Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Writer: Marv Wolfman | Artists: George Pérez & Pablo Marcos
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

Note: This issue does not have credits in THE NEW TEEN TITANS OMNIBUS volume 2. The above credits are pulled from the DC wiki.

The Plot: D.A. Chase and his family are rushed to the hospital, but Chase's wife and children perish. Robin vows to get Anthony Scarapelli for the murders. Meanwhile, Scarapelli finds himself on the outs with the mob's Donna Omicidio due to the public nature of his assassination attempt. Scarapelli requests aid from a criminal "referral agent" called the Monitor.

Robin finds himself handcuffed by a restraining order from Scarapelli after his invasion of the mobster's home, so the rest of the Titans rough up Scarapelli's various illegitimate enterprises. The Monitor sends a group of assassins to lure the Titans into a trap, but the heroes escape. During the skirmish, two of the assassins are killed by a mysterious figure. Kid Flash is injured, but Raven -- who had been away from the Titans for much of the recent action -- returns to heal him.

Soon after, Scarapelli heads to a meeting with Donna Omicidio, but sends a group of battle suited warriors to kill her. While the Titans fight these troops, Scarapelli escapes to his home. But he's cornered by a costumed man calling himself the Vigilante. Vigilante has Scarapelli at his mercy and unmasks himself as D.A. Chase. Robin appears to talk Chase out of murdering Scarapelli, but when Scarapelli pulls a gun on the pair, Chase kills him and escapes.

My Thoughts: One thing I've noticed about both annuals so far -- and something I know will remain true for the next one as well -- is how tightly they tie into the series' ongoing continuity. The first annual brought the Blackfire storyline to a close. The second finishes the story of Adrian Chase and Anthony Scarapelli. The third will be the final chapter of the "Judas Contract" storyline. In all these cases, the annuals are direct continuations of the regular series issue that came right before them.

I haven't read much DC from this era, so I can only compare these annuals to those published by Marvel in the early-mid eighties, but my experience with the competition's annuals are that they were more often than not simple one-off adventures. Sometimes they were a special occasion, such as getting Frank Miller to draw Spider-Man or Art Adams to draw the X-Men, but they rarely tied into the ongoing saga in any meaningful way. Indeed, especially in the case of the era's X-MEN annuals, they were frequently at odds with that continuity due presumably to lead time.

So it's really nice to see, for a change, annual stories which directly continue from the ongoing serial. This story even features a sub-plot scene with Raven attempting to return to Azarath, only to be refused by its leaders. That's definitely not a scene one would see in a comparable Marvel annual. Perhaps the only mildly questionable bit here is Kid Flash's presence, as he told Wonder Girl he was planning to quit the team -- but one can easily assume he'd stick around if Robin really needed his aid. And speaking of Kid Flash, the story also features a stray thought where he states that he's been slowing down lately. This is supported by issue 34, wherein Deathstroke managed to hit him despite his speed. I suppose we'll soon see where this is headed.

The story here is pretty good as well. The identity of the Vigilante is presented as a mystery with a big revelation. Unfortunately I was spoiled as to Chase's evolution by Wolfman's introduction to the Omnibus, so I'll never know if I would've figured it out ahead of time. Wolfman certainly planted enough seeds along the way, but again -- I saw them as flags because I knew this was going to happen.

Vigilante clearly seems to be a character in the mold of the Punisher. Though Punisher's inaugural limited series is still a couple years away at this point, and I see that Vigilante receives his own ongoing series shortly after this issue, I believe the Punisher had already made great headway toward the popularity of "Dirty Harry" style superheroes by this point in the pages of SPIDER-MAN and DAREDEVIL.

(Incidentally, Chase's Vigilante is all-new to me. Previously, the only DC Vigilante I knew of was the good natured fellow with the cowboy hat and six shooters, played by Nathan Fillion in television's JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED.)

Lastly, let's take a moment to consider two items -- first, the Monitor. This may be a dumb question, but is this the Monitor? The guy from Wolfman's CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS? My instinct is probably not, but if that's the case, it seems odd that Wolfman would come up with two characters sharing the same name within just a few years of each other.

Secondly, the assassins the Monitor sends to aid Scarapelli: As they popped up, I was unimpressed by their lame names: Scorcher? Lame. Spear? Lame. Bazooka? Lame. Slasher? Lame. Tanker? Lame. And then... oh, hey! It's Cheshire! I know her! (Mainly from TV's YOUNG JUSTICE.) And as it turns out, Cheshire is easily the best developed of these new threats. In fact, two of them are killed within pages of their debuts. I wonder if Wolfman and Pérez at this point already had bigger plans for her? I guess we'll have to wait and see.

(Cheshire, by the way, seems to be designed as the trope-laden fantasy focal point for some horny teenager's drinking game: Based on what we see in this issue, she's a Hot Bisexual Asian Assassin™.)


  1. The Titans did it first!: Funny that you should post this cover with a mystery guy posing with a gun and some kids' faces on the crosshairs now as Teebore is going to bring in Cable just the next week over at his blog.

    1. Funny, I didn't make that connection but it would absolutely not surprise me to learn that Liefeld was influenced by this cover when he drew Cable's debut.

    2. I remember seeing that NM cover on a list of oft-homaged comic book covers, like it was the original real deal, but I couldn't not make that connection upon seeing this cover here.

  2. It is the same Monitor from Crisis on Infinite Earths. This annual marks the Monitor's first appearance. His MO is to supply super powered assassins for hire so he can catalog the abilities of meta-humans from different realities to fight the Anti-Monitor. The data he gathers him this issue leads him yo recruit Kid Flash when the Barry Allen a Flash proved unavailable.

    1. Thanks! I had no idea this was how the character debuted. Admittedly I've never actually read CRISIS, but based on what I know, I just always sort of assumed the Monitor was more of a cosmic character than he seems here. Which, I suppose, he may turn out to be. I guess his appearance just feels a bit inauspicious, knowing what I know about his future.

  3. I do think you should read CRISIS. One Titan's character arc started in this series will be resolved in that Limited series.
    Don't forget that the Monitor had debuted in the opening of the Brother Blood story, planting that bomb for Starfire and Raven to stop. He has also appeared in other titles, giving villains from past and present weaponry against the super-heroes. Roy Thomas would use the Monitor in his INFINITY INC. and ALL-STAR SQUADRON stories, the character being particularly helpful in explaining certain events. In ASS, Roy Thomas attempted to integrate the Golden Age comics into continuity but making sure it worked to modern day basics (for instance, a 1940s ALL-STAR COMICS story had the Justice Society kick Japanese butt in the Philipinnes during WWII. Roy Thomas retconned this to be just mind-illusions put into the JSA's dreams by the Brain Wave). One 1940s ASC had Nazi spies subdue the JSA (and the Spectre) with sleeping gas and put them in rockets into space. Thomas would retcon this by having the Monitor give the Nazi spies the technological means to achieve this.
    Kid Flash's speed problems I think was hinted way back in the Doom Patrol storyline, where the speedster ponders an uncharacteristic slowness in defeating one minion.
    This storyline has Dick-Robin at his darkest point, stalking Scrapelli and making things hotter for him. So where is Batman in all this? Probably in Markovia. Wayne associate Lucius Fox gets captured by revolutionaries in the war-torn country. Batman gathers the JLA to rescue him, but he finds Superman has promised the US government that the team will not be involved in this international crisis. Pissed off that the JLA is more interested in policy rather than justice, Batman quits the team and heads to Markovia himself. He will encounter a bunch of outsiders...
    BTW, after you read the third omnibus, will you be reviewing the Wolfman-Perez Graphic Novel NEW TEEN TITANS: GAMES?

    1. I'll check CRISIS out someday, I'm sure. It's just never been high on my DC priority list because I know so little about the pre-CRISIS continuity that I worry I'd get lost.

      I don't recall the Monitor being name-checked in issue 21. I'll have to go back and look at that again; I must've missed it. Interesting that Wolfman was setting him up this early. I know CRISIS was in development for a long time, but I'm nonetheless impressed that here, about three years before its start, the character made his debut.

      I knew about Batman's mission to rescue Fox being the catalyst that started BATMAN AND THE OUTSIDERS, but I had no idea the country he went to was Markovia. Having just learned recently as I've continued reading these issues that that's the country which produced Geo-Force and half of Terra, I find that a nice touch.

      No plans for GAMES at this time. I'm only going to finish the initial Wolfman/Pérez run, concluding with NEW TEEN TITANS (volume 2) #6. Someday I will probably return to the third Omnibus and read the rest of their stuff together, but right now I find it odd that the book jumps from NTT #6 all the way up to #50, when Pérez returned to the title. And as I understand it, GAMES is from that later era.

    2. Well, I'll be. I went back to #21, and sure enough there's a little scene with an exterior view of the Monitor's satellite as he speaks from within. I'm not sure how I missed noting that. Still, though, a little footnote pointing back to that issue might have been nice to see in this annual!