Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Writer-Co-Plotters-Penciler: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez
Inkers: Brett Breeding (#1) & Pablo Marcos (#2)
Letterers: John Costanza (#1) & Ben Oda (#2) | Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: The Titans head to the Grand Canyon for a week's vacation. Over dinner, Cyborg describes his life's history to the rest of the team.

My Thoughts: A camping trip, with the new Titans explaining their origins to the others, is a great idea for a limited series. And Cyborg's history is a pretty good one. Wolfman takes an all-too-common trope in superhero comic origins -- the angry black youth -- and flips it sideways. Cyborg didn't start out angry. He had an unusual childhood, monitored constantly by his scientist parents, but he was also a genius and a gifted athlete with a scholarship education.

The problem came when he fell in with the wrong crowd and, despite his better judgment, got involved in more than one street fight in his young life, until his father finally disowned him. Then, as described in previous installments, his mother died and Cyborg himself was crippled and rebuilt by his father.

As I said, it's a twist on the most commonly seen black character origin. Unfortunately, we knew a lot of Cyborg's background already, as he is the most angst-ridden Titan. But Wolfman ties everything together well enough, and it's admittedly nice to have all the pieces we've seen so far gathered in one story.

But much more impressive than the plot here is the artwork. I've enjoyed Romeo Tanghal on Pérez in NEW TEEN TITANS issue after issue, but young Brett Breeding blows him out of the water. Breeding's work at this time is, probably not coincidentally, very much like Bob Layton's. Slick and shiny and perfect for a machine-man like Cyborg. I'd love to see Breeding fill in for Tanghal on the regular series now and then.

Oh, and speaking of Pérez -- I'm astounded that there was a time in his career when he could not only hold down a monthly penciling gig (on a book with extra story pages every issue), but draw a limited series at the same time for four months! For all the time I've been aware of him, Pérez has been a gifted artist, but an artist needing to be spelled regularly on whatever regular series he's on. I'm impressed with the output of 1982's George Pérez!

The Plot: Still camping in the Grand Canyon, the Titans are awakened when Raven suffers through a nightmare. The group convinces her to finally confide in them, and she shares her history.

My Thoughts: As with Cyborg's origin, we knew a lot of this stuff already. Raven is the daughter of an Earth woman and the otherdimensional Trigon, she was raised in the mystical Temple Azarath, and she fears one day succumbing to the darkness within her. All this story really adds are a few minor tidbits: Azarath was a paradise until the day Raven was born, then It became much darker; one member of Azarath's council tried to kill the infant Raven but was himself destroyed by Trigon; Raven was trained from childhood by Azarath's high priestess until her death; Trigon appeared to Raven and tested whether she could be corrupted shortly before she left Azarath to form the new Titans.

Up to this point, Raven has been the least interesting Titan for me. She has a good backstory; I feel like I should be invested in her story -- but I just find the others all more compelling than Raven. This may be partly due to the fact that she's such a cold fish. Certainly she has her share of angst like her teammates, but she's constantly hiding her emotions and, until now, refusing to confide in anyone. Besides the backstory, there just doesn't seem to be much to her. She's a cipher.

That said, the artwork in this issue by Pérez and Marcos is quite lovely. I've seen Pablo Marcos as an inker all over the place, and while he's competent, he's never wowed me all that much. Here, though, he does a great job over Pérez's pencils, to the point that I had to flip back to the first page after a while and verify that he didn't have any credited assistance. I don't think I'd rank Marcos above Breeding as far as the finished product goes, but I could be convinced to declare him superior to Tanghal.

(I really feel bad about poor Romeo, too -- that's two guest inkers in a row who I think are better matches with Pérez than he. The remaining installments of TALES OF THE NEW TEEN TITANS are inked by others as well; I'll be curious to see what I think of their work, too.)


  1. The Titans did it first!: Was it the New Titans or Mutants she left for after having been trained for a high priestess by a dark lord, fearing she would succumb to darkness? She wasn't Cypher though but the other guy.

    Only a month though, as UNCANNY #160 has the cover date for Aug '82.

    Other that that, I don't think I know too many angry black youths from comics really. The idea is such that it suggests it would be a common trope, but I can't think anyone.

    1. I never thought about Magik and Raven as analogues, but they do have somewhat similar backstories and powers. Good catch! Another reason why one might believe the X-Men and Titans of the era were in direct competition.

      Maybe I'm thinking of other genres besides comics. I just feel like the "angry black youth" archetype, especially if he grew up on the "mean streets", is very common.

    2. Well, Charles Gunn of Angel fame for one certainly fills the criteria, which I agree does have a very common sound to it.