Monday, February 2, 2015


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

The Plot: In New York, Wonder Girl goes on a crime fighting rampage to blow off steam following her encounter with Hyperion. Then, after a brief meeting with Terry Long, she returns to Paradise Island. And on the island, Starfire participates in the Amazons' arena games, winning every competition. Later, Changeling comes around and transforms into a massive sea monster, but Raven restores him to normal.

Meanwhile, in Uganda, Robin, Cyborg, and Kid Flash locate Robotman, who leads them to the lair of the Doom Patrol's killers, Madame Rouge and General Zahl. The group enters this massive underground complex, taking out several armored guards in the process, and rescues Steve Dayton. But Dayton won't leave without the Mento-suit, the outfit he once wore as a superhero. Kid Flash retrieves the suit, then the group exits the secret base. But Madame Rouge and General Zahl are aware of their departure, and Rouge indicates that Dayton actually serves her.

My Thoughts: When this storyline first started, I thought we were in for an old-fashioned "split the team into two groups and then follow each group on a separate adventure" bit. But, while the distaff Titans received two issues dedicated to their encounter with the elder titans, their male counterparts don't even get one full issue for their rescue of Steve Dayton, instead sharing the action with further antics on Paradise Island.

But I suppose Wolfman and Pérez can't be faulted if this is the length of the story they wanted to tell. And, while they don't get as much page time to themselves as their fairer teammates, Robin and the others at least acquit themselves well in their highly efficient -- Robin correctly believes it to be too efficient -- rescue of Steve Dayton.

Along the way we learn that Wonder Girl isn't entirely over Hyperion, Starfire takes more joy in combat than she feels she should, Kid Flash remains uncertain about being a full-time superhero, and Cyborg feels that he's wronged Sarah, the only civilian to befriend him since his accident.

We also get a quick bit in which Cyborg tells Robin that more people might take him seriously if he'd put on some long pants, and I'm inclined to agree. A college-age adult running around in short shorts and pixie boots is just plain silly, superhero or not. But I suspect the "old guard" mentality was so ingrained at DC in 1981 that a simple modification to the costume was something never seriously considered. Robin's outfit would not be changed until Neal Adams revamped it for the Tim Drake version of the character circa 1990 -- but that look would then be used to great effect on the college-age Dick Grayson for BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.

The Plot: Wonder Girl, Starfire, Raven, and Changeling meet up with Robin, Cyborg, Kid Flash, Robotman, and the rescued Steve Dayton in Uganda. Dayton demands to don his Mento costume, but as soon as he does, he turns against his rescuers. However Raven manages to break him of Madame Rouge's post-hypnotic control.

While the group debates their next move, an enraged Changeling takes off for Rouge's lair. But the underground complex isn't long for Uganda, rising into the air and flying toward Rouge's home, the island nation of Zandia. Changeling hitches a ride on the flying complex while the Titans give chase in their jet.

Upon arriving at Zandia, the flying headquarters disgorges an army of armored warriors to attack the citizenry. The Titans swoop to their defense, but all are defeated and captured. Changeling, however, remains at large, but finds himself captured by the Doom Patrol's old enemies, the Brotherhood of Evil.

My Thoughts: As this is the middle section of a trilogy and there's usually not a whole lot to say about such installments, let's instead talk about Marv Wolfman's scripting. At this point, I can't exactly say I'm a fan. Wolfman tries to mix the conversational tone of Stan Lee narration with the sort of purple prose that was taking hold on the comic book industry around this time, most notably in Chris Claremont's X-MEN. And while I love Lee's jovial banter with the reader, and I like Claremont's dense narration when it's not overdone, this "half-and-half" approach favored by Wolfman just doesn't do it for me.

Take, for example, the following excerpt upon the Titans' arrival at Zandia, where pretty much every issue I have with Wolfman is on display:
"Zandia: Population approx. -- 3,769. No major industry, no imports, and no exports.

Though the secret of how Zandia survives will not be told this day... trust us when we say Zandia does indeed survive! And quite well under the rule of this man... President Frederick Graves... A name quite apropos considering a grave is all he will be fit for in exactly 3.7 sec --

My, how time flies!

Zandia's expatriate citizens fall like wheat before a very deadly scythe... wielded by cruel and vicious flying forces under the orders of a very sinister General Zahl.

Like locusts, they sweep past Zandia's central microfilm complex, destroying invaluable records with insidious ease.

Then they soar on, leaving in their jet-stream wake the mingled tears and running blood of useless destruction..."
It starts off in the Stan Lee style, the narrator referring to himself as "we" -- a convention I can't stand, by the way, when anyone other than Lee does it -- giving us a conversational lesson on Zandia and tossing out a little zinger when the president is abruptly assassinated. But then the narration goes into this over-the-top melodramatic style which tries to mimic the likes of Claremont, but merely comes off as a pale imitation.

And by the way -- why are we abbreviating "approximately" and "seconds" for no apparent reason? And are all the citizens of Zandia actually "expatriates"? I feel like that little tidbit could've used some elaboration. I would normally assume that, as a professional writer, Wolfman knows what he's saying, but Jim Shooter once described an occasion where Wolfman tried to use the word "noisome" to mean "loud" -- so who knows?

Nonetheless, I'm still enjoying THE NEW TEEN TITANS quite a bit -- but that doesn't stop the narrative caption boxes from grating on me every time they pop up.


  1. Ah, the Kangas...Like the scientific technology and the several aforementioned rules, this aspect of Golden Age Amazonian culture will not survive the Crisis. Good humor about Gar's catch-22 with the Amazonians. Still, being carried on a litter by four gorgeous babes probably isn't that bad.
    TNTTs' view on Robin's costume design is something of a paradox. Wolfman and Perez do knock Robin's costume a bit (there's one humorous sight gag coming up in the Blackfire saga), but Perez also manages to make the Teen Wonder still maintain a respectful badarse-ness. Note the protective Bat-shield (in-joke from the 60's series).
    Surprised you have little to say about this issue's coverage of the Doom Patrol. And yes, Mento & Elasti Girl's wedding was a superhero gathering (they all were in the 60s).

    1. I caught the Bat-shield and forgot to mention it; that was good for a laugh.

      I do agree that Pérez draws one heck of a Robin, don't get me wrong. I just find him a little silly looking even when drawn well. The definitive Dick Grayson Robin, for me, is the B:TAS version. Tim Drake's costume looked great on eighteen/nineteen year-old Dick.

      I've said little about the Doom Patrol because I don't know much of anything about them. I read one appearance from them, a guest-spot in JLA: YEAR ONE, but other than that I'm pretty sure I've never touched a single Doom Patrol adventure. They seem like cool characters, but I'm not really qualified to speak about them.

  2. The Titans did it first!: general not-Zod had a mechanical army that mowed down the entire population of a country that wasn't named 'Slorenia'?

    1. Your joke makes a good point -- when did mass slaughter become the norm for supervillains in comics? I almost glossed over that scene here because I've become so jaded to these things in the years since, but I'm pretty sure it was uncommon, to say the least, in 1981.

    2. Not so much a joke, really, as I have come to believe that quite a number of concepts that were later on done to a bigger popularity in other comic books, were used in The New Teen Titans. "Cyborg & Sarah" in the earlier issue was a joke, but this here (not having read the actual issue, mind you) resembles a bit, and predates, Ultron Unlimited.

      Though, (attempted) mass murder of civilians has happened before at least in FANTASTIC FOUR #86 (May '69) by robots AND nukes by somewhat unhinged Dr. Doom . "I forgot! My subjects! Noo!"

      Incidentally, in that story arc there was the death of Hautpmann('s brother) that came back to bite Doom in the fabled all-Doom issue #258 (or would have if Doom had time for such trifles) and the masterly plan of Doom to destroy the FF by playing them a concerto of his own composition... in Hyper-Sound!

      Why do we remember the Silver Age from the goofy Hypno Ray Gun plot and not this sort of solidified awesomeness?

    3. I always hate to admit this, because I'm afraid it will cost my my Marvel fan card, but I've read very, very little of the Lee/Kirby FF. I got the first ESSENTIAL volume way back when it was originally released, and I read that, but nothing more. Honestly, the only FF runs I have read are John Byrne's and the "Heroes Return" era relaunch, from the beginning up through Carlos Pacheco's short tenure. Otherwise there's been a single issue or storyline here and there, but not much else.

      I do know about Hauptmann, though, because his (other?) brother shows up in IRON MAN #149-150

    4. For some reason our local publisher back in the day used to like to throw some amount of classic FF at our direction. One of my very first Marvel reads was the storyline where Doom stole the cosmic powers from the Silver Surfer. We got lots of Byrne, of course, and some Simonson later on.

      It's the same Hauptmann('s brother) in IRON MAN, Byrne must've picked it up from there then and not the Lee/Kirby story. FF #258 pretty much continues from there and shows how Hauptmann tries to extract his revenge and fool Doom in to the cosmic power chamber he built, but Doom throws Hauptmann there instead, exposing to his robot that the man had a grudge at him and wouldn't let Doom have cosmic power should the chamber work as planned while Hauptmann gets incinerated.

      It may be a minor meta-message at Michelinie, now to think of it, that schemers near Doom don't go unnoticed. The very same issue has the Doombot A 76 sequence, a harsher message to young Kristoff and the other Christopher at the UNCANNY at the same time about the hazards of affronts at Doom's personage.

    5. Byrne is pretty much the kind of the meta-message, so it wouldn't surprise me if he was, in his mind, "correcting" an oversight on the parts of MIchelinie and Layton. Byrne has had good things to say about working with Michelinie on AVENGERS, but positive experiences with creators have never stopped him from "fixing" those same creators' stories.