Wednesday, January 14, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Inker: Romeo Tanghal
Guest Penciler: Curt Swan (#5) | Letterer: Ben Oda | Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: The Justice League attempts to stop a trio of sorcerers from releasing something evil, but Raven appears and tries to break up the fight. The sorcerers drive the JLA back, then Raven teleports to the Temple of Azarath, her birthplace, where she fails to procure her mother's aid in saving the Earth from Trigon.

Raven returns to Titans' Tower, where she finds the Titans, released by the Fearsome Five and in the thrall of Psimon. The Titans head to the Justice League satellite to attack their elders, and Raven follows. She frees the Titans from Psimon's control by making them believe they've killed the JLA. Meanwhile, Dr. Light convinces the rest of the Fearsome Five that they should turn on Psimon.

Raven teleports the Titans to the three wizards, but the Justice League is right behind. Another fight breaks out and the sorcerers fail in their task. Trigon gains a foothold on Earth and promises that his first demonic follower, Goronn, will soon arrive. Then Zatanna reveals to the Titans that Raven is crawling with evil, but Raven protests that this is her heritage, not her personality. Nonetheless, when the Titans realize that Raven tricked them into forming a team, even going so far as to magically seduce Kid Flash, they give her the cold shoulder and depart.

My Thoughts: Wow. Wolfman crams a lot of story into these early NEW TEEN TITANS issues. I can't stand "decompression" and "writing for the trade", but this is the extreme opposite end of that spectrum. There's too much going on in these pages, as we get a fight between the JLA and the wizards, two fights between the JLA and the Titans, and a brief history of Trigon plus a hint to Raven's origins, and dissent among the Fearsome Five. I could've easily lived without at least one of those fights.

I think part of the reason things feel off is that Wolfman's pacing doesn't seem quite right. Maybe it's because he was writing seventeen page stories for the past few years over at Marvel and isn't used to the extra space (these issues contain about twenty-five pages of story on average, which is a lot for a normal-size comic), but whatever the reason, I hope things get straightened out soon. As it stands right now, these stories are a bit of a slog.

But on the plus side, my concerns about the Titans possibly besting the Justice League in combat proved unfounded. Wolfman apparently realizes that such a outcome would be highly inappropriate, so the groups fight to a stalemate instead, which is far more acceptable -- especially when one considers that the Titans were going all-out in an attempt to slay the League, while the JLA was likely going easy on the enthralled Titans to keep from harming them.

Incidentally, the JLA lineup this issue is Batman, Hawkman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Zatanna, and the Atom. I'm not sure where Superman and the Flash are, but I would assume that the former, at least, was intentionally left out of the proceedings since he could probably beat the Titans single-handedly (though his vulnerability against magic would make him susceptible to Raven's powers, I suppose).

The Plot: After the Titans abandon her, Raven is assaulted by Goron, Trigon's advance minion. Raven mentally appeals to the Titans for aid and they agree, returning to her side and defeating Goron. But Trigon's foothold in our dimension is established and he soon appears, confronting Raven, transforming Psimon to light and scattering him to the wind, and killing Goron.

The Titans rally and attack Trigon, while Raven heads for the Temple of Azerath to plead with her mother and the sorcerous elders for their aid against Trigon. Trigon follows Raven to Azerath, and Raven summons the Titans to her side. The group challenges Trigon but proves ineffective. Raven finally ends the threat by offering to return with Trigon to his dimension and rule beside him as his daughter. Trigon agrees and the pair departs.

My Thoughts: The story still feels incredibly disjointed. Part of the problem is the amount of random travel going on here. The Titans leave Raven and return to their tower. Raven comes and asks for their help and they return to the battlefield they literally just left. Then Trigon appears and Raven teleports the Titans back to the tower again, but when Trigon attacks, they head back out once more. Raven teleports to Azerath. Trigon follows, and soon so do the Titans.

So much of this jumping around seems unnecessary to the story and results in a stuttering pace. I think the story is good, but it's hard to tell when I'm spending every page wondering why the characters keep moving around for no discernible story reason.

There aren't any sub-plots to keep the reader's interest in this installment either, other than a mysterious figure, who quite plainly seems to be Cyborg's father, hanging out inside Titans' Tower and observing the group. We do get the possible seed of a Cyborg/Changeling friendship, however, as Cyborg admits to the latter that he's scared to fight Trigon. And of course we learn that Raven is Trigon's daughter, something which felt telegraphed to me in previous issues, but it's hard to say for certain since I already knew this tidbit going in.

And as for Trigon -- that's a nifty character design! He's supremely creepy, with red skin, four eyes, and stubby antlers. "Demonic" is the first word that comes to mind to describe him, which is obviously what George Pérez was going for with his design. Unfortunately, Pérez doesn't get to draw Trigon's first full appearance. And while Curt Swan is a great artist and gives us a gorgeous splash page of the villain's debut, I can't help feeling that his depiction of Trigon's assault on Manhattan feels too small somehow, too quiet. I would've loved to have seen Pérez handle that scene.

But Pérez will be back next issue for what looks to be the finale of this initial Trigon saga. My interest has ticked up slightly since last issue, but I'm really more interested in seeing the Titans handle Earth-based threats -- let the JLA deal with universe-shattering villains while the Titans stick to the streets. To put it in Marvel terms, I see the Titans as the X-Men or the New Warriors to the Justice League's Avengers.

So while the Trigon story seems good, I'll be happy to see it come to an end.


  1. Ironic, don'tcha think? Although the Titans were brainwashed, they were doing the right thing to stop the JLA from allowing Trigon's entry to Earth.
    I also shared your assumption about Superman's absence. Flash, I believe, is based on the creators' issue with Kid Flash. Like Superman, the speedster seemed too much of an easy solution (Wally could get to the scene, defeat the foes, and come back before the Titans are ready to leave the Tower). So why keep Wally? I think they needed a majority of core Titans in the group. Robin and Wonder Girl were beyond question, and, in Wolfman's mind, Kid Flash was a better choice than Aqualad (limited to water environment, which probably explains why Aquaman is absent here) or Speedy (redundant by Robin).
    As for Issue 5, Curt Swan was not a good choice. Both Gorron and Trigon come off monstrous and impressive under Perez's art, but Swan blunts that effect.

    1. I've seen the superspeed "problem" mentioned before, but I don't quite buy it. Sure, Kid Flash (or the Flash or Quicksilver or whoever else) is fast, but getting there first does not equal automatic victory. Against some hoodlums, sure. But against Trigon or Deathstroke or some other super-menace, he'd just be a delaying tactic at best, keeping the enemy occupied until the rest of the group caught up to join the fight.

  2. I'm with you again on how dense these issues are. And while that isn't necessarily a bad thing, the pacing, particularly in #4, does it no favors, making them a bit of a slog to get through.

    Though I also completely missed these were 25 page issues rather than 17 (the downfall of reading them in trade), so that might contribute some to the overstuffed feeling as well.

    1. Fortunately it gets a lot better as it goes along. Wolfman seems to get the hang of pacing for a longer story. And eventually, when the page count is decreased a bit, everything becomes so much tighter and enjoyable; it's a huge improvement.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.