fun fanfare, but in some ways, it seemed like Wolfman and Pérez were stalling while they prepared for their more epic multi-part storylines and such that were coming soon (and/or perhaps they were busy with the Tales of the New Teen Titans miniseries, which came out the month after this issue). The story still had fun character moments and action, but the issue's events did not necessarily mean a lot to Titans lore as a whole. Now, it did show that Vic's hesitance toward seeing Sarah Simms again is causing a wedge between them. He is worrying over something that she would have easily forgiven the moment she saw him, a shame.
5. Issue #20 is considered by many to be one of the title's best. Not every superhero comic depicted the "quieter" times of their hero's/heroes' lives, but Wolfman/Pérez made it a prerogative to make the Titans all feel like real people, which helps the readers connect to them more and care more about them—something that I feel is very important, especially since many of these characters were still considered quite new. I wish more comics nowadays featured characters' downtime. And yes, Disruptor was a sympathize-able villain, in some ways. "Brains" Beldon, Michael's father, was a one-off Batman villain whom Wolfman decided to use to introduce a new Titans villain. Neat stuff, Marv.
As for the backup feature featuring the mad scientist Igor Igorigorigorivich, his Cro-Magnon assistant Boris, and his three robot minions Mo, Lar-E and Kur-Le (I can't believe Wolfman slipped in a Three Stooges reference, haha), I felt the story, while goofy, was interesting in that it was one of the earliest mentions of Earth-Prime by name. A Titans villain, even one who barely classifies like Igor, who is aware of and can peer into/connect the mainstream universe to Earth-Prime is fascinating to me for some reason.
6. As for what you are planning to read next, I definitely look forward to your comments on the expanded origins provided in TotNTT. Now, while I appreciate Titans (Rebirth), I am more interested in learning your responses to NTT, especially since much of Abnett's run focuses on the Titans' publication history. So the more you read of NTT and other older Titans books, the grander your appreciation for Abnett's works will ultimately be, I surmise. If you are planning to go ahead and read more NTT issues, I recommend you go from issues #21-25 and then the first annual. These make up a couple arcs, and after the finale of annual #1, you are left with a satisfying conclusion that would allow you to reasonably take a break to review what you had read thus far before diving into the next chapter of NTT issues. Happy reading!
Hey N8! At long last I have returned to talk more about the Teen Titans. Apologies for the delay, but alas real life has no concern for my comic book reading free time, haha (I also took a brief hiatus from NTT to read some other comics).
First I want to address a few of your previous comments.
-After reading your comments on #17, I re-read the issue and I must say that I did enjoy it more the second time around, knowing that the tacky premise was just a cover for Dr. Polaris' machinations. The story felt more clever and important, and I'm glad I found some new appreciation for an issue that I at first dismissed.
-I read your complete thoughts on #18 on your website blog. An apt analysis that I believe gets to the deftness of Wolfman's commentary. The more I've stewed on the issue, the more love I have for it, especially considering the conflict was instigated by some middle-management Soviet who wanted revenge rather than a larger than life villain. I'm looking forward to seeing more of Leonid in the future.
(By the way, should you ever choose to renew your blog, know that I would be an active reader).
-After considering your recommendation, I have decided to put Abnett's Titans on the shelf right now and focus my efforts on reading through New Teen Titans and its subsequent titles. Of course, I'll revisit the run in the future, but I think you are right in suggesting I'll appreciate Abnett's writing more as I become more educated in Titans lore, since a lot of his work in "Titans Hunt" and the "Return of Wally West" was steeped in homages to material I haven't read yet. Besides, I've started reading some other DC characters, and it might be nice to start with one Teen Titans title at a time, for my sake.
Now onto Tales of the New Teen Titans. I read these issues throughout this past week, though I feel it's a pretty natural continuation from the quieter, personal moments explored in #20. It speaks volumes to Marv Wolfman's and George Perez's care for their character to devote an entire mini-series to flesh out the newer characters and, as Dick commented at the end of Starfire's issue, make them seem like real people. Bravo.
Cyborg: This issue increased by already great appreciation for #7, which featured Cyborg's reconciliation with his father. Their strained relationship felt pretty natural and believable - Silas wanting what's best for Vic, though misguided by his selfishness, and Vic acting as the rebellious teenager wanting freedom from his parents restrictive expectations. We also got to see more of Vic's mom. The scene where she calls out Vic after his rumble was an important and powerful one.
I was surprised by how steeped in race relations this issue was. It felt like a relevant read given the current discourse in America. Ron's extremism, and even Marcy's quick outburst about how her father lost a promotion simply due to his skin color, were poignant, and provided an interesting dynamic for Vic, who understandably never was exposed to racial bias. I'm glad Wolfman touched on this (I can't help but wonder if we'll see Ron again - I abide by the rule of thumb that if there is no body, they aren't really dead).
I also was surprised to see that the accident that destroyed Vic's body wasn't just an explosion, but some sort of extra-dimensional creature. Perhaps this point will be re-addressed in the future?
Raven: This issue was a big deal, I think, considering how guarded Raven has been about her past and her inner thoughts. I noticed Wolfman had been hinting that Raven was struggling with bottling up her thoughts and feelings, so this was a nice catharsis.
I don't have many specifics to comment on. I enjoyed another look of Azarath and its culture, and the exploration of Raven essentially being marked from birth as an evil being. Raven's story seems to be one of escaping a destiny chosen for her, with the added obstacle of overcoming the unhealthy emotional repression of Azarath.
A significant point for me was Wolfman hinting just how powerful Raven was. She comments that if she doesn't control her powers, the universe could be torn apart. I suppose that could simply refer to her unleashing Trigon, but I took it as her own power existing within her. While I know that this mini-series was significant for everyone involved, I feel that's doubly true for Raven's secretive character.
Changeling: Gar's story was written interestingly, and I thought the disparity between Wolfman's writing (i.e. Gar's grandstanding narration) and Perez's art depicting Gar as actually being lonely and reclusive was a great demonstration of the storytelling effectiveness of comics. The pairing of the writing and art made this issue what it was, in my opinion.
Gar's had a rough life. Losing his parents, seeing the tribe he was adopted into destroyed, living in an abusive home, the Doom Patrol's death ... his comedic, easy-going exterior makes it easy to forget how much he's been through. I applaud the choice to have Gar embellish his tale, bragging of how rich and popular he was while actually not having many friends. I enjoyed seeing his relationship with Jillian.
Kudos to Wolfman as well for his work on Arsenal. I knew nothing about the villain before this issue, but from what I gather, Wolfman took a one-off Doom Patrol villain with little character and turned him into a more personal antagonist for Gar. Clever work.
And I enjoyed the constant Star Wars references. Never a bad thing.
Starfire: You weren't kidding about Starfire's past. She may very well have the worst sibling in the entire universe. She was tormented by Komand'r as a child (who killed Kori's pet!), sold into a life of slavery, torture, and what I can only assume rape, and finally experimentation by the Psions. I didn't realize her star-bolt powers were the result of tampering (I always thought they were part of her natural physiology), but that's an interesting aspect of her character.
I enjoyed the in-depth look at Tamaran and the Warlords of Okaara, which Kori has referenced on a number of occasions. It was cool to see the roots of Kori's warrior philosophy. It appears the following issues of NTT will focus more on Starfire and her sister, so I hope we'll see more of this science-fiction side of the Titans.
Of the four, this issue was my favorite. I have much more respect and appreciation for Kori's character after reading this. The issue was shocking and unsettling to say the least, but pulled no punches. Kori's strength and resilience, as well as her continued optimism when she has every right to be angry at the universe, is inspiring.
That's all I have for now. I'm planning on reviewing #21-25 and Annual #1 next time, per your recommendation. I was very satisfied with this mini-series, though. Issues like these assure me I was wise to follow a wonderful super-hero team like the Titans.
At long last, indeed! I jest, haha. I do admit, though, that these conversations have been the highlights of my day—on the days we continue them. Through you, I get to re-experience these aspects of Titans lore through the lens of a new reader, and I get to discuss my favorite characters and storylines, and it's just a whole lot of fun for me. I deeply enjoy the back-and-forth we have been forming.
That said, I totally understand when life gets in the way and keeps us busy. As an editor, I am always rushing to get dozens of things done by deadline, and challenges both professional and personal have often left me unable to spend as much time indulging in my hobbies as I would like. I have probably three dozen unopened video games for my various systems that I fully plan to get to eventually.
Plus, it's natural for comic readers to cycle through a few series and whatnot, so I wouldn't try to ask you to make yourself devoted to the Titans. That would make reading more of a chore, or like homework. That's not what I'd want. I want you to read Titans books because you feel like it, because you enjoy it. So no need to rush or apologize on my account. Yes, I look forward to your responses, but it's more important to me that you process these comics at your own leisure.
I'm glad you took the time to read my Nerdy N8's Notes review. I do hope to start reviewing more content again, although I need to get into a place professionally and personally where I am not so preoccupied by other things. Additionally, I will be moving into a new apartment March 2021, and once there, I will have a library/office/reading room that will be much more conducive to comic reading than my sitting at my dining table. My environment affects how deeply I can immerse myself into what I read, so I look forward to having a space I can compartmentalize as my "reading space." That way, I can binge-read and analyze in a way that puts me at ease again. It'd be nice to know that you've followed the page somehow. I hope you'll read my thoughts and add your own reactions in the comment section when the time comes.
I think the decision to hold off on Abnett's Titans makes sense, although I will look forward to your thoughts on the title once you return. In the meantime, I'd like to know what other titles/characters you're reading and learning more about.
On the TotNTT miniseries, I'm glad you enjoyed it overall. While the issues were connected in that these were all stories told while on a camping trip, I do believe they generally read as a series of one-shots, which is why I think it's fair to favor one over another. I do like that DC gave Wolfman/Pérez the go-ahead to do this at all. I reckon it helps that NTT had become DC's top-selling title. By being able to devote each of the four issues to a newer face, the creators were able to really pack in dense backstories. The alternative would have been to pepper in the backstories into regular issues, which could have extended or dragged out storylines. I think the main title is all the better because Wolfman and Pérez were able to get this information out of the way in a few fell swoops.
Now, to reflect on your assessments.
Cyborg: After reading your comments on Vic's story and how elements from it are relevant to today's political climate in the United States, I decided to reread it. You're right. It resonates on another level upon this read-through. Victor's being secluded from public society afforded him a certain innocence that Ron Evers manipulated for a time. As for Ron's fate, perhaps he is dead. Perhaps he will appear again. Read on…for another 26 years or so. As for the extra-dimensional alien whose powers strikingly seem similar to Plasmus', well, I shall refrain from spoiling too much, one way or another.
Raven: Raven's story spelled out her origin to an even greater degree, and I especially liked learning of Azar, as she was mostly just mentioned beforehand. As you say, the issue suggests that Raven has more power than she lets on, and she has to be careful with her emotions as to not unleash said power.
Changeling: The dichotomy between Gar's monologue and the art depicting the truth is an ode to Wolfman and Pérez' collaborative skills. As for Gar's backstory, I consider him to have one of the most tragic origins. He was unable to save his biological parents, something that haunts him with guilt during much of his life. Then his new father figure in the African tribe is killed, and he is kidnapped and coerced to commit acts he knew were wrong. Then a man who hates him and treats him cruelly becomes his guardian and subsequently neglects and emotionally abuses him. He finds kinship with the Doom Patrol and bonds with Rita Farr (Elasti-Girl), who in turn marries Steve Dayton (Mento). They fight and finally gain legal guardianship of Gar and adopt him.
Then his newfound mother dies, and the father figure who should have consoled him was too caught up in his own grief to properly be there for his son. Not only that, beyond just dying, Rita chose to sacrifice herself, which I imagine added another layer of despair to Gar. Yes, on one hand, he can admire Rita for giving everything up to save a small population. She died a hero. On the other hand, I imagine he may have wondered how she could have chosen to leave him motherless yet again, wondered if he wasn't important enough for her to choose another path. Ultimately, even if Gar did ponder these questions, I'm sure he understands that Rita did the right thing, but that doesn't make the hurt lessen, especially when his father left him alone at the estate—double-especially when Gar already had trouble making emotional connections due to his pigmentation. I feel for him.
Notably, Gar's acting tenure as Tork in the show Space Trek 2022 comes up many times in the future. The factoid was introduced into Gar's history during the arc in the original Teen Titans series that had him join Titans West. As the issue noted, it's a cross between Star Trek and Space: 1999. Later references make allusions to Star Wars, oddly enough. I owe it to the sliding time scale and the revisions to continuity that Crisis on Infinite Earths wrought. It's a minor change, and is probably more of a mistake than anything else, but it's interesting. I keep hoping that with the year 2022 coming up that DC will produce a miniseries actually titled Space Trek 2022. It would be so perfect.
This isn't the last you've seen of Jillian Jackson.
Starfire: One could almost sympathize with Komand'r for feeling like an outsider among her own people—a feeling heightened by the planet's love for the "perfect" Koriand'r—were it not for the continuous acts of unwarranted cruelty she committed against Kory. Kory was Kom's primary source for her jealous rage, at no fault of Kory's. Komand'r was also obsessed with power, due to (a) her not having the standard power of flight, leaving her at gravity's mercy, an apparent weakness, and due to (b) her being passed over her would-have-been rightful position as next-in-line to the Tamaranean throne. Coupled with her natural ruthlessness and limited empathy, these ingredients formed the deadly recipe that became whom we know as Blackfire.
Kom's foil, Kory is brimming with compassion, even whilst indulging in her own passionate fury. Kory continues to save Komand'r, even when Kory says she planned to kill Komand'r next chance she had. In addition to having a higher natural ability in armed and unarmed combat, one of Kory's biggest strengths is her resilience. She endured six years as a slave, undergoing physical labor and, as you suspect, sexual abuse. She was pushed to kill her last contracted owner. Her upbringing and history was so chaotic and violent that having to adjust to Earth's general code of ethics within the heroic community has been hard for Kory, which we have seen a number of times now. But, in a way, because her past is so dark, her character growth is all the more impressive.
If Starfire's issue with Blackfire was your favorite of the bunch, you'll be satisfied with the second story in the set of issues I recommended you knock out next before your next review.
I greatly look forward to your assessments of NTT v1 #21-25 and annual #1.
Hey N8! I won't beat around the bush this time, as I have a lot I would like to talk about, both in response to your comments and NTT #21-25 & Annual #1. Let's get into it!
- I'm very glad to hear you enjoy these chats as much as I do! As I might've mentioned before, the Teen Titans are the first superhero characters I chose to follow in comics, so no matter how many other characters I delve into, they will always be my first love, so to speak. The fact that I have an outlet where I talk about, analyze, and gush over them with a seasoned reader like yourself doubles my enjoyment!
- I can very much empathize with your preference to compartmentalize reading and writing into a certain environment. Moreover, I can only imagine that as an editor, you must be swamped with a heavy and demanding workload. I'm still working at my summer job myself - at a grocery store bakery of all things (a humble job, I know) - so my schedule is prone to fluctuations and unpredictability right now. However, once I get back on campus in a few weeks, my schedule will be much more of a predictable routine, so you can expect more message from me on regular basis.
- As far as other characters I'm following, I'm shopping around a little, haha. I'm not very far into most of them, but I'm mostly trying to see what I like while also exploring different corners of the DC Universe. Other than the Titans, I've completed Len Wein's and Dave Michelinie's run on Swamp Things, and I'm currently reading James Robinson's Starman, Dennis O'Neil's The Question, and Roy Thomas' Infinity Inc. I'm looking to start reading some Batgirl comics soon enough as well (I'm thinking I'll start with Batgirl: Year One).
If you ever want to talk about any of the other comics I'm reading - or have any suggestions yourself - just let me know!
- I don't have much to add to your reflections on Tales of the New Teen Titans. It seems to me that we're of one mind in both its quality and its significance. I do agree that this was a much cleaner way of exploring the pasts of the four featured Titans, especially considering the number of subtle plot-lines Marv Wolfman develops in the background of the main story already. I do have a few more points to bring up, but I'll do so in my forthcoming review.
Now for NTT #21-25 and Annual #1. Some of Wolfman's and Perez's finest work thus far, in my opinion, particularly the last four issues.
#21 & #22: "Please note, gentle reader, that this man is named Brother Blood. He is not very nice!"
No kidding, Marv. He disintegrated a kid as casually as you would swat a fly! I can definitely see how toned downed Blood was in the animated series, but based on these two issues, I can honestly say he's my favorite villain in this series thus far. He's twisted and absolutely ruthless (man, that spider creature he hides in his basement was the stuff of nightmares - thanks George).
But he's also charismatic and his true danger lies in his political and religious influence. While it seem to be suggested he employs some form of hypnosis not unlike his animated version, it's clear that some of his "religious" followers genuinely believe in his divinity and his vision. It's really hard to fight someone who has the press and the government on their side. #22 being a favorite cover of yours is well-chosen. Brother Blood lording over the falling Titans in a way that feels both natural yet obviously extravagant.
While Brother Blood was front and center here, there were also significant moments for the some of the Titans. I was especially fond of Dick's resilience and cunning in #22, but also his humanity. He can't help but worry about his friends' well-being, and though Batman's training keeps him focused, I thought it was an endearing detail that his mind drifts to his friends.
Cyborg had some compelling moments, especially his interactions with Marcy's family after her death (his initial despair and mourning upon discovering her body was well-drawn and poignant, despite - or maybe because of - the lack of narration). His subsequent lashing out at poor Gar, followed by a genuine apology, felt like a natural character moment. I was happy to seem him reconnect with Sarah at the beginning of #21.
The team-up between Starfire and Raven preventing a bombing to start out #21 was a definite treat, too. I like seeing two opposite characters like Starfire - a passionate, short-tempered warrior - and Raven - an emotionally challenged healer and pacifist - as good friends.
Now, am I correct in thinking that Zandia was the country Madame Rouge and General Zahl attacked in Issues #14 and #15? If so, bravo for Wolfman laying the foundation for Brother Blood seven issues ahead of time.
Lastly, I know that in the animated series Brother Blood was the leader of H.I.V.E. but here he's the leader of a demented cult. Does he play a role in H.I.V.E. in the future or are they unconnected to Blood in the comics?
#23 - Annual #1: You were right. This is definitely one of my favorite storylines thus far. I am a huge sci-fi geek, so anything with starships and intergalactic imperial wars are a welcome treat for me. #23 is one of my favorite covers. Saturated with drama and larger-than-life space opera aesthetics, with Blackfire's regal sadism and Starfire's suffering front and center, setting the tone for the rest of the story focusing on their rivalry. I also agree with you on Annual #1's cover being a favorite, it's absolutely stunning. Dynamic yet beautifully drawn, almost like a color-pencil piece, as you surmised. I wouldn't mind collecting that one (or several other issues, for that matter) and having it framed, haha.
Starfire has quickly become a favorite character. Her strength of will and resilience is astounding. She had some ‘
epic fights against Blackfire, particularly in #25 and Annual #1 - crashing through mountains, blasting each other with star-bolts, brawling in a rushing river - these were some of the best action sequences thus far! Her elation at seeing her family again at the end was a phenomenal cathartic conclusion, exactly what was needed after the tortuous physical and emotional trials Kory went through. I was happy to see her relationship with Dick develop as well - they essentially admitted their feelings for each other without actually admitting their feelings.
Blackfire was an effective foil to Kory, a sadist in the purest form. First the Titans face off against Brother Blood, now Blackfire? Man, do they fight some evil folks. It's clear she's motivated by her feelings of inferiority - which as you mentioned in your comments, is understandable and a point of sympathy - but her quest for power and conquest, as well as the joy she takes in hurting Kory in whatever way she can, is unforgivable.
I enjoyed the world-building as well (it's a cool detail that Tamaran is in the Vega star system). X'hal had an interesting backstory, although the Omega Men - particularly X'hal's son - were all unfamiliar and a little confusing. Even still, their fight on Okaara along with the Titans against the Citadel was a fantastic large-scale sci-fi battle. A pretty key moment for Raven too, an empath being surrounded by death and suffering. The fact that Trigon seeped out was chilling, and speaks to the power she bottles in her.
(Side note: I hope Wally's love of Raven is addressed soon. His infatuation with her in the first few issues - in which the emotionally challenged Raven was misguidedly trying to force a connection and gain Wally's cooperation against Trigon - made enough sense to me then. But the one-sided love Wally has for Raven now feels odd).
Some nice character moments for Gar as well. I appreciate how Wolfman uses Gar for all the pop culture references, but Gar had a tall order in #24 and #25. He's not necessarily good at infiltration and deception, yet Dick and Vic rely on him to sneak them into the Citadel stronghold, and of course Gar beats himself up when it doesn't go as planned. I hope Gar learns not to be so hard on himself, he doesn't give himself enough credit sometimes.
Another nice detail was how Wolfman wrote the Citadel soldiers - he gave them names, families, spoke to how they weren't necessarily evil, but simply trying to finish tours of duty. Only a special writer would go out of their way to humanize the grunts, and I appreciated the detail.
My last point would be how well this story arc ties in with the Tales of the New Teen Titans mini-series. Truly, I believe these issues can only be fully appreciated and understood by reading Starfire's origin issue beforehand. Ditto for the other three, although obviously to lesser degrees. It's nice to see that Tales of the New Teen Titans isn't ignored or brushed aside, but an active influence of the main title's subsequent events.
Wow, those were some great issues N8! I can't wait to hear your thoughts on them (and if you know of any natural stopping points going forward). Until next time!
You came at just the right moment, Quilty, as I just completed quite a long day, as I prepare for tomorrow's deadline for our next issue (bi-weekly paper; deadline is every other Tuesday). As burnt out as I was, being able to talk Titans again is just the mental reprieve I needed. Although, at this point, I am mostly reading your own thoughts rather than presenting many of my own, but that's even more fun for me, so I am content.
You chose some fun titles to alternate between your Titans readings. Starman Vol 2 is largely considered DC's best comic during the '90s, along with Hitman. Personally, I feel that Starman Vol 1, featuring Will Payton as Starman, is often under-sold—partially due to just how solidly written the second Starman series happened to be. I bear no ill-will about it. Having good series overshadowed by great series is still a relatively good problem to have. But I do think not enough people read the first Starman series, even though it generally has favorable reviews. I may offer additional series in the future, but for now, I am content with primarily being your Titans man. Perhaps I may convince you to read Flash Vol 2 when you get to the place in your Titans readings where Wally takes on the Flash mantle. It's a solid series, and since I've read all 250+ issues of it, I have a lot of context and thus have plenty to say on the title and its various runs.
You are definitely correct in that Brother Blood is one of the Titans' most dangerous adversaries, largely due to his ability to curry public favor. If someone has decent political standing and can talk his way around things, it's hard to stop him or her, even if they are doing criminal activities behind closed doors. It's definitely a concept that was not used in many comics at the time, so kudos to Wolfman for taking the challenge and presenting a new type of villain.
I was very pleased with Vic and Sarah finally being able to patch things up after several issues of showing Vic lament over their relationship, even if Cyborg still feels guilty for various things. Like he said, he still is working on himself, which can make it hard to form strong bonds with others. At this point in his character, he leaves me rooting for him.
Re:Starfire and Raven's dynamics, I think Wolfman and Pérez did so well in constructing their team during the planning stages. They had diversity in powers, but they also made sure their original characters were diverse in personalities. So moments that highlight the differences are even more pronounced, and it's compelling and interesting.
Zandia is indeed the place the Brotherhood of Evil decided to call home. Note: The two having that commonality will be touched upon, so look forward to it.
As for Blood and H.I.V.E., the connection is original to the animated series, I'm afraid. Part of me didn't want to spoil that for you, but I didn't want you thinking every time you saw H.I.V.E. that Blood would be orchestrating things behind the scenes. Vice versa, I didn't want you expecting to see H.I.V.E. agents every time you saw the church. I think the connection worked well for the animated series, condensed a couple storylines and gave them room to explore other plot options.
While I am generally not a huge fan of the sci-fi genre in comparison to other genres, the greater-scale epic that was this Tamaran-centered story was undeniably well-written. I concur with your analyses regarding the storyline and the characters depicted. In some ways, I find you reading Blackfire and finding her unforgivable interesting because of events I know that take place later. Let's just say that Kom becomes a bit more three-dimensional later. Like, she is fairly complex even where we are in the series, but she develops even more. And the way you end up feeling about her as a reader by her final New Earth appearance is strikingly different than the impressions given as a result of this major arc. In Prime Earth, she's not nearly as bad. How not bad is she, you ask? Within the last year, she ended up becoming a member of a space-themed Justice League team (I haven't read the title yet). Anyway, expect interesting things from Kom and be curious as to how she develops beyond what now seems like sociopathic behavior.
I'm sorry that the Omega Men felt so out of place for you because you were unfamiliar with them. See, in DC, the Vega System is one of the most explored systems (world-building-wise) in its publication history. The Omega Men were created by Marv Wolfman and were introduced in a Green Lantern storyline that Wolfman wrote. As he was writing NTT at the same time, I imagine Marv had Kory in mind when he created them, so that they would work well together in the same mythos. So both Titans and Omega Men lores deal with the Vega System, as does GL at times. They're freedom fighters who go against the Citadel. They return as allies to the Titans in other space-centered issues, so you'll get to know them better. If you'd like to understand them all the more, you can read the Omega Men title that began in 1983. It's pretty well-received. And if you like space stories, all the better. I have a feeling you may love it, actually. Kory's younger brother Ryand'r later becomes a member as Darkfire.
As far as Wally goes, he is about to do what he can to move on from Raven and begin a new romantic relationship. Look forward to it and read on to see with whom he does so.
Ditto on the other points.
The next arc of NTT issues you need to read before taking a break is NTT v1 #26-34 + annual #2. That's a good stopping point. It's a bit longer than the last one, but it's a good read. If you need to, you can divide it into #26-31 and #32-34 + annual #2. That would make each set of readings about even. Actually, the more I think about it, I think it'd be fine to stop after #31 and give your reviews, since the six issues ultimately make up a major arc that concludes in #31. The over-arching storyline continues until the second annual (which follows issue #34), as mentioned. You can decide for yourself. I don't mind shorter threads, so if you want to give your thoughts after issue #31, that will let us talk again sooner, so I don't mind.
Glad I could offer some relief in the face of editorial pressures. I know reading and talking comics has since become a fine decompressing hobby for me, which I can only imagine is doubly true for someone working in the professional field.
As it happens, I had the day off today as well, so I decided to read through #26-31 per your suggestions (I thought we could afford a somewhat shorter thread). But first, a few responses to your previous comments.
-Starman is indeed a very well-written comic book, my second favorite after NTT. Funnily enough, I never intended to read it. I saw that Stargirl had her own TV series on DC Universe, but before I started watching, I thought it would be more prudent to read up on her comic mythos. But since she inherited the Cosmic Staff and has ties with the JSA, it made more sense to start exploring Starman for context to her coming into her own as a hero. So Starman was a bit of a happy accident for me, one that I have no regrets about. The Shade might be my favorite comic book villain thus far (I can't wait to read Robinson's limited series on him), and Jack Knight is a pretty relatable reluctant hero. But I definitely will circle back around to check out Will Payton's adventures down the road!
- No worries about Omega Men. I'm definitely going to start reading their 1983 series, as that sounds right up my alley!
- "Unforgivable" was a poor choice of words in regards to Blackfire. No one's beyond redemption. "Unjustified" is perhaps closer to what I was going for. I'm excited to see more of her, and I'm thrilled to know that she progresses beyond her single-minded hatred of Kory.
- I'm happy I asked about H.I.V.E. and Blood, as up until now I assumed Blood was the puppet master behind their actions. Thanks for the clarification!
Now as to #26-31. Some big moments for Raven here, which I was elated to see, as she's a favorite (ah who am I kidding, all the Titans are favorites). And we finally meet Terra, and just by glancing ahead, it seems I'm not too far off from the famous "Judas Contract" storyline.
#26 & #27: Two very poignant issues. Extremely unsettling and heartbreaking glimpse at victimized kids suffering with broken home lives, drug addiction, and poor self-esteem. After the high-flying heroics of the previous storyline, bringing the Titans down to the all-too-real problems of the world outside their ivory tower was a shockingly welcome turn of events. My breath left me several moments in these issues - such as when that one addict was hit by a car, the Titans discovering Paul bleeding out in Vic's apartment, a 13-year old being shot dead during the drug bust. The progression Wolfman and Perez illustrate - naive out-of-town kids looking to make a quick buck or troubled kids leaving their homes for one reason or another becoming drug pushers - felt accurate to what actually happens, and thus all the more impactful.
And the ending to #27 - despite the actions of the Titans, the problems still persist. Kids still leave their parents, that father still rejected his pregnant daughter, and as Wolfman somberly notes, "And so it goes." It was a humbling and tragic ending; superheroes can't solve all the problems of the world.
It was nice to see Roy Harper join in - I know he was a heroin user at one point, so this was a good place to re-introduce him. It was also a relief to finally see Dick and Kory as a couple, which has been building for awhile. Raven's interactions with the troubled kids were compelling and acts as a nice precursor to the insecurities we see vividly see in #31.
Adrian Chase is also an interesting supporting character. I see a lot of Harvey Dent in him - an overworked D.A. who feels hamstrung by the limitations of the law. It's an interesting dichotomy between him and the morally idealistic Titans.
#28 - #31: Wow, there's a lot that happened in these four issues. While #26 was Terra's first appearance, her first meaningful interaction with the Titans was in #28. Her being a royal exile of sorts from her home country caused me to believe she might find some companionship in Kory, but I think Gar has a compelling reason to gravitate towards her: shared tragedy over the death of their parents. It was interesting to note that, while the Titans quickly accepted her (probably at Gar's urging), Raven notes that she doesn't entirely trust her, which makes me wonder if Terra's story is baloney (knowing that she eventually sells out the Titans to Deathstroke). It's nice to see the parallels between the comics and the animation, even if the latter of which had much simpler motivations for how these characters view each other.
Speaking of Raven - man oh man, Marv put her through the wringer, especially in #31. The nightmare illusion Phobia put Raven through was disturbingly horrifying, with the souls of the tormented and suffering climbing over Raven and begging for her to heal them. It broke Raven down in ways that really left me speechless - we've never seen her subjected to such forced vulnerability and have her face her worst fears in such a vivid manner (Perez's art was impeccable). Donna even comments at the end of #31 that Raven was attempting suicide as she unleashed her dark side, speaking to Raven's self-loathing. Deconstructing an extremely introverted character like that was hard to read, but executed powerfully. Bravo Marv and George for pulling no punches.
I felt a lot for Cyborg too. I was saddened to discover Sarah was engaged when it's clear Vic was hoping for something more between him and her. Knowing Vic, he's going to internalize that as a failing on his own part (as he reveals to Gar), but I hope he still remains committed to their friendship and doesn't shut her out of his life again.
While on the topic of relationships, Terry finally proposed to Donna, although I figured she wasn't quite ready to accept. Terry is an empathetic partner, though, so hopefully Donna can work out her identity problems soon - I really like her with Terry. On the other hand, Dick and Kory are having some issues. I always figured Dick was working with the Titans full-time, but he's actually splitting time between them, Batman, and college. He's tearing himself in three directions and inevitably feeling like he's failing in all areas (I'm sure the hyper-focused philosophy of Batman isn't helping matters). Kory thrives on emotional connection and spending time with loved ones - as Donna aptly notes, Kory is "in love with being in love" - so Dick's isolationism is dividing them. Hopefully, they can work it out soon.
The Brotherhood returns! I have to say, I was instantly captivated by the storyline of the Brain using Raven to discover Brother Blood's weakness. It's always fascinating to me when writers put two powerful villains like Brain and Blood at odds with each other (and I enjoyed the mystery of figuring out why they were after Raven). The Brotherhood isn't messing around either. They wiped out dozens, if not hundreds, of Blood's acolytes in some pretty brutal ways - Perez repeatedly shows Plasmus melting people! I wonder how far in advance Wolfman decided to use Zandia as a sort of battleground between the Brotherhood and Blood. I’m very satisfied that we got to spend more time with them - particularly Phobia (her powers are very menacing and made #31 as magnificent as it was).
I'm glad Speedy stuck around a little while longer, and doubly glad that Frances Kane returned! You indicated before that she becomes a super-hero in her own right, so I'm guessing that's a result of the magnetic powers she gained during #17, with that whole Dr. Polaris affair. I hope we get to see more of her, especially now that Wally is pretty emotionally shattered after Raven's coerced breakdown.
Well, I think that's all I have for now. I'll read #32-34 and Annual #2 shortly, so look forward to my thoughts on them very soon.
Well, hot dog. As you'd wager, today was another long day, so seeing you make progress again so quickly is a treat.
Wolfman and Pérez certainly seemed dedicated to depict as many real-life moments as possible. Their characters dealt with "real" situations and had "real" feelings and reactions to things. They created depth in storytelling that I had not seen in comics before reading their title (although I have seen it since). Issues #26-27 may not have had the epic superhero-supervillain clashes that many readers enjoy, but the story was powerful, moving, in a way that makes you reflect on these themes.
Yes, Roy had his problem with drugs during the Green Lantern/Green Arrow: Hard-Traveling Heroes run of the GL title. In the first issue, it's revealed that Roy had fallen into the wrong crowd while Ollie had effectively (although inadvertently) abandoned him and left him alone at a critical time in his life. At the time, the Teen Titans had gone on hiatus, so Roy couldn't pal around with his friends as Speedy. And then his mentor and father figure disappears without much of a warning, and he had no known biological family at the time. So he was in a vulnerable place.
Then Oliver catches him in the act and kicks Roy out of the house, disowning him. Frustrated but motivated, Roy decides to go through rehab, with Dinah Lance (Black Canary) helping him along the way. It's a painful process, but after a month, he is clean. Roy and Oliver don't repair their relationship until years later. Speedy rejoins the Teen Titans when the original team regroups. Once the team dissolves—shortly before the NTT forms—Roy becomes an affiliate of the federal government to assist in anti-drug cases, which you have already read. He will go on to join two federal agencies for the same purpose of fighting drug crime. Despite the incident being only a two-issue storyline, it was a pivotal moment for Roy, as it helped give him direction for his life.
I don't know about you, but I was thoroughly excited to have Terra introduced into the book. The other Titans may have let her onto the team, but they are certainly maintaining a layer of distance, as Tara has not been allowed to know some of their secret identities just yet. She's pretty good with her powers, too, which you may notice is a bit different from her animated counterpart.
Indeed, the storyline of #28-31 really focuses on Raven, even if at times indirectly. You can really see her father's evil influence attempting to leak out, and the idea terrifies her, which in turn is dangerous, as she must force herself to limit all emotions or else risk further darkness from emerging.
I acknowledge your comments on Dick and Kory and largely concur. I find it interesting that you like Donna and Terry together, as a number of other users on this wiki have expressed how "icky" they feel Terry is, ha. I always thought he was likable enough, and Donna is beyond mature for her age.
The Brotherhood of Evil is aptly named. They often don't feel any hesitation when it comes to slaughter. Oddly, Brain and Mallah care about each other, but others be damned. Now, members of the BoE have done not-so-evil things (or will do not-so-evil things, from your perspective), but these instances you have read thus far show them as truly being villains. I suspect but have no proof that Wolfman planned out using both the Brotherhood of Evil and the Church of Blood before he introduced either of them. He tends to play the long game.
I definitely loved when Frances Kane made her return. Yes, her magnetic powers are her own now, yet to Wally's surprise, she does not want them! I think Wolfman was very clever here. He thought, "We have all these young characters who have powers, and they find themselves urged to pursue heroics. What if we had a character who had powers but adamantly did not want to become a superhero?" And that's what he's doing here with Frances. Wally invited her to become a Titan, and she rejected the offer.
I believe it was especially clever to have the character who didn't want to be a hero also be Wally's long-term friend—as Wally himself is finding himself wanting to lead a normal life more and more, yet he cannot convince himself to do so. It's as if he believes that because he has superpowers that he has to be a superhero. So Frances' reaction sidelines him, and I find the comparison interesting. Despite not wanting to be a hero and join the team, Frances appears and helps the Titans from time to time in her initial magenta-colored costume. And like I mentioned before, Wally will be entering a new romance soon.
I'm looking forward to your response on #32-34. It's not as defined of an storyline, but issues #28-34 and annual #2 are considered part of the "[Redacted]" arc. So I figured it'd be a good stopping point. Afterward, I reckon you could read issues #35-40, which concludes the first NTT series, as it picks up with issue #41 under the new title, Tales of the Teen Titans. Read #41, too, before you respond, as it continues the two-part storyline started in issue #40. Alternatively, you could stop reading and give me your response after issue #39, if you wanted to have a shorter list of issues to read before responding, as that issue has a sense of finality to it after what occurs in its pages. Note that issue #37 is a two-issue crossover, so after you finish it, you'll need to read Batman and the Outsiders (1983) #5.
Back again! Would you look at that, three days in a row, haha.
- I note your extended explanation on Roy Harper's past - a very sobering backstory, indeed. I'm glad to see he was able to move past that dark period, even if those personal demons stay with him.
- I concur with your comments on #26-27. The story was tangibly real, so much so that I could believe something like that would happen if it weren't for the colorful superheroes in the Titans. I appreciate that Wolfman and Perez went to great lengths to humanize their characters, and even more than that, trust their readership to take a break from superheroics to reflect on the more grounded material.
- I was indeed excited to meet Terra. She's a spunky kid with some truly awesome abilities, and her rookie status adds a new dynamic to the team. Unlike her animated counterpart (a runaway who was struggling to control her destructive powers and later was recruited by Slade), Terra immediately struck me as a mole from the get-go (despite knowing that she was ahead of time), as confirmed in #34. I think it's an interesting difference that Terra is revealed as being villainous all along here whereas she was more conflicted about her actions in the animation.
That being said, I don't want you to think her eventual selling out of the Titans to Slade detracted from my enjoyment of reading her. If anything, possessing that dramatic irony only enhances the impact of moments like her surprise birthday party in #34, or even her skill in battle. She's a very fine addition to the team that makes the title all the more interesting.
- Ah, "The One With the Ick Factor" (if you get the Friends reference, haha). The age difference between Terry and Donna doesn't bother me (there's a bit of an age gap between my parents, so it's somewhat normal to me). It's not unheard of for a professor to become involved with a student either (even though Terry insisted that he doesn't just as Donna accepted his proposal, which I found amusing). As you mentioned, Donna is remarkably mature, and Terry is an admirable partner. Their relationship is built on trust and respect, so I don't see anything wrong with it. Besides Wolfman and Perez even acknowledge any potential awkwardness when Donna visited Terry while the latter's ex-wife and daughter were visiting at the same time.
- You bring up an interesting point with Frances. Her desire to fight alongside the Titans against the Brotherhood didn't seem to be a borne of a desire to play superhero, but an attempt to prove herself as courageous. She's a nice foil of sorts for Wally, who I assume feels pressured to stay within the superhero community due to his loyalty to the Titans and his uncle Barry's career as the Flash. Wally could use a super-powered yet non-superhero partner at this point in his life.
As to #32-#34 and Annual #2:
#32: Wow, Thunder(bolt) and Lightning, very very frightening! (couldn't resist a dash of Bohemian Rhapsody there, haha). What a spectacular, action packed issue (Perez's art was once again vibrant and dynamic). The brothers Thunder and Lightning were nice additions to Wolfman and Perez's ever-growing cast of characters. Unlike their animated versions, who were childish elementals drunk on destructive "fun," Thunder and Lightning are driven by the search for their missing father, who was the key to preventing the brothers' deaths. Personally, I find this characterization more compelling, since their destructive trek is one of desperation rather than ignorance (though I understand the animation’s decision to go in a different direction).
I also enjoyed Donna assuming leadership in Robin's absence. She's the natural second in command, acting as the big sister of the group, but I also like the suggestion that Vic is seen as a trusted heir to the mantle of leadership. It was big of Cyborg to recognize he wasn't in any state to lead effectively with his personal problems regarding Sarah (which seem to come to a head in #35).
#33: A very fun stand-alone issue with a unique storytelling approach, starting with the murder of Trident and recounting the events leading up to the grisly fate of the crook. I don't have much to say here, other than I enjoyed this issue and the interactions between all the Titans as they exchanged accounts.
#34: The return of the Terminator (correct me if I'm wrong, but is this the first place Wolfman refers to him as 'Deathstroke?'). Anyways, it was cool to see Slade's resurgence, since we haven't seen him since #10. Big issue for Terra as well, from the birthday party to her going toe-to-toe with Slade all by herself, and finally the reveal of her working with Slade all along. Even the terrorist story was a hoax! And of course, this issue sets the tone for the events of Annual #2 with Robin and Adrian Chase.
Annual #2: Whew, what a story. Adrian's story comes to a head after his family was killed - deaths made all the more tragic after seeing Robin and Starfire briefly interact with his children in a previous issue - and he embraces the lawless identity of Vigilante. Not far off from Marvel's The Punisher, I think. Even still, Vigilante (who I am being sure not to confuse with the cowboyish Vigilante I know from Justice League Unlimited), introduces an intriguing moral conversation that Wolfman had been hinting at up till now. I hope to see more of Adrian.
That Monitor fella is not the same as THE Monitor, as in the cosmic multiverse entity opposite of the Anti-Monitor, correct? Curiosity aside, I understand Cheshire continues to be a relatively well-known assassin in DC, even if her associates didn't live up to their reputations against the Titans and Vigilante. Impressive that the Mob has such connections (and I appreciated the "Godmother" character as a nod to the "Godfather," haha).
This was also a crucial issue for Dick. He pushes the Titans into a gray situation that they aren't altogether comfortable with, yet he also decides to shoulder much of the responsibility of the unfolding events. His attempts to emulate Batman ultimately fail as he's hamstrung by the law, and he pushes the boundaries of what he finds morally acceptable for accomplishing his goals.
Once again, bravo Marv and George.
Thanks for the heads up about #37. Looking forward to what's ahead. Until next time!
Three days in a row? Color me pleasantly surprised! Although, I know the last "assignment" was composed of only three issues and an annual, smaller than your usual "course load." So I suppose it makes sense that you would be able to squeeze in the reading in the amount of time you did, although I appreciate that you took the time to do so in the first place. These updates have helped make this week a really good one thus far, even with the stressful workdays I had Monday and Tuesday. Thanks.
I'll reserve my full thoughts on the first Terra (Tara Markov) until after you have finished "The Judas Contract," which you have already seen is coming soon. Wolfman and Pérez really push the envelope with Terra a bit later, in a scene that shocked nearly all readers and definitely altered people's opinions about characters in one way or another—one that also had long-term effects on one of the characters involved. You'll know it when you get to it.
I've seen all of Friends, yes. I like the closeness that Donna eventually forms with Jenny Long, even if it's largely developed off-panel. Marcia is a pain, though.
Apologies for the spoilers, but it seems you have ultimately guessed it anyhow, and I had been hinting it, so I'll just say it: Yes, the person Wally begins to date long-term (chronologically, in-universe) is going to be Frances Kane. So look forward to issues of them together!
I love Gan and Tavis Williams so much. I hate that they never became Titans in the mainstream continuities. They are long-time allies to the team, and at once point, there were plans in the early '90s for a spin-off Titans title, which would have featured a new (additional) Titans team. Thunder and Lightning were set to be members, as well as Red Star, Chris King (Dial H), and Cyborg as the leader. For better or worse, the idea ended up scrapped, and the Titans had other developments. This saddens me, as one of my favorite elements of reading superhero comics is when a new character gains membership status with a team. Nothing excites me more than when a new character becomes a Titan.
I'm glad Leonid eventually became a Titan anyway, but neither Gan nor Tavis nor Chris ever became official members. And I would have been more fine with them only being allies to the team if it were not the fact that they came so close to membership. I mean, I'm glad Gan and Tavis were members in the animated series, but I want them added to the list of official (mainstream-universe) Titans. We have 95 Titans right now. And I don't think any writer plans to bring them back, because the Thunder and Lightning monikers have been effectively taken by Black Lightning's children. Sure, in Prime Earth, we had a third set of young heroes to use the mantles (Alexei and Alya; members of the heroic Ravagers team). But they have gone into limbo, and since the Black Lightning television series re-popularized Anissa and Jennifer, I doubt Gan or Tavis will see the light of day again anytime soon.
I acknowledge your comparison of the motivations for Thunder and Lightning between their animated and comic counterparts. As for leadership, don't worry; both Donna and Vic have officially led the Titans during the team's history (for the record, so has Roy and Gar—to mention characters whom you have seen in your readings so far who have also been Titans leaders).
As for #33, I thought you would find it interesting to compare the comic version of Trident to the animated version. The cartoon had Trident as an amphibious character who created clones of himself. I find it interesting that the cartoon writers came up with that twist on the original concept—a trident-wielding villain who was really more than one character in the first place. "Trident" gets re-imagined yet again for Prime Earth in Abnett's Titans.
Slade was referred to as Deathstroke the Terminator in his first appearance (issue #2). But Wolfman had planned to have him primarily called Terminator, until the movies. At that point, they shifted the focus to "Deathstroke." And yep, Tara's backstory was a load of bull.
Adrian Chase indeed becomes the second Vigilante. The first is the western-inspired Greg Sanders, the one you recognize. His "heroic" (honestly, he's an anti-hero, as you suggest) origin is very sad. He was just an honest man trying to earn an honest living and make a difference whenever the opportunity came. Then he lost his nuclear family for such petty, violent reasons. Wolfman introduced Adrian Chase specifically to have him become Vigilante, and Adrian is the first Vigilante to have his own title, which lasted 50 issues. The comic series is generally well-received, although not as many know about or have read it. So it's one of those hidden gems. Now, I have sadly not had the chance to read it myself yet, but because of Adrian's Titans connection, I want to. Sadly, Adrian does not exactly remain a supporting cast member of the Titans titles, so if you want more of his story, you'll need to read his title, which is on DC Universe.
Side note: Greg Sanders is arguably the more famous Vigilante—given his status as a Golden Age hero who served as a member of the Seven Soldiers of Victory and the All-Star Squadron before being tossed through time and eventually brought to the present as an older man, retiring as a hero. However, I find it interesting that Adrian's version of the mantle is the one that becomes a legacy, with two criminals briefly using his uniform (doesn't count), two heroes using variations of his uniform along with the name, and then a couple other heroic Vigilantes who have similar tones to their characters. It's neat when the non-original bearer of a mantle is the one who bears the stronger legacy.
This Monitor is indeed the Monitor. Marv and George created him and debuted him in issue #21 and then let him appear again in the second annual. Wolfman and Pérez were the creators behind Crisis on Infinite Earths, so they hinted toward the event using NTT, which was DC's top-seller at the time, a clever tactic.
Cheshire becomes a stronger character within DC as a whole but especially with the Titans. She reoccurs a lot. The other mercenaries, however, are one-offs.
Dick is going through some things alright, and those struggles are going to culminate into something pretty significant in the next set of issues you are going to read. I won't say just yet in case you read this message before you finish those next several issues.
I'm really looking forward to your thoughts on the next set, although I won't expect you to have finished the issues by tomorrow and make it four days in a row, haha. Maybe I'll have the pleasure by the weekend, although it would be awfully cool if you managed to actually read and review TJC ("The Judas Contract") before the weekend finishes. We'll see how that goes, with your work schedule and all.
May your expectations be shattered, my friend! Here I am again, ready to talk some Titans (for the record, while I know consecutive conversations have been a rarity thus far, I expect it will become a more common possibility in the coming weeks. So don't be so surprised!).
- I definitely think that Vigilante is a title worth exploring, especially now that I've seen Adrian's beginnings. Perhaps I'll start reading his title once I finish The Question. They seem similar enough in grit.
- Wow, THE Monitor? I would've thought the affairs of the Mob would be small potatoes to an individual who I thought was involved in cosmic affairs. Regardless, it is indeed cool that Wolfman and Perez decided to introduce him here in NTT.
- The differences between comic and animated Trident were indeed fun to note. It was clever of the animators to call back to the idea of there being multiple Tridents by giving their version clones. Given what Abnett did with Ding Dong Daddy in Titans Hunts, I'm thrilled for the Prime Earth re-imagining of Trident.
As for #35-#39:
#35: Oof, this was a tense issue. No big super-villains, just a desperate man with a mental illness, it would seem. I was shocked to discover Mark was indeed a possessive stalker, as he seemed pleasant enough when Vic first met him. Nevertheless, hostages-held-at-gunpoint situations always fill me with a tense, edge-of-my-seat kind of dread (part of me genuinely thought Mark was going to shoot Sarah). It was interesting to see Vic, Gar, and Raven attempt to resolve the situation in their unique ways. Sarah Simms is a fantastic supporting character for Vic, and even though they've had some rocky periods, to see Vic unable to fully shut her out is a touching testament to how special she is to both Vic and the readership.
#36: Oh boy, more Thunder and Lightning! I am sorry to hear that Gan and Tavis don't even possess honorary membership at any point; they definitely deserve it. Their part alien heritage was unexpected, though the showdown with their alien father was exciting (and heartbreaking). I hope a writer (be it Wolfman or someone else) revisits them sometime in my near future of reading Titans.
#37 (& B&O #5): Wow, those fiendish Fearsome Five felons return! They're a nice set of recurring villains; powerful and menacing, but ultimately fail every time they match-up against the Titans (Dr. Light in particular - he threw in the towel, if temporarily). Big moment for Terra in reuniting with her brother Brion despite her burning desire to destroy the Titans. It's nice to see she has some good in her.
I recognized everyone on the Outsiders, so it was cool to finally see them in the comics. Batman's dynamic with Robin was perhaps the central focus, and I appreciate that Dick wasn't subservient to Bruce's experience and ego. He called out Bruce's tactical error and took charge, something that Batman thankfully respected rather than admonished. Dick really started to show a clear sense of identity here - he was a Titan first and Batman's ward second (a position he rejected altogether in fact).
#38: Definitely one of my favorite issues of the series. Although this was obviously Donna's issue, Dick and his friendship with Donna was just as predominant. I knew from the first page, with the textless paneling as Dick quietly reflected on his life and his desire to finally help Donna, that this was a special issue. And I wasn't disappointed.
To be sure, the revelations weren't all pleasant. Donna's birth mother dying, the child-selling ring at Donna's orphanage, and the abusive couple that died in the fire were definite points of tragedy. Nevertheless, it's uplifting to know Donna's past left her with a loving adopted family in Fay and the Evans. After great lengths of building up Donna's search for her identity, I found her happy ending fulfilling and well-earned. The issue left me smiling and warmed my heart (so I'm sappy - sue me!).
#39: Super cool opening splash-page followed by several key moments. Wally finally decided to leave the Titans to be with Fran. Although I wish it had less to do with his polarized feelings for Raven and more with his desire for normalcy and the need to grow as an individual, I respected the decision to have him leave. Even more importantly, Dick gave up his Robin identity. That's a big deal. The end of an era. Though of course I know that he becomes Nightwing in just a few issues, the final farewell with him and Wally made for a quiet moment of reflection on their history as heroes and as friends, as well as contemplation of the future.
Now for the elephant in the room. Terra's relationship with Slade seems a little ... strange. I don't want to read into this incorrectly, so I'd like to read your thoughts before I comment further. Suffice to say, I feel like it was hinted that Slade and Terra were intimate in some uncomfortable way. At the very least, they are definitely more than villainous teammates in the way the Fearsome Five or the Brotherhood are. Slade invited her to his private lodge and she seemed fairly ... at home. Of course, we also got a glimpse of how truly powerful Terra is (and how skilled Slade was). The Titans are in for a rude awakening.
Well, that's as far as I got. The Judas Contract awaits. I can't wait to read it! I know how famous it is, so naturally I would like to see what all the hoopla was about. This is something Wolfman and Perez were building towards since they introduced Terra in #26, so I'm ecstatic for the pay off!
Aho! You sure showed me. I look forward to a more regular cycle of additions to the thread as you continue your own reading.
I'd say Vigilante will likely serve as a solid replacement in the lineup once you finish Question. The tones seem similar.
Yep, issue #35 showed that you don't have to be "super" to be a villain. The inclusion of Mark Wright and the fact that he was set up beforehand allowed the resolution of that subplot to carry more weight. Wolfman and Pérez yet again depict another real-world issue through Wright's obsessiveness and hostility. Now and then I like seeing only select members of the group doing taking on a threat. It really gives the creative team an opportunity to explore the dynamics of the given characters in a crisis situation.
You'll see Thunder and Lightning now and again. During the spin-off title known as Teen Titans Spotlight, many Titans and affiliates of the team had solo stories (in the same vein as how many characters had solo stories in, say, Detective Comics; they may not have had a solo title, but they had solo stories). Thunder and Lightning have their own solo story in that title. I'll let you know when you need to read that title, chronologically speaking. It's a bit away, but not too far away, at your rate.
I liked seeing Gar interact with Jade due to their sharing a green pigmentation. Gar is often flirtatious toward female guest-stars of the book.
Brion really loves his half-sister, Tara. And, well, Tara put on a good show. That's all I'll say for now until after you have read TJC.
Issue #38 was a solidly written single-issue story. Not everyone loves the non-action issues, but I like them a lot. And Donna had been needing a backstory for a long time. This helped establish one, although there will be more to Donna's origin. She's actually infamous for having such a complicated origin (it's not that complicated once you've read all the pieces of the puzzle, though, so I'm sure you'll understand it).
I can't imagine how it must have felt for comic fans who read issue #39 the month it came out (or at least in the months before Dick's debut as Nightwing). Like, some people must have been shocked at the idea that Dick wasn't going to be Robin anymore. Some may have disregarded it, thinking it was temporary and that he would appear as Robin before long again. Some may have feared he was leaving heroics indefinitely. I'd bet a portion of readers eagerly bought new NTT issues after this one to see what became of Dick. I'm sure others may have abandoned the title, deciding that without Robin/Dick they didn't care about the team. Some may have seen it as an act of betrayal by Wolfman and Pérez, to "tarnish" Dick's character by taking away his most identifying characteristic, his heroic identity (not knowing what was to come). Yet, I would wager that many who were hesitant about contenting to pull the title with Robin's retiring of his iconic identity were utterly gripped when they got to the issue cover that featured Dick as Nightwing for the first time. I'd love to read a well-documented and sourced report of how readers felt about the debut of the Nightwing identity at the time. I'd like to know how many were for it immediately, how many were hesitant to like it, etc. Nightwing is now one of DC's most popular characters, I'd say, so it was a good move. And I love that the NTT creators of Wolfman and Pérez get credit for this iconic change for the character. Many people still see Dick as a Bat-character, but having his shift from Robin to Nightwing take place in a Titans story is significant and shows that he is equal parts (if not more) affiliated to Titans lore than Bat lore.
And now, the elephant. Slade's robe and adornments actually had him fairly covered. It could be argued he looked like a rich man just relaxing in his own home/lair. But then we had Tara, naked under a silk robe barely covering her modest figure. It's what she was wearing that made readers question what happened. And the point was for it to be in question. Wolfman and Pérez wanted the scene to be suggestive but not indicative. One could interpret the visuals and context to believe that Slade had a physical relationship with Tara. Granted, many countries' and some U.S. states' laws list the age of consent at 16, but given that she had just turned 16, the whole affair was still scandalous. It was talked about. And honestly, having people talk about the comic was a good tactical move, as Wolfman/Pérez did so shortly before their most meaningful arc to date. They knew TJC was going to be huge. Or at least, they hoped. So having some controversy helped build readership shortly before. And since it was not clear that Slade had done such a thing with Tara, people who liked his character found themselves defending him, choosing to believe they had not actually engaged in such an act.
I preferred to think it didn't happen either. For better or worse, Wolfman confirmed it himself when he wrote the Deathstroke the Terminator comic title in the '90s that Slade had a one-time fling with Tara before the scene depicted in this issue. The incident is shown to be one of Slade's biggest shames. He is ashamed and embarrassed. Wintergreen acknowledges that he knows that period was one of Slade's darkest (as in, he was in inner turmoil), but he still chastises his friend. I'm glad Wolfman at least confirmed that he had never done such a thing with someone so young before or afterward. But yeah, oof.
Huzzah, you have the two-issue storyline that precedes TJC, but then you'll have the four-part story to read and digest. I look forward to your thoughts. Here's hoping you have time to get to it before too long. I know you're juggling work and reading other titles.
Why not? Let's push the record even more and go for five days! I must admit, I considered delaying this message, as today was a fairly long and exhausting day for me. That said, I read The Judas Contract this morning. It preoccupied my thoughts all day, and I'll gladly put off some sleep to articulate what I've been pondering.
I acknowledge your comments regarding #35-39. I'll revisit several of your points as I unpack my reactions to TJC, but I think it's worth addressing your insight regarding Dick and Wally's departure. Hindsight is indeed 20/20; I can easily look back at this decision and confidently conclude Wolfman's and Perez's gamble was a smashing success. Dick abandoning the Robin mantle in some way paved the way for new Robins - particularly Tim Drake, my personal favorite Robin - while also allowing him to step further out of Batman's shadow and make a name for himself as an autonomous hero. More relevantly, as you aptly pointed out, Wolfman and Perez pushing Dick in this direction cements Dick as a Titan first, and Batman's ward second. While I think Wally inevitably would've donned Barry's mantle regardless of if he left the Titans and Kid Flash behind, the point remains that a Titans book featured a big moment for his character. Although I'm missing out on the shock and chatter immediately following such decisions by reading this comic nearly 40 years after its release, I have the benefit of knowing I'm reading an important component of DC history, which is just as elating.
With that said, let's get into #40 - #44 and Annual #3. This means I've officially finished the New Teen Titans portion of the series and have crossed the threshold into Tales of the Teen Titans. Three cheers for Quilty!
#40: I saw this cover and instantly felt a chill down my spine. Imagine how I shivered as the cover of Brother Blood drenched in a boiling lake of blood was more than artistic embellishment; he actually does bathe in the supposed blood of his enemies as his acolytes sing literal prayers to him within the first few pages of the issue! A dramatic opening if there ever was one. Brother Blood is as terrifying as they come.
Again we see the subtlety of Blood. He plays politics and uses media sympathy to generate support for his cause, twisting the idea of American "Freedom of Religion" to advance the power of his cult. Donna is a talented public speaker, but Blood's an unrivaled rhetorician who managed to orchestrate events most villains would lose control over. Even Dick, arguably one of the strongest willed Titans, succumbed to his mind control. This very much felt like Blood's issue.
#41: Conversely, where the last issue was a gradual build-up showcasing Blood's duplicity, this issue was explosive and action-packed, ripe with tension and heroics. Escaping death traps, fighting killer robots, and wondering if Dick would push that button to kill the Titans with a super-laser (which all super-villains seem to have handy, apparently)! Even though Blood was presumably killed, I suspect he will be back soon enough. More immediately, Blood's plan seem to succeed. The Zandian President's attack on Blood's "church” elicited unearned sympathy from American, and Blood's nihilistic "religion” grows. I had a lot of fun with these issues. They provided an entertaining resolution the the Brother Blood story begun in #21 and cleared the path for TJC.
#42 - #44 & Annual #3: Now for the moment we've been waiting for. The Judas Contract. I can't stress enough how much I dwelt on these four issues at work today. Particularly its three central characters: Terra, Jericho, and Deathstroke.
Issue 42 was definitely the calm before the storm. Wolfman and Perez deliver another glimpse into the Titans' personal lives. Donna and Terry plan their wedding, Dick settles into his apartment, Cyborg and the team train together at the Tower. A day in the life of the Titans. The only significant difference is that Tara Markov is watching, and by extent, Slade Wilson. And oh boy, do the Titans pay.
Issue 43 was as abrupt and unapologetic as getting hit with a Louisville Slugger. Dick is quietly writing in his apartment as Slade comes crashing in for the kill. The other Titans are already defeated (I thought it was a nice detail that we experienced the Titans' fall through Dick's detective perspective - we feel Dick's despair and worry). And we meet perhaps my new favorite Titan character: Joseph Wilson.
(Now I'll admit, I didn't recognize Joseph at first, even though he was familiar. It took me a minute to recall I had met him in the animated series, as he teams up with Beast Boy's rag-tag Titans team to infiltrate the Brotherhood of Evil. But I digress).
Let me take a minute to talk about Joseph. Of all the Titans, Joseph is the character that I see myself in the most, even though I just met him. He's observant, thoughtful, peaceful - more at home with the fine art of music than with his brother Grant firing guns. That describes me fairly well (although I'm sadly not gifted with musical talent). He also has my favorite power set of all the Titans (certainly the most unique): his mutant abilities make him a master of infiltration but also enable him to turn enemies against themselves. He could take out an entire army just by jumping from body from body, turning them all against each other! I like the necessity of eye contact as well; attacks that blind him prevent him from being invincible, but the rapidity of the process makes the powers effective more than a cumbersome mutation. I love that the son of the Titans' arch-enemy is perhaps the gentlest soul of them all. Please tell me I'll be seeing more of him soon!
Issue 44 was a captivating origin issue that sets up Slade's conflict in Annual #3. The fact that Slade joined the military at age 16 implies that he had little in his childhood that he has fond memories of. Perhaps just as tragically, Slade is intrinsically tied to military; most of his life was spent perfecting himself into a super-soldier, he met his wife and best friend in the military, and he began his career as Deathstroke on a personal rescue mission of Wintergreen in Vietnam. He's spent a lifetime in war and violence, and as Wintergreen points out, it's starting to take its toll. It cost him his family, and Slade recognizes how unhappy he is. It sets up for the dichotomy between Slade - who just wants his contract with the H.I.V.E. fulfilled so he can get out - and the bloodthirsty Terra (more on her in a bit) in Annual #3.
And now the Finale. Oh boy, was this a good one. This was where we got to see Jericho shine for the first time (who I've gushed about enough for now). I'd like to focus more on Terra and Slade. There's a some brief moments with Slade - particularly when he realizes Jericho was captured - when it genuinely feels like he'd rather be anywhere else than working with Terra to execute the Titans. Perhaps I'm projecting complexity that isn't there (he did take out a bunch of super-powered young adults without batting his one good eye), but I was fascinated by the fact that a man called Deathstroke was tired of ... well, death.
But of course, the dark star of the show was Terra. To begin, I appreciate you explaining the somewhat scandalous circumstances that unnerved me in #39. As much as I prefer not to believe there was no physical intimacy between her and Slade, all signs point to Wolfman's later confirmation you mentioned being well-founded. Tara genuinely seemed to believe Slade loved her, calling him "Honey" and flirting quite a bit (Slade even calls her "honey" in an attempt to disarm her rising temper). Although it is a sour fact for Slade, I can't say it doesn't make sense for Tara.
After watching Terra in the animation - a troubled runaway who Slade preyed upon but ultimately found redemption in heroic sacrifice - Wolfman's ultimate depiction came as complete surprise. I was waiting for Tara to see the light and at least go out with some integrity. Instead, we got this tragically beautiful writing from Wolfman, which I'm going to retype here. These words can't be archived enough:
Her name is Tara Markov and she is little more than sixteen years old. And due to the fault of no one but herself, she is insane. No one taught her to hate yet she hates ... without cause, without reason. No one taught her to destroy, yet she destroys ... with glee, with relish.
Don't look for reasons which do not exist - plainly, Tara Markov is what she is. And she has taken a great power and made it as corrupt as she. Hers was the power over the Earth itself. She could have brought life to deserts, heat to the frozen tundra, food to starving millions. She could have dammed raging rivers and funneled water to lands parched, dry, and dead. Her powers were limited by the mind which controlled them. A mind which sought not hope ... not love ... not life ... but death. And she found death, but not her enemies'. Her own.
I've read over that page several times today, and each time it fills me with just utter sadness (don't get me wrong - Wolfman's and Perez's work is brilliant here). I kept thinking something must've happened to drive Tara down this path, but nope. She's just plain evil. Despite the straight forward, black-and-white nature of the reveal, it's a tough pill to swallow. I don't know why, exactly, beyond what Wolfman wrote: she could've been such a force for good.
I was conflicted on the decision to honor Tara as a Teen Titan and paint her as a hero to everyone not present at her demise, but I've decided it was the right call, for the sake those who loved Tara and for the Titans not to sink to Tara's level. I know it was mainly for Brion's sake, but I think partially for Gar as well. Man, is this going to tear him up. Tara kissing him in #42 probably convinced Gar that he finally found someone who had feelings for him (despite his constant womanizing, I think Gar is looking for connection, romantic or otherwise). He seemed in denial the entire time after her death. I hope he can find some healthy way to move on.
Oh boy. I see what all the hoopla was about now. The Judas Contract deserves the praise it gets, in my opinion. I know I haven't read many comics, but no comic I've read thus far has left me so contemplative. I eagerly await your thoughts on these issues. Until next time.
Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! I figured I'd start with your three cheers. I must say, this breakneck pace has me on the edge of my seat. Instead of casually seeing I have messages while browsing the wiki, I find myself moving the cursor over the icon each night wondering if by chance a new addition to the thread has appeared. This is quite fun for me. I enjoy the discourse. I find it exciting to ponder how you only have two "assignments" until you finish Tales of the Teen Titans, which can be considered part of the "first series." Now, you need to read issues #45-50 and stop to give me your assessments (I have much to discuss about #50). And then you'll take on the challenge of reading #51-58—although your first set of NTT issues consisted of eight issues, so I'm sure you're accustomed to that number as an average amount. I suspect you may even be finished with those two readings by this time next week, unless you decide to surprise me by somehow finishing even sooner, haha.
I don't have much else to add regarding the two Brother Blood issues.
I would argue that TJC had four central characters, those you listed and Dick. Of course, I largely make that argument due to the fact that DC decided to make an action-figure line for the storyline, one for each of them. So far, I only have Jericho's figure, but I am absolutely pleased with it. Eventually, I'll get the rest—I like building my Titans collection, in both comics and merchandise.
To that point, allow me to say with utmost enthusiasm: Jericho (Joseph Wilson) is 100% my absolute favorite Titan, of all 95. Particularly, I love his portrayal in NTT. In Prime Earth, he has been treated in too many ways, each new writer trying to use the character differently, with retcons changing continuity, sigh. I digress. You feared gushing over Joey too much? Fear not! I know I'm sure about to do just that.
Jericho is easily the most compassionate member of the Titans I have ever witnessed. I love how he effectively epitomizes every liberal-arts major with his hobbies, as he loves music, poetry, painting, dancing and more. He is composed, accepting, open-minded, and then some. Like you, the various aspects of his character resonates with me. I'd say it makes sense that you like him right away, given that I surmise you and I are kindred spirits. Fortunately, you will get to learn the depth and complexities of Jericho's personality and such even further as you read on. Yes, that's right, Jericho is not leaving the cast any time soon! If you listed all Titans members in order of number of issues they have served as a Titan, Jericho is in the top 10, I believe (or close to it; I'm still working on that project, but he should be). His connection to Deathstroke is just the perfect flavor of irony. It's delicious.
I wholeheartedly concur over the uniqueness of his power and skill set. The ability to turn one's body from physical to astral alone is an incredibly resourceful ability. Jericho can and has used his ability to escape confines. As long as he's able to make eye contact with someone, keeping him confined is quite difficult. Possessing other people and being able to use their bodies as his own is, of course, an extremely useful power, too. It's especially useful that he can go from body to body rather than needing to leave the body, materialize, and then possess another. Getting to skip that steps makes him even better in combat. Now, Wolfman and Pérez balanced the cool powers with limitations. The fact that he needs to make eye contact is limiting, though he gets by. And while he has a cool power that is resourceful, Joey himself still has a human physique. That said, he is very well-trained in combat. I find it neat that he is so skilled in acrobatic combat, similar to Nightwing. He is able to leap over and somersault over foes and perform aerial strikes. He often is shown using kicks more often than punches from my recollection, which gives him a distinct fighting style. He still punches enemies out, though. I love the work put into his power set. Because Joe is mute, it's interesting that if he touches someone who is unconscious, he can possess them and speak through them, albeit in their voice and while using their vocal mannerisms. That's a nice detail. Also, how interesting is it that he can possess people using two methods: eye contact or physical touch? The latter only happens while the person is unconscious. I wonder why that is? I don't think the why aspect is especially touched upon. But the whole premise of his powers and the potential applications make for plenty of interesting storytelling moments. All that, and he also has skills in investigation and weaponry. If I were to convert Titans members into playable D&D-esque characters, Jericho would be one I choose to play as very frequently.
Let's talk about Joey's father, Slade Wilson. I am happy to hear that you have been analyzing Deathstroke's character and have realized that he is far more complex than initially portrayed. Indeed, he is not completely evil at all, which is emphasized all the more when placed next to Terra, whom you now see is a homicidal sociopath. Every glimmer of potential goodness buried inside her sarcastic persona was an act. She toyed with Gar's emotions for her own amusement and benefit. And as you may know, sociopaths often latch onto someone, thinking it love. The feeling of love isn't actually love, which is depicted well with Tara's breakdown.
Okay, so I said I would talk about Deathstroke, and I went to Terra. Let me return to Slade. His home life was not so great, but then he joined the military, and he was good at it. So he succeeded more and more. He developed a particular code of ethics that followed him through his life and even his career as Deathstroke. Ultimately, you'll learn just how non-evil he really is. He definitely lies in the gray area. Personal honor is really important to him, as is fulfilling commitments, which is why he adopted Grant's contract with the H.I.V.E. Luckily, the contract was to either kill or capture the Titans. So he did the latter. The follow-up to what happens with Deathstroke in relation to TJC occurs in the second set of readings that are next (#51-58).
Meanwhile, Gar's grief over Tara is not-so-easily resolved. Psychologists argue that people are often defined by a select series of key moments. Terra's death was one of Gar's moments of that nature, as she reflects on her in some ways even years from now. Look forward to the immediate issues that deal with Gar coping with Terra's betrayal and loss. He genuinely loved her with all his being. As you say, despite his pandering, Gar seeks genuine human connection. Thinking he finally had that sort of bond probably meant a lot to him. Sure, Gar dated Jillian Jackson is his younger years, but Tara Markov was his first genuine love, and he thought she returned his affections. Coping with learning your love was one-sided is bad enough. Add that the girl he loved wanted him dead and tried to kill him, and you get an even more traumatic experience. And then, the first love of his life is dead. Even if she wanted him dead, he mourns. Brion mourns for her, too, even later in his publication history.
Since you bring up how she had all this potential to do so much good in the world, you may find it interesting to know that Terra was actually one of the dozen Earthlings chosen by the Guardians of the Universe (of Green Lantern fame) to wield power enough to be their successors in a sort of way (research the event known as Millennium to learn more). But she died long before the "chosen ones" could be gathered and empowered (a couple already had powers). The ones who chose to accept the responsibility became the New Guardians, a team of superheroes from across the world. I liked their comic title, even though it's largely regarded as a bad comic. I guess it's a guilty pleasure. I mostly liked the characters included on the team, I guess. This isn't covered in any Titans comic, so I just went ahead and told you.
Wolfman's narration on Terra at the end there…it's powerful. I'm glad you posted it verbatim, as it had been a bit since I last read it. That's intense. In one fell swoop, he shuts down those who wanted to believe Terra was innately good while also expressing how poetic her actions really were. For those reasons and those you described, yes, it's a hard pill to swallow, and it leaves you needing a moment or two to contemplate all the goings-on that occurred in these few issues.
I like that it affected you so much that you were thinking about it during work. I hope this storyline fueled the fire that is your budding passion for the Titans, maybe enough that you barrel through some more readings while the kindling's aflame.
I'm eagerly awaiting your next review. I particularly look forward to giving you some editorial details surrounding issue #50.
Hey N8! Sorry to leave you hanging all this time, but I've been preoccupied for the past couple weeks more than I anticipated. Finally, though, I sat down last night to read some Titans and I've returned to finish up talking about the rest of the series. Yes, that's right, finish. As I type this, I have finished reading all 58 issues of New Teen Titans Vol. 1.
I know, I know, my assignment was to break it up into #45-#50 and #51-58. And in truth, that was my intention. But as I finished #50, I glanced over to #51. On the cover is Gar attacking Joey and denouncing him as a traitor with a title that reads "The Secret of Jericho!" I just couldn't resist! I had to know what was going on there right away, which led into #52. By the end of the night, I binge-read the remaining issues. So you see, it's more Marv Wolfman's fault for tempting me with Jericho (like you, he has become my favorite Titan), haha.
In any case, I considered breaking this into two posts regardless, but I figured it's better to get this all out now while it's fresh in my mind. Think of it as a plus-sized post to commemorate me completing the first step of my Titans, haha. Of course, if you want to break your reply up into two posts (since you indicated you had some extensive thoughts on #50), feel free.
I acknowledge your comments from our previous conversation weeks back. I don't blame you for wanting to jump right into TJC, nor do I have much to add (although you can bet I'll be saving at least one paragraph specifically for Jericho from here on out). I'm sure some similiar points will pop up in the forthcoming review.
Speaking of TJC, some exciting news: I purchased a physical copy of The Judas Contract as well as a physical copy of the "Vol.4" TPB that collects #21-#27 and Annual #1 (the first two Brother Blood issues, the Starfire/Blackfire arc, and the "Runaways" issues). My first two collected Titans comics! I had enough money to spare for two only, and while TJC was a no-brainer for me, I was struggling over which other one I should purchase. Ultimately, though, I'm satisfied with my choice; #21-#27 and Annual #1 were all strong issues. Just thought I'd share that with you.
Ok, let's get into it!
- #45: Lots going on in this issue, since it's coming hot off the heels of the previous issue's tumultuous events and sets up for the future. I'm glad Garth and Tula dropped in and stayed awhile. We haven't seen much of them thus far, but I know you indicated they were a part of the original Titans, so it's fitting they make an extended appearance. Their Atlantean skills proved useful in the attack on the H.I.V.E base, but also made for an engaging opening as a dehydrated Garth desperately tried to find a source of water.
Gar was on the warpath, as I suspected. It's a violent streak that Wolfman really let fester until #55. Tara did a number on him, and I'm glad Wolfman didn't brush the impact of TJC aside. Some interesting drama with Wally as well. I didn't even notice he and Fran weren't shown at Tara's funeral. And the fact that his super speed is killing him ... was that touched on before? I couldn't remember if Wolfman hinted at that prior to him discussing it with Fran at the end of this issue.
I love that Joey and Raven are bonding, and the fact that Raven is studying sign language is a sweet detail. I feel like if anyone can get through Raven's emotional defenses, it's the kindly Joey.
- #46: Finally, we get to see the resolution of this H.I.V.E. story Wolfman and Pérez first set up in #2. I can see where the animated series drew influence for the episode "Wavelength." A secret super-villain hidden underwater makes for some great comic book action, and the Titans' attack on the H.I.V.E. base is thrilling.
The H.I.V.E. Master struck me as odd. She didn't seem to have it all together, if you take my meaning. She claims to have murdered her husband and took his place as leader of the H.I.V.E., and although she was by no means a poor villain, she seemed unsure of herself quite a bit. As if she never go the hang of being a super-villain, though not for lack of trying.
Raven lashing out at the H.I.V.E. soldiers was quite dark. As is Gar mauling a mugger in the brief interlude. Although the assault on the H.I.V.E. base was pretty dynamic and fun, those were two sobering moments that illustrate how Wolfman doesn't forget his characters in the midst of action.
Speaking of character, Vic got to meet his grandparents, who showed up last issue. They turned out to be a great addition to Vic's supporting cast, and I was glad to see that buried any resentment and came to terms with Silas' lingering regrets.
- #47: "The End of the H.I.V.E." Oh man, was that a cool title. I appreciated how Raven got to save the Titans from the H.I.V.E. Master's death trap, so she wasn't completely sidelined (even though she still has a lot to figure out at this point).
Jericho really got to stand out in this issue. The mechanics of his powers are super interesting, and I didn't expect him to take over Starfire's unconscious body (which proved invaluable, since they couldn't leave Kori behind but still had to keep moving - further proof of how his unique powers are extremely useful). I'm a little relieved Wolfman isn't pushing Joey as the green rookie of the group; he's competent and skilled, not a liability the Titans feel obligated to drag along.
Jillian returned too, which was I definitely didn't see coming (though lord knows Gar could really use someone like her, since Vic doesn't seem to be getting through to Gar right now). Although Gar doesn't completely change his feelings, and he's still upset about the other Titans moving on and not reaching out to him about Tara, it's progress.
I was also surpsrise to see that H.I.V.E. Master killed herself and the other H.I.V.E. lieutenants. I don't imagine that this is the very last we'll ever see of H.I.V.E., but for awhile at least, they seem to be dismantled. A pretty epic conclusion.
- #48: I don't have much to say on this issue, as it didn't really stand out from me. The Recombatants didn't stand out too me all that much. The concept of humanity raised in this issue I've seen elsewhere, and while they had some interesting super-powers, I couldn't really sink my teeth into this story, so the tragedy at the end fell a little flat for me.
However, Steve Dayton's involvement with the Recombatants raises some questions, as does his objection to Gar using the Dayton Estate for Donna's wedding. Additionally, we got another tender moment between Joey and Raven. I'm super excited to see where Wolfman decides to take the two of them in the future.
- #49: I immediately noticed the penciling shift in this issue. Pérez only worked on half the issue, detailing the Titans and their friends preparing for Donna and Terry's wedding (I appreciate Wolfman showing the events leading up to the wedding, like the bachelor party and the tux-fitting; characteristic of Wolfman to further ground the Titans and their friends as real people). I smiled when Vic asked Sarah to go as his plus-one. That reminded me all to well of me asking a girl to Homecoming back in high school, haha.
But then Carmine Infantino steps in to pencil the rest of the issue. Of course Dr. Light is at it again, and I appreciated the focus on Wally and Fran. The fact that Wally's powers are killing him added some extra drama and flavor to an otherwise standard fight against a gimmicky super-villain like Dr. Light. Infantino's art doesn't measure up to Pérez, but it's still pretty good; it comes off as less detailed and sometimes the coloring doesn't seem as tight as it as been. Idk, perhaps I've just been spoiled with Pérez too much that anything else takes a period to acclimate. It's by no means bad, though I wonder if you know why Pérez became less active on the book in these later issues.
- #50: Well, we are all gathered her today indeed! I was pleasantly surprised to see that the entire issue was centered around the set-up, the wedding, and the reception. No action. No super-villains trying to blow up the planet, or disrupt the wedding. Just some friends and family gathering together to celebrate Donna and Terry, a relationship you know I think is rather touching. Lots to talk about in this issue, and since I'm super eager to hear what you have to say, I'll give my thoughts quickly:
Really liked Gar in this issue, and even Questor too. They went to great efforts to plan a fantastic wedding for Donna, and they pulled it off, even with all the crazy accommodations they had to make. Jillian's presence was welcome. She's very much Gar's rock, it seems. The medal he received was just the cherry on top.
Man, was it great to see Joey painted a masterpiece of a portrait for Donna and Terry as a wedding. But I sure wish that Raven could've been there (but I understand - waging a spiritual war against your demonic father in another dimension might put a dent in your availability).
Interesting dynamic between Vic and Gar as well. I was conflicted on how to feel about Gar using Dayton's mental powers to disguise Vic as normal. I can't say I wouldn't have reacted differently from Vic at first, especially since he was stressing out over what other people would think of him, but I'm glad they reconciled. Gar's heart was in the right place, and he was just trying to help his friend. They sure have a great friendship!
I smiled when Dick was walking Donna down the aisle (yes, I'm one sappy comic book reader). And I loved the textless panel ling as the procession played out. Like at a wedding, Wolfman let us imagine hearing the music as we silently watched the procession. I appreciated the extra effort to immerse use in the events. Terry and Donna's vows goes a long way in illustrating that their love is something to celebrate (and I love that one page where everyone's faces bordered the center panels - what detail!).
I was surprised to see how many people from the superhero community, including past Titans, came to the wedding. I expected Diana, of course, but Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, Mal and Karen, Hank and Don, Lilith, Roy, etc. (there were even talks about starting up Titans West!). It was lovely that the wedding was a happy, peaceful moment of old friends reconnecting.
Dick questioning Bruce on why he was never adopted was one of my favorite of the issue. I'm glad to see that their relationship isn't one of tense or resentful respect, but genuine admiration. Bruce affirming he was proud of Dick went a long way for me.
DC are you listening? If you ever release an series of Joey, Dick, and Mal performing in a cross-country band while fighting super-villains on the road, you can have my wallet. It was hilariously awesome that the three of them performed together at the wedding (I love that Joey is such a renaissance man in the liberal arts, as you mentioned).
Man, was this a superb issue! Can't wait to here your insights.
- #51: A nice return to the status-quo, opening up with a quick action scene followed by an intrigue-filled plot. Rick Buckler is on pencils this issue, and he does a fine job. Chesire is back, and she's deadlier than ever it seems. I was pleased to see that Joey wasn't completely helpless against her, even without his powers. He is a capable hand-to-hand combatant, as displayed with him besting the versatile and enraged Gar.
I like that TJC is never completely forgotten. Tara's betrayal makes anyone Slade had interacted with a potential suspect, and I appreciate that the fallout is ever-present. Gar in particular. Since he was hurt the most by Tara, it's natural that he would be the most aggressively pushing for Joey's guilt, especially after being beaten (even though he was acting a pretty unreasonable when he confronted Joey - doesn't help that he can't understand sign language).
- #52: This title is well-put. This issue really was "Jericho's Story." He has some great actions showcases when he gets to Qurac. I did notice that he generally uses kicks more than he does punches. Perhaps because he's more of an leaner acrobat than a bulky brawler. Whenever I see the words "Contact" I know I'm in for a treat. He's so creative in how he utilizes his powers, like when he hides Adeline body to trick the guards only to jump and an KO them! Great stuff. I'm a big fan of the ending as well. Joey isn't a killer, he's lover of the arts. Saving the paintings rather than killing Marlo felt like a perfect ending for someone as gentle as Joey.
Huge fan of this issue. It felt like a high-octane action movie, with Joey front and center!
- #53: This continued the B-plot of the previous issue. I'll admit I'm unsure where this story is going, since it's never resolved even by the end of the series. While I appreciate seeing Lilith return as a central Titan figure, I'm confused as to what's going on with this mysterious alien. A good chunk of the issue was simply the Titans chasing him through the city, so it was a little flat for me.
That said, I did thoroughly enjoy the Trial of Slade Wilson (Adrian Chase is the judge - that was pleasantly unexpected. Now I want to see what he's up to as the Vigilante). I'm a Pre-Law major, so this courtroom drama is amusingly fun, to see what Wolfman gets right are where he embellishes with the super-powered aspect. Of course, Slade's lawyer is using technicalities to get Slade clear of the charges.
- #54: The trial continues. Gar is such an interesting character to follow through all this. He's desperately trying to see Slade pay for his crimes, yet everything he's doing is just undermining that goal. The defense's case ultimately used Gar dressing up as the Terminator as the final point for Slade's innocence. Nor did the courtroom outburst at the beginning help matters. And then the reveal at the end that he wanted Slade to get off on an fixable offense (illegal possession of a firearm - it's grimly funny that of all the crimes Slade has committed, that's what he gets convicted of).
- #55: This issue is one of my favorites. Top five, even. I love the dual internal thoughts of Gar and Slade. Gar is losing nearly everything as he pursues revenge against Slade. His relationship with Dayton is as strained as every and it seems he's losing Jillain as well. Attacking Slade in his prison was tantamount to assassination (though I don't believe he would've taken a kill shot if he had one). As we've discussed in the past, Gar's past is one of unfathomable tragedy, which Gar himself explicitly says. So his self-pity is driving his rage, even though you can tell he's just lost and is lashing out.
Slade, for his part, just wants to move on with their life. It's clear he feels grief for Grant's death and concern for Joey being brought into the dangerous life as a superhero, while recognizing how destructive Tara was to everyone involved in TJC.
But the ending is what made this issue as phenomenal as it was. I read in an interview with Wolfman that, when originally writing this issue, he was struggling on fitting in an action scene between Gar and Slade at the end. Instead, he ended it with the diner conversation, perhaps my favorite dialogue exhange of the series. Wolfman claimed that audiences remember quiet and personal moments like this more than they do action sequences. I wholeheartedly agree.
Slade has never been more human than when he said "I'm hungry. I never work on a full stomach." Telling Gar the truth was a necessary moment of reconciliation, and I love that Wolfman affirms everything we've suspected about Slade thus far. He's not a villain so much as he is a mercenary with the strict code of ethics and a strong belief in honoring your word (which I can very much connect with. Growing up, that's lesson my parents made sure I recognize: fulfilling commitments and seeing things through to the end). He even tells Gar he thinks the Titans are good kids and he'd glad that Joey found a home with them. What kind of "villain" is this?! A great one, I think.
I could go on and on about how much I love what was said in this conversation - Slade giving Gar advice, Gar confiding in Slade about his home lief while asking for forgiveness - but everything was just so on point. I wouldn't change a thing.
- #56: Well here we are. The final arc! The home stretch! After the beautifully ending last issue, we get some dynamic and visually stunning action through and through! The Fearsome Five are back, and expanding their membership! Their prison break of Jinx was some good stuff. And Raven pops up again to try to foil Gizmo's men from stealing Neutron (even heals a cripple girl!). I get that the Titans are respecting her privacy, and have mostly stopped attempting to get through to her impenetrable emotional barriers, but I hope they make some attempt to help her in the near future.
I also was happy to see Joey forgive Gar (though of course, Joey wouldn't hold a grudge). I'm glad to see a friendship is developing between the two.
- #57: Now, I haven't been talking much about what's happening with Vic in the background, but his surgery is seemingly a success at the start of this issue. It was a sub-plot that I was interested in, but at the same time, I was hoping Vic would change his mind. Not that I don't understand his desire to look normal, but I felt it would've been more profound if he rejected the cosmetics. Maybe. I'd be curious to hear your take.
That said, his banter Sarah Charles was hilarious ("Sure you weren't a WWII stormtrooper in a previous life?"). I really hope to see more of Sarah C. and Sarah S. with Vic.
It's cool to see that the Fearsome Five are expanding their membership with two really cool villains: Jinx and Neutron (who fought Superman!). Both of them have some crazy super-powers, and the fact that this issue ended on a bit of a cliff-hanger with the FF poised to take over New York set up for a nice final chapter.
- #58: The final issue! Not much to say other than it felt appropriate that we needed with a final showdown between the Titans and the Fearsome Five. I was thrilled that Joey turned the tide by jumping into Jinx's is body then attacking when their guard was down, Trojan horse style! And he's made a full-fledged member of the Titans at the end! Awesome ending to and awesome first volume.
Well, that's that! There's a number of plot threads that weren't addressed her, but I'm guessing New Teen Titans Vol. 2 will address them. So even though the story itself is incomplete for me now, it still feels like an accomplishment to finish the first 58 issues of the Wolfman and Pérez Titans! Thank you for your continued patience, your willingness to converse, and for granting me access to your encyclopedic knowledge on all things Titans. If you're still up for it, I'd be happy to continue discussing my thoughts on the Titans books that await. Looking forward to your thoughts (sorry again for the abnormally extended post).
Hey, I could have handled longer analyses on each, haha. Don't think you're being too verbose when it comes to talking Titans with me. It's cool that you felt compelled enough to read on and finish out TotTT. I hope all is well on your end and that you're starting to adjust to school starting back up and all that. I look forward to the more regular discussions we had planned. I do indeed like hearing that you decided to purchase a couple physical copies of Titans books. TJC is a must-have for Titans fans, and I know you said you loved the space opera that was the arc featuring Blackfire that is contained in the fourth trade paperback of the series. Now, to respond to your analyses and to break down my own thoughts on the following issues.
Issue #45: I like how well Wolfman/Pérez introduced Aqualad and Aquagirl, and in a way that served as a gripping opening. They did not just show up and say hi to the gang. We see Garth struggling to bring a weakened Tula to the water. W/P show us Garth's desperation to save Tula both through dialogue and through Garth's facial and body language. Doing so showed just how much Garth cares for Tula, something that would not have been as evident if they had simply been introduced to the gang (and readers) as lovers. Sure, we get to see a bit of how they love each other in the flashback scene that has them embrace, but the decision to lead the story in this way emphasized their connection all the more. Plus, it let readers learn of Garth's/Tula's weakness to dehydration and polluted waters off the bat. The cover did an amazing job depicting the situation and the emotion behind the body language and text used. Furthermore, while the story started out as if Aqualad and Aquagirl's potential demise was the danger of the issue, their conditions were the result of a greater danger. So it was a threat within a threat. Nice narrative device, Marv. Now, Aqualad appeared with the NTT in a previous comic, The Best of DC #18. But not everyone would have read that, given that it was a story that didn't take place in the main title, and there was no internet at the time that could let people know it existed if people hadn't come across it naturally. I know it's not even on DC Universe right now, so you couldn't read it yourself, which is a shame. Anyhow, my point is that I think Marv and George were very clever in how they used Aqualad and Aquagirl here.
As you note, Changeling is lashing out. While he does not cross the line into ruthlessness, he is using more aggressive means to stop the criminals than he should. The dialogue transparently shows that Gar is venting his various emotions about Tara's betrayal and death. The emotion is raw, and as a reader you can almost touch it. Vic keeps him in check and prevents Gar from going overboard, but the conversation that results reflects Gar's vulnerability and insecurity. Gar is a 16-year-old who is mad at the world right now. He really needs someone to talk to. That's how he is trying to cope with all the revelations and awful feelings harbored in his heart right now. But, as Cyborg says, the other Titans are also hurt by Tara's betrayal and death. Sure, Gar is more heartbroken than the rest of them, but that does not discount the others' feelings. Their sadness is valid, and the fact that they are still trying to process their emotions by themselves is a valid response. It's just unfortunate that as a result Gar felt incredibly lonely. I would not say it's anyone's fault, necessarily. It's just an unfortunate fact of life that not everyone grieves in the same way, even when people are grieving over similar causes. I love that Vic keeps seeking out Gar despite Gar fleeing, which shows how much Vic really does care.
The page devoted to Tucker and Maude Stone is adorable. Nice to know the grand-Stones travel a lot, and learning that Maude calls Vic "Corky" is just a treat. The details are small, but they make the characters, both the newly shown grandparents and Vic himself, feel even more realistic as people.
I like that even as Raven rejects Steven, she recognizes his good soul and tries to comfort him in her own stoic way. The choice to have Raven bond with Jericho is so perfect. While Jericho may not be able to speak aloud, Raven alone has the ability to see into his soul. So she is able to notice his sincerity and compassion, and she is even able to be relieved by his natural warmth for a moment before being called to the Tower. As you mention, Joey noticing that she is studying sign language is telling about the person Raven wants to be, even if she is shy and reserved (for good reason).
As for Wally's condition, I can't say for certain whether it has been mentioned before at all. I haven't read all of his pre-Titan appearances. As far as I can tell, this may be the first instance of Wally's powers killing him. Later, following Crisis on Infinite Earths, which brought us from the Earth-One continuity into the New Earth continuity, origin issues reveal that Wally struggled with this condition when he first acquired his powers but that it went into remission until now, as we see in NTT.
As far as how Wally is used in this issue, I think it's very real to have Wally grieve over Tara in a different way. Indeed, for him, she was only ever an ally and friend. He never witnessed her betrayal, and I'm not sure whether or not he was clued in on her deceit and actions as of this issue. I know he later has the information, but for now, it's worth noting. Because the funeral just happened the issue previous, I don't think Wally was left out by accident. I think it was planned to have a moment like this, or to establish that Tara had at least one friend who still cared about her normally following her betrayal. Bringing Wally in also gave W/P the opportunity to have Frances Kane show up again, as she and Wally are now an item. Once again, Frances is used as a lens for the reader, for she is new to the heroic community and had not met Aqualad or Aquagirl, which gives Wally (Wolfman) the chance to explain their Atlantean origins to Fran/Kory (and the reader). Pérez also subtly lets us see Fran's jealousy as Wally and Raven talk, and Wolfman has her straight-up tell Wally that she is tired of him mulling on about Raven. Wally still is hung up on Raven, but he's getting there.
Issue #46: To start, I think it's very notable that Starfire said that she does not want to destroy the H.I.V.E. like she once did after Franklin Randall's death, not even after what they did through Terra. This shows growth in her character. She is still passionate, but she's also becoming more compassionate and merciful.
If issue #45 did a decent job introducing Aqualad and Aquagirl, issue #46 did an excellent job showing off just how capable they are! Tula especially does not have as many appearances as Garth, so showing how she is able to hurl a 300-pound rock spear like a missile and how she took on multiple enemies in combat by herself was really sweet. Sometimes, Tula is depicted as leaning on Garth, but Wolfman decides to portray her as someone who can work as an independent and capable hero, and he has her explain how she and other Atlanteans are trained to defend themselves as if in wartime, which shows that there are differences between Garth and Tula as heroes, even if they have similar power sets.
You really see Trigon's hold on Raven when she starts emitting that red Soul Self as she becomes overly vicious again and has to bring herself to her senses.
Vic's contemplations of how he and the others could have and may should have been more empathetic to someone in Gar's position of having had most of his loved ones die, sometimes in front of him, well, they further exemplify Vic's inner character. Maude really adjusted Victor's attitude problem regarding his family, too. I'm happy he found himself able to accept them. He needed familial ties outside the Titans.
Issue #47: Raven bringing the others into her Soul Self so that they can survive the explosion was top-notch. It showed yet again the extremes of the spatial manipulation aspect of the Soul Self.
Garth's teasing Dick about Kory's "zest" amused me. It's nice to see friends be friends even amid a tense situation.
We see Gar place the blame regarding Tara's actions onto Deathstroke. I know you have read the resolution of that thread, but I think it's interesting to watch Gar genuinely go through these various stages of grief. Jillian Jackson showed up at just the right time. She was exactly the person Gar needed, and she helped him make up with Vic, too.
I like that we see when Jericho possesses Starfire that he is able to instinctively use the powers of those he possesses, at least to a degree. He was able to fly with no problem, and it was nice how he said flying felt great. I find it a little amusing now considering his current PE self flies via the tech embedded into his current uniform.
H.I.V.E. Mistress definitely had a screw loose. She was not all there. She was not the original leader. It's nice that they confirmed that her husband is the one who founded the H.I.V.E. I'm not as much of a fan of secret organizations supposedly having had been in the framework for generations. As you say, she was not prepared to be a long-term villain, really. You are right. The H.I.V.E. will return, but for now, the dismantling of its then-current leadership definitely set it back for a long time.
Issue #48: While the Recombatants may not have especially made a strong impression on you, perhaps you will appreciate the editorial history surround the issue. See, the characters were actually pastiches of another young superhero team, the DNAgents, which was being published at the time by Eclipse Comics. The creators of the DNAgents were approached by both Marvel Comics and DC Comics, who had interests in publishing the DNAgents as a comic series set within their respective universes. The creators, however, decided to choose an independent publisher, Eclipse Comics, so that they had merchandising rights—as they believed they would be able to get DNAgents turned into an animated television series. Unfortunately, the cartoon never occurred. The comic went for 24 issues and then had a new series a couple years later called The New DNAgents that went on for 17 issues.
While the DNAgents were not a part of DC Comics, DC organized a fun thing: DC would publish an issue of Tales of the Teen Titans that had a pastiche version of the DNAgents, and DNAgents would have an issue (issue #14 for them) that had a pastiche team of the Teen Titans, called Project Youngblood. Both stories had the respective one-off teams sacrifice themselves. So, the four Recombatants you read were Aurora, Pseudos, Topaz and Dreadnaught, who were pastiches of the DNAgents known as Rainbow, Sham, Amber and Tank, respectively. The DNAgents comic's pastiche team, Project Youngblood, had five members: Black Owl (Nightwing), Celestia (Starfire), Amazing Girl (Wonder Girl), Roboto (Cyborg) and Heartstring (Jericho).
I thought you may would find that information fun, even if the issue otherwise didn't keep you on the edge of your seat.
Good call, noting Dayton's involvement in genetic engineering. His research into the field will be pertinent later in the NTT era, in a few important ways. Stay tuned and follow that thread.
Issue #49: I like the conversation Wolfman wrote for Jenny Long and Donna. "Are you going to be my new mommy?" "No, honey, you've still got your mommy, and that won't change." Donna is not trying to replace Marcia. She told Jenny she loves her, but she also made sure Jenny knew that she did not have to divide her love or loyalty in any way. I think Jenny responded pretty well to that.
I love that Wolfman brought back Sharon Tracy, Donna's roommate from the original Teen Titans title days. Making sure Donna's adoptive sister Cindy Evans was included was also a good call. I really appreciated it. It felt like a real wedding of a real person, digging through Donna's personal life like that to bring back important figures. I was especially excited to see Lilith. For a long time during the original incarnation of the team, Lilith was the only other female member, so Donna and she really became close. I'm glad Wolfman considered that when making Lilith a bridesmaid.
I felt the scene starring Wally and Fran was significant, and I enjoyed it. Frances calls Wally out for how she noticed how crushed he was when the Titans didn't fall apart without him. She fussed at him and told him he did not have to use his powers and endanger himself when he is not alone. The most satisfying part for me was seeing Frances Kane take out Doctor Light, effectively on her own. We get to see the results of her practicing her powers, and it's impressive.
Having Barry Allen guest-star at the end as Wally struggles through this seemingly terminal disease was also a nice treat. Sometimes in Titans comics, the mentors would appear, but their appearances were always brief. Wolfman shows that the mentors don't have to have only cameos for the stories to be strong and for them to focus on the Titans characters. Good show, old bean.
Donna's concerns over a perfect day are very realistic but not overly played, and Wolfman does well by having Wally leave a voicemail that he'll be there to reassure readers. Bravo!
Issue #50: This is it, Donna and Terry's big day! This anniversary issue is by far one of my favorite issues of the entire NTT era. There are a number of reasons to love the story, but I guess I'll just glance over the pages and give detail by detail.
I love the moment where Gar's insight impresses Questor. Gar can really have some forethought when the situation demands it, and hiring a clown to entertain the young kids exhibited just that. Questor responded by showing his respect…by insisting the other hired employees show Gar respect! That's great stuff. He even helps Steve get over his gruff long enough to pull through for Gar. Gar was doing well distracting himself until poor Jerry Evans mistook Jillian for Terra and diminished Gar's spirits a bit. And as you say, even though Gar was waiting for the worst, nothing ruined the wedding. It was a beautiful and well-executed ceremony. Now, Gar had the brief spat with Vic, but Vic apologized and made good.
There has been a time when Dick crushed on Donna. All of the original Titans had small things for her, but I find the genuine and platonic love they have for each other now in this moment very heartwarming. They are practically siblings. The sentimental moments between Dick and Bruce were also nice, as you noted.
You can add Roy to your list of members for your Titans band. Roy was a professional drummer in a rock band called Great Frog.
Now, something I loved about issue #50 is that featured all present and past Titans, except for Terra, who had just died, and Gnarrk, whom Wolfman killed off-screen apparently. Raven could not attend, which is a shame. But we got to see Hawk (Hank), Dove (Don), Lilith, Mal Duncan, Harlequin (Duela), Bumblebee (Karen), Bat-Girl (Betty) and Golden Eagle (Charley), as well as Garth, Tula and Wally.
Here is where I note the things that I had in my head to say about #50. The issue was great. However, while I loved the inclusion of the older Titans, I did not particularly love how Wolfman handled them. See, I love Marv Wolfman and almost everything he writes. But how he chose to make changes to these characters during #50 irked me. See, Wolfman actually hated many members of the original guard. He thought some of them were stupid, especially Joker's Daughter/Harlequin, Bumblebee, Golden Eagle and Gnarrk. He hated Gnarrk so much that he decided to kill him off-panel rather than give him a chance or reason to show up again later. Gnarrk and Lilith were engaged before he passed away, and it made me sad that he died when I had previously read and loved their relationship. He made Mal Duncan fat an unfit to re-enter heroics, which suited Marv's plans to not include him.
And then he did this really strange thing of aging Duela. Sure, it didn't make sense for Duela to be the teenage daughter of Two-Face, who hadn't been a villain long enough for her story to hold up. I get Marv's frustrations on that. Now, I have the fortune of knowing the real reason why Duela thought Two-Face was her father, due to modern comics and explanations. In short, Duela is a cosmic anomaly and not originally from Earth-One, and entering Earth-One for some reason altered her memories and left her confused. She's actually from Earth-3, wherein her parents are the Jokerster (a heroic version of Joker) and Three-Face (a female heroic version of Two-Face). This is why her wires got crossed to make her believe herself the daughter of Two-Face while also explaining the Joker's Daughter identity she adopted for a while as a Titan.
I just don't love how Wolfman sabotaged the Titans he did not want to use. It was effective, but I didn't like it. After the reboot caused by Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wolfman takes the opportunity to revamp many of the original characters. He gives Golden Eagle a brand new look and adjusts his personality. He gives Karen a new look and has her suit feature different (admittedly better) powers that made her more formidable. He also made Karen a genius working for S.T.A.R. Labs. Despite not liking Bumblebee at first, Marv reworks her enough that he has her guest-star a few times! He also reworks Mal Duncan, nixing the Guardian and Hornblower identities of Earth-One lore and replacing them with the Herald identity. Bat-Girl (Betty Kane) becomes Flamebird (Bette Kane) and has a different personality. The changes were good, I'll admit. Again, despite making good changes, he still messes with the characters he disliked the most. He wrote Duela Dent and John Gnarrk out of Titans history! In New Earth, they weren't original Titans. Actually, in NE, Gnarrk never became a Titan. Instead, Wolfman redid his origin and made him much more raggedy of a caveman and killed him off in the only issue he appeared in before he ever became a Titan. I hated that. I'm glad Gnarrk's Titans' status is restored in PE thanks to Abnett. Duela Dent did eventually become a Titan again in New Earth during The Missing Year following 2006's Infinite Crisis, so I'm not as salty about that.
Toward the end of the issue, you see a guest list. The guest list includes the names of past Titans creators, and I appreciated that homage.
Yes, Donna and Terry joined the mile-high club. Zoinks, haha.
BREAK: Okay, I'm taking a break for now. I will give you my responses to issues #51-58 soon. In the meantime, feel free to start your next assignment, New Teen Titans v2 (1984) #1-5. These five issues make up the storyline known as "The Terror of Trigon." It was one of the four NTT storylines to be reprinted in trade before the recent reprinted trades working to collect the complete series. It's a shorter reading assignment, which may be a good thing, since you just binged a major chunk of Titans issues. Plus, it'll help us get back on track with responses. If you like, you can respond to my comments before you read that assignment or after. You can give me your response before I post my thoughts on #51-58 or after. Whatever scenario, we will work it out.
Lots to unpack I see. I have gone ahead and read the first five issues of NTT Vol. 2, however I'll hold off on giving you my thoughts until we've finished this line of conversation. No rush. I'd like to take some time to respond to your comments thus far.
- I'll admit, I thought that Garth, and especially Tula, weren't going to make it, and that their deaths would act as the impetus for the Titans to embark on a vengeful warpath against the H.I.V.E. Garth's anguish on the cover (as you noted) and his desperate yet failed attempt to reach the pool was tangibly disconcerting. Fortunately, that wasn't the case, and I thought it was a natural lead-in for having Wally and Fran show up and sticking around the tower. Besides, TJC was full of enough tragedy. No need to kill off an founding Titans so suddenly.
In some ways, Garth and Tula remind me of Kori, minus Kori's initial unfamiliarity. Both are powerful and capable warriors (as you noted when they attacked the H.I.V.E. lair), but also full of passion, particularly for each other. They brought an interesting dynamic to the team for those two issues, and although you indicated that Tula doesn't have an extensive number of appearances in the future, I still look forward to seeing more of them.
Nice emphasis on the grand-Stones as well. I was curious to see where Wolfman was going to take them, since Vic mentions his relationship with them was somewhat strained. I was relieved to see that his grandmother was able to lay it all out and quickly reconcile any lost love between them. Their worry during his future operation felt earned, as if they're his adoptive parents. Vic, while not as reclusive as Raven, can always afford loving family and friends to help him escape his shell. His love for Gar as a friend is also illustrative as this, as seeing his friend in need is drawing him away from his "keep-to-myself" attitude to be there for him.
- Thanks for sharing that publication trivia regarding the Recombatants. Although I don't think my feelings on that particular plot has changed without reading the original characters the Recombatatants were pastiches of, knowing that DC was willing to endorse characters from another publisher in a fun little trade-off helps me recognize the issue's significance and adds some endearment.
- Wally and Fran are an interesting couple to follow, especially after having read "The Terror of Trigon" from NTT Vol. 2 (stay tuned for my thoughts there). Fran calling Wally out on his lingering feelings for Raven was something I appreciated. Since this love Wally had for Raven was always one-sided and confusing given her constant rebuffing, Fran grounding Wally in their current relationship was a nice touch. I'm glad he's starting to move on from that. Teaming up against Dr. Light was a nice catharsis for Wally, I think, proving that being a hero and remaining a Titan aren't necessarily the same thing. Seeing him and Fran use their powers like a budding superhero duo was fun to read.
- I understand your simultaneous appreciation and frustration as a long-time Titans reader in regards to Donna's wedding. I was unfamiliar with much of the guest-appearances, so the delight of seeing familiar faces from past Titans lore was lost on me at the moment, although it didn't detract from the story. Seeing all these people who were a part of Donna's life suddenly appear for the wedding only added to how realistically the wedding was handled. Donna and the Titans have lives that extend beyond the pages of the comics and have friends that really don't intersect with their superhero careers. It just added to the charming realism.
It's definitely annoying to discover that a writer who has such a creative monopoly on your favorite characters in the way Marv did the Titans doesn't appreciate some characters you might be fond of. Personally, I don't see the need to actively undermine characters that you as a writer don't care for; another writer may come along in the future and have a brilliant idea on how to use them or reinvent them. So for Wolfman to actively sabotage the Titans he didn't care for feels uncharacteristically selfish of him, though I'm sure he wasn't doing this maliciously.
Just some overarching responses to your comments. I acknowledge the ones I didn't mention and as always am thankful for your insight. It's always a pleasure to consider your perspective and the elements I didn't talk about or pick up on.
I would like to extend a more sincere apology for my sudden absence over the past couple of weeks, as I know that abruptly halted a rather exciting chain of conversation we had going at that time. It wasn't very decent of me to promise more frequent conversations only to disappear without explanation for a number of days, and I regret not keeping in touch more. So for that, I'm sorry. But things are cleared up now, so we should be getting back on track.
Cool, we'll square up today then. I'll go ahead and give my reflections on issues #51-58, and then you will be able to respond with your impressions on "The Terror of Trigon," which is a pivotal storyline in the NTT franchise and is the story from which the Teen Titans animated series' creators borrowed elements from most when telling their own Trigon story, rather than the initial Trigon arc that started the NTT era.
Will I correct you and say that Koriand'r shortened name is actually Kory with a 'Y' rather than an 'I'? Eh, probably not. I remember reading that Marv Wolfman saying that he cannot recall why he insisted on her name being Kory instead of Kori, as he later said the latter may have made more sense. Oh well, for a brief while, Kori was canon to her Prime Earth version during the New 52 era, although it changed back to Kory with the beginning of Rebirth in 2016.
Don't get me wrong re:Issue #50. I don't harbor any ill-will toward Wolfman because of how he handled those characters. I still respect him and herald him as one of my all-time favorite writers. I hope to meet him one day, if time and finances permit. More than "sabotaging" the characters (at least maliciously), I think he considered what he was doing tying up loose ends. People clamored to have old Titans guest-star. He used this story to show which ones were retired (or in Gnarrk's case, really retired), and he showed which ones were still active and interested in potentially continuing heroics. He really gives many of the original Titans a second chance when he reworks them following the reboot, and he uses them more often, like Bumblebee. Because the post-Crisis revisions were ones I could accept, I forgive the changes he made in #50 more, since they were retconned. I still don't love that he wrote out Gnarrk and Duela Dent and made it so that they weren't original Titans. Luckily, other writers brought back Duela to join New Earth's Titans (and even restored some of her "original" status by making her an ally to the original Titans West team, which isn't membership, mind you, but it helps in restoring some aspect of pre-Crisis history regarding Duela). And then Abnett restored Gnarrk to Titans membership status in Prime Earth. So I've largely buried the hatchet.
As for the absence, don't worry too much about it. It's not like I have anyone else reading through Titans lore to speak with, so I don't mind being patient, although I eagerly await the more regular cycle of responses you say should be coming.
In the first week of your hiatus, I decided to binge-read all of Vigilante Vol 1 (1984), starring Adrian Chase. The whole series can be divided into five "acts." If you decide to read the series someday, I can explain how the issues are separated so that you know what the clear start/stopping points are. Overall, I found the title to be solid, very thought-provoking. The whole series read like a really long novel. Rather than a comic telling several individual stories that loosely connected, every story in this title was a progression of the characters and their circumstances in a way that brought everything full-circle. If I had to write another academic thesis based on comics, it would be this series (my senior honors thesis on was Tom King's Omega Men (2015)). The figurative magnifying glass implemented throughout really highlighted the flaws of the American justice system. But the series also served as a thought experiment, depicting and commenting on various parts vigilantism can take depending on the personal philosophies of those who take the law into their own hands. And the series emphasized the emotional and mental drawbacks and consequences of such actions, and the various losses that arise as a result. Not every issue necessarily had me on the edge of my seat. I was not always pumped after reading an issue. I did not even always root for the protagonist. But every chapter to this story served an important purpose, and not many other comics by DC have ever left me so contemplative as a whole. Now, it's still not the best series ever. It's not in my top recommendations. But if someone were to decide to read it, I'd give a thumbs-up.
The series also spawned a miniseries for Peacemaker (who was just revealed to be in the new Suicide Squad live-action movie coming out, despite not having had been on the team ever in comic history). I read the miniseries, since it connected, and I was invested in the histories of the characters involved in both. For the same reason, I plan to read the ongoing title that also spawned from Vigilante, Checkmate Vol 1. I'll wait a tiny bit before I delve into that series, but I want to go ahead and read it while the characters involved are still fresh in my brain thanks to my readings of Vigilante.
On to my thoughts on TotTT #51-58.
Issue #51: I loved seeing Lilith rejoin the Titans, even on a largely unofficial basis, as unofficially official as Jericho was at the time, haha. He had been attending missions with the Titans. He would beckon the call when Dick exclaimed, "Titans!" He was allowed to be in public photos mentioning the whole group as Titans (both Joey and Lilith did so here, when they posed for the newspaper). All of these things would generally allow a character to claim membership status. But then Dick would explicitly say that Jericho was "not a Titan," despite the narrator regularly referring to Jericho as "the mute Titan." Of course, I'm talking about how Joey is referred to as/as not a Titan throughout this whole tenure before his "official" admission onto the team. I found it fun to see when George mistakenly included a pin-up picture of Jericho at Titans HQ well before his getting his picture up there with the rest was a plot point. I reckon that's the dangers of working two Titans titles at the same time when they take place at different points of the timeline.
Back to issue #51, specifically. Did you catch when Cheshire repeatedly made references to a certain "him"? She says, "Sweet irony. I've been waiting to meet [the Titans] again since I discovered 'he' was a Titan. My love—you left me with a child." Cheshire just admitted that she had a child with a Titan. I glossed over this fact the first time I read this story. It just didn't register. You may already know who the father is depending on how familiar you are with DC/Titans lore, but just in case, I won't spoil it for you. I'll let it be a surprise for later down the road, as the payoff of that piece of information is only a few "assignments" away.
Dick's concerns over telling Gar over Jericho's possible betrayal were indeed warranted, as Gar's emotions regarding betrayal are still raw. He was quick to attack Joey. Joe didn't want to run away, I'm sure, but his mother had been kidnapped. He did what he had to, sadly. I'm glad things worked out later.
Issue #52: Through Amber, we learn that Adeline "Addie" Kane-Wilson is not an evil woman. I know readers probably already wanted to assume her innocence, but I imagine readers at the time still had shreds of doubt. I think Amber's testimony of how Addie got her off the streets and helped her re-establish herself exemplified Addie's character in a meaningful way. That said, she is in the gray area, being willing to kill—but that's the case with most intelligence agencies, both those commissioned by governments and those not. That doesn't make her villainous, although I do think that she was overly emotional about how Joe did not choose to kill President Marlo and seek retribution for what was done to her. As you say, Jericho has his own heart and his own priorities. His choosing to save the art instead of attack Marlo showed that he had the right stuff to be a Titan.
As you say, this is an issue focused on Jericho, and I love that. Amber notes how Adeline taught Joe how to fight. I'll give you another fact: Addie is the one who taught Slade how to fight! So, while Deathstroke has the benefit of his slightly superhuman physique to give him an edge in combat, Joey still has most of the training, as you will see even more in future readings. Addie also taught him how to be a detective, given her experience with Searchers Inc.
Issue #53: I understand your confusion on the winged character, whom I will go ahead and tell you later adopts the name Azrael, since he cannot remember his original name. Azrael's thread continues, and you're actually about to see him again very soon as you read your next assignment. At a certain point, I will give a touch more context to Azrael. I like him as a supporting character and Titans ally (largely), although I must say I have a couple causes for disappointment regarding his character.
Issue #54: Seeing the discord between Lilith and the other Titans saddened me a it. On one hand, I believe the other heroes were right to try to detain Azrael to a certain point, the voracity to which they did so was unnecessary. He was a panicking innocent fleeing. We had the benefit of reading his thoughts and knowing he didn't knock down the civilians on purpose, but I recognize that the Titans did not know that. They had some instincts that he may have been harmless, but they let feelings of retribution for what "he did" to Lilith get in their way. Like Dick said, they may have made a mistake, even if he believes they did it for decent reasons. I understand Lilith's frustration, though, even if the speed at which she and Azrael formed a psychic link felt a little too quick for my taste. The soap opera between Lilith and Azrael will continue, though. Read on.
Issue #55: I actually don't have all too much to add on this issue. You touched upon most of the points I would have made. The issue is phenomenal, especially because of the coffee shop conversation at the end. I was so pleased to see Gar finally start the healing process after lashing out at everyone in his life, even Steve Dayton and Jillian Jackson. Wolfman really brought it home that Tara was a murderous sociopath by having Slade explain that she killed someone who was a father figure to Gar when he really needed one, and that the man was also Slade's friend. In a way, that common connection helped connect Slade and Gar in a meaningful way. It also helped to explain why Tara was paying Gar special attention—in that she felt a particular disdain toward him for his connection to the tribal leader she mercilessly killed. I also like that Slade insists upon Joey's innocence and innate goodness. The coffee conversation really showed Gar's vulnerability and insecurities: how he feels the Titans don't always consider him seriously due to his youth and how his home life had reached a stage that he could not laugh everything off anymore. I like that Slade complimented him as a capable hero and encouraged him to not play a fool forever, lest that be all people see in him. After this conversation, Gar begins referring to Slade as a friend, and I think that's pretty significant.
My only gripe about the issue was earlier when Slade discredited the Titans during an interview by claiming their invasion of Brother Blood's headquarters as being unfounded. If his reasons for going against the Titans were over now that the contract had been fulfilled and Grant's memory laid to rest, I don't think it was entirely necessary for him to have stabbed the team name like that. I mean, I get that ultimately it was in his best interest to make himself seem as innocent as he could, but it still irked me a bit, largely because I know how manipulating public image when dealing with a political threat can hamper things so much.
Issue #56: It was nice seeing Raven again in issue #56 after he extended self-imposed isolation. The appearance helped remind readers of the struggle she had been facing keeping Trigon's influence in control as it came to its head, as you read during "The Terror of Trigon."
Issue #57: Gar's greatest wish came true when he was able to catch a glimpse of Kory nude during the pool scene. I don't think his poor, hormone-fueled heart could take seeing her much longer than he did, ha. Meanwhile, Joe is the shown as the kind of guy Donna can trust to rub oil/lotion on her back without worrying about him enjoying it too much—a small detail only noticed by via images instead of noted through text, but one I appreciated.
Vic looks fairly human alright. There are still lines detailing where the flesh meets plastic, but I know he felt fairly satisfied with the initial results. His training with Sarah…I mean, Dr. Charles, was amusing to read. The banter was fun. Don't worry. You'll see plenty more of Sarah Charles going forward. As for Vic's look, his body goes through various changes over the course of his publication history. Some versions have made him seem less human and some more human, but you'll see them over time. I like that even in his weaker state, Vic risks himself by playing Psimon into letting him tag along. He is also smart and tech-savvy enough to make his cover story work for as long as needed.
Issue #58: Interesting how a group called the Fearsome Five decided to allow itself to have six members. It's almost reminiscent of the episode in the animated series where the H.I.V.E. Five had six members (the episode that version of Jinx left villainy behind; one of my favorites). For better or worse, though, get used to the idea that the team will be aptly named once more, because one of the six won't be on the team next you see them (I'll leave you to speculate).
While on one hand, it may have been a powerful moment for Vic to have rejected the cosmetic parts that made him seem more human, but I think the progression was exactly what he needed. As he said in this issue, he tried it and didn't feel any different. So now that he has his steel back, he feels much more comfortable with himself. I find this means of tying up the thread of Vic accepting himself a clever one.
Lastly, I've two remaining points. I like the relationship Captain Hall (James Hall of the NYPD) has with the Titans. It's one of respect. Secondly, woohoo! Jericho has been given official membership!
Closing: Hot dog, I have finished. Now I can hear your thoughts on "The Terror of Trigon," which I am pumped to read. FYI, in case you have started reading beyond issue #5, the next assignment is New Teen Titans v2 issues #6-12 and annual #1, which is a standalone story that takes place in the past, back when Terra was still a member. Happy reading!
Nice to see we've squared Vol. 1 away. It's good to be back on track. As always, I have some responses and then a forthcoming review on "The Terror of Trigon."
- I don't think that's the first time I've misspelled "Kory" as "Kori." Fair enough to call me out. After 58 issues, I should at least get the names right. Kori does feel like it fits better, but I'll try to remain faithful to the correct spelling.
- Well, now I'm definitely going to read Vigilante in the coming days. Might start today, not sure (my whole comic schedule got derailed during my hiatus, so I'm trying to realign a consistent reading schedule). Given the current tension between law and individual justice in America, and some of the legal philosophy courses I'm taking this semester, it sounds like a timely read. Thanks for the insight.
- I did actually catch Cheshire's reference to a Titan she had a fling with. Now, I have been watching the Young Justice animation on DC Universe, so maybe I do know the identity? In any case, don't confirm nor deny. I'd like to find out for myself.
- The tension between Lilith and the Titans was indeed upsetting (though not in a bad way), as we as the readers had the full context of Azrael's confusion and understand Lilith feels an inexplicable connection with him, but the Titans only see an alien causing destruction and hampering the efforts of the S.T.A.R. Labs scientists. I do look forward to reading the forthcoming issues in NTT Vol. 2 to get some resolution.
- I do indeed remember the episode where Kid Flash pointed out the H.I.V.E. Five had six members. That was a really fun one, and I do see the connection here, since characters like Jinx, Gizmo, and Mammoth are all part of the Fearsome Five here. Oh well. I'm sure it was tough enough as it is to trademark the "Fearsome Five," and since "Sinister Six" is taken by Marvel, it's kinda funny they left it as it is. I do see your point about Vic as well. I definitely get that, and I admit it works really well in the long term. Nice call.
Noted any of the other points I didn't specifically address.
Now, onto NTT Vo. 2. Looks like this particular title includes a large number of issues, so this will hold me over for awhile, haha. For now though, #1-#5:
#1: I adored the opening training session. Joey's powers are again showcased to be extremely useful and difficult to cope with, even by the seasoned members of the Titans (though Vic exploiting Joey's weakness against digital eyes was a nice touch).
Joey astral jumping into Raven's to body better discern her spiritual affliction was a true measure of heroism. He endured some twisted forms of torture (that one panel where his flesh was melting off his body was harrowing) and nightmarish imagery. Made worse my his inability to vocalize his terror and distress. All of this just so he could try to better help his friend. The phrase "what a pal" doesn't do that service; he quite literally went to hell and back just to help Raven.
That detail about Rave's face changing over time was a stroke of brilliance. Subconsciously, I noticed this while I was reading NTT Vol. 1, but I suppose I dismissed it as George Pérez's style evolving as the series went on. I'm unsure whether or not this was something Wolfman and Pérez coordinated that early on or simply a natural change Wolfman turned into a foreshadowing detail, but I can't deny that the shift was present and so subtle I barely noticed. Well played.
#2: The opening page was startling as it was visually engrossing. The color palette felt more like the color penciled art seen in Annual #1, something echoed by the cover art of these issues. Yet, it transitions back to the more standard art when we're on Earth. I love that the art coincides with the dimensional shift. It makes for a more immersive read.
Lilith's return was a pleasant surprise, as was Wally's. Fran of course objected, and with good reason. She's been on Wally's case of moving on from Raven for awhile now, and given the magnitude of the threat, Wally could indeed be killed, especially given his condition. So Wally returning, yet affirming that Fran was the one he loves now, was a big moment for him.
Trigon fully returning with Raven as his herald was also full of demonic grandeur. Dark times are ahead.
#3: Again, I was blown away by the first page. An up close look at demonic Raven spewing the gospel of Trigon. The quiet, contemplative empath we was knew has now fully been corrupted by Trigon. Dozens of issues were building to this tragic inevitability, so I was simultaneously awed and shocked to see this made manifest.
Equally shocking was Trigon bringing hell to Earth. The demented stone growths, bridges of corpses, skulls sticking out of buildings ... Pérez pulled no punches in visually conveying the implicit awfulness that comes with Trigon's incursion. Equally impressive was the magnitude of Trigon's power. Not even the "A-List" heroes of the DC Universe were ready for or immune to Trigon's might. Wolfman and Pérez unabashedly creating a villain so much more powerful than established heroes and villains in DC is telling.
Of course, the Titans fighting their darker selves was chilling. Some of the imagery, particularly Wally's and Gar's nightmares, was disturbingly dark. Not to mention Jericho being rendered comatose. They really are at one of their lowest moements.
#4: I was wondering what Lilith was planning all this time, but her plan was pretty smart. Apparently, the Titans could only free Raven from Trigon's grip if they gave into their darkest selves, since Lilith seems to be harboring the spirit of Azar within her and seized control of the Titans from Trigon to use his power to take down Raven. A little round-about, but I think I got the gist, however distressing it was to see the Titans give into their more violent impulses.
#5: The idea that the Titans are completely helpless against Trigon yet still decide to go out swinging was a nice heroic moment. Trigon being able to stop Wally's heart with a thought is a chilling display of his power. Using Raven as a vessel for the power of Azar to finally defeat Trigon was a potent way of allowing Raven to have the final say against the father who has been plaguing her for all her life. When she eventually returns, it will be a relief to see her finally free of Trigon's possession. I wonder how much that will affect her character, perhaps allowing her to embrace a more open and happy life. Great ending to a great story arc.
I'll get started on the next assignment today. I should have my review up by tomorrow or Sunday. In the future, I'm tentatively thinking most of my reviews will be Tuesdays through Saturdays, based on my class schedule. If something would prevent me from posting soon after, I'll let you know going forward. Looking forward to more of our talks!
NTT v2 is indeed long enough to hold you over for quite a while. During your break, I went ahead and divided the rest of the title (as well as some additional series' issues, in cases of crossovers and tie-ins) up into assignments. So I am prepared to help you navigate the rest of the NTT era, especially since it gets a little complicated toward the end when there are more crossover events and whatnot.
Regarding Vigilante, as you say, the themes present throughout the title are quite timely to today's political climate. I imagine now would probably be a good time to give the comic a try. Now, while I am most excited by the idea of you taking time to progress your Titans readings, I know and recognize that you have plenty of other comic titles you would like to sample and read through as well. You have already been reading others in-between the Titans issues. You say your whole comic-reading schedule became a little skewed during your hiatus when you were getting some things in order, so I imagine you may want to catch up on your other comics in addition to the Titans books we have been discussing. So if you would like to add Vigilante to your reading list, I would (and am) nodding my head in approval, even if adding it to your queue means it takes a bit longer for you to finish Titans assignments. Because I have read the title, I would like to propose you send me a separate message on my Message Wall so that we can have a Vigilante thread. Even if it takes you a while to read each section of Vigilante, it may be nice to have another discussion in-between our Titans correspondences.
If you are indeed going to read Vigilante, I will go ahead and tell you how the title should be broken down. The series can be divided into five acts: Act I (issues #1-11); Act II (issues #12-16, annual #1, issues 17-19); Act III (issues #20-27); Act IV (issues #28-35, annual #2); and Act V (issues #36-50).
I would love if you gave your review and analyses on each act in the new thread, as they are natural stopping/starting points. Again, I am not rushing the idea, as Titans are my primary focus, but it could be fun nevertheless. And I don't mind having more than one thread on my message wall between us.
Onward to "The Terror of Trigon."
Issue #1: Let's talk about Raven's face-changing. So, as we know, Raven's face was not revealed at all until issue #4. At that point, Pérez was drawing her with softer features. He stayed fairly consistent for the first couple years of the title. He then decided to draw Raven to have more angular features as a natural evolution of his artistic style. The new look for Raven went noticed by a fan and happened to correspond with the story featuring the Brotherhood of Evil wherein Trigon's influence in Raven started to really become recognizable. The reader sent a letter for the letter column (I assume you know what letter columns are?), asking if the visual change was intentional and whether it was a sign of Raven's more demonic roots emerging. The creators relayed that the theory had not been the case; however, Marv and George decided that the idea was a good one. From that point, Pérez began to intentionally draw Raven to more closely resemble Trigon more and more so that she appeared as she did in the last panel of Vic's explanation in this issue. This instance is probably one of the most notable times that a fan-letter influenced a Titans title. A fan's theory was liked so much by creators that it became canon, which is a rare occurrence that I bet the fan loved to see realized.
I like that the war games served as a means of showing off just how capable Jericho is. Because NTT v2 released concurrently with Tales of the Teen Titans despite the difference in chronology, I am sure Wolfman and Pérez wanted to show readers just getting to know Joey that he is more than capable. If it had not been for Cyborg, they may not have been able to capture/subdue him after all. Joe's power set makes him very resourceful.
As for when Jericho had to face Trigon and his virtual wrath, even though Joey still ended up incredibly shaken and scared from the experiences, his resilience and ability to shake it off and push beyond the fear to help his friend—as seen in the following issue—is admirable and exemplifies the strength of his character. I would be traumatized by the fear-factor alone, but the excruciating pain we know Jericho felt in that intradimensional space, I just don't think I could have personally taken it as well, all considered.
Thoughts on Starfire's parents proclaiming to their citizens that they are sending a convoy to bring Koriand'r home to Tamaran now that the Citadel War is over?
Issue #2: Okay, so this is an incredibly small and ultimately meaningless detail, but I feel like the eight performing the seance could have positioned themselves a little more strategically. Like, they linked the ones with normal human strength together and then linked the ones with superhuman strength together. If I were in a situation wherein I needed to make sure that the "chain is not broken," I would have placed the superhumanly strong Titans between the ones with normal strength, just in case. Donna, Kory and Vic have superhuman strength, and Gar could shift into a gorilla or something if extra strength were needed, but those four were grouped together, and then on the other side of the circle were Joey, Lilith, Wally and Dick. I think it's ironic that not only were the superhumanly strong members not dispersed between the humanly strong members, the eight were grouped together by strength, although I am sure it was unintentional. I'm just saying the trip to Azarath would have been easier if those who were stronger held onto those who weren't as strong. I digress.
The Titans' goodness is shown in how they instinctively act upon entering Azarath. Without thinking, they split into two teams, one fending off the attacking beasts while the others rescue the Azaratheans who had themselves abandoned themselves to their "fate" (doom) because of their practices of non-resistance. And in the end, the masses of Azarath decided to allow themselves to die anyway, which ultimately ended up being for the best as we saw later in the story. But still, what an idea. I don't think I could adopt such a philosophy, as pacifistic as I generally tend to be.
Issue #3: I think it's noteworthy that Arella declared that if Trigon had killed Raven that she would kill Trigon herself, considering that the Azaratheans had trained Arella to be pacifistic. The issue made me have another thought in relation to something that happens in the Titans' future, so I won't bring it up.
Issue #4: I felt it was interesting that Wolfman and Pérez did not shy away from incorporating adult themes into Wally's nightmare. Seeing the adult heroes of Earth fallen to Trigon's, well, terribleness (yes, I went there) really established the scale of threat that the inter-dimensional pseudo-demon imposed. Raven's demise at the hands of the dark versions of the Titans was ironic and powerful, not something I necessarily expected.
Issue #5: As expected, the fifth issue made for a powerful finale. As someone who enjoys indexing and noting specific histories and the like, this issue helped by adding more background to both Trigon and Azar. Previous issues explained that Trigon was created after the evil the Azaratheans expunged from themselves took form, but this storyline reveals that he existed as a primal energy in his original universe who had been given shape by others' evil. The evil that the Azaratheans expunged strengthened him, but Trigon explains that he and Azar had been clashing long before she even established Azarath. I find this especially interesting because this information confirms that Azar is not from Earth. Before, it was hinted that she may have been human, but now we know otherwise. We don't know from which work she originated, but we know that she challenged Trigon for centuries as the demon ravaged world after world. These details expand the lore around Trigon and Azar even further.
It's interesting how Trigon believed in his own perverse way that he had been showing love toward Raven. As a being composed of primal energy and solidified evil, I imagine the concept of love eludes him. Despite how he appeared to be planning to recreate his own universe out of homesickness (or nostalgia, perhaps), I doubt he would have been able to remain satisfied if he had accomplished his goals. I think his lust for power is unquenchable, so I speculate he would have eventually destroyed his own universe yet again. That's not a guarantee, though, of course—just my hypothesis.
I like how Wolfman hinted toward Azar using Lilith for her goals during this storyline early on by having Lilith call Wally "Wallace" and Dick "Richard." That's not how she usually refers to them. Seeing Azar cleanse and reinvigorate Raven's soul was satisfying, as Pérez' drawing of her in her glowing white state made her seem at peace. What were your thoughts on the cleansing?
Final Remarks: Alright, I reckon that's enough for now. Of all the storylines wherein the Titans faced high stakes, I think this storyline may have had indeed the highest of stakes, potentially. We can compare this danger threat with later ones as we get to them and see if either of us feel differently in terms of how we rate the danger level of the threat imposed. Anyhow, I'm looking forward to hearing how you felt about the stories contained in issues #6-12 and the first annual. Happy reading!
- So far, I'm inclined to agree that Trigon's incursion in these first five issues is indeed the most significant threat the Titans have faced. Although teaming up with the Titans of Myth against other Greek deities or the Omega Men against extra-terrestrial imperials and slavers of the Citadel are full of their own dramatic flare, the threat of Trigon transcends space/time, humbling the greatest heroes in the DC Universe. I feel many of the Titans' threats are your megalomaniacs with aspirations of world domination (Brother Blood, H.I.V.E.) or the gimmicky super-villains more commonly associated with the genre (Fearsome Five, Brotherhood of Evil). Of course, they've faced threats outside those pigeonholes, many of which were (and still are) centered around timely problems and personal, human troubles. Just a broad observation when it comes to their recurring rogues gallery.
- Thank you for breaking down the five acts of Vigiliante. That is extremely helpful. I'll be sure to share my thoughts with you on it as I finish each act. Expect the first post sometime this week. As you suggested. I'm juggling a number of titles I've wanted to read/get started on, so Vigiliante might be a title I rotate through with the others, whereas Titans comics are sort of a "mainstay" read for me; normally, I try to make time to read a few issues everyday.
- Great insight on the Raven face-changing. I always think it's interesting when fans have some interaction with the creative process, even if this particular fan's letter counts more as indirect involvement.
- As far as the Tamaranean envoy being sent to bring back Kory, I'll wait and see. I'm excited to know we'll be returning to the Vega Star System in due time. Personally, I'm speculating that Kory will willingly return, given that we know she misses her family and she's starting to show signs of her violent and unrestrained warrior impulses resurfacing. I think this will spark some tension between her and Dick specifically. Who knows, I could be dead wrong. Looking forward to it!
- Your comments on the seance were amusingly logical. I'm sure Marv would've appreciated your strategic aptitude for organizing otherworldly rituals while drafting that particular scene, haha.
- In regards to Azar and the Azartheans: I interpreted the Azaratheans' willing demise as being "in on" Azar's plan. The way I interpreted #2, they seemed somewhat organized when Lilith approached them, as if they were waiting for something. While this really could just be them awaiting their inevitable death, I thought in retrospect they were simply preparing for their larger role in defeating Trigon. In any case, I do agree with you, I don't know if I would have the moral courage to remain that steadfast in my otherwise peaceful beliefs in the face of mortal danger, even if I knew my death would be in service to a greater good.
- The cleansing of Raven was perhaps my favorite part of #5. I like the symbology at play - two primordial beings of light and darkness confronting each other while Raven (daughter of darkness) is used as a vessel for Azar. Trigon's motivations for bringing back his dimension I think were born out of emptiness; he conquers worlds as if they're his trophies of victory, both because it's his nature to spread evil but also because, in finding fulfillment for evil, he ultimately defines himself by his power to possess and dominate. When that was taken away, he was left with nothing, despite his vaunted power displayed in these issues. So I interpreted Trigon trying to restore what was lost as him being unable to cope with the idea that he's a conqueror without a conquered trophy, and avoiding the truth that he's threatened by Azar. He calls the Titans gnats and insects, though admittedly they aren't much of a threat to him, yet he chooses to destroy their universe rather than rule over it, and I think that's because he doesn't think he can maintain control, since the Titans and their allies bested him last time. So a twofold motivation: insecurity about losing what he feels is a representation of his power and insecurity over his inability to maintain dominance in our universe. At the end of the day, Trigon is just an insecure bully - of course, that's just my interpretation.
I realize I got sidetracked from talking about Raven. Let me return to her. As I mentioned in my previous post, I'm excited to see where her character will go since almost everything leading up to this point was informed by her fear of her heritage and destiny to give into her dark side. Now that she's free, will she embrace life more? Will she be less shy, perhaps give that Steven kid a chance to talk to her? Is she more enlightened and powerful now, or still just the Raven we knew before without her father's influence? The potential has me on the edge of my seat, as I legitimately don't know where Wolfman intends to take her character, as everything in NTT Vol. 1 was building to her spiritual emancipation here. In any case, I anxiously await her inevitable return.
Onto the next issues:
- #6: This was a great issue. Really great. Phenomenal even, since it was a return to the form of Tales of the New Teen Titans, only this time it was so unexpected. I expected this to be a transitional issue, something that tied up any lingering loose ends from the "Terror of Trigon" and setting up for the next story arc with Azrael. The down-to-earth nature of this issue was very unexpected to me, yet I loved every bit of it. Marv touches on some relatable and endearing concepts that I instantly identified with.
Let's start with the parade. As we discussed, Trigon's assault on Earth was perhaps the greatest threat the Titans have thus far faced, so of course they're elevated to being respected superheroes. Initially, I was happy to see the Titans were given the respect and notoriety that deserved, especially since the media had slandered them as societal threats with lies and half-truths in previous issues. And while the Titans acted valiantly, Dick points out that Lilith, Arella, Raven, and Azar had far more to do with Trigon's defeat than they did. Wally didn't bother accepting any credit (I liked his quiet moment with Fran; admitting their fears and hoping to find love and support in one another was warming).
That fact, combined with the excessive fanfare, helped convey the downsides to fame. Before, the "humanness" of the Titans maintaining personal lives was possible since they operated below the radar, or more accurately were dismissed by the general pubic as a second string superhero team. Now, as worldwide celebrities, their personal lives could be subject to scrutiny. For someone like Donna, who undoubtedly wants to spend her marriage free from paparazzi, this is more of a negative than a positive. And while Gar of course is enjoying the fawning of the adoring public, Vic is uncomfortable with the spotlight at the parade and furiously dismisses the press and the various business offers made by those trying to cash in on the Titans' fame. I loved that Wolfman took the time to explore the complex implications of becoming icons and literally getting the key to the city. I know I'm not overly fond of ceremonies and celebrations that put me in the spotlight. On one hand, I'm glad to be recognized for my accomplishments, but at the same time I'd much rather be doing something else. It's a relatable dynamic I got here, particularly from Vic.
Returning to the campsite for TotNTT was a a treat. I loved their confessions.
Let's start with Gar. We're no stranger to all the insecurities he grapples with, as well as all the tragedy he's endured. Seeing his traumatized distortion of the Doom Patrol's and Tara's death being his fault manifest during his nightmare in #4 affirms that he's still wrestling with those tragedies. I adored that moment where he confessed he used to pretend he was Superman as a kid (raise your hand with me if you ever did something similar), and now is confronted with the reality that little kids are pretending to be him and see the Changeling as an inspiring superhero. He's a 16-year old kid who now has an even greater self-imposed burden to carry, the burden of not letting people down even when we know Gar constantly feels like he's letting others down. The conflict he's facing is tangibly profound and rooted in what we've since experienced with the character (but at least he's still with Jillian; I was under the impression they split after #55 in Vol. 1).
Vic revealing he was seeing a psychiatrist was a shock to me, but such a humanizing detail. I'm sure the pressure of fame Vic feels is similar to the dilemma of inadequacy Gar faces. Whenever Vic opens up like that, I sit up straighter, as it's rare that the usually gruff Vic is ever that honest.
Kory's speech was fantastic, and I love the semi-counter point she makes to the Titans' dourness. For one, I like that she doesn't apologize over the suggestion that she is more comfortable with public attention because she's a beautiful model. She understand that men are attracted to her, but there's more to her than looks. Unlike Wally and now the hesitant Vic, she openly loves her career as a hero and takes great pride in the fact that they just helped save the world. Her praising Vic for overcoming his insecurity about his appearance and encouraging Gar to give himself credit for his abilities and accomplishments was such a heart-warming moment. Kory brings so much life and optimistic wisdom to the team, and it's very endearing to me she's so open with the other Titans about how much she cares about them and is proud of what they've done together. Moments like these help me realize that a lesser writer might've pinned Kory as the pretty yet ditsy valley girl instead of an insightful and self-assured big sister. Also, is it just me or does Kory's English feel more polished? For whatever reason, it stood out to me that Kory talked as normally as any other English speaker (not that there was something wrong with the way she talked before). I don't know, it's a small detail that leads me to believe she's increasingly becoming more comfortable with our language.
Even Dick had a big moment. His encouragement for them to be more open with each other was surprising to hear from him, the hyper-focused team leader. The observation that the Titans don't even know things like Dick's political or religious beliefs was a nice detail that simultaneously drives home the humanity of these characters and affirms that there is still room for more honesty and closeness in this group of young heroes. Terry and Lilith even joined in and shared their own concerns and insights.
Maybe I'm sappy, but I'm a sucker for issues like this. As I said, I didn't expect the issue to get this personal, so the pleasantness of the surprise coupled with the complexity of the characters really made this issue stand out. I honestly just felt better about my day and about the Titans after reading this issue. It's one that will stick with me.
- #7: I didn't mention this before since I was unsure where this relationship between Azarael and Lilith was heading, but I was getting a sort of Hyperion-Donna vibe from their love, which was a little concerning since I didn't much care for that element in #11 of Vol. 1. So I guess it's appropriate that the Titans of Myth reappeared concurrently with Azrael reuniting with Lilith. Thia's first appearance immediately made it clear she was a tried and true villain, a seductress who wielded power and influence at quite literally divine levels. I was interested to see what she wanted from Lilith.
Nice detail with Joey taking part in a community art exhibit of sorts. That was a cool moment when Lilith and Kory saw his paintings.
- #8: I didn't expect this to focus on Donna as much as it did Lilith, though we did get the revelation that Lilith is Thia's daughter. So I guess that makes her a demi-god/titan. What are your thoughts on that? Nice detail by Wolfman at the end of #9 that Thia's offspring have infiltrated important power institutions and are getting ready to make a move. The Children of the Sun I'm sure will make for a fun group of antagonists in the future.
The Titans going down to Tartarus to battle the Giants with the ToM made for some great action (whenever the ToM are involved, it seem that the mythological battles have another layer of dynamism and visual appeal). I didn't much care for Wolfman continuing to push this Hyperion-Donna affair, but I did enjoy Jericho possessing the unconscious Hyperion. I mean wow, Joey possessed a god. It speaks volumes that Joey wouldn't at all be enticed by his experience with wielding divine powers. Once Hyperion is ready to return to the fight, he gives up the body without any desire to taste such power again. A small detail, but a meaningful one I feel.
Kory's bloodthirstiness is showing again, with the way she didn't hesitate to slay that Giant against Dick's protests. As I mentioned before, I'm sure that point won't be forgotten.
- #9: Of these three issues dealing with Thia and the ToM, this one was my favorite. The climatic battle against Typhus was visually engrossing and epic, and I'm excited to see Kole pop in here. She seems able to manifest and control crystals rather than just turn her body into a crystalline armor like in the animation. Why she was working with Thia was unclear, though Kole seemed to indicate it was against her wishes. Looking forward to seeing more of her (though I was worried for a second that Kory was going to do some damage to Kole).
Lilith remaining behind on Olympus with the united gods and titans is an interesting move, since earlier issues seemed to telegraph that she was going to remain with the Titans for the foreseeable future. Although I feel Wolfman was overcooking Azrael's love-sickness for Lilith, I was still sad to see she's staying behind.
I'm starting to surmise that ToM stories aren't my favorite, but this one was an improvement over the first one in Vol. 1's issues #11 and #12. At least the art is always spectacular in such issues (the cover for #9 is one of my favorites thus far).
BREAK: I'm going to stop here for today. I decided to break it up rather than possibly delay a post, and in any case I think there's a good amount of discussion to have here. If you want to wait until I get my next post up to respond, feel free. Otherwise, I look forward to your thoughts.
I am actually in agreement about the Azaratheans, although it may not have sounded as such in my initial statements. As for the new responses, I acknowledge anything I don't mention outright. Due to having limited time at the moment, I will only respond with new points. But part of why I'm doing that is because what you addressed you did so thoroughly that I don't have much else to add. Nice analyses.
Issue #6: I like that Lilith decided to rejoin the Titans. When she joined up after Donna's wedding, she was participating on missions on an unofficial basis, even if the public (newspaper) saw her as a Titan. Now she has officially become a member of the NTT rather than simply being an "original Titan."
I like that the very first page of the issue had someone casual refer to Nightwing as Flamebird. That's an amusing allusion, as Dick's moniker comes from Kryptonian lore of two partners: Nightwing and Flamebird. Dick adopted the name after learning of it from Superman. So having him be called Flamebird as a joke made me give a figurative thumbs-up.
I liked all the brief guest appearances—Wonder Woman and Superman giving the Titans the credit they long-since knew they were due; Sarah Charles being sassy to the nosy reporters and contract-suppliers; Garth and Tula bringing wreckage from the waters surrounding Titans Island; Fran yet again doubting Wally's affections.
I found it really fun how Marv Wolfman uses dialogue to give some hints toward what's coming up. In this issue, Donna says, "See if we can go without a crisis for a while." I have a strong feeling this was Marv's way of hinting at the upcoming Crisis on Infinite Earths. He and George had already been working on the event/title that would soft-reboot the DC universe, and the tie-ins were coming soon (the CoIE tie-in issues for NTT are issues #13-14, so they're really close). It was small, but it didn't go unnoticed by me this read-through.
As for Gar and Jillian, they aren't exactly solidified as an item, but they do hold affection toward each other, and Jillian especially helps ground Gar despite his harrowing insecurities and the memories that otherwise would leave him dejected.
Terry's right. The Titans gain something extra by being together—much more than they had as individuals, and that special something has evolved beyond what it was when they first started working together. Dick touches upon this even more, as you highlight.
On the final page, Cyborg pulls out a Coke. We get a close-up panel of it, too, and we see the other Titans drinking Coke. I have to wonder…was that paid advertising? Usually, the advertisements are separate from the actual content of the comics, but this very much so looked like product placement. I would really like to know if Coca-Cola actually paid for the Titans to drink Cokes.
Issue #7: So, in the original appearance of Azrael, a language barrier prevented them from understanding one another. Kory's ability to absorb Azrael's language even failed, a first for her. Yet, in the other appearances of Azrael in TotTT and now in NTT v2, Azrael is able to speak English just fine. I wonder what the explanation is. Perhaps Wolfman just decided that he didn't want to pursue that language-based thread he had started and abandoned the idea that he initially spoke another language at all in the first place. Perhaps Azrael somehow naturally learned the language in his travels, which would make him fairly bright, despite his admittedly annoying ramblings about Lilith. Perhaps when Kory tried to learn his language, whatever the malfunction was, maybe it somehow caused Azrael to be the one to absorb and assimilate the language. That last one is my favorite of my theories. I mean, Kory suggested that he may also be from the Vegan system, and like Tamaraneans, Azrael is seemingly similarly run by emotions. Alas it's never addressed.
Starfire wears her uniform under her civilian clothes sometimes? Noted.
I love when Jericho offers Azrael a hand rather than being confrontational like Starfire. And I love that once the Titans stop chasing Azrael like a criminal that Azrael rescues Starfire when she's knocked down from the sky. He had a heroic heart, and I feel like he could have gotten along with the Titans…as a Titan. I hate to say it, but Azrael is not one of the 95 Titans. I have already called him a Titans Ally, so I am sure this is no surprise. But I really feel like he had the potential to have been a good Titan, even if only for a short while. I loved seeing him in panels this issue surrounded by other Titans, as if he were part of the team. He looked like he belonged to me, but perhaps that's just my natural desire for there to be more Titans for me to give unconditional devotion to, haha. Personally, I would have loved for Azrael to have been a Titan for at least one arc (4-5 issues) before deciding to leave. The rest of his story playing out could have still happened with that addition; except, Wolfman did not have the time to play such an idea out. The Crisis was coming, and he had specific plans for the team both during and afterward, so he didn't have the ability to create the "filler" story arc I imagine that would have allowed for Azrael to be a Titan. A shame, sigh. But I am sure readers at the time these issues released may have guessed that Azrael would join and be given an actual name besides "the Winged Man." I think they would have guessed that because he appeared on the covers of the Thia arc along with the other members. The covers definitely felt like "team shots," so I could get why some may have speculated his pending membership. Oh well.
Issue #8: Okay. So. Yes, Lilith is a demigoddess and has thermokinesis on top of her precognitive and limited telepathic powers…pre-Crisis only. I'm sorry to say that Lilith's parental relations are once again a mystery for a while after Crisis on Infinite Earths makes changes to reality with the transition from Earth-One to New Earth. It's a shame, since this storyline actually gave Lilith the closure she needed, as her wondering about her parentage had been rooted into her character since the original Teen Titans series. The Crisis will make it so that the ToM stories you have enjoyed (or not enjoyed) are not part of Titans canon anymore. Instead, the Titans of Myth have an entirely different connection to Titans lore that will come to head once the title shifts from being labeled New Teen Titans to just New Titans. The reason for why Wolfman had to make all these changes to lore will be made clear then. Similarly, the Children of the Sun will come into play a couple times down the road in Titans lore, but their origins will be very different. They will no longer be made up of the demigod children of Thia. I will let you read on to learn their actual post-Crisis origin. I do believe it's important to note and remember pre-Crisis history even if post-Crisis history supersedes it in later stories. Sorry if this information is disappointing in some way.
Oddly enough, Jericho could possess Hyperion here, but he failed to possess Superman once in an Action Comics issue the NTT guest-starred in. I wonder how much the ability to resist Joey's possessions are based in bio-chemistry versus mental fortitude or other factors.
Azrael seems to return the favor of Joey helping him in the previous issue by carrying him in his arms to Tartarus. I mean, that's mostly nothing and is largely just logical means of transport. But I like to think of it as Joey having had been the one to form the closet bond to Azrael beyond Lilith among the Titans. I mean, Azrael does save a falling Gar, too, which just really solidifies the idea to me that he would have made a good Titan, as he naturally slid into team dynamics.
Issue #9: Okay, so, let's talk Kole. Kole (Kole Weathers) actually does not have the ability to transform herself into organic crystal as she does in the show. That was an animation-original trait. In the comics, Kole has the ability to "spin" crystal. She can fire blasts that encase objects in crystal, and she can create crystal constructs, such as barriers and a crystal carpet to ride upon (which she mostly uses to transport others, because she is able to fly on her own but is not strong enough to carry someone else). Those she encases in crystal are able to survive, as you saw. She can also move her own body through crystal she herself has created, which is an interesting ability I would like to see explored in more dynamic ways in the future, if I'm lucky. Don't give Kole too much flack for working with Thia in her debut. Thia had kidnapped her two years prior and forced her to be her underling. So Kole was more afraid than anything else, as Thia is a very powerful threat.
When it comes the love he feels for Lilith as created by the psychic bond they formed, Azrael becomes a little melodramatic. His natural speech patterns almost make him sound like he came off a Shakespearean stage, but the drama factor is played up with Lilith. Outside of her, he is able to talk normally (still in that style) to the others, so I think he could have been a character I enjoyed reading as a Titans member. Oh well.
Closing: So, as I said, Crisis on Infinite Earths is coming up. The Titans are deeply affected by that event/title, so I think you should read it. However, before you do so, you should read one more batch of NTT issues. So, you should read NTT v2 #13-17 as your next assignment and report back. That's five issues total, which shouldn't be too strenuous, ha. The first two are tie-in issues for CoIE. The latter three comprise a storyline that is independent of the events from CoIE, which is why you can go ahead and read them (that and they connect to events set up in issues #13-14). After you read those five issues, your next assignment will be to read Crisis on Infinite Earths, which is a 12-issue maxiseries.
It's a big event, but don't let it seem imposing. Because you have read at least one title up to this point, you will be able to follow it well enough, especially since it's done by the Wolfman-Pérez team you have already grown accustomed to. CoIE is created to be the type of book you can read over and over again and get something new out of it each time. Because it involves so many characters, reading any title up to CoIE will give you additional context for the goings-on during the event. The event may also introduce you to characters you don't yet know, which could be fun. In any event, after you give me your thoughts on issues #10-12 and annual 1, the next assignment is issues #13-17, and then the one after that is the 12-issue CoIE storyline, which I understand may take you a bit longer to digest and finish. But it is crucial that you read CoIE if you're going to read NTT v2 #18 and beyond.
- Lucky for me then, as I ordered a physical copy of CoIE a few weeks ago (although the complete event is available and organized on DC Universe. Oh well. It seems like an "essential" comic to own, so no regrets). As of typing this, I'm a little more than halfway through it, so it shouldn't take me too much longer to finish that up and be prepared for continuing my Titans reading. It's a dense and sometimes overwhelmingly epic read, but I'm absolutely loving it so far. I do like how Wolfman hints at it throughout his Titans issues, as you mentioned (he does it again more explicitly in Annual #1 with Antimatter-Man).
- I don't hate the idea that Lilith is a demi-goddess and seemed poised to spend the rest of her days on Olympus as a Sun Goddess, but I also don't love it. It felt more like Wolfman tying up loose ends as quickly as he could, as Lilith having Olympian heritage felt like it came out of left-field. I would've never suspected she was related to Thia if it wasn't made it be. That said, the moment in #10 when she is inaugurated as a goddess was a rather cool moment for her and was handled with the grandeur she deserves. If she's going to be a demi-goddess, at least Marv leaned into it, so I can appreciate that. I'm curious to see how this is handled in the future.
- As far as Azrael goes, his Shakespearean dialogue does get on my nerves, but I'm glad Marv doesn't ignore it. Cyborg calls him out and even asks "Who writes his dialogue?" which I found amusing. So it's kinda like a running jokes almost, and as you emphasized he does have the heart of a hero. He falls into Mother Mayhem's thrall during #12, so I wonder if that plot line is abandoned in Post-Crisis or if Wolfman follows through on this point.
Noted the remaining comments I didn't address. Let's settle up tonight with #10-#12 and Annual #1 so that I can get started on #13-#17.
- Annual #1: I'm a little unsure of when this issue takes place. Although I understand the main story of the Titans teaming up with Superman and the Vanguard takes place in the past, when Terra was still with the team. However, Joey is learning about that particular mission in what appears to be the present, sometime after "The Terror of Trigon" (since Raven is mention to still be missing at this point). Yet, the tower is rebuilt, when the next few issues stated that the tower wouldn't be rebuilt for a few months. So it seems like it takes place sometime after #12. Do you have any insight to share?
As for the issue itself, I had a blast with it. The Vanguard were comprised of some fun characters, and although the issue ends with the caveat that they would only appear more if enough fans wrote in at the time, I'm curious to know if they had subsequent appearances. Brainiac has always been my favorite Superman villain, so seeing the Titans help go up against him was a treat. A gripping sci-fi adventure read, so I was happy.
#10 & #11: These two issues focus primarily on Kole, particularity with Joey, which I thought was super. Kole's acceptance into the Titans felt natural; she's confused and unsure after spending years in Thia's thrall surrounded by mythological monsters, and her parents cast her aside as a failed experiment, apparently. So her seeking comfort in Joey, the nicest and most accepting of the Titans, was a crucial moment. Her asking Joey about making love and Joey kindly refusing while still offering her a shoulder to cry on was a compelling moment for both characters, illustrating Kole's confusion and desperation and Joey just being the greatest guy ever.
Speaking of Joey, I enjoyed the brief flashback to his upbringing, with him being picked on by Grant and to a lesser extent Slade, yet remaining committed to Adeline's training. I loved how Wolfman put it: "He learned. He just didn't care." Joey had every right and opportunity to be bitter and dedicate himself to using his fighting skills to "prove himself." Instead, he remains committed to his love of the arts and doesn't apologize for doing so. Awesome stuff.
Kole's parents were ... interesting. Her father's fervent belief in the impending nuclear holocaust necessitating the creation of cockroach-men felt a little out-there, considering this is the same man who created the complex villain Deathstroke (not that all villains have to be as complex as Slade). Kole's mother undergoing a metamorphosis into a bug-creature herself was unsettling, and the twisted nature of their paranoia did make for some moments of poignant tragedy. It also follows up on the Steve Dayton-Recombatants thread and the use of Promethium. Steve is also revealed to be dying, which is not at all good for Gar. Hopefully, Dayton's fate isn't certain.
#12: This was a fun single issue story. If I'm not mistaken, the "murderer" the Titans confront at the end was a mob boss from previous issues, someone who was referred to as the "Godmother." Don't know for sure, but it's a nice call back if so. The ghost girl, murder mystery storyline made for some great character moments (I loved when Joey danced with the elderly resident, it was a sweet moment). Other than that, I don't have much more to say, other than that the Tamaraneans are fast on their way. I'm excited to see where Wolfman decides to take that story.
I think that's all I have for now. I'm juggling a few comics at the moment (along with school work), but I should have my next post up either tomorrow or Thursday.
I am fairly ambivalent on the premise of Lilith's pre-Crisis canon as a demigoddess myself as well. On the one hand, I like that Wolfman set up Lilith's thermokinetic powers that she inherited from Thia a couple storylines prior to the reveal of her heritage. If he had introduced the heat powers the same story that Lilith learned she was Thia's daughter, the connection would have felt far more contrived. Now, I respect that having an original Titan be revealed as the daughter of a mythological Titan is poetic in a sense, the idea still does not completely feel natural for me. However, I suspect that discord within me comes from my knowing how Lilith is portrayed in continuity both in New Earth and in Prime Earth and how different those concepts are from demigoddess Lilith. Nevertheless, as you say, the moment she donned her demigoddess' garments and the story took on that ceremonious tone, I did feel the same grandeur as you did. In that moment, Lilith felt right in those clothes. I believe I would have accepted her being a Titan of Myth over time had that canon continued. I wonder just how deeply rooted Lilith would have become or not become into DC's lore on a larger scale if she had remained a demigoddess. Would she be respected more highly from other adult heroes because of her (potentially increasingly vast) powers? Would others treat her with reverence? The idea would have been interesting. But I think everything worked out for the best as things managed to play out. I certainly like PE Omen, the alpha-class telepath—don't you? Haha.
As for Azrael, allow me to post an interview with George Pérez on Azrael from Comic Interviews #50 (1987). I think you may find the script fairly intriguing, perhaps.
“I actually designed it entirely differently. There is a drawing I did of Azrael that doesn’t look anything like José Luis Garcia-Lopez’s version of Azrael. Originally, Marv came up with the idea of an angel at the time I was still on the book. Then, when I left the book, I thought it would be unfair for José, with his design sense, that every character he does is based on a George Perez design, since Azrael was never printed. So I let him design Azrael, and while he was on the book, he was also entitled to design Kole. Even though Kole was printed in Crisis [on Infinite Earths] before she appeared in [New Teen] Titans, that was because of the timing—I had gotten the xerox of José’s pencils. José designed both of them. Azrael was originally designed looking totally different, and José came up with his own version; he never saw mine—No one has seen mine except for Marv.”
“Marv wanted a very, very emotional face. Again, it wasn’t all that different from the way I designed Jericho. Jericho was also made for expression. The operatic thing, that got a little carried overboard. I am not as much a lover of deep purple prose, where people are acting like raving idiots over a lover. I mean, to me, love is always as much of the head as of the heart, if you do it right. And that bugged me. But again, that’s the character. The character was supposed to be a flying wimp. (Laughter.)”
I hope that was fun. I like creator interviews.
You asked about the placement of the first annual. See, I think you read the annual before you read issues #10-12. That may have been because you were following DC Universe. My research into DC Universe shows that while the service managed to place the Vol 1 annuals in their right places, the service places a great many other annuals in incorrect places. So, when I give assignments, I will give the issues/annuals in the order they should be read. So it may do you well to follow my suggested reading order versus DC Universe's. The first annual of the second NTT series actually released the same month as issue #12. I place the annual after issue #12 for that reason, for the sake of the present scene with Joey. Otherwise, the flashback story takes place during the 30s in terms of issue count of the first NTT series, as you surmised—a point after Terra was admitted as a member and before TJC.
Now, you inquired about the Vanguard's appearances following this annual. They do not appear in any other Titans comic, I'm afraid. The only other canon appearance of the Vanguard took place in Superman/Batman v1 #3, where they had a cameo. Other than that, they don't have any "live" appearances. They do, however, have data entries in a Who's Who? issue, which added more to their canon history, and in the DC encyclopedias, which don't give new information. The group had some potential, but it didn't take off, sorry to say.
Kole and Joey's relationship is a sweet one to behold. Kole seems to long for a more intimate relationship, but even though Joe rebuffed her advances, we still them bond and form a genuine human connection. And in some ways, that's even more beautiful of a relationship to witness unfold. Joey is most definitely a gentleman. While the quality I most associate with Jericho is his compassion, I believe another quality that is deeply rooted into his character is his self-discipline/self-control. As you mention, despite his having ample reason to be upset at the world over his personal circumstances growing up, he chooses to remain calm and not let himself be consumed by any semblance of rage. And then his self-discipline is obviously apparent here.
Yes, the Weathers parents were a bit…kookie. Abel's paranoia led him to work in genetic modification to transform humans into silicon-based or insectoid lifeforms to give them a greater chance of surviving, including Marilyn's. In some ways, Abel believed his goal noble, but he lost whatever sympathy points he would have still had in my book when he decided that it was acceptable to sacrifice others' lives so that his experiments could continue. Ultimately, Marilyn appealed to Abel, but the whole situation was bizarre, what with the people being converted into giant insects rather than hybrids following another explosion. Oh well, I liked the character moments the issues had when it came to Kole and Jericho (especially Kole, as Marv fleshed her out into a three-dimensional character very quickly), so the solid characterization made up for the somewhat lackluster plot. Kole even had some sort of closure and was able to put her past to rest in some ways it seemed.
Also, poor Vic. He does not know that Sarah Simms has started seeing Gary Sellers (romantically). And she won't even get the flowers he sent her because of the conscienceless passerby.
Yes, the woman is Donna Omicidio (Italian for "Lady Homicide"), who appeared in New Teen Titans Annual v1 #2, the story Adrian Chase debuted as Vigilante. She appears in the NTT annual, then in four issues in the first act of Vigilante, and then in this NTT issue, where a bit of her backstory is explained and where she is arrested and put away. So you've just read her final appearance. Don't worry, NYC has plenty of mob families to take her place.
I feel like my response was a little short this go-around, but we were mostly just talking about four issues, so I suppose that's fine. I'm looking forward to your additional responses, and it's good that you have already started Crisis on Infinite Earths (but it's even better than you haven't finished yet, as it would spoil some things for your NTT readings). Take care.
Slight blunder. I told you to go ahead and read NTT v2 issues #13-17 because I knew a spoiler for Crisis on Infinite Earths was in issue #18. Unfortunately, upon browsing the issues again, I see the conclusion to the story arc started in issue #14 that carried over through #17 takes place in issue #18. So, if you read up to issue #17, you would not have the ending, which is unsatisfying, I'm sure. You could go ahead and read issue #18 and just accept the spoiler, or you could pause (if you haven't finished the NTT readings) and read CoIE. In any event, I apologize. Maybe you could combine your review of NTT issues #13-18 and Crisis on Infinite Earths issues #1-12. Or maybe you want to unpack CoIE on its own. In any event, apologies for steering you slightly wrong.
- Indeed, I was a little taken aback by issue #17's ending being such a cliffhanger, however I understand you were simply trying to shield me from being spoiled in issue #18. Considering Crisis on Infinite Earths is perhaps one of the most important comics I'll read (and I'll only get to read it for the first time once), I appreciate that you erred on the side of caution. I won't be giving an issue by issue breakdown of CoIE as I do with the Titans, but as Crisis is rather packed to the brim with discussion worthy material, that might deserve its own thread (which might be more prudent if I posted it to the larger wiki community).
In any case, I'll finish CoIE and #18 tomorrow, and I'll post my thoughts on issues #13-#18 tomorrow as well. For now, I'll take some time to respond to some of your comments on #10-#12 and Annual #1, so at least we'll have some discourse tonight.
- I failed to read your previous assignment of "issues #6-#12 and Annual #1" as "issues #6-#12 then Annual #1," which seems to be what you were intending. My mistake. It definitely would've behooved me to read Annual #1 after issue #12, as the tower was mostly rebuilt by the time of between #12 and issue #13. Alas. I shall strive to observe your recommendations more carefully rather than simply follow the sequence in DC Universe.
- I think we're in agreement with PE Lilith. What little I've read of her was staggering in terms of how powerful she was (mind-wiping the entire DC Universe of the Titans, including herself), and I'm glad that Dan Abentt depicted her as a meta-human and core member of the Titans (I'm curious as to the changes made to her in New Earth). But hey, there are worse things than ending your Pre-Crisis career as a demi-goddess on Olympus.
- Thanks for posting that excerpt from Pérez. I too enjoy creator interviews, as they usually provide greater insight or context to things like this and also some fun bits of trivia. For instance, I recall one interview I read in which Pérez stated he most closely identified with Cyborg, who happens to be the character Marv uses to poke fun at Azrael's over-the-top love for Lilith (which wasn't fully explained as of yet). Azrael isn't my favorite character, but he's crafted interestingly enough to inspire some good discussion and pondering.
- That's a good point on Joey. You mentioned previously that he's perhaps the only one Donna trusts to rub lotion on her back without enjoying it too much, and here an attractive girl is eagerly offering him a night of intimacy. In each case, his friendship with each of them is placed above any potential impulsivity. It's small details like that solidify him as the chivalrous gentleman artist of the Titans. He's the type of character that is simultaneously relatable to me and repeatedly inspiring.
As you pointed out, Wolfman didn't beat around the bush in giving Kole some dramatic conflict and character development. The bizarre nature of her parents' experiments, while perhaps an outlandish story to the reader, is a harrowing experience that pushed the already teetering Kole into what is undoubtedly a difficult reality after years of imprisonment.
I think that's all I have for now. Nothing new, I suppose, but didn't want to miss out on talking Titans today. Once again, expect my review of issues #13-#18 tomorrow and stay tuned for my discussion on CoIE on the wiki.
Perfect. The discussion board has a category specifically for reviews, so posting an in-depth review on there will be fun. You may not get a whole bunch of comments (no post does lately; at least, not the substantive posts), but if you pose a question at the end of the review asking about others' thoughts on the event, you will get some comments from enough to make it a good group discussion, I suspect.
We will likely readdress the consequences of CoIE on the Titans' mythos when we discuss your thoughts on the assignment of New Teen Titans Vol 2 #19-23 and annual #2. FYI, I did not see the second annual on DC Universe at all! I may have overlooked it. Technically, it's a standalone story that is not completely necessary to understanding later goings-on. I could give you a summary of the annual. You could also potentially buy the annual on Comixology for a couple dollars or so to read. It's not a huge loss if you skip it, but we'll cross that bridge then.
I too could not find Annual #2 on DC Universe nor Comixology, which is a little strange to me. Oh well. If you're up for it, I always appreciate your detailed summaries, otherwise I can just as easily read a synopsis on the database.
Let's jump right into it with issues #13-#18.
- #13: Vic finally discovers Sarah is with Gary. Although the scene itself was saddening, I thought the art was completely on point. Vic's and Sarah's facial expressions perfectly conveyed that awkward mixture of shock, disappointment, and heartache. Vic showed some real growth when he was able to accept Sarah's decision without feeling as though it had to do with his appearance. I love that they remained steadfast friends throughout this, and that Vic continues to help out with the disabled kids. Besides, Sarah deserve to be with a nice guy after that fiasco with Mark.
The Crisis tie-in material was also a treat. As you will see in my review of CoIE, I was a huge fan of the space/time madness due to the fluctuations in the multiverse, so seeing some of those elements here was good fun. And Starfire finally meets up with Karras and the Tamaranean envoy, kick-starting the storyline the rest of these issues are centered on.
- #14: I'm glad we got to see what Arella was up to. Raven being taken in and still having her healing powers was a relief, it's nice to know that we have at least some confirmation that she's back in some capacity. Steve Dayton's illness also comes to a head here, and Wolfman actually follows this one for a number of issues. Mento's powers are a force to be reckoned with, though this entire situation is absolutely terrible for Gar. Vic's brief confrontation with Gar about closing himself off was a powerful and much needed moment, with Vic giving Gar some tough love so that Gar doesn't take Dayton's breakdown on himself. It was a poignant illustration of their friendship and how much one cares for the other, even if that particular relationship is not often in the foreground.
Of course Komand'r is revealed to be back with a vengeance. I do love that Joey is going to have the opportunity to travel to space,as that was a wish of his in Annual #1. If there is any human who can appreciate the majesty of space and Tamaran, it's Joey.
- #15: I like Wolfman's take on this arranged marriage story arc for Kory. Not only is she torn between her love for Dick and her father's request on the behalf of her people, but Karras too loves someone else and doesn't wan to be married. He's been an interesting character to follow through this. For instance, when Kori takes Joey and Dick hunting, Karras and Dick have a brief moment of conflict where Dick doesn't heed Karras' advice and almost hurts himself. It's a very small detail, but it was little breadcrumbs of Karras outshining Dick in some way that created an authentic wedge between Dick and Karras, adding to the present tension over the marriage. Karras is by no means a bad person - indeed, if Kory is forced to marry another, Karras would perhaps be the best choice - and Dick is out of his element compared to him. I appreciated how Wolfman played Dick and Karras against each other in more subtle ways.
Komand'r becomes more complex here. She's leading a coup against her family and intends to kill them, so that's nothing new. But instead of unadulterated sadism, she's charismatic and appeals to legitimate grievances the Tamaraeans had against Myand'r's. Nor can the reader completely side with Myand'r's request that Kory marry someone she does not love. Not only does that divide Dick and Kory, it really is an unfair request given Kory's previous sacrifice for her people. That said, the back-up story in this issue illustrates how Myand'r's parents gave up everything in the name of duty, including their lives. I enjoyed how gray and complex this situation was for everyone involved.
Quick question, in the "Tales of Tamaran" back-up story, a young Myand'r is called Mythus by his parents. Does that mean he adopts the "and'r" surname (of sorts) when he takes the throne? I forget if Tamaranean naming customs were ever explained.
Raven's story was particularly engrossing. Stumbling upon the swamp village (I assume the "monster" the swamp villager mentioned to Arella was the Swamp Thing, which was a neat reference), Raven is treated as an unwilling messiah. It was a twisted take on the downtrodden and the sickly flocking towards a savior just to touch her and revel in her healing power (I instantly thought of the biblical stories of miracle healing in the Gospel). The sequence's religious resonance was reinforced by the sudden appearance of the Church of Blood, who slaughtered the villagers and captured Raven and Arella. Wolfman even ends this part with the line "And the Church of Blood knew it was good," a clear allusion to the creation words of Genesis (only here they're words of destruction). It's actually quite profound how Wolfman takes influences from the Bible that are normally regarded fondly and reverses them into a nightmarish scenario. It adds another layer of depth and tragedy, in my opinion.
- #16: I'm certain you knew this and just didn't mention it, but issue #34 of Omega Men ties in with this story arc and chronologically takes place in between issue #15 and #16 of NTT. So I read that issue first, as I was initially a little confused as to how we arrived to the events opening issue #16. In any case, seeing Auron and the Omega Men (albeit a different roster) from last time was nice.
I found it interesting that when Kalista's powers made Joey see his greatest wish, Joey saw Slade reaching out to him and telling him that he loved Joey. It was a quick moment, but I never considered how much Joey wants Slade's approval, or at the very least a chance of reconnection. In any case, using Kalista's powers tricking a manipulated Auron into seeing X'hal was a creative way to end the fighting.
While I do believe Dick is unfairly and brashly putting Kory in an impossible situation, I can't say I blame him for breaking up with her if she goes through with the marriage. I think that says a lot about Dick and how he views commitment in a relationship. While the Tamaraneans are perhaps more accepting of open relationships, Dick sees love as something shared between two and only two people. So he is being stubborn, but also speaks with integrity, in a way. I can't say I would've reacted too different from him, even though he does hurt Kory in the process.
I liked how the final page mirrors Kory and Komand'r. One prepares for peace, another for war. Good stuff. Not to mention Komand'r's backstory. I was genuinely shocked to discover that her prior defeat at Kory's hands left her humiliated and without the will to fight. And Dor'ion drags her right back down into cruelty and ruthlessness, when its obvious Komand'r was much more interested in just having a relationship with him. It does give me hope for Komand'r, however, that she was ready to turn away from her life of evil if it weren't for Dor'ion.
- #17: Ok, that trick Joey used to escape imprisonment, jumping first into Dick's body (who had the better angle of sight and could make eye contact with the guard) and then possessing the guard was super cool to me. I absolutely love it when Wolfman allows Joey to get creative with his powers.
Nevertheless, this was a action-packed issue. Kory and Karras's wedding was interesting, a nice piece of Tamaranean lore regarding views on husband and wife, in which the two are literally merged together as one being with two distinct selves during the ceremony. It speaks to the reverence the Tamaraneans have for matrimonial love, even though I felt a twinge of heartbreak for Dick crying outside the palace walls. However, unlike Donna's wedding, Kory's is interrupted by a pretty epic battle as Komand'r's forced laid siege to Tamarus. The art was spectacular in penciling a dynamic sci-fi battle as well as the magnificence of Tamaran during quieter moments, which I didn't mention until now but applies to previous issues too.
The surprising thing is, Komand'r wins. Her threat of destroying Tamarus pays off and Myand'r surrenders and is usurped. The issue even leaves off with Komand'r destroying the ship Kory and her family were being exiled on. Kudos to Wolfman for letting the villain win and bringing this group of Titans to perhaps one of their lowest moments. Although I'm sure these issues aren't the final chapter in this saga, decisions like this push the story in a different and engaging direction.
- #18: Good call on holding off on issue #18 until I finished Crisis. If I learnt of not only Kole's death, but all of the DC heroes who died in Crisis, in the quick remarks made by the Titans here, I would've felt like I missed out on some powerful moments in Crisis that I was fortunately allowed to experience. Joey's reaction to the news of Kole's demise was sobering, since I knew he really cared for her. Equally saddening (if a tad melodramatic) was Dick finally breaking it off with Kory and Kory desperately screaming for Dick to stay.
Dick was interesting to follow in this issue. Seeing him brush aside Donna and Alfred, forcing himself to leave Kory, being somewhat ignored by Batman ... it's rare that we get to see the usually confident and disciplined team leader so emotionally fractured and beat down. Speaking of beat down, the issue leaves off with Mento almost killing Vic! That's quite the cliffhanger to leave off on, but I'm intrigued to see what lies ahead.
That's all for now. I'll work on getting up my Crisis review shortly. Otherwise, I'll start on reading issues #19-#23 and possibly work my way through the rest of Act I of Vigilante (I'm six issues in so far).
My apologies for neglecting to tell you of the Omega Men tie-in issue. I had been aware of it, and I read it when I had been reading the title the first time for extra context. But alas, when I gave you the readings, it had slipped my mind. As we progress further, I will be more conscious of crossover/tie-ins that are important for the story.
Now, to break down my thoughts on issues #13-18, of which there are many (to my own surprise, as I thought this would be a quick response when I first began rereading the issues tonight).
Issue #13: Seeing Karras' convoy fleeing from the antimatter destroying Earth-One really helped emphasize the stakes that all worlds were facing as a result of the Crisis. We readers nowadays are used to universe-threatening events, but at the time, something of this magnitude was novel. So having each title show the effects of the pending catastrophe in both small and large measures made Crisis really impressive as a company-wide event.
Vic's series of reactions to learning of Sarah Simms falling for another guy really emphasized just how human he is, despite all the molybdenum steel and synthetic polymers embedded into his body. Despite how hurt he was, when the kids were so excited to see him and asked him to play, he showed them warmth and played with them for the better part of the day. His ability to put his personal feelings aside for the sake of the kids he cared for showed strength of character. He definitely was not helping out at the school for the sake of wooing Sarah. He cared for these kids. I thought that spoke volumes. The fact that the kids helped him process his feelings and let go of his anger is a testament to how powerful the innocence and goodwill of children can be (at times, ha). He and Sarah agree to be friends. They love each other still, but the romantic aspect of their bond has taken its course, and they are both moving on, even if they were both a little resistant to do so. Seeing Vic good-naturedly "threatening" Gary if he ever hurt Sarah (while smiling) made me chuckle a bit. Very human moment. Sure, that line is used a lot in fiction, but I think that's because it's used often enough in real life as well. Of course, afterward we see Cyborg being recruited by Harbinger as one of the first wave of heroes brought before the Monitor (I liked that he was one of the select few, before the masses came into play).
This issue mentions an adventure that Wonder Girl had with Firehawk (Lorraine Reilly) in the Firestorm title. Naturally, you did not need to read that issue to understand what went on in CoIE or in the events of these NTT issues, but I would recommend you slip in that issue—Firestorm Vol 2 #42—into your readings. I'd love if you added it to a future review as bonus content, haha. It was really a fun story, and Donna and Lorraine were front-and-center in a fun time-traveling tie-in that had them working with established heroes of the past.
Issue #14: I cannot gloss over the significance of the scene wherein Joey said he wanted to see the stars and Kole protested he stay on Earth. She says, "I keep thinking I'll never see you again." Tragically, we know in retrospect that her instinct was correct. Wolfman was foreshadowing. Cyborg's response held an even stronger hint subtly placed by Wolfman: "Hey, don't worry it, kid. He'll be fine. Nothin' will go wrong out there…nothing." He, too, was correct. Wolfman cleverly used two premonitions that seemed to juxtapose, and he proved that they could both be true, much to many readers' dismay.
Part of me hates how someone who had been an ally to the Titans like Azrael became so enwrapped in the Church of Blood. On the other hand, I have never been without memories and the subsequent senses of self and purpose that are missing when one cannot remember their past. Given that the Church offered Azrael an identity and a purpose, and given the emotional turbulence he had experienced since being awoken from suspended animation, I can understand his wanting to lean into something of this nature—especially when they frame it as if he is helping people by giving into their cause—which plays into the innate goodness we have seen that he possesses, even if he allowed himself to be manipulated.
Here is an interview with a quote from Marv Wolfman on Azrael and the connection to the Church of Blood. The interview, titled "The Titans' Other Half," came out in 1984 in issue #50 of Amazing Heroes.
MW: “Interweaving through all of it is a brand new character,” Wolfman says, ”for whom I don’t have a name yet, I just gave George an outline for it and he liked it. It’s a character who’ll come to culmination in next year’s annual.”
AH: "And what about this character in terms of powers, etc.?"
MW: “The only thing I can say is, essentially, he’s an angel [laughs], It’s strange, but when I first came up with the character, I didn’t connect him with Brother Blood, I just came up with the thought of the character himself, how it works and all the various ramifications, Then, as I started weaving it in an overview of the Titans for the next 17 months or so, I connected it with Brother Blood, It worked so perfectly off the origin as we had it conceived and the storyline that was set up in issues #40 and #41; it was unbelievable, as if everything had been exactly planned. He’s an addition, but he meshes in perfectly.”
Food for thought.
I love the kick in the pants that Vic gave Gar regarding Steve Dayton, as well as Gar's admission that despite their problems, he loves his stepfather.
Issue #15: Dick is not a soldier. He cannot fathom the concept of "justified killing," even in wartime. He is steadfast and uncompromising in his beliefs. On one level, I definitely respect that. I, too, believe that lives carry weight and should not be taken lightly. But he is so enwrapped in his mindset that he has issues accepting Starfire's culture, even though I believe aspects of Kory's culture are present in Earth-kind as well. Alas, the difference in values leads to some distance between them that grows as the story develops over the next few issues. Additionally, Dick's stubbornness when it comes to keeping his emotions to his chest is another major factor in their problems as a couple While Dick is leaps-and-bounds more emotional than Batman, he takes it upon himself to decide when he "should" keep his emotions in check and to himself, which is why we later see Kory mentally begging for Dick to say something in protest at her wedding to Karras, but alas, he does not, despite how much he wants to.
The small moment where we see Jericho ignoring a sight he would have loved to become engrossed in to contemplate the safety of his friend Kory after hearing Karras and Taryan speak is yet another instance of Joe's seemingly infinite compassion.
I enjoyed your analysis of the subtle ways Wolfman had Dick try to measure up to Karras and fail. Personally, I thought it was fun seeing Dick adopt a Tamaranean garb that utilized the colors he wore as Robin. It was neat seeing Dick in green, red and yellow again.
Indeed, the "monster" mentioned in the swamp is a reference to Swamp Thing. Why did Marv mention Swamp Thing? Well, it was not random; or at least, I don't believe it was random. See, the red skies that started the Crisis began the month that NTT #13 released. And then we see that Steve Dayton has gone nuts in issue #14 and his declared himself Mento once more. Well, there's a missing link. In-universe, Steve still had his faculties at the start of the Crisis. However, as the sky turned red, the supernatural heroes of DC found themselves simultaneously having to deal with another crisis, the onslaught of an evil presence called the Great Darkness. The supernatural heroes gathered to combat this threat, and to do so, they brought in one non-mystical hero to aid them, Mento (Steve Dayton). See, Steve and the character John Constantine are friends, as revealed in Swamp Thing v2 #44. Their friendship is also noted in NTT v2 #18 when he is rambling a sort of rhyme that has Constantine's name in it. Well, the assembled supernatural heroes fought the Great Darkness in a two-part story, taking place in issues #49-50 of Swamp Thing Vol 2. Steve Dayton is strained well beyond his limits during this time, which leads him to have a mental breakdown at the end of the story, despite the heroes' more-or-less success (the Great Darkness is stopped, but two of Earth's established supernatural heroes die). After this story in Swamp Thing, Mento appears in NTT again as a deranged villain. So this is the connection, and this is why I believe Wolfman made an allusion to Swamp Thing in his own title, since he had been using Mento in a storyline subsequent to his mental faculties breaking down.
I don't believe Tamaranean naming customs were fully explored beforehand. It certainly seems that children are often given names similar to their parents' names, such as Karras being the son of Tharras. Given that all of Kory's family have the "and'r" suffix, I believe that Luand'r may have had another name before marrying Myand'r. Because Tamaraneans do not have first and last names as we humans know them, I surmise that the singular name contains a common suffix that serves to show familial ties. I think that's the custom. So I would suspect Luand'r had another name beforehand that started with "Lu." That said, we do see another married Tamranean couple in the story who do not share a suffix, so perhaps either (a) adopting the suffix and changing one's name to fit the partner's is an optional thing, as is becoming more commonplace in our world today, or (b) the common naming is primarily used for royalty on Tamaran. Myand'r used to be Mythus, because his parents were Korithus and Talathus, and his siblings were Korthus and Scrithus. His family had the "thus" suffix. When Mythus adopted the throne, he changed his name to have a new suffix, "and'r." I don't know if this name change is traditional for new takers of the throne or if he did so for a personal reason. The premise is not completely laid bare, but there is enough provided to learn about some of the naming customs at least. It's definitely interesting that Wolfman worked to subtly create that aspect of the culture he cultivated.
Omega Men #34: I don't have much to analyze about this issue. It had interesting action and furthered the thread about X-Hall and the goddess' son Auron, formerly of the Omega Men, being corrupted. I would like to read Omega Men to fully understand the context one day. I'm still familiar with the characters on the team, though, and I enjoyed seeing them both here and in the following NTT issue.
Issue #16: I think Dick is being a little selfish in asking Starfire to reject her father's wishes of marrying Karras. I mean, I get it. I do. But he is not taking this situation well. Dick is usually very mature and levelheaded, but whenever his relationship with Kory becomes rocky, you get to see an unstable side of him that I don't particularly love. I understand his preference for monogamy, but the situation is far too complex for her to be able to just make a decision on her own that would jeopardize millions of others, she feels.
As for the premises behind both Myand'r's and Komand'r's motivations, I believe both sets of mind have a semblance of logic and reasoning behind them. Myand'r feel responsible for the physical wellbeing of his constituents, and Komand'r believes fostering their mental/emotional wellbeing is the more pressing matter at hand. There are merits to both ideas at their base, which is why I felt the ultimate conclusion in issue #17 of the Tamaraneans largely democratically elect Komand'r. When two ideas have merit but conflict in such a way that people lean toward one or another based on personal priorities, that is when I think democracy is a great solution. Now, I do not agree with most of Komand'r's methods. She willed for thousands to die in the civil war she started, and after she was elected, dissenters were shot. Yikes. Still, sometimes these situations are just too complicated for one side to be overwhelmingly in the right. As you say, Wolfman plays with a lot of gray area in this storyline.
I love that after her fight with Dick, Kory goes to Joey for comfort, and he consoles her. He is just a good guy that everyone knows they can go to for help. Joe is the one who helps Dick calm down by going on a trip together with Ryand'r. Jericho is always looking after the mental and emotional wellbeing of those around him, as well as their physical. He's a standup guy. I've said that before, and I'll probably say it again later down the road. Meanwhile, in the aforementioned scene with Dick, Dick tries to take out his frustrations on Ryand'r, and Ryan is taking no part in it. He tells Dick what's what. Ryan would be a good brother-in-law. As Starfire's younger brother, part of me always hoped he may decide to visit earth and join a team of Titans, haha. I have mostly abandoned that idea, but I wouldn't oppose if another writer went for it one day. I digress.
The backstory featuring Komand'r's fate after her first major battle with Koriand'r really added more depth to Kom. She is not as black-and-white as she seemed in her first appearances. And she will grow more complex still, so look forward to future appearances. The biggest addition here is that Komand'r is capable of love. Based on her speech given to her parents when she exiles them and leaves them for dead, Komand'r resents her parents for not giving her the affection and attention she felt she should have obtained, and she is especially bitter that her birthright was taken away from her simply because she had been sickly and unable to fly. I, too, think that's a little unfair, although I don't believe that justifies the sadistic and honestly heinous acts Kom committed, especially toward Kory, simply out of bitterness. She seemed almost sociopathic at first, so seeing her develop here and be shown as more than that was a surprising pleasure for me.
Issue #17: I concur about the interestingness of how a "union" between Tamaraneans is more literal, as they briefly join as one body, mind and soul. Their weddings are more than just ceremony. The married couple literally becomes more bonded with each other, as shown when Kory cares far more about Karras' wellbeing after he is injured than she would had beforehand, as she notes. The fact that Tamaranean marriages do not end unless one party dies is very notable. For one, it gives us more insight for their culture, which emphasizes loyalty to a vow. But as we know, that vow/loyalty does not mean monogamy. In Tamaranean culture, you can express loyalty to your partner and care for them indefinitely while also having romantic feelings toward someone else (and while also acting upon them). If divorce does not exist, open relationships seem like a natural progression for the culture. Interesting stuff. Secondly, well, I'll let you figure it out, as I would not want to spoil anything on this front.
Issue #18: After Kory is seemingly killed in an explosion, we get the narrator telling us, "Joe Wilson understands all too well." Marv Wolfman is foreshadowing an upcoming storyline focusing entirely on Jericho and a larger part of his history prior to joining the Titans. And as the notation suggests, it has to do with grieving over the death of someone as dear to him as Kory was to Dick (I shan't say more, but I don't consider this a spoiler since the narrator effectively said it directly).
I think the gang's (Dick, Joey and Ryan's) interactions with the solider Paras are impactful, as they show contradictions to their beliefs. Dick pleads for Paras to not kill an enemy soldier, which he does. Afterward, Joey shows that soldiers can be taken down without killing, but Paras kills the fallen soldier anyway so that Komand'r cannot be tipped off. In the end, Paras tells Dick that he will stay behind since he is in charge of Komand'r's forces and that he will serve both masters. He wishes them godspeed and vocalizes his honoring of King Myand'r…and then in the next panel he is shot dead. Wolfman's having Paras die after making such a grandiose claim of his plans shows the merciless nature of war. Intentions don't matter. Nobility does not matter. You can claim to save the child from the burning building and then be killed by flaming debris falling from the ceiling the next moment. For some reason, this soldier's anticlimactic death impacted me.
We saw that Koriand'r and Karras learned to fight in tandem as they retrained with the Warlords of Okaara. Dick's having to spend a month watching them bond while all the while being unable to really even be close to Kory had to be tough on him. Of course, the seclusion was largely self-imposed. She would have loved to have embraced Dick, or at least spent quality time with him. But Dick brewed, and two months of anguish really showed when he finally made it back to Earth. Donna had to throw him around and put him in his place and remind him of their friendship. I respected Donna for that, as Dick was berating her, but she was not going to just stand there and take it.
Gar also wonders if their group of Titans is going to disband, or whether it should, at least. Indeed, Kole is dead. Kory is on Tamaran. Dick is brooding. Joey is grieving. Donna is hyper-focused on Terry's needs. And Gar and Vic are taking on the Mento case by themselves. Things aren't looking too good for the Titans as we knew them before the Crisis, that's for sure. Of course, if you are reading this response after you have finished the next NTT assignment, you are aware of the goings-on in relation to this topic already. I find Gar bringing this up in this issue especially noteworthy since earlier in the storyline Jericho himself wondered whether or not there would be a Titans to return to thanks to the Kory-Dick situation.
Azrael hints that he has doubts of the origins Mother Mayhem told him he has, and he suggests he feels more at home flying through star-lit skies, implying that he has unconscious memories of his past and knows he is an alien deep-down.
Let's talk about everyone grieving Kole. I like the realism of Cyborg noting the other heroes who died in the Crisis but then admitting that none of their deaths affected him the way Kole's did. "Mebbe this is gonna sound lousy. But I didn't know them. Not like I knew Kole. Dammit, this one hurts…bad." I felt that. And it's immediately followed by Gar asking how Joey is going to take it, since he knew that Joe and Kole were close. I feel it's significant that Gar brought this up, because Gar knows all too well what it's like to lose someone you very deeply care for. The fact that Gar shows empathy here toward Joe regarding a situation he's familiar with feels like character growth to me. Meanwhile, Jericho reveals that he cried the whole night after his mother told him of Kole's death. Poor guy.
Here are some interviews about Kole.
[From Comic Interviews #50 with George Pérez]
ANDY: Was Kole created to die?
GEORGE: Yes. I told Marv, “If we create another Teen Titan, then we better create a woman who’s going to survive.” So far, he’s created one new male Titan, he’s alive. Creates two female Titans, they both die. (Laughter.) Something he has about these girls – he’s constantly, you know, killing them off.
[From Titans Companion, 2005, with Marv Wolfman]
TTC: This was the period when Kole was introduced. Can you explain what the origin behind that character was?
MW: Well, simply put, in Crisis the call went out for characters who we’d kill or not kill or do damage to. [laughs] I’m saying this a very cruel fashion right now, and it wasn’t done that way, hopefully, back then. Everyone was required to give us somebody in some fashion, and quite frankly, I created Kole specifically for that purpose. It was to die in Crisis.
TTC: Once Jose designed her and gave her life, did you regret having to do that to her?
MW: Of course. In fact, that’s the best type of character to kill, because she was no longer a wretcher. She was no longer just fodder for the cannon. She was somebody who the readers really got to care for, and therefore it became very hard to kill her, but it meant that her death meant something.
TTC: Kole wasn’t the only Titan to die in Crisis: Dove and Aquagirl were also killed during that series. If you had wanted to, could you have said, “I’ve already filled my quota of dead Titans. I’m going to spare Kole?”
MW: My view of that was because the other writers were being asked to kill off characters, some for whom they may have been created, I had to show that I was willing to go further and definitely kill off a character that I created. Again, a lot of that’s political. I wish that didn’t have to happen, because I really liked the character, but I had to find some way to say, “You’re not the only ones being affected.”
[From Titans Companion, 2005, with Jose Garcia-Lopez]
TTC: Two new characters appeared while you were the artist: Azrael and Kole. Tell me how you approached designing each character.
JLGL: It was a long time ago, [so] I can’t say too much. I guess Marv gave me a good description and I just followed it. I don’t recall having to do any revisions. The thing I remember is about Kole. Her likeness was that of a real person, somebody very significant to a friend, and I was glad to do it.
TTC: You drew some very touching scenes between Jericho and Kole. Is it more difficult to draw quiet moments like those, or action scenes? And which do you prefer?
JLGL: I don’t prefer one over the other. I think that any story needs a balance between those extremes. It’s good for everybody involved, including the reader. It’s my personal opinion that the regular American comic book is too much action oriented, so I must say that I enjoy those rare moments when I have the chance to make the characters play and not just kick one another.
TTC: Marv Wolfman has said that after he saw the way that you drew Kole, he wished that he didn’t have to kill the character in Crisis. Did you get attached to her, too? Do you wish that she was still around?
JLGL: I’d love to have every character I’ve designed still alive, but it’s impossible, so you learn not to get attached.
Final Remarks: I hope you enjoyed this storyline, especially since you've told me you like sci-fi stories. This space-centered one seemed up your alley. Of course, there are more threads for you to follow, such as Mento's case and what's going to happen with the team (which, again, you will have a better idea of once you complete the current set of NTT readings). I've been eagerly awaiting you to get to issues #19-23, particularly #20-21, so I hope to hear from you soon. Last thing for me is that I really will mourn Kole. Like Marv said, many readers felt endeared to her very quickly, and I was one of those. I think of Kole very fondly and hope to see her grace the pages of comics again sometime. And now, if you'll excuse me, it's late, and I am dead tired, hah.
- Huh. I didn't realize that Kole never is resurrected. I guess I assumed that she would return in some capacity, considering that several other characters who died in Crisis like Flash, Huntress, Supergirl, Green Arrow, etc. were resurrected, or at the very least had New Earth versions replace their Pre-Crisis iterations. The fact that she was created, well-developed to the point of likability and reader investment, and killed off for good is rough, even with her relatively brief appearance. In the interviews you shared (thank you for that), she was intended to be used as a vessel for illustrating the toll extracted by Crisis. Kill your darlings indeed, Marv. I was saddened by her death, particularly Joey's admittance that he cried through the night, but as you pointed out her causality was naturally felt deepest by the Vic and the Titans. Man, while I do believe her death carries greater weight by remaining permanent, it's sad that such a lovely character was created to die and never return.
- I'm remaining cautiously optimistic in regards the Azrael. Wolfman seems to be playing into the idea that the lost and directionless are drawn to the structure and purpose offered by religion, even if the Church of Blood is a perversion of that idea. So far, he hasn't done anything to warrant great concern, and he's still hopelessly naive. I'm hoping that, as you mentioned, he will discover that his origins are among the stars and not the divine, as Mother Mayhem suggests (you would think, though, that a woman with the name of "Mayhem" would set off some alarms).
- Given my sudden interest in DC's mystical side and his connection with Steve Dayton here, Swamp Thing seems like a title worth revisiting. I read the original 24 issue run, so continuing with the next series (which I know includes Alan Moore's famous Saga of Swamp Thing) seems natural. Thanks for the added insight on what's happening concurrently in the meantime.
- Although I do understand why Dick can't accept a relationship with Kory while she's married to another (especially considering how sacred and immutable the bond of marriage is in Tamaranean culture), it is curious to see how unhinged he's becoming over Karras. Kory is perhaps the first woman Dick has fully opened his heart to beyond teenaged crushes. Here on Earth, an arranged marriage still are still marriage, and open relationships aren't as commonly accepted. So a clash of cultures, I suppose. I don't think that Dick can be completely faulted, but at the same time I wished he would've fought for Kory more.
Noted the other great points you made but didn't address. Let me switch gears to issues #19-#23.
- #19: Vic being crippled by Mento was rough, though I'm relieved that Gar had the restraint to not violently lash out at Steve. Even though Dayton is beyond reasoning, Gar still pleads with him and tells him he loves him. Oof. Here's hoping that Steve will come through, Gar has lost too many people to see Steve die a raving lunatic. Additionally, Kory falls for Karras during her training, even sleeping with him. I guess it was inevitable after Dick breaking up with her, and as previously mentioned Karras is a good man, but it still stings to see that Kory is embracing her marriage to Karras so quickly. I mean, they are husband and wife. It's just soon.
Now, Donna and Dick. Yikes. Given that these two have one of the best friendships on the Titans, this was one ugly fight. You could definitely tell Dick really didn't care what he was saying so long as he could hurt Donna and make her feel miserable, particularly since he's attacking her insecurities. I never really considered how much of a perfectionist Donna is before now, but in retrospect I guess that's not far off. She always takes on the big sister role of the group, occasionally leads the team, has a marriage to commit to, her job as a photographer ... seeing her lash out of Dick and break down was sobering and raw. This is really the moment that it hit me how at the far the Titans are falling. No super-villain is doing this. Just the stresses of life and the consequences age. Worse yet, Dick immediately recognizes his brashness and regrets it.
On the bright side, more Titans! A bittersweet reunion, since their assembly was born out of the the main Titans imploding, but Donna getting Jason, Hank, Garth, and Roy together for a mission was nonetheless exciting.
#20 & #21: Let's talk Chesire. In some ways she has as much complexity as Slade. Despite taking a job for white supremacist, she immediately frames the murders on them while taking their money. She keeps here life as an assassin separate from Jade's life, for the sake of her daughter. Although when we first met her she was ruthless and didn't hesitate to kill, in these issues she shows restraint, both in part due to her lingering love for Roy, the deceptive nature of her mission, but also (hopefully) because her sense of honor and humanity overrules her viciousness. Despite promising Roy she would kill him, she never could, and as Jade was open enough to allow Roy to be involved their daughter's life, or at least introduce him to her. I'm anxious to see her again, particularly in conjunction with Roy.
Seeing Jason as Robin was great. Nowadays, Jason is almost ubiquitously associated with being Batman's failure, an edgy dark brooder who uses violence and can't get over what the Joker did to him. At least from my perspective, he's almost permanently associated with Death in the Family. So seeing him operate as the optimistic, go-lucky Robin was a breath of fresh air. I enjoyed his struggle of finding himself without Batman's guidance. In his words, when Batman said jump, Jason only knew to ask how high. Now Donna (someone Jason obviously has a crush on) is counting on Jason to make decisions and act as a team leader when he never has been part of a team outside Batman. I like when he levels with Donna, admits he has no idea what he's doing and calls her out on treating him as she would Dick. Yet, he holds his own and was genuinely fun to read.
As for Hank. Poor fella. Don perishing as he saved a little kid during the crisis left Hank without his better half, so his more violent impulses are left unrestrained. His philosophy of answering brutality with brutality created a harsh tension with Donna, who was already coming apart at the seams. The murder debate among superheroes isn't new, but it's not something that Donna has had to confront on her own. Dick was the most impacted by Kory's and Adrian's bloodlust, so Donna having to step up against Hank (who, in her words, has far less excuse than Kory does for killing) was a big moment for her as a leader.
Garth is going through a tough time. Losing Tula to Chemo's attack during Crisis left him feeling empty and directionless. It's quite the tragedy, especially since we got to see his and Tula's eager love for each other in the pages of a Titans book. I'm glad to see he hasn't completely given up his career as a hero and answered Donna's call.
#22: I like how this story was structured. Acknowledging the three different story arcs happening concurrently, Wolfman created a three-part issue that addressed each character's story equally. In the first one, we get to see how Raven is doing, which isn't good. Her being brainwashed by Brother Blood, Dick being revealed to be a sleeper agent for the Church, and what seems to be the Church's intent to resurrect Brother Blood (who I don't fully believe was is actually dead - I'm predicting that this resurrection is smoke and mirrors) is a recipe for disaster.
I'll jump to the third act here, then circle back to the second act, since that directly leads into issue #23. John Constantine showed up briefly, confirming Dayton's mumbling and giving an explicit reference to Dayton's role in Swamp Thing, so that was cool. But Dayton using Vic to attack Gar was twisted. To see him toy with Gar for what seems to be crazed, sadistic pleasure is chilling, and using Gar's best friend to try to kill both him and Vic was a stake in the heart. I'm hoping Dayton can get the help he needs, but he's making it hard to root for him when he does stuff like that.
Now for Kory and Komand'r. I like how the paneling is structured to show Kory's and Kom's stories as reflection of one another, as well as the dark irony that it's Kory who is bringing destruction to Tamaran by instigating another coup. As you surmised, I do quite enjoy the space opera story on Tamaran, as its even more complex than the last one. Komand'r is actually a competent ruler, so much so she surprised herself, and while she's not without her bouts of tyrannical authoritarianism, she isn't a dictator. She's still motivated by her bitterness of being born crippled and neglected by her family, but she seems to have the interest of Tamaran at heart.
#23: Continuing what from issue #22. Wolfman really nails in the idea that Kory could be the villain here. Well, Komand'r does blow up a city for intimidation, but Kory launches a hot-headed attack on a weapons factory and kills soldiers who are only trying to do their duty. I'm incredibly impressed how Wolfman made this so difficult to determine who the "good guys" and "bad guys" are. War tends to muddy that distinction. Komand'r ignores the wisdom of her council at first and does execute dissenters, but the people essentially demanded she remain in power. Kory, while completely justified in despising Komand'r for the hell Komand'r put her through, is waging war against her own people.
Their final battle against each other was brutal and raw. Slamming each other into walls, hurling boulders at one another, Kory savagely beating Komand'r to near death. Man oh man. Whenever those two fight, it's epic. Yet, Kory doesn't "win." Komand'r remains in power, albiet with teh council of her family, and after everything she's done to Kory, Komand'r still keeps her throne. I don't blame Kory for leaving, even if she wasn't completely in the right for everything she was doing, but I felt for her. Her final words in the issue, "I was thinking of fairy tales ... and I was wondering if they all end happily ever after?" left me contemplative. She came there to see her family and left having lost Dick, seeing her sworn enemy take her father's throne, and get married to someone she didn't love (even if that seems to have worked out well enough). Great story, Wolfman. I loved it.
That's all I have for now. Looking forward to the next reading. I appreciate you putting in the time to get a response up yesterday. Who needs sleep when the Teen Titans are at stake, haha. Until next time.
Fortunately, thanks to one recent comic issue (Heroes in Crisis #9), we know that Kole is alive and exists as a hero in Prime Earth. In that miniseries, there is a mental-health facility called Sanctuary where those in the heroic community can go for therapy and to detox from the struggles they face in their personal and heroic lives. Kole appears in the final issues as one of the heroes who had used Sanctuary's services. So, there is hope! I don't particularly expect her to appear anytime soon, but it's a comfort knowing that she is alive again in the current continuity.
Let's talk NTT v2 #19-23.
Issue #19: Yes, Dick regrets hurting Donna the way he did, although he also noted that the things he brought up needed to be said. Sometimes we need to hear things even if they hurt, and I think that's true. But Dick was still being awfully aggressive about it. Nevertheless, we see Dick's words had an effect on Donna. Donna acts curtly toward Gar, Dr. Klyburn and Sarah Simms, although she apologizes to Gar for her words. Dick's words continue to affect Donna's thought and actions on the mission her new ("old") team of Teen Titans goes on during issues #20-21.
I liked the short, Sarah-Sarah scene. Sarah Simms essentially passes the baton to Sarah Charles, giving her blessing on the potential romance that could be blossoming between Vic and Dr. Charles. I also liked seeing Sarah C. admit that she has romantic feelings toward Victor and would like to further their relationship. I loved their chemistry beforehand, especially with all the banter, so rereading this progression has been a treat.
As for Koriand'r's and Karras' growing affections, in this issue, I feel that Kory had just been seeking intimacy after Dick cut her off cold-turkey for about two months at this point. As Kory's mom said in issue #16, "Each day you will find yourselves together, and in the cold of the night, you will seek each other out. You will find warmth and comfort in each other and from that may love grow." I feel like the two needed emotional comfort, and given their soul-bond, finding comfort in each other is likely quite easy for them. Even when she gives into physically consummating her marriage with Karras, she thinks of Dick all the while. I think that says something of how she truly feels toward Dick, even if she recognizes Karras as someone worthy of loving.
I was so excited to see the final page of this issue, debuting the newest roster of the New Teen Titans: Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), Flash (Wally West), Aqualad (Garth), Speedy (Roy Harper), Hawk (Hank Hall), and Robin (Jason Todd). This issue marks the admittance of Jason Todd into the Titans. He had never been a Titan before the mission the team takes in issues #20-21, and for whatever reason, seeing Jason Todd as a Titan was incredibly satisfying for me. Jason Todd is, of course, much better known for his Red Hood identity and has been better known for that identity for over a decade now. Jason has never been a Titan as Red Hood in mainstream continuity—although he was a Titan in a canon-adjacent storyline in a recent 100-Page Giant (Walmart exclusive) comic. The story based the character designs off of their Prime Earth versions, but the story is technically out-of-canon. It was still fun to see, though. I digress. My point is, because Jason Todd was an official Titan as Robin, stories that involve Jason Todd as Robin always excite me. I particularly love his pre-Crisis appearances as Robin—as Jason's Earth-One and New Earth selves differ in a noticeable number of ways. I've read most of Jason's Earth-One appearances, and I look forward to getting to the rest sometime. Alright, I hear you; moving on!
Issue #20-21: So, as we see here, Wally, Garth and Hank are all greatly affected by the deaths of their close loved ones during CoIE, albeit in different ways.
Now that Wally's powers were stabilized (although reduced) during the Crisis, he believes he has to honor Barry's legacy by keeping the Flash name alive. Unfortunately, as Roy notes, Wally does so at the expense of his own personal identity. Note that it takes Wally a while to accept himself as the new Flash, so it's good that you got to read the first step of his walk (or run, badum tss) toward becoming an established and respected hero in his own right. Wally's personality tends to lead him to be vocal about his beliefs. He decided for himself that "honoring" a fallen loved one is the best way to cope with their death, and we see him try to push that onto Garth, who grieves more contemplatively. Wally is a good guy, so I forgive his words and actions here, and he is not himself; he's grieving. Also, for a fun fact, you'll be able to quiz people: "True or False: Wally West served as a member of the Teen Titans specifically while operating under the Flash identity." Answer? True. Many know of how later in New Earth, the older Titans get together again as a team and adopt the group name "Titans" (as in only "Titans"). And many know that Wally served as a Titan as Flash on those versions of the team, but not everyone knows he specifically served on the Teen Titans as Flash, since casual readers often associate his Kid Flash identity as a Teen Titan.
Speaking of Garth, as you noticed, he may be quiet, feeling empty and directionless, but we do get to see his inner thoughts. Garth believes that Tula would want him to continue being a hero, so Garth has decided that Aqualad will continue on, even if he is not sure he himself can on a personal level. I thought it was telling the way he said that he would go through the emotions until heroics meant something again. That thought indicates that Garth believes he will heal over time, and I find it ironic that of the three, the one who seems the most dejected is the one who ultimately is the most optimistic about his own ability to heal from this. That's not to say that his love for Tula was not as strong as Wally's for Barry or Hank's for Don. Tula was his world, and she remains at the forethought of his characterization for the years to come, but Aqualad wants to make sure Aquagirl would be proud. I respect that. Despite Aqualad's solemnness, when people were in danger (the grenade fake-out), Aqualad takes command of the situation, giving orders to Robin and the civilians. I liked seeing that Garth's grief does not stop Aqualad from being an effective hero.
Through Hawk's teammates, Wolfman points out repeatedly that without Dove (Don Hall) to keep Hawk in check, Hawk's aggression is borderline out of control. I want to specify that it's not like Hank would have acted this way if Don was simply absent. Hank had always been brash and hotheaded, but he was not nearly as violent as he is now. Hawk's actions in this storyline are a consequence to Hank's inability to healthily grieve over Don. Instead of embracing Don's ideals and tempering himself, Hawk has leaned the opposite direction, deciding that Dove's pacifistic and peace-endorsing tactics as a superhero were what led him to be killed. Now, based on the circumstances of his death, I don't particularly believe that Dove's ideals led to his death, which makes me think that Hank is the type to simply be angry at the world for his grief and would rather place blame on somebody or something and/or give himself an enemy that he can unleash his rage upon. He needs an outlet for his anger. He's an angry griever, sigh. Unfortunately, this leads him to take a darker path that is not generally reflective of who he is as a person. So don't judge Hawk too harshly for how he acts here, if you don't mind. You may find yourself liking Hawk in other appearances—both those before Don died and after Hank finds a new partner.
Cheshire definitely has more complexity than initial appearances would have led readers to believe. However, she is also definitely not as noble as Deathstroke ultimately is. She does not have the same code of ethics as Slade. While she may disapprove of racism, sexism and other social injustices that involve select groups, she also does not mind performing her mercenary duties if the money is good enough, whereas Slade refuses certain jobs. But, as you noticed, Jade is capable of love and affection, although in some ways it ends up being portrayed as a somewhat perverted version of love. Anyhow, Roy and Cheshire's relationship is a major point of Roy's publication history for the rest of New Earth. So you will be able to follow that thread for a while, if you're interested. I like that once Roy visited Jade while she was in "Jade mode," she was calm and did not let her work life enter her home life. She let Roy hold his daughter for the first time, as awkward as he was.
"I'm freezing in this Robin costume! Whoever decided on these short pants must have been a sadist." Jason, that's one of my favorite lines of the arc, for sure. Speaking of Jason (again), Robin did surprisingly great in this storyline. Before I reread this story, my mind had underplayed his proficiency shown here, but upon my reread, I appreciate all he did even more. I loved that he was depicted curling into a ball while leaping away from the explosion. That is an obvious sign of his training with Batman, and it worked, as by his own admission, he barely had a scratch on him afterward. And later he and Aqualad take on numerous Blood acolytes on their own. Sure, Garth has enhanced physical stats, but Jason is just a 15-year-old boy who is in shape. But we get to see him take them out, and I appreciated the skill-level required there. And when he deduced Roy's connection to Cheshire when the others couldn't, I was impressed. I mean, sure, one could argue that literally every other member had their minds preoccupied, and they did, but I don't think that necessarily means they would have noticed if their minds were clear. Jason is trained in deduction. He's not as great at is as other Bat-Fam members, but he's competent. Lastly, while Jay succeeded in pulling Donna back when she was starting to have a breakdown while stopping Hawk from going too far, the way Robin then told Wonder Girl what was what and that she needed to lead her team, I respected that dialogue. It was good.
Of course the Church of Blood is partly responsible for damaging the good name of the Titans even further. They really know how to play politics to beat one's enemy.
Terry's initial instinctual thoughts of blaming Donna for his being fired made me dislike him for a bit. Now, by the time Donna sees him again, he figured out that he is the only one to blame, and he apologizes. I appreciated that. I suppose Terry is not perfect. None of us are. But he was able to remove himself from the situation enough to look at the scenario objectively and analyze himself. He was able to identify his weak points and admit them, and that's a form of strength, too.
Issue #23: This issue was a big deal, specifically in that Mother Mayhem revealed that Dick's aggressive and emotional responses toward Kory, Karras, Ryand'r, Donna and others were the result of his unconsciously resisting the brainwashing the Church of Blood still had in place in his mind. Poor guy. He was completely unaware for months and had conducted several Titans operations while being a secret mole. And, once again, Dick finds himself declaring Brother Blood's praise.
No comments on Mento's mentioning of the Hybrid? Aha, you now know what the clues the Titans titles have been dropping had been leading to. First, we learn that Dayton Labs was responsible for the creation of superhumans, the Recombatants, in TotTT #48. Then in NTT v2 #14, Mento demands that his helmet be powered by promethium. Later, Mento mentions starting his own "superhero" team, and later still he mentions that he is using promethium to empower the members of his "new Doom Patrol," aka the Hybrid. Look forward to the thread revolving around the Hybrid. It's a fun one.
Kory mistakenly considers Komand'r's choice to run Tamaran differently as turning her paradise into hell. The mistake is that she associates the realization of differing opinions as "wrong." That line of thinking is what perpetuates the "Us vs. Them" mentalities that lead to further conflict. Of course, Kory's motivations are largely personal, as I shall elaborate on a bit in the next section.
Lastly, we see that despite having his art, his music, his writing, and the part-time work with Searchers Inc., Jericho is unsatisfied with life and longs to rejoin the Titans, yet he still is unsure whether or not there will be a Titans for him to return to.
Issue #23: So, as I alluded to, Starfire's choice to fight against Blackfire comes from a personal place. She tries to justify her onslaught by claiming that she could forgive all the heinous actions Komand'r did to her (Kory) but that she could not forgive Kom for attempting to kill their parents. I speculate that Kory is being a little dishonest to herself here. Now, while I believe that Kory was able to hold herself back until Komand'r attempted the deaths on their parents, I do not think that one action is her primary motivation for taking Komand'r on. I believe that the parent thing was simply the final straw, and now that the spigot has been unleashed, all of the repressed anger is just flowing out. Despite her words, I believe her rage and inability to forgive Komand'r is based on the horrors Kory faced due to Kom's actions. Kory is simply finally getting back at her. Unfortunately, revenge comes at the cost of Tamaranean lives. In the end, all of those people died for nothing, as the nation chooses for Komand'r to lead them anyway. Even Myand'r recognizes that despite her many, many faults, Komand'r is a greater leader than he was. Still, the council's decision for the former king and queen to remain in the capital as Komand'r advisers makes a lot of sense and is a logical decision—one that could ultimately lead for an even better Tamaran than could have potentially existed before—either with a Myand'r regime or Komand'r-only-without-Myand'r's-heart-to-guide-her regime. As you say, the lines of who's in the right during this situation was blurred, and Koriand'r cannot agree with the decision of the other Tamaraneans. However, she accepts it enough that she stops fighting, although she cannot accept it enough to remain on her home planet. She decides to leave for Earth. Karras offers to go with her, which could have led to some interesting stories, but Kory instead tells him that she still cannot love him the way she does Dick, the way he loves Taryia.
Annual #2: Here's a brief summary of what you missed out on with the second annual. The comic begins with Jenny Long staying over at Terry and Donna's place for the night. Donna comes in to ask if she has prepared for bed. After answering affirmatively, Jenny asks Donna to tell her a story of an adventure the Titans had. Donna sits and weaves a story about when the Titans (Nightwing, Wonder Girl, Starfire, Cyborg and Changeling) team up with Doctor Light (the female, heroic version, Kimiyo Hoshi) for an adventure on Easter Island that leads them to clash with robotic dinosaurs and discover the existence of an alien race who had crash-landed and ended up underground, stuck in suspended animation until they actually died and petrified into stone. Nightwing proposes that the natives of Easter Island discovered the petrified aliens and sculpted the Easter Island heads after them. Both Jenny and Terry say it was a good story, and Donna hints that the story was true, although she may have been teasing. If the story were true, it's unclear when it would have taken place, considering that Kimiyo became Doctor Light during Crisis, and those five have not been a team since Crisis began. Because of that fact, I postulate that Donna's story was simply that, a story, and that she was teasing Terry. Oh well. It was a fun read nonetheless.
The more important part of the annual was the backup story, which luckily was in-canon. The backup story, titled "The Book of Blood" goes into the history of the Church of Blood.
In the year 1202, the Fourth Crusade reached Zandia, a village of farmers. The citizens were being slaughtered, and they sought refuge in the church, ran by a man who himself had been a leader of the Christian faith. The father rallied the villagers and taught them to use their farming weaponry such as their scythes in battle, and they fended off the threats from the Crusades. In the end, the father discerns a monk who had betrayed Zandia to those leading the Crusades. The monk reveals that he has the shawl that supposedly had been worn by Jesus Christ before he was stripped and nailed to the cross. The shawl supposedly had been imbued with power and had exchanged hands since the crucifixion. The father delivers a fatal blow to the monk and takes the shawl as his own, claiming that action to be his first step toward going to hell, which he says he will one day rule. As the priest licks the blood off his blade, the monk curses the man, saying that his blood is now cursed and that "the blood of the father shall pass to the child, and the child shall slay the father." The priest orders that the fallen enemies be drained of their blood, which is to be stored under his church as a pool. The priest bathed in the blood for three days and rose to proclaim himself as Brother Blood, the first. The shawl had been converted into Brother Blood's white helmet, the one the current Brother Blood wears today.
The first Brother Blood was Sebastian Blood I. Between the powers of the shawl and the rejuvenating blood pool, Brother Blood's lifespan had been increased, so that he aged, but much more slowly. When he entered his 100th year, his son, Sebastian Blood II killed him and adopted the title of Brother Blood. And so the pattern continued, each Brother Blood holding power for about a century before being killed by his son, who resumes power. During World War II, the seventh Brother Blood was in power, and Hitler ordered his troops to avoid Zandia, as he feared the wrath of the Church of Blood. Brother Blood VII was proud and thought his son would not be able to slay him as he did his own father.
As a child, Sebastian Blood VIII, the one we have been witnessing in the current Titans titles, despised his father. His mother's name was Anna Resik. Here's some dialogue between the pre-teen Sebastian (SB8) and Anna (AR).
SB8: "He killed the man. How can he be so cruel?"
AR: "No, you are wrong. Your father is a good man. He took me and made me his wife, and he gave me you."
SB8: "And he kills whoever stands in his way. Mother, how can you love him? Can't you see that he is evil? What he does is not right. It's not right. Look at him, Mother. He does not care about anyone but himself. He doesn't care that you're here. He doesn't care that you know what he does with those women. I hate him, Mother. I hate him."
[ … ]
SB8: "I'm not like him. I'm not evil. I'm not some demon born in hell. I am not my father."
Given what we know, these statements are ironic. Young Sebastian overhears his father on his 100th year claiming that he will kill his wife and son so that no one may succeed him in power. SB8 convinces his mother to run away with him, and they develop a life outside of Zandia. Anna remarries an Arabic world leader who physically and verbally abuses her. SB8 is sent to college in England, where he majors in history and psychology and earns both bachelor's and master's degrees in the subjects. While in school, SB8 leads a student group called the Young Bloods, who are forced to be shut down for becoming too influential on campus. He then gets a call from his mother, who has been beaten. SB8 arrives in time for his mother to die in his arms. For this, SB8 kills his Arabic stepfather in revenge before returning to Zandia and confronting his father, who admits to organizing events so that SB8's mother Anna be married to the abusive man who killed her. SB8 then murders his father and takes on the role of Brother Blood after all. Unfortunately, in his fury, SB8 never understood Anna's last words, wherein she was trying to tell him that he could be the first of his bloodline to not become the malicious leader of the Church of Blood. He sees a beautiful acolyte and asks her name. She addresses herself as May Bennett, and the newly christened Brother Blood dubs her the new Mother Mayhem, to stand by his side. Each Brother Blood holds the potential to have varying powers once bathed in the blood. Sebastian Blood VIII was an emotional vampire who grew more powerful the more people cried his name.
The story ends, revealing that the events were ones she had been relaying to the Titans (Wonder Girl, Starfire, Cyborg, Changeling and Jericho). When asked why she was telling them Brother Blood's history, May Bennett told them that they are the ones interrupting his destiny and that his fate is already set, since she has recently become pregnant with Blood's child. Now, I don't know where Mother Mayhem telling this to the Titans fits in the timeline exactly, since these five are not all on the Titans team as of issue #23, which released the same month as this annual. I suppose we could assume it happened after issue #24, but eh. The point of the story was to detail the history of the Bloodline.
In the letters page of the originally printed copy of the annual, Marv Wolfman says that he spent two years working on this backstory for Brother Blood, and that Brother Blood is his favorite Titans villain he's been able to write.
Final Remarks: Well, this has been a mightily long response for me. Somehow, I stayed up until past 5 a.m. Whoopsie. Anyhow, as I mentioned in the one comment I left on your Crisis review, the next assignment is for you to read Teen Titans Spotlight #1-6. The first two issues are a solo story featuring Starfire that picks up where issue #23 of NTT v2 left off. The second is a four-part solo story for our favorite Titan, Jericho! If you've been waiting for a Jericho solo story with him as the leading character outside of a team book, here's your chance! You get to learn what he did with his time since taking a sabbatical from the Teen Titans to mourn Kole's death. On top of that, you get to learn about Joey's past! And it's just a really epic story, in my opinion that shows off just how capable of a hero Jericho is and how strong and true of a person Joseph Wilson is. Whelp, I'll leave you to it. Maybe you'll get a little Labor Day reading in and I can hear your thoughts early. If not, no big. The reviews will come when they come. FYI, though, after Teen Titans Spotlight #1-6, then you can read more NTT, specifically issues #24-31, which is a longer stretch of issues, sure, but they all lead up to the conclusion of a very epic saga. So go for it, my dude.
Yes, I've been planning on a name change for some time, and only recently bothered to do it. "Quaintly Quilted" had run its course, haha.
"Mikaal Swift" is indeed a reference to James Robinson and Tony Harris' Starman, though I suppose it could simply be labeled as a reference to the larger Starman universe as a whole. "Mikaal" is a nod to Mikaal Tomas (or Michael Thomas), who was once Starman (I believe he was sandwiched between Prince Gavyn and Will Payton, though he could've come after Payton. I can't recall exactly where in the legacy of "Starmen" he falls). In any case, the character is interesting to me and the name is phonetically similar to my own. "Swift" is a little less clear-cut, but it's suppose to reference Richard Swift, aka The Shade. He's perhaps one of my favorite comic book characters at the moment, and I like the flow of "Mikaal Swift." It feels like a novelist's name, haha.
In any case, let's pick up where we left off:
- Unbelievably, I completely overlooked Wally's contributions to issues #20 - #21. Let me rectify that by briefly revisiting Crisis. Although I knew about Barry's death ahead of time, reading's Wally reaction was ... chilling. He comes across Barry's costume in the midst of desolation and silence, with Psycho-Pirate's lunatic rambling the only sound. Essentially, his final glimpse of his former mentor is a crazy man screaming over his "corpse". Being Barry's nephew and his ward, Wally's reaction was appropriately raw. In a world where Barry's sacrifice was unseen and (for a time) undiscovered during Crisis (coupled with perhaps some lingering guilt about giving up his superhero career for a time), I understand his sudden desire to honor Barry and carry on his legacy as The Flash. Perhaps he always wants to prove himself worthy of the mantle and the life it brings, possibly explaining why he's sort of forcing his beliefs on the more reserved Garth? Just a thought. Wally was out of commission for most of the second half, but I appreciated his presence.
- If anything, I'm only more interested in Hank after seeing his unhampered belligerence. I've seen Hawk and Dove in other media, so I have a basic understanding of who they are, but here I'm introduced to Hank at his lowest, it seems. As you said, he's angry and trying to rationalize why Don died saving a child in Crisis. He's projecting his anger due to not having a healthy way to deal with his generalized rage (I'm sure, deep down, he blames himself to some degree) and without his brother doesn't have someone to lean one. I'm curious to see how he picks himself out of this hole and comes to terms with Don's death. I do appreciate how Wolfman illustrates grief is not handled uniformly. Wally, Garth, and Hank find their individual ways of mourning their loved ones.
- I didn't pick up on Dick's brash behavior being attributed to him fighting the Church of Blood's manipulation as a sleeper agent the first time. Hm. I suppose that makes sense, as much of Dick's behavior has been uncharacteristic of the usually calm and focused leader of the Titans. This detail leads me to reinterpret his lashing out as somewhat artificial (not just raw emotional catharsis), but ultimately it's no big deal. The previous issues where Dick is acting distressed and unhinged were still poignant.
- Thank you so much for taking the time to break down Annual #2. Brother Blood's backstory was unexpected, both in the story itself and that Wolfman sat down to write it all out at this juncture. I privately speculated that Brother Blood's professed immortality was either a simple hoax or having something to do with the Lazarus Pits (or something similar to the LP), and it appears it's closer to the former. I like the idea that Brother Blood is a bloodline, and SB8, the current Brother Blood, was poised to reject his father's evils. He was scholarly and morally adjusted, but turned to a life of evil out of vengeance and seizing his birthright (at least from what your descriptions indicate). I must read this story for myself at some point, if I can find a copy sometime down the road.
I acknowledge your comments I didn't expressly address. Now, let's move onto Titans Spotlight issues #1-6.
- #1-#2: Oh boy, these two issues were a gut-punch. I studied Apartheid briefly in school, but this depiction was absolutely harrowing. After the space operatic civil war on Tamaran, Kory comes to South Africa and immediately witnesses a pregnant woman being burned alive. Good God. I could feel Wolfman reaching through the page and slapping me in the face, calling me back to Earth (something that must've been even more biting at these issues's release, given that the Apartheid system was ever-present in South Africa at the time).
The white South African military presented a unique brand of racism that felt particularly manipulative, expressing how black people in South Africa were "less civilized" than African Americans. It's baffling to me that the black majority were oppressed by a white minority. Although Kory saw through their pretenses, appealing to her almost sole familiarity with American society was twisted yet clever. I also liked that Wolfman showed that almost any action Kory took had political and media consequences, and that standing up for what she thought as right was being construed as her taking a stance on some particular issue.
Nelson Mandutu felt like a nod to Nelson Mandela. His calming presence and peaceful mindset was welcome and comforting amidst the carnage of his homeland. I really enjoyed his political-philosophical pondering with Kory. "You are trying to make sense of madness. I tell you, girl. Here in South Africa, such a thing cannot be done." Oof. He's not kidding, and I appreciate that Wolfman bluntly depicts how horrifically backwards South African Apartheid is with Mandutu as our lens. His sudden death was very saddening, and for a moment I believed Kory had actually killed him. Some doubt existed in the back of my mind, which ultimately was validated when Kory discovered he had been shot rather than be collateral damage in Kory's attack, but I bought Kory's visceral disgust and regret. It was a necessary moment for her after leading a civil war on Tamaran and reverting to her warrior impulses. She needed to come to the "no killing" decision on her own, not through external change being forced upon her. Although she was absolved of Mandutu's death, the deception was crucial and well-executed.
The ending left me contemplative. After the peace march exposed at least one officer's racist war mongering and Kory helped out the oppressed South Africans, nothing had changed. Kory didn't topple Apartheid, Mandutu was killed for political manipulation, and blacks still lived in poverty and tyrannical segregation. I'm very relieved to see Kory being a superhero didn't entitle her to fixing a country in one day. Instead, she leaves for New York with nothing but the hope that things will get better. Phenomenal story.
- #3-#6: Transitioning over to Jericho, this four-part story was a ton of fun. It felt like a super-spy action movie in a lot of places: an opening action scene on the Eiffel Tower, hidden island fortresses, super-spy break-ins to steal military secrets, etc. Good stuff. This was also perhaps my favorite showcasing of Joey's powers thus far. His astral-possession allowed him to easily infiltrate high-security locations and turn the tables when he's outnumbered. Jumping ahead, I loved his hopping back and forth from Arthur Lord's to Penny Lord's body to disorient them after hiding in Arthur's body to escape the island explosion! Just saying that got me excited, haha. Additionally, we got to see Joey showcase his martial prowess, matching Arthur hand-to-hand. I adore Joey's individualized, acrobatic style. I definitely notice what you say about him preferring kicking attacks rather than punches. It's very fitting for him. Wolfman never disappoints in using Joey's powers in wildly creative and engrossing ways. In the same way Adeline can't get used to Joey's abilities, I can never get used to how awesome and versatile they are.
Action aside, this was also a profoundly important character piece for Joey. Penny Lord was a roller coaster. Joey asked her to marry him, then he had to witness her "die", then he was reunited with her only to discover she was married to someone else and she wanted him to rescue her husband, and then he discovers that it was all a ruse! Although Penny hesitates when given the opportunity to kill Joey, perhaps implying she does have some feelings for him, she vehemently rebuffs him and mocks him over the deception. Joey's visceral reactions were heart-wrenching. Breaking his paint brushes and canvases after Penny's supposed death was particular saddening, especially since it was all in vain. I do hate seeing Joey in pain like that. I know Joey's boundlessly forgiving nature would probably lead him to take Penny back should she ever renounce villainy, even as a friend, so that gives me hope. I'm glad he could forgive Adeline for her part at least, even if he needed a moment to angrily process the revelation of her faking the Lords' deaths. This glimpse into his past beyond his childhood and his time with the Titans was satisfying. I was delighted to see glimpses of Joey's hobbies beyond just his art, like his poetry and dancing.
I was surprised how much time these issues cover. We get glimpses of Joey's life even before NTT Vol.1 and are brought all the way up to the present. The Lords assembling a "New H.I.V.E." after the H.I.V.E. Mistress killed off the main body in suicide (I found it amusing that her lunacy was obvious to the Lords) spells trouble for the Titans in the future. Given that Jericho was instrumental in taking down the first incarnation of the H.I.V.E. and has an extensive personal and family history with the organization, having that connection made even more close-to-home with the Lords as the New H.I.V.E.'s leaders adds another dimension that I hope to see explored in the future.
That's all I have for now. I'll get cracking on issues #24-#31 so that I can see this epic conclusion. Until next time.
You're still Quilty to me, my friend. Based on your clues, I'll ascertain you're the third friend I"ve made on this wiki named Michael/Mike, ha. I like the new name, particularly now that I know its origin. I'm glad you liked that Starman title so much that it inspired your name (while the Titans still remain your user image). As for Mikaal Tomas' place in Starman lore, you're right on both accounts. He is briefly the Starman featured in comics between Gavyn and Payton. However, he makes a resurgence in the last few years of New Earth, becoming the first Starman to join the Justice League, alongside his new best friend, Congorilla (William Glenmorgan). I love the run of JLoA that includes him as a member, but that's partially because Donna Troy and Dick Grayson (as Batman) were leading the team, and because other former Titans, Supergirl and Jesse Quick, were also members at the same time. For a non-Titan, I really love Congorilla. Shade appears in that title, too.
Noted on your other responses to my notes on issues #19-23. I have follow-up comments on the members of this roster of the NTT that I will bring up once you have completed issue #31. I think your interpretations of my explanation of the annual and the Brother Blood lineage/origin were spot-on. I hope you get a chance to read it someday, even if you have to buy the annual at a local comic shop or online. But you're caught up on what happened, so it's not necessary, really, unless you want to.
Now, Teen Titans Spotlight. Issues #1-2 were extremely poignant, as you noted. I knew you would feel the impact of these issues. For being only two issues, there was a lot to unpack. I think you did so well enough, so I'll leave it at that. Considering the current political climate in relation to race, I knew this story would be even more powerful. I think it's important that you read these issues and understood what Starfire went through before her return to the NTT title. This way, you get to know why she went from being so aggressive to being a little less kill-on-sight. Comic readers at the time who didn't know about TTS were missing out. The point about Kory's actions having political consequences really made the world these characters live in feel more real to me.
As for the Jericho storyline, I reviewed that solo arc a couple years ago. I'm sure another reading would help me notice more points to raise, but I think between what you said this time around and what I said back then, we've covered most of what can be said. I particularly liked how you noted how this story showed off Jericho's skills in combat. Beyond his power set, he is extremely capable. He even used throwing weapons, if I'm recalling correctly. Joey is just very impressive, and learning more about his past and how it connects to the present was very satisfying for me. Here is a link to my review. Treat the review as part of my comments here, in case I bring something up there that you would like to respond to.
I know my response was a little short compared to the previous responses, but I think it's largely because you covered the main points so well. That, and I'm distracted by the PS5 announcement today and the launch titles set to come out with it—as well as the new D&D expanded rules also coming out in November that are effectively launching us into 5.5e, and I'm for it. I digress. I'll go ahead and tell you what you'll need to read after you knock out issues #24-31.
You will need to pull up and read Blue Beetle (1986) issues #11-13. The NTT co-star for this arc involving Mento. Then you can read NTT v2 issues #32-34. Now, I tell you these issues in this order because BB #13 releases the same month as NTT v2 #32. Placing stories within a timeline between titles can be tricky. I want to think it makes the most sense that the content of those three BB issues take place before NTT #32 for a couple of reasons. For one, NTT issues #32-33 connect, leaving the only places the Blue Beetle arc fits in either before #32 or after #33. See, the events of the BB issues, though, seem distanced from the events of NTT #34, though, which continues that story thread with Mento. Because of this, I believe that it makes sense for the BB adventure to take place before NTT #32. The only snag is that in issue #32, the characters say it's only been days since the events of NTT issue #31. Now, the BB arc seemed to happen in the course of a day, so it's possible that the BB arc could fit in the timeline between NTT issues #31 and #32. But it's a tight fit. Either way, that's the best place I can imagine placing them. If you feel like you have a better suggestion of when events take place on the timeline after reading them in the order I suggested, I'm open to hearing said suggestion. Anywho, happy reading!
Edit: Somehow, I am having trouble properly linking to my Jericho review on my review website. When you click on it, it'll take you to a Page Not Found screen. Just click the Home button and scroll to the bottom, and you'll find the Jericho page.
Edit #2: I goofed and told you the next NTT reading assignment, the one with the Blue Beetle issues. The goof is that before you read those issues, I think it's probably best that you read the next Teen Titans Spotlight assignment first, especially since Mento makes an appearance there, and I want to make sure you have the timeline right for the Mento plot point. So, after you read NTT v2 #24-31, then you should read TTS #7-15. After you read that stretch of TTS issues, then you can read the aforementioned BB-NTT issues.
Hey, Quilty. Or Mike, or whatever it is I settle on, haha. Just in case you didn't see the news that broke Thursday, a certain character that both you and I are probably fond of—Red X—is set to make his comic debut in January. It'll be part of the "Future State" event that showcases a possible future of the current mainstream universe. In it, there will be a Titans Academy. As someone with a list of every young character in DC Comics who has not yet been a Titan (over 300 heroic characters and nearly 200 villainous youngsters on a separate list—with the premise that one could potentially reform), the concept of Titans Academy sounds awesome to me. I look forward to seeing which characters are revealed to be enrolled / to have been enrolled in the institution. Part of me really hopes that characters who hadn't been Titans before are revealed to have been affiliated with the academy, but I'd also welcome completely original characters. I also hope that Red X is going to be a completely new character. I'd rather he be his own character rather than simply being a new identity for an existing character (a theory circulating online is that if he is an existing character, he'll be Damian Wayne; I hope not). What are your thoughts on this?
Additionally, after you finish NTT v2 #32, if you would like, I could list out issues to look up to follow the individual stories of Hawk, Speedy, Flash and/or Aqualad. I would say Jason Todd as well, but his detour into the NTT book didn't really deter much from his regular adventures with Batman both before and after his tenure on the team. Also, Jason does not have a particular plot point that he was following while on the team. Hawk had his dealing with Don's death. Aqualad had his dealing with Tula's death. Speedy had his learning of his daughter Lian. Flash had his taking up his mentor's mantle. Jason simply came as Robin and left as Robin, ha. He had good character moments, but his life story wasn't as gutted during these stories. If you asked for info on Jason, though, I'd still give it.
Anyway, hope you're well—healthy and surviving school decently enough. I know this time in the semester can be a bit cumbersome. Take care.
Thank you for the recommended reading. It's been very helpful. I just finished her early Batman/Detective Comics stuff. My ranking of the first 6 stories are Batman #141, Batman #153, Batman #139, Batman #159, Detective Comics #233, Batman #144.
141 was my favorite due to her saving everyone from the Moth
153's 3-part story was engaging and fun to read
139 introduced her and had her save everyone twice
159 didn't have a lot of Betty but I did like her role and the plot was intriguing
233 silly but enjoyable plot, she's not in it too much but she did help save the day
144 I hated how they played her crush on Robin to death. It was stupid
If you'd like to talk on Twitter, I'm @tsukiakari1203
Thanks for getting back to me. I'm glad you enjoyed most of the stories. As for #144, I reckon the overly strong crush was the only plot device they could think of that would serve as an excuse to include Bat-Mite. It was the '60s after all, which means many writers portrayed teenage girls as being boy-crazy, sadly. I agree that Betty went a little overboard, but the issue is interesting in that it revealed more original gadgets of Bat-Girl's than any other issue featuring her ever revealed. So that's a fun tidbit of the issue that I found made it worthwhile.
I don't recall if I listed it before, but you may be interested in reading Batman #163, which had Alfred tell one of his "Imaginary Stories" set in a possible future where Betty returns to Gotham as an adult for the first time in years. By this time, the original Batman and Batwoman had married and retired, with Dick being the new Batman and Bruce and Kathy's son being the new Robin. In this issue, Betty becomes the new Batwoman, which is the focus of the issue. The story is not canon, but it is fun if you are interested in reading more old-school Betty.
Let me know when you read Betty's tenure as a Titan during Teen Titans Vol 1 #50-52.
Additionally, let me know when you begin reading her Flamebird appearances. I don't remember if I told those to you or not. If you need a list for Bette with an 'E' Kane, aka Flamebird, let me know. I recently reread all of her Flamebird appearances, following our last discussion.
Cool, yes, that should be the up-to-date version. Let me know how you liked the Titans West three-part story where the group teamed up with the main Teen Titans branch to go against Captain Calamity. Or, as you can do whatever you like with your time, just give me an update whenever you would like. I like hearing about people's progress as they read about Titans members.
In some ways. I think a Batgirl was bound to happen anyhow. The idea around Barbara Gordon becoming Batgirl was independent of any of contribution Betty Kane made. It's possible that Betty's existence helped creators decide how they would shape Barbara's character. But I do think a Batgirl would have been created, even if Betty had never been created. Batwoman may have had a stronger impact. Unfortunately, I have not read enough sources that discuss how creators/editors at the time settled on Barbara's character and how Kathy (and by extension Betty) may or may not have contributed to Barbara's creation. There may be sources out there on it. There may not be. Sadly, not all creators publicly put out that sort of information.
I do wonder about the creative processes that went into characters back then.
It is weird going back and reading these stories that have Betty and Bruce interacting, I’m used to the cousin retcon. I also noticed that the Kane family seems to love using the names Elizabeth and Katherine. It’s kinda odd. I know the Elizabeths were named after Bob Kane’s wife, no idea where Katherine came from though.
Hey there. Almost all of Bette's appearances were single-issue stories that were far apart from each other. So there aren't exactly many collections at all that feature Bette. And any that did would likely have only one issue featuring her, which makes it more worth it to buy the issues individually. I didn't see any collections on ComiXology for Bette.
Thanks for sharing. I have read all of Betty's/Bette's Earth-One and New Earth appearances, and I believe I listed all of those, but I am not completely familiar with all of her Prime Earth appearances, which accounted for most of the additional content you mentioned.
I did tease you for skipping Gnarrk, though, which I can see now based on the notification on my phone that you just saw.
Hey, Leo. Thanks for stopping by. Let's see if I can help.
So, firstly, when you say you are caught up with the New Teen Titans trades, do you mean you have read up to trade volume 11? Vol. 11 contained issues #16-23, so it depicted the Titans' post-Crisis stories, including the temporary team Wonder Girl formed that featured an interesting roster, including Robin (Jason Todd). I loved seeing Jason as a Titan. Vol. 11 just released May 26, so I wanted to confirm that you have read it. Vol. 12 contains #24-31, which concludes the Church of Blood saga, and will release on Dec. 29, 2020.
As for the Geoff Johns era, it is a solid run. However, per your question about spoilers, Johns' run spoils something you haven't reached yet in NTT during its first storyline. So, if you are wanting to not be spoiled, you would need to hold off on reading Goeff Johns' title. If you are okay with spoilers, go ahead, but I think I like your current experience of reading everything in order so that you understand callbacks and the like even better later.
Unfortunately, you ask for Titans recommendations between where you are in NTT (1986) and Johns' run (2003). And well, there aren't many trades out there for those eras of Titans lore yet. I believe DC is running its Titans-reprinting campaign by starting with NTT and going from there. I think they plan on reprinting all of the NTT/NT era into trade paperback, and then they may go on and collect the other two Titans ongoing titles that occur between the years you list.
Now, I personally love Dan Jurgens' TT run (Teen Titans Vol 2, which has 24 issues, an annual, five or so specials, and a crossover). But it has not been collected in trade or omnibus or anything like that yet. Titans Vol 1 (which has 50 issues, two TSF&O specials, and an annual) was also fun, but Jurgens' run is more special to me. My second favorite Titans story ever (after "The Judas Contract") is found in Teen Titans Vol 2 12-16. It's called "Titans: Then & Now," and I think it's amazing. Again, it's not collected into trade just yet, but I'll preorder it as soon as it is announced.
One trade paperback I can recommend between 1986-2003 is the one for JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative. I love that story. It's only three issues, but it is full of so much content! It features every living member of the Titans up to that point and at least shows images of the deceased ones. Now, there may be some spoilers in the sense that some of the Titans who are dead by that story aren't dead in your current readings. But "The Technis Imperative" does not especially spoil how any of the deaths happened, so maybe you can tolerate those little blips of information. It also spoils that Cyborg became someone named Cyberion and had different powers than usual, so you would have to be okay with not knowing how all that happened. Either way, it is a great miniseries. The miniseries sets up Titans Vol 1, but it also works as an independent story. The story focuses on what makes the Titans the team it is (an emphasis on camaraderie and being a surrogate family), and it does so in a beautiful way. Having the Titans face off against the JLA is awesome to see, too. The trade also has a story from the first Titans Secret Files & Origins special, which connects the miniseries to Titans Vol 1. Anyhow, it's something I recommend, but beware of the slight amount of spoiler content.
Another note about something you should buy/read before getting into Geoff Johns' title. Johns' title is directly connected to a miniseries that precedes it titled Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day. Titans Vol 1 and Young Justice Vol 1 ended at the same time and led to this team-up miniseries. Long story short, at the end of the miniseries, both teams dissolve, and new ones form out of the ashes. Leftover members of the Titans help form a new incarnation of Outsiders. Leftover members of Young Justice are recruited by Cyborg to form a new Teen Titans iteration. It's a solid story that is largely pivotal for fully understanding the context of why Geoff Johns' TT team came into being.
Thanks for all the help. I'll probably just wait on John's run. I wasn't aware Vol. 11 was already out, so I'll have to pick that one up. Around what issue of NTT is the major event that the first Johns arc spoils? I will also add The Technis Imperative to my list.
Before I check out Graduation Day, I'll read Young Justice first. Do you recommend it?
On another note, what are your thoughts on Rebirth Titans/Teen Titans? Do I need to read other comics to appreciate/understand them? (I've already read both New 52 Titans series) Or can I dive right in? Are there any good comics it will spoil?
The major event that Johns' First arc spoils is the "Titans Hunt" saga that goes from issues #71-84. Based on my knowledge on how arcs and such are split up in New Teen Titans/New Titans, I am going to go guess future volumes will contain the following:
• Vol. 13: Issues #32-39. These are the issues leading up to Danny Chase's joining the team.
• Vol. 14: Annual #3, issues #40-49, annual #4. NTT trades average at about eight or so issues, but the title changes from NTT to just New Titans at issue #50. And issue #50 starts a major storyline, "Who Is Wonder Girl?" So I really think they may collect all 10 issues and two annuals here.
• Vol. 15: Issues #50-56, annual 5, and Secret Origins Annual #3. The Secret Origins annual has the Titans post-Crisis history, which is different from pre-Crisis history, so be sure to read it even if it's not collected in the NTT trades.
• Vol. 16: Issues #57-59, #62-69, annual #6. This is another instance of there being many issues listed, which means it may not work out this way. But these are the issues that lead up to "Titans Hunt." I skipped issues #60-61 because they are the two issues that are part of the five-issue crossover with Batman storyline, "A Lonely Place of Dying," which introduced Tim Drake. I assumed that the trades may skip including that storyline in the Titans trades, as it is more of a Batman storyline. However, if it is included, I can imagine the extra issues would mean that the issues I listed for Vol. 16 could be split into two trade volumes, 16 and 17. Issue #70 is a Deathstroke solo story that tested whether fans would like a Deathstroke title, which started shortly after issue #70 here received positive feedback. Part of me similarly thinks it may not be included in the trades, but hey, it might.
In short, I think you will have about five or six more NTT/NT trades before you get to "Titans Hunt," which Johns' run spoils. Since DC mostly puts out the trades at two per year, that would make it about three years before you can start reading that major event via trade.
As for Young Justice, I highly recommend it. Peter David wrote an epic with that title. It's a fun read from the get-go, and that fun continues throughout. The title may be a touch goofier than other comics that feature young heroes, but the title is historically important, especially for the members who go on to become significant members of the Titans later. The title also features major character growth. For example, Cassie Sandsmark goes from a shy wallflower to a confident bombshell. The artists even do this really cool thing with Cassie where they have her develop physically as time goes on. She starts off as stick/tomboy, and she matures into having a very feminine physique. You will grow to love the characters most affiliated with this title, such as Secret, Arrowette, Empress and Slobo. Anyhow, I definitely feel that the title is worth the read.
As far as the Rebirth series for the Titans go, not much prior reading is required. For Titans (Rebirth), you will need to read the Titans Hunt miniseries, which directly connects to Titans, as they are both done by the same writer. Titans Hunt, the miniseries, is necessary for understanding never-before-revealed PE Titans lore. The two N52 TT series did not reveal that hidden history, so you need to read Titans Hunt. Teen Titans (Rebirth) needs no prior reading. Of the two, I feel that Titans (Rebirth) was stronger than Teen Titans (Rebirth), but both were solid. Post-No Justice, I feel that Teen Titans (PNJ) was stronger than Titans (PNJ), but both were really enjoyable.
No worries. Feel free to follow-up if you have further questions down the road. I also wouldn't mind hearing your thoughts on Titans Hunt and/or Titans or Teen Titans (Rebirth versions) as you read them. And, of course, if you have any questions about those series, feel free to shoot them my way.
Hi N8, I just finished the first issue of the New Teen Titians. Thank you for the recommendation and the information. It is an awesome read. I can tell that I am really going to enjoy this series. I hope you are well.
Thank you for the update! The first issue is gripping, for sure, but the issues continue on and become even more interesting as elements connect together. Let me know once you have read up to issue #8, which is the first major milestone while reading the series. I hope you are enjoying the series, even if it does not have modern art, haha. I believe George Pérez does amazing work, and NTT has some of the best art of the 1980s, in my opinion.
No problem! I will definitely keep you updated. That is great to hear about the later issues. I am really enjoying this series. I love the classic look of 80s comic book art. Also, I totally agree with your opinion. Thanks so much friend!
I am enjoying seeing the original source material for plot points that showed up on Titans shows and movies.
I most definitely concur on that latter point. I grew up on the Teen Titans animated series from 2003-2006, so when I decided to get into DC Comics, I decided to pick one mythos and delve into it. I chose the Titans because I wanted to see how the original versions differed from the alternate media versions I had been accustomed to. There are similarities, but I have mostly found differences. But I quickly came to love all of those differences. As I became better read, the mainstream versions became my preferred versions, by far. Better still, deciding to read any mythos of DC will automatically introduce you to characters from other mythos as well, what with all the crossover events and tie-ins with other titles and guest appearances. So even if you were to just read the Titans mythos, you would have an understanding of the DC universe at large.
I am the type who likes to start chronologically, even if earlier installments of a franchise/series is not as gripping for me. I started Teen Titans from the very beginning, the original series. It started a little campy, but I've come to appreciate and love those older issues for what they are. I enjoyed getting to know the original 16 Titans, and I somewhat hold them close to my heart—partially because they are "originals" and partly because many of them fell into obscurity or otherwise are not as appreciated as later members. I then went on to read NTT and the other Titans titles in order. I think I really fell hard for the Titans about halfway through finishing NTT. I hope you enjoy reading the title and learning the differences between the adaptations of the characters you know of from alternate media and their original versions. Like I said, let me know once you have finished issue #8, and I will give you more details on the proper reading order (as there are annuals and a miniseries and tie-ins and such coming up).
Wow man I totally relate to what you are saying. It is bugs to hear about your experiences with the same comics and characters are I am reading about now. Honestly all of your information and commentary just adds so much more fun to my reading of NTT. Thank you so much N8! Those five links you gave me are much appreciated. I am loving the Titans even more. Especially, since I too grew up on that amazing Teen Titans animated series. I am really enjoying learning more about the DC mythos though the Titans mythos. I will definitely let you know once I have up to and though issue #8. You are the best man. I hope things are going well for you in the editing business because you deserve it. Also, with all the help you give to members of the Fandom, you really are a real-life Titan. Maybe we will see you in a future comic :)
Hey, thanks for checking in N8. I’m currently reading issue #3, definitely looking forward to that surprise in issue #8. This series is really enjoyable; I appreciate the recommendation. Thank you; I’m well. I hope you’re well too, my friend.
Hey N8! This morning I started reading Nigthwing: Old Friends, new enemies. And about 5 minutes ago I ended "The secret Origin of Nigthwing" and man… taht issue/story… it's the thing taht comes rigth in time on the perfect momento so I gotta thank you. Yes... we would be focusing on Roy, but well… Dick is my favourite carácter, and you gifted me with this. On that comic he's saying that he's 20, and taht doesn't know what to do with his life… It was just so relatable. How he takes a look at his old life… how he says "you don't know if you can't fly, unless you take the risk of falling".
It migth be one of my favourite Nigthwing issues/stories at this point. Idk it came at the perfect time, thanks =)
Yeah, that's probably the first time I've read about Jericho. And man I loved it a freaking ton. I migth ask you for a lot of Titans stuff on the future, so be ready! XD.
Also, sadly I haven't finished, even tho we are on quarantine I've been quite occupied. But I really plan on reading those recommendations for sure! It's just that I'm a lazy reader? And rigth now I'm trying a few other hobbies and have some homework.
Nevermind, once I've ended it I'll send you another message here. Sorry for being so... Slow?
I juggle hobbies as well. I can recommend Titans titles eventually, but I certainly don't mind us going through the Roy Harper recommendations together first. Keep me updated on your progress. After all that typing I did last week, I'm invested, ha. Be safe with the virus out and about.
Hey N8. First of all sorry! It's been a long time, and I'm sorry about it, couldn't find a time to start reading. I didn't have the motivation, but well thing is, today I came back with Nigthwing: Old friends, New Enemies. Oh man, I'm starting to love Marv Wolfman, I need to get into New Teen Titans as soon as possible. But well, here we are focusing on Roy lol.
I love how impulsive he is, and more, how protective he shows in this comic, how he lies to Nigthwing, but when everything is solved, he tells him the truth. That was my favourite part when he told to Dick "I envied you... (Don't remember the full thing lol)".
I haven't finished it because it's longer than it seems, but there's just a few arcs and I'll ended. I left it rigth were Dick meets with Kori.
Hey N8! I owe you an apology since I left and never messaged you about it. Thanks for reaching out, I appreciate it.
Thing is rigth now I'm with my finals so in a week or 2 I'll finally be free. But well the bad news are that this past months I've actually losst interest in comics. Marvel and Dc, I don't even read things about my favourites anymore, but hopefully once I'm done with exams I'll be able to get the feeling back.
So yeah currently not reading at all. Hope you are doing well too! thanks again
If you're doing a review, you don't necessarily need to do the huge "Spoiler" tag thing. That's usually reserved for comics that are less than a year old. But if you wanted to note in the introduction of your post that there will be spoilers for anyone who hasn't read it yet, you can. You just don't need all the ***SPOILERS*** stuff with all the dots and lines and everything between your intro and your review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Hey Roger, you mentioned that you may be picking up the first trade for New Teen Titans and write a review on it for the board since you were waiting for more Outsiders and TTv3 trades. Are you still considering that? I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on the trade.
Hey Roger, I thought I'd pop in to see how your Titans readings have been progressing, assuming you've read more since we last touched base. Being stuck at home has made me stir-crazy, which makes me want to talk about comics more, ha. Hope you're doing well.
Working on another FANDOM post and I ran into an issue. Grimm told me that you've read Erik Larsen's Aquaman run from the 2000's and I have a quick question. Do you know the exact name of the team Lagoon Boy, Sheeva, and Blubber are members of? I've seen it as both Landlubbers and Landlovers both on here and on other sites and I can't seem to find a definitive answer.
The team is listed under both names at times because comics themselves have used both names. They are essentially interchangeable, for better or worse. I prefer to call them the "Landlovers," but I think "Landlubbers" may have been used more times.
I am sorry if this answer is not the most ideal, given the article you are trying to write. But that is the best I can give you, I believe.
Yeah, they do not have many. Although, Lagoon Boy goes on adventures even in issues where he isn't appearing as one of the Landlovers. So, it might be worth reading those issues as well. I know in one YJ special (the No Man's Land one, I believe), Lagoon Boy helps the YJ boys. In that issue, Lagoon Boy is sort of a guest star, but Blubber also appears near the end of the issue and helps defeat some foes alongside YJ. So both Lagoon Boy and Blubber get panel-time there. I don't know if that issue is listed as an appearance of the Landlovers, since it was only two of the three, but I think it is still a fairly important one to the little group's history.
I just finished all of the appearances listed on the wiki that are available and I only saw them referred to as the Landlovers in the title of the issue where they go to New York. I didn't see any other mention of their names besides that and their individual names.
They had a "profile" page in one of the Secret Files or whatever that I think may have used the Landlubbers name. It's possible this "team" does not match what you're searching for in terms of the article you're wanting to write.
It should he fine. The article I'm writing is "5 Aquaman Characters that Deserve Screentime (for the upcoming film), and Lagoon Boy is one of the entries. I'm only mentioning the team in reference to his membership. It should work out okay. Thanks again!
Oooh, I'm curious. I have read all of Aquaman Vol 5 and Vol 6 (about 130 issues), so I am invested in the Aqua-mythos. I read it all for all the young heroes / Titans, but I came to appreciate all of the other elements of Atlantis' history.
I wonder which five you'll pick. You're obviously able to choose any 5 you would like, but for fun I am going to list the ones I think are very worth noting.
My honorable mentions are Swatt, Cron One-Eye, Blubber, Letifos, Deep Blue, Noble, Rodunn, and Tusky.
Deep Blue, Noble, and Rodunn have such distinctive designs that I think it would be easy for someone to make people look like that for the sake of a few cameos.
I think it would be easy for them to do Garth. They would just need to hire somebody to wear a uniform and then have a panning shot showing him and then having a close-up on his purple eyes. He wouldn't even need any lines. It would take 3-5 seconds of the movie, and it would be worth it to me. Similarly, Cron One-Eye would be easy because it would just be a normal shark with one of his eyes missing. That would similarly take only 3-5 seconds for a cameo. And Tusky? He would likely be so easy to create a cameo for as well.
It's the strangest thing. I used several of your suggestions when I was writing it. I'm using Deep Blue, Neptune Perkins, Tula, Koryak, and Lagoon Boy (the reason for the Landlovers situation).
While researching the semantics of the team's name, I read a good chunk of Aquaman Vol 5 on DC Universe (it has the whole run). While reading, I discovered Noble, who I feel is a very interesting character. I'm planning on reading the whole run, as both Koryak and Deep Blue make their debuts. Plus, it'll give me the opportunity to leave more about Aquaman and his supporting cast.
+ David's run changed Aquaman's portrayal into one that was used for a long, long time. David facilitated Garth's transition from Aqualad to Tempest. He evolved the character of Dolphin to levels much, much higher than she had exhibited before. She became really fleshed out. David created Koryak and Deep Blue, two significant characters in the Aqua mythos with ties to the larger DC mythos. And he created a bunch of other fun supporting characters, like Letifos, Guardian of Hy-Brasil, Spought, A.J., and others. And he brought back other lesser characters and gave them more, like Nuada. Most importantly, though, he really fleshed out the history of Atlantis, adding many new ancient cities and civilization and -- well, it's great what he does for the Aqua-mythos.
+ Abnett's run gave closure to A.J. and brought back Mera. Furthermore, Abnett is the one responsible for giving Mera her "bad@$$" personality that she has mostly been maintaining since then up to now.
+ Larsen's run introduced the Landlovers, especially Lagoon Boy, Blubber, and Sheeva. Larsen also introduced Noble, who is a main character in his run (but not anywhere else). Larsen brought back Arthur's mother. Importantly, Larsen married Garth and Dolphin and had Dolphin become pregnant.
+ Jurgens' run had Garth's baby (Cerdian) being born and then a whole war was fought over it. Tempest was almost as much of a main character in Jurgens' run as Aquaman was, and I love it for that. Tempest was kick-tail in that run.
Final Note: With Neptune Perkins, I imagine him more likely making an appearance in the Aquaman movie as "Senator Perkins," simply a senator on the surface who is name-dropped. That would be nice.