Monday, January 26, 2015


Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Inker: Romeo Tanghal
Letterer: Ben Oda | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: Working for the H.I.V.E., the villainous Puppet Master has been systematically murdering board members of Dayton Industries, the company run by Changeling's stepfather, using toys to carry out the hits. When an attempt is made on his own life, Changeling calls Robin for some detective assistance. Robin learns that the deceased board members were also part of Dayton's Promethium committee, working on a project to produce infinite renewable energy.

Elsewhere, the remaining Teen Titans are going about their daily lives when, one by one, they fall under the thrall of the Puppet Master. Only Raven is unaffected, and she goes for help from Robin and Changeling. But Puppet Master sends his controlled Titans to finish off the Promethium committee and kill Robin and Changeling, bringing all the Titans together in one location. Kid Flash frees himself from Puppet Master's control and together with Robin, Changeling, and Raven, manages to restore the rest of the team as well.

The Titans locate Puppet Master's hideout and battle his toys while the villain escapes. In the aftermath, the H.I.V.E. orders Puppet Master executed, while elsewhere, Deathstroke the Terminator breaks into a Dayton facility and steals the plans for Project: Promethium.

My Thoughts: Another strong issue! Wolfman and Pérez seem to have hit their groove at last. High points in this story for me include Robin's detective work and the fact that he and Changeling are on their own investigative course, a sort of mini-mission, before the remaining Titans get involved.

We also get a couple advancing sub-plots, in the form of Cyborg apparently beginning a relationship with Sarah, the teacher he met last issue, as well as Kid Flash's continuing uncertainty about remaining a Titan. He even states this issue that he's on a leave of absence, but when Raven informs him the others have been mind-controlled, he returns to the fray. Also, Changeling lets us know that his missing stepfather, mentioned a handful of times over the past few issues, is off searching for the killers of the Doom Patrol, Changeling's previous team.

Wolfman touches on the relationship between Terry Long and Donna Troy again, and Donna informs Starfire that Terry is "at least 29". So, since by a strict interpretation of this series' title, Donna is no older than nineteen (but certainly no younger than eighteen, either), Terry is roughly a decade older than her. Not quite as bad as I had always been led to believe -- based on online comments, I figured he was in his forties or something -- but still perhaps a little skeevy, especially since we learn this issue Terry is a college professor, making Donna about the same age as his students.

But maybe that sort of thing was more acceptable in 1980; I don't know. However, if there's one actual technical problem with this story, it's a minor lack of logic. The H.I.V.E. wants Project: Promethium, so they hire Puppet Master to kill the members of the Promethium committee. But to what end? How would the absence of the project's overseers suddenly give the H.I.V.E. control of it? This is even more glaring when Deathstroke waltzes into the factory on the story's final page and simply grabs the Promethium plans. The issue is fun, but only in spite of these logical lapses.

The Plot: Deathstroke reviews his files on the Titans. Days later, a United States warship carrying a hydrogen bomb is attacked by a group of frogmen. Elsewhere, Changeling shirks his responsibilities to Dayton Industries, then checks in with Robotman, the other surviving member of the Doom Patrol, who is searching for Steve Dayton.

Meanwhile, Cyborg's friend Sarah Simms is kidnapped, and then Starfire is attacked in Manhattan by Deathstroke. He plants a transmitter on her and escapes. Later, at Titans' Tower, Deathstroke contacts the Titans via Starfire and informs them that he has Sarah hostage. He sends the group instructions to meet him at the Grand Canyon.

The next day the Titans arrive at Deathstroke's appointed spot. He returns Sarah to them in exchange for their promise to let him drop a Promethium bomb on them. Deathstroke then hosts an auction for several terrorists, all of whom want the bomb. But the H.I.V.E. members in attendance kill the other bidders, prompting Deathstroke to kill them in retaliation.

Then the Titans, having survived Deathstroke's demonstration of his bomb, arrive to confront the villain. He sics an army of mercenaries on the group and makes his escape. Changeling follows, but is apparently killed by Deathstroke.

My Thoughts: This is another fairly strong issue, with a plot that is mostly straightforward and makes perfect sense. Deathstroke learns early on (though we readers do not) that the Promethium bomb is unfeasible, so he steals an H-bomb to use for his demonstration instead, in order to swindle the world's terrorists out of their hard-earned cash. Attacking Starfire to plant a transmitter on her, then using the Titans to both fulfill his contract with the H.I.V.E. dating back to issue 1, while demonstrating the ersatz bomb at the same time, is a pretty good scam.

But as with the last story, there's just a little lapse in logic here which sticks out: the Titans are way too honorable with Deathstroke. He secures their promise to let him tie them down at ground zero if he releases Sarah, then he hands her over. Once she's free, there is absolutely nothing preventing the Titans from attacking Deathstroke right then and there. But instead, Robin insists that they keep their word, even though Deathstroke has given up his only bargaining chip. I understand most superheroes have codes of honor, but this is just absurd.

The only other real noteworthy item from this issue is Changeling filling Cyborg in on his origin and on the fate of the Doom Patrol, who we learn sacrificed their lives to save a small town in the final issue of their original series, circa 1968. We also find out, as noted above, that Cliff "Robotman" Steele survived the Doom Patrol's demise and is now searching for Changeling's stepfather, who himself is trying to track down the Doom Patrol's killers. I'm unsure if Robotman's survival is a Wolfman/Pérez ret-con as of this issue or if it was known beforehand.

Oh -- and lastly, Starfire has a brief moment thinking about her sister, who she declares betrayed their home planet of Tamaran and who, if given the chance, Starfire would gladly kill. This is the first time Starfire's mentioned anything about her sister, and it's slipped in so casually that a reader might not catch its significance on their first read-through. Wolfman seems to drop a lot of these little asides into his stories so far, and it's an approach I really like. No need to bash your readers over the head with story kernels. Just slip them into the proceedings organically, and let the fans mull over their importance (or possible lack thereof) until they're resolved.


  1. Hitting Cyborg in the jewels was rather uncommon in a comic book of that age, wasn't it?

    As for not attacking Deathstroke after Sarah left...Well, I suppose Robin didn't want to make any unnecessary risks in breaking the deal too early. Suppose Deathstroke was able to shoot down the Titans jet with his bazooka staff? The assassin seems capable of doing that despite the Titans' opposition. At any rate, I wouldn't knock on Robin too much for going through with the sacrifice bargain, considering- via the planned-in-advance bomb neutralization- they never intended to go through with it to its fatal end.

    Robotman's survival was previously known beforehand in the second Doom Patrol series in the late 1970s. However, he was rebuilt in a differently designed body. Note Steele's thanks to Gar for getting his robot form restored back to its original style.

    1. Good point about the crotch shot. I think I may have missed it somehow.

      Thanks for letting me know about Robotman! I had a feeling he must have appeared prior to this issue, but you never know.

    2. So, cyborg and Sarah, then. Not having ever read the book, not knowing anything of it or generally of DC altogether, from these reviews only the book seems to be just teeming with concepts that someone else will be doing later on but to bigger popularity in the popular culture of the 80's/90's. There should be a segment for spotting them really.

      Hilariously, their popular comparison to the X-Men as the DC equivalent of sorts drives it through to me that the alleged "teenagers" of the X-Men were anything but as written by Claremont.

    3. Yes, Chris Claremont has long written adults in teenage bodies. Wolfman seems to have a much better grasp on how teenagers act and, to some extent, speak. I don't have trouble buying this group as a bunch of late teens, while I never, so much as once, bought Rogue and Colossus as the eighteenish year-olds they were supposed to be. Claremont handled it a little better with Kitty and the New Mutants, but not by much.

  2. but still perhaps a little skeevy, especially since we learn this issue Terry is a college professor, making Donna about the same age as his students.

    I've just always wondered WHY Wolfman felt the need to make him that much older that Donna. Like, she has an older boyfriend, fine. Make him 22 or 23. I'm just not sure what's gained from making him at least ten years older than her, aside from snarky internet jokes decades later.

    (Admittedly, maybe something comes from it eventually, in stuff I haven't read).

    Also, it doesn't help that with the full beard and constant talk of how he's older than her, he comes across as being much older than ten years.

    I understand most superheroes have codes of honor, but this is just absurd.

    Yeah. I just rolled my eyes at that and chalked it up to the genre conventions of the time. At least they hung a lampshade on it by having someone (Cyborg?) point out how dumb it was.

    The only other real noteworthy item from this issue is Changeling filling Cyborg in on his origin and on the fate of the Doom Patrol

    I, for one, even in 2015, greatly appreciated that, as my knowledge of Doom Patrol is basically "came out around the same time as X-Men with a coincidentally-similar setup" and "Grant Morrison does whacky Grant Morrison things with a later iteration of the book at the start of his American career". I also think there's an especially John Byrne-ish version of the series by Byrne at some point?

    Anywho, yeah, I liked these two issues quite a bit.

    1. From what I've seen so far, having got all the way up to the fifties, there's really no story reason for Terry to be a decade older, other than that he has an ex-wife and a daughter, which play a very minor role in the soap opera stuff. I've gotten used to it by now, and Wolfman writes their relationship maturely and as a very loving couple -- but I still don't quite get it.

      I'm with you on the Doom Patrol. My knowledge of them is pretty my exactly the same as yours. Though, having read these old stories mentioning them so much, I'm kind of interested to find some of their old stories. They've piqued my interest.