Wednesday, February 25, 2015


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

The Plot: (issue 21) Raven and Starfire defuse a terror attack on Yankee Stadium. Meanwhile, Cyborg has made amends with Sarah Simms, but his peace is short lived as his ex-girlfriend, Marcy, calls him. She has joined a cult called the Church of Brother Blood, and is executed for attempting to escape while on the phone with Cyborg.

The Titans learn of Blood's church from Marcy's parents, and Robin, Wonder Girl, Raven, and Kid Flash go undercover to join up. But when Blood senses their presence while addressing his congregation, they are forced to fight. Blood defeats them all, but Raven's soul self escapes.

(issue 22) Blood takes Robin for interrogation and throws the remaining Titans into a dungeon. Meanwhile, raven's soul self recruits Cyborg, Changeling, and Starfire to come to the church and rescue their teammates. But Blood has called a local news station to the church for an interview, which catches the Titans' assault on camera. Robin and the others are saved, but Brother Blood is believed killed by Cyborg, in full view of the public eye.

Meanwhile, in outer space, a slave ship captained by Starfire's sister, Blackfire, heads for Earth.

My Thoughts: Wow, what a great two-parter! This has to be one of the, of not the tightest paced and most engrossing TITANS stories to date. And it's a great start to the second Omnibus, as well. After reading TALES #4, which closed out volume one, I took a couple weeks off from the Titans to focus on other things (though that obviously wasn't reflected by my posting schedule here). Picking volume two up after that brief period and launching into issue 21, I really and truly felt like I was reading the "premiere" of THE NEW TEEN TITANS' "second season".

Partly this is due to the unrelated teaser sequence starring Starfire and Raven, which just feels like one of those "let's show our heroes back in action" bits that you get when a TV show returns from its summer hiatus (though it is hinted that someone has hired the terrorists to test the Titans, this is not elaborated upon in these issues). But also it's the introduction of two major new villains in Brother Blood as the main antagonist of the piece, and Blackfire, appearing in the final scene to set up the next installment. If I didn't know any better, I could honestly imagine that this story was produced following an overlong break between issues.

Brother Blood is a particularly exciting new addition to the Titans' rogues gallery. He's got this gothic vibe to him, running a creepy church from an even creepier cathedral, complete with brainwashed zealots, sex-slaves, and sinister inquisitors under his control, but all of it is considered a legitimate religion in much of the world, and he even has a foothold in the United States.

Blood claims to be over seven hundred years old as well, though Wolfman plants immediate doubt about this, as Cyborg notes multiple times that Blood is far too afraid for his own life to be a true immortal. According to Wolfman's introduction to this Omnibus, he would not get around to revealing Blood's origin for a few more years. If that story isn't covered in any of these volumes, I may have to Google the guy to see what he's all about. He's a very compelling character.

Incidentally, in a funny little bit that's always amused me, John Byrne has told the following story several times:
"When I was designing the Master for ALPHA [FLIGHT], I could not get Brother Blood, the TEEN TITANS villain, out of my head. It seemed like every version I came up with for my guy looked like a variant on Blood. Finally I gave up and "settled" on the one you saw, which was the furthest I could get from the Pérez character.

"Years later, I saw George at a con, and mentioned this. He laughed. Bother Blood, he told me, was his attempt to design a 'Byrne costume'. So no wonder it stuck in my brain!!"
That never ceases to elicit a smile from me, because from the moment he steps into a panel in this story, Blood looks -- and, I would even argue acts, in terms of body language -- exactly like a Byrne character!

But back to the story at hand -- besides Blood and the emergence of Blackfire here, we also get reference to Zandia, the nation of criminals introduced in past issues, which is apparently secretly controlled by Blood. Last we saw the Brotherhood of Evil, they had interest in ruling that island nation. It will be interesting to see if this brings them into conflict with the country's most prominent citizen.

Thirty-plus years ago, these may simply have been the two latest issues of THE NEW TEEN TITANS. But now, in 2015, they work as a new beginning, a "season premiere" showing promise for a very exciting batch of stories. I know the second Omnibus ends with the famous "Judas Contract" storyline (one of the few NEW TITANS stories I've read), and it begins with this delightfully dark and moody two-parter. If the issues in between are half as good as those bookends, this should be a great run.


  1. "Baron Blood"? Don't you mean Brother Blood? Unless he was Baron in his first appearance, and I forgot...

    As much as I love this series, I was never quite sold on the Church of Brother Blood as a church. I can't imagine this kind of church having such a following, no matter how good their PR is. I mean, the general population mocks Scientology, and they don't have a leader wearing a skull as a helmet or all of the other spooky bloody gothic elements...

    Still the title really is on a role, so I'm willing to overlook that. Then again, I loved this title from #1, despite all the problems you mentioned in your reviews of the first 5 to 7 issues.

    1. Oops; yes, I did mean Brother Blood. Must've been thinking of Captain America's villain. I'll fix that; thanks!

      I agree that the church itself is far-fetched, and the fact that they're so popular did feel a bit odd as I read the issues. But this story is just so strong that, like you, I gave it a pass.

    2. I think the Church would have worked better had it been more subversive, like, keep the Brother Blood stuff, but have a front for the church that doesn't involve all the gory stuff. It would make the church look more sinister to the reader, their public image is all shiny and good, while the real power behind it Brother Blood. And it would make their connection and reach with politicians and what not much more sinister.

  2. Perez and Wolfman are not done with that terrorist financer...
    The cover shows a preview promoting a short-lived series NIGHT FORCE, which reunited Wolfman and Gene Colan since their TOMB OF DRACULA days (they even reuse the name Vanessa Van Helsing for a new character).
    As noted in these comments, even Blood's creators have noted that making the cult leader look like the devil was probably not the best idea in explaining his popularity. Definitely like Perez's gothic church artwork. If you notice, the ring on Brother Blood's platform design
    are littered with 'B'.
    Gotta love that final splash page of Blackfire and the web window. I believe RETURN OF THE JEDI was still a year away.