Monday, April 27, 2015


Co-Creators/Co-Editors: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez | Finisher: Mike DeCarlo
Letterer: Bob Lappan | Colorist: Adrienne Roy

The Plot: (issue 46) The Titans, along with Aqualad and Aquagirl, attack the H.I.V.E.'s undersea base and break inside. Raven briefly succumbs to Trigon's influence during the fight, but regains her self-control.

Meanwhile, Cyborg returns to his apartment late at night following a fruitless search for Changeling, to find his grandparents waiting for him. He chastises them for missing his father's funeral, but ultimately the family makes peace. Elsewhere in the city, a woman reports to the authorities that a man who attempted to mug her was brutally assaulted by a green lion.

Back under the sea, the Titans infiltrate the H.I.V.E. base, but the organization's leader has them lured into a trap and jettisoned into the water aboard a pod which subsequently explodes.

(issue 47) Raven's soul self rescues the Titans and they re-enter the H.I.V.E.'s base. Too weak to continue the fight, Raven teleports away. Meanwhile, at Titans' Tower, Cyborg tries to level with Changeling when Changeling's ex-girlfriend, Jillian, shows up.

Underwater, the Titans split up. While Nightwing and Aqualad stop a torpedo from destroying Atlantis, Wonder Girl, Starfire, Jericho, and Aquagirl go for the H.I.V.E.'s leadership. But upon their arrival they find the full H.I.V.E. council dead, their leader having killed them and then herself to avoid capture.

The H.I.V.E. defeated, the Titans head home. In outer space, the mysterious Monitor updates his files to list the H.I.V.E. as inactive.

My Thoughts: And thus the long-running H.I.V.E. storyline comes to an apparent end. The Titans wonder occasionally during this story just what the H.I.V.E. has had against them all this time, and the answer is about as anti-climactic as can be: they simply wanted to make a name for themselves and thought the Titans would be bigger pushovers than the Justice League.

In fact, the entire H.I.V.E. seems somewhat ill thought-out in retrospect. The group was a constant thorn in the Titans' side, but for no apparent reason. They rarely had clearly defined goals, and if they wanted to make a name for themselves by offing the Titans, why did they hire an outside contractor, Deathstroke, to do the job? Yes, they originally approached Deathstroke's son to offer him power and a chance for revenge in issue 2, but subsequently they kept Deathstroke on the hook for his son's contract rather than letting him off and going after the Titans on their own.

We also meet the H.I.V.E.'s leader in these issues, and she's actually one of the more interesting and unexpected aspects of the group. Turns out she's sort of a ditzy lady who thinks her men look "so handsome" in their uniforms and who really has little interest in running the H.I.V.E. except for the fact that the group was founded by her late husband (who she herself later killed). She's kind of silly, but at least she's sort of funny, too.

Over in sub-plot land, we find Cyborg's inner monologue bringing up every criticism I leveled against the Titans last issue -- namely that they knew Changeling was attached to Terra and that he has survivor's guilt over the Doom Patrol, but they still ignored him for a week when he wanted to talk. So at least Wolfman was aware of this even as he had the group act like a bunch of selfish jerks toward their youngest member.

We also get the return of Jillian, Changeling's girlfriend from TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #2, now with pink hair after attending finishing school in England. Strangely, even though these two issues are rife with footnotes -- possibly more footnotes than we've seen in the entire series to date, probably due to Wolfman now editing his own work (Wolfman loves his footnotes) -- Jillian's arrival has no reference for us. This, combined with her completely different look, made me think she was some new, heretofore unseen character from Changeling's past. I would argue that of all the things footnoted in these issues, that would've been the most useful.

Artistically, issues 46 and 47 are a big step down from 45. I liked Mike DeCarlo's work in 45, but here it's not nearly as nice. And Pérez's layouts have suddenly become extremely boring as well. Combined with DeCarlo's inks, I might almost have thought this was a fill-in artist, except that the faces are all clearly Pérez. By the story's end, the work becomes extremely cramped and cluttered too, the final page looking like Pérez suddenly ran out of space and panicked, cramming way too much action, combined with sloppy exposition from Wolfman to cover for him, into a nine-panel grid.

Oh, and Bob Lappan's letters are atrocious here, probably the worst the series has ever seen. I've read things lettered by Lappan's before and they looked fine. The more I think about it, the more I wonder if, taking the sloppy art and ugly letters into account, this issue was perhaps under a deadline crunch -- as is wont to happen, whether you like it or not, when you allow the creators to be their own editors.

Seriously, DC of 1984. What were you thinking?


  1. I also don't like DeCarlo's inking job in this portion of the series. I suppose the creators were feeling burned out. Not only did Perez have this series to draw, but also the Baxter series' intro Trigon saga published around the same time, and CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. And Wolfman also had to write the storylines that connected TotTT#50 with the Baxter series.

    Raven's backoff to Aqualad is always a memorable scene. I tend to imagine different characters reenacting that moment. This storyline also marks Raven's last adventure with the team know.

    If they had a reference box for Jillian, they would probably mention her appearance all the way back to DOOM PATROL.

    1. Yeah, that's a lot of work, especially for Pérez, all at once. Plus I'm not sure, in retrospect, that Wolfman and Pérez had the H.I.V.E. completely thought out from the start. I would bet that they just wanted a mysterious villain organization and figured they'd fill in the "how" and "why" later on. By this point they may have realized the previous appearances didn't really add up to anything concrete, and this was the best they could come up with to tie it together.

      Crazy that Raven is gone for so long. She warrants a single page cameo in the big issue 50 and I think has one other appearance in the 51 - 58 run, and that's it. Of course, those issues were published concurrently with, and then after, NTT vol. 2's first arc, but still -- chronologically she's out of the picture for a long time!