Wednesday, January 7, 2015


Writer-Co-Creators-Penciler: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez
Finishers: Dick Giordano (DCP #26) & Romeo Tanghal (NTT #1)
Letterer: Ben Oda | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: In New York City, Robin comes to the aid of the authorities outside S.T.A.R. Labs, where terrorists are holding the building hostage. As Robin attempts to enter S.T.A.R., he finds himself drifting between his current situation and some other reality where he is a member of the Teen Titans alongside his former teammates Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, and Changeling (formerly Beast Boy), as well as three new teens named Cyborg, Raven, and Starfire. In this world, the Titans operate out of Titans' Tower on an island in the East River, and they're called into action to defend the city from an otherworldly blob-like organism.

Robin drifts back and forth between scenarios, but realizes the two worlds are connected when he and the Titans ultimately defeat the alien monster at S.T.A.R. Labs. Finally, Robin remains in the original version of New York, without the Titans, and wanders away after defusing the hostage situation, wondering if his encounter with the Titans was a dream. But his departure is observed by the mysterious Raven, who knows that his vision will soon make sense, as the new Teen Titans are part of his destined future.

My Thoughts: There's a lot crammed into this fourteen page preview story! Starfire, Cyborg, and Raven are all introduced with moments to showcase their powers and, to some extent, their personalities. I'll spare readers the long of it, since the characters can easily be Googled (and honestly, if you're here you probably know something about them anyway), but quickly: Raven is a magical character; Starfire is a solar-charged alien; and Cyborg is... a cyborg.

The returning Titans also each have a moment to shine. Wonder Girl is basically Wonder Woman Jr. (complete with her own golden lasso); the green-skinned Changeling can turn into any animal; Kid Flash, like Wonder Girl, is a junior version of his senior partner, the lightning quick Flash; and if you don't know what Robin's deal is, that's your own darn fault.

Wolfman wisely uses Robin as the POV character here, which makes sense since he's easily the best known Titan. I'm of the belief that every team has its heart, and Dick Grayson, whether as Robin or Nightwing, should fill that role for the Teen Titans. And this is my favorite iteration of Dick, too. I don't mind him as Nightwing and I enjoy him as Batman's kid partner, but I love him as Robin the late-teen wonder, the college-age version of the character who spends most of his time at school or with the Teen Titans, and who only occasionally teams up with Batman. This preference is most likely informed by BATMAN: THE ANIMATED series, which was my go-to Batman continuity growing up.

Anyway -- though most of the story is devoted to introducing our team and showing them in action, Wolfman drops a couple continuity tidbits into the mix as well, notably the fact that Robin recently quit college, creating a rift between him and Batman, and that the S.T.A.R. scientist who accidentally loosed the alien blob on New York -- and who appears in both of Robin's scenarios -- is Professor Stone, Cyborg's father and the man who turned his son into a half-man/half-machine.

Other than that, there's really not much more that can be said about a short introductory preview story. The writing is fine and the artwork is decent, though not quite up to the standards I normally expect from George Pérez. This could be due to the fact that he's inked here by Dick Giordano, whose rougher style doesn't seem the best match with Pérez's lush pencils. I believe the majority of Pérez's Titans work is inked by Romeo Tanghal, and from what I've seen, that appears to be a much more favorable pairing.

The Plot: Starfire flees to Earth from a slave starship. Meanwhile, Raven gathers Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Changeling, and Cyborg together and the group rescues Starfire from the pursuing slavers. As they stand united, Raven informs the group that they must remain a team to combat some impending future threat of which only she is aware.

Unbeknownst to them, the group is observed by a young man named Grant Wilson, who had briefly harbored Starfire during her flight and who saw his apartment destroyed for his trouble, along with a shadowy figure representing a group called the H.I.V.E., which promises to destroy the new Titans for Grant.

My Thoughts: DC COMICS PRESENTS 26 was a "sneak preview" of the Titans, but this is still their first issue, so introductions are in order once again. But this time Wolfman takes his time bringing the characters in one at a time, rather than dropping them on us en media res as he did in DCP. Their powers are individually showcased again, and we learn a bit about their personalities.

In particular we find that Cyborg is bitter over his condition, having harbored dreams of becoming an Olympic athlete which were dashed by whatever accident forced his father to turn him into a cyborg. Also, Kid Flash has a peculiar crush on Raven, after she recruited him to the Titans off-panel following his declaration that he was done being a superhero. Not knowing what's to come, my money is on Raven having used some minor mind control to woo the Kid to her way of thinking.

We're also reminded that Batman is disappointed in Robin for dropping out of college, though this doesn't come across in their brief scene together, as Robin departs the Wayne Foundation Building penthouse in Gotham City to follow Raven. Bruce Wayne is seen wearing a smoking jacket, puffing a pipe and reading a book (something all hip thirty-something playboys did regularly back in 1980, of course), and even offers Robin aid when he sees him leaving in costume.

And Wonder Girl receives a sub-plot as well, as she reflects on her origin: she was found by Wonder Woman as an infant in a burning tenement, two dead adults beside her, and -- being an orphan -- was taken to Paradise Island for Amazon training. Now, she finds herself wondering where she came from and who she is.

The story concludes with Cyborg blowing up the alien slavers' ship, presumably killing all aboard. Strangely, no one has any objections to this course of action. They may have been merciless slavers, and sure they were reptilian aliens, but they were sentient beings! Doesn't that go against most traditional superheroic values? I'll be curious to see if this is revisited in coming issues, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm two issues into THE NEW TEEN TITANS, but both issues are essentially "pilot" stories. I already have some level of familiarity with most of these characters, so their origins don't much interest me. I figure that back in 1980, when this was all new, readers might have been a bit more enraptured by the proceedings, but right now, in 2015, I'd just like to get to the good stuff. Fortunately, I see Deathstroke the Terminator's silhouette on the cover of the next issue, so I hope that means big things will be coming in short order.


  1. Ah, memories...I remember making a drawing of the preview cover with my pencil and crayons.

    I take it you read about the legend that Wonder Girl was a 'The Adventures of Wonder Woman as a Girl' side-story erroneously considered a separate character from WW (like using Superboy as a Titan). It was Marv Wolfman who wrote her 'rescued mystery infant turned WW's foster sister' origin story (which also changed Donna's costume to her swinging 70s red sleeveless jumpsuit).

    To Dick, Bruce's offer to help suggests his inability to accept the Boy Wonder is now a grown-up capable of handling things himself. Despite the discord between the two, it is still a lighter Batman then the one in later years.

    Ironic that Gar dumps the Beast Boy name, and then changes his mind later.

    It does appear that in NTT, the Gorganians are an exception to the 'no kill' code...

    1. Yeah, I've read significantly further since I wrote the above post, and there's Gordanians offed left and right in later storylines.

      I am familiar with Wonder Girl's weird behind-the-scenes backstory, though I didn't realize it was Marv Wolfman himself who came up with the mystery baby angle. Makes sense, then, that he would revisit it here, though he doesn't get to the full reveal until much later.

      I think I've mentioned before, but just as this is my preferred Robin, this is also the Batman I like. He's serious and driven in his mission, but he's not the humorless psychopath later writers would turn him into. John Byrne frequently posts a page from the Denny O'Neil/Neal Adams "Half An Evil" as an example of how he believes Batman should be played. In it, the Dark Knight is appropriately dark and dramatic, but demonstrates a sense of humor, too. That's the Batman I like. For my money, the best illustration of my Batman and Robin together comes from the Englehart/Rogers DETECTIVE run, at the start of the issue featuring Deadshot, where the Dynamic Duo are seen palling around, joking and laughing in the Batcave, talking about their girlfriends and getting in some mock-sparring. For me, that's the perfect illustration of their relationship, and at just the spot where I like it. Batman is an experienced adult, he's raised Robin into a confident young man, and now they're best friends.

      Regarding Beast Boy, I suspect Changeling would've lasted longer if the TEEN TITANS cartoon series hadn't used the Beast Boy name. I believe it was around that time, or shortly thereafter, that he changed back, wasn't it?

    2. I like the way Wolfman writes the relationship between Batman and Robin/Nightwing throughout this series. They may not always agree, but it is obvious they love and respect each other.

      Wonder Girl's upcoming origin issue is a classic, and one of my favorite issues of this run.

      As for the title does take a couple of issue for everything to jell together perfectly. But once it does, we get some really great comics out of it.

      And I agree, Tanghal ends up being one of Perez's better collaborators.

  2. I actually just finished reading the first NTT Archive volume about a month or two ago, so this new series of posts makes for some fortuitous timing. :)

    I should admit up front that I was a little underwhelmed by the first volume, at least, though that's somewhat understandable given how lauded these issues are and the fact that I'm reading them for the first time in my 30s in 2014. The art is pretty great and nothing about them was terrible - for the most part, the early issues of NTT read like really solid, well-executed superhero comics. Which is fine, but not quite at the "DC's answer to Claremont & Byrne's X-Men" level that I've frequently heard it praised as.

    Speaking to these two issues, you're right about them being mostly setup, and, unfortunately, Wolfman and Perez do little to get me hooked on their new creations. Raven is little more than a mystery (which is fine for now), Starfire is a pretty typical "Hot Spock" type and Cyborg is, already, completely annoying in his angry teen angst. From the get-go, I'm much more interested in the sidekick/Junior Hero analogs than any of the original creations (though, to be fair, they are also what has always interested me in the concept of the Teen Titans as a whole), and like you, was definitely ready to get to the fireworks factory by the end of the series second "pilot" issue.

    And Wonder Girl receives a sub-plot as well, as she reflects on her origin: she was found by Wonder Woman as an infant in a burning tenement, two dead adults beside her, and -- being an orphan -- was taken to Paradise Island for Amazon training.

    And what a refreshingly-straightforward origin that is, especially compared to what it goes through post-Crisis.

    1. Yes, I was underwhelmed as well by the earliest issues, but Blam had warned me up front that I might be. I find that the series really starts to pick up steam when it hits the teens -- and when Brother Blood is introduced in the twenties, I think it's about on par with Claremont/Byrne X-Men (or at least Claremont/Cockrum/Smith X-Men).

      I've been kind of a fan of Cyborg for a very long time, thanks to his role in the final season of SUPER FRIENDS (renamed at the time to THE SUPER POWERS TEAM: GALACTIC GUARDIANS). He was the newest member of the Justice League on that show, so I was aware of him long before any of the other "newer" Titans.

      As far as the rest: Raven just doesn't do much for me at any time, no matter how hard Wolfman and Pérez try to make her interesting. Starfire, while fun to look at, doesn't appeal to me all that much as a character either, for whatever reason -- which is not to say she isn't a well-defined or well-written character. She's just not a character I'm all that excited about.

      Through the issues I've read thus far, my favorite Titans are Robin and Kid Flash, and for some reason I love whenever Speedy guest-stars. Changeling is good in small doses and works best with other characters to play off of. I generally like Wonder Girl, too, though her schmaltzy scenes with Terry Long can be a bit much.