Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Writers: Marv Wolfman (NTT #37) & Mike W. BARR (B&TO #5)
Artists: George Pérez & Romeo Tanghal (NTT #37) & Jim Aparo (B&TO #5)
Letterers: John Costanza (NTT #37) & Jim Aparo (B&TO #5)
Colorist: Adrienne Roy | Editor: Len Wein

The Plot: (NTT #37) At the order of Psimon, Gizmo breaks Shimmer and Mammoth out of prison. Dr. Light convinces them to spring him as well. At the suggestion of Shimmer and Mammoth, Psimon leads the Fearsome Five to kidnap Dr. Jace, a woman with a technique for imbuing normal humans with superpowers.

Later, Terra leaves a Titans' meeting when she receives an emergency signal from Dr. Jace, who gave her and her brother their abilities. Terra heads for Jace's lab, where she finds the Outsiders -- Metamorpho, Katana, Halo, and Black Lightning -- investigating the demolished facility. The Titans catch up and a fight breaks out, but when the Outsiders' fifth member -- Terra's brother, Geo-Force -- reveals himself, both sides make amends.

The teams' respective leaders, Robin and Batman, are summoned from Gotham City while Psimon mentally coerces Dr. Jace into working with the Fearsome Five. When the heroes investigate several recently transformed half-mud vagrants, their path leads them to Psimon's lab outside Gotham City. There, Dr. Jace's procedure has been perfected and the Fearsome Five have an army of mud monsters under their control.

After a brief skirmish, Psimon triggers explosives on his island lair which sink it into the sea with the Titans and Outsiders aboard, while the villains and their monsters escape.

(B&TO #5) Terra and Geo-Force save their teammates and the groups head to the Outsiders' base -- Bruce Wayne's penthouse -- with the rescued Dr. Jace, for some bonding while planning their next move. Meanwhile, Dr. Light has a falling out with the Fearsome Five and is pursued by the mud monsters to Central Park. The Titans and Outsiders arrive and capture him.

Elsewhere, Psimon uses a device in the Empire State Building to mentally enthrall the citizens on New York City. But Light confesses this plan to Batman, and the heroes arrive to stop the Fearsome Five. Robin countermands Batman's orders and the day is saved. All the Fearsome a Five are captured save Light, who escapes while under the watch of Dr. Jace.

My Thoughts: I think my hopes for this story were too high. I had wanted an adventure of Batman and Robin featuring the Titans and Outsiders. But what we have here -- and rightly so, I should note -- is an adventure of the Titans and Outsiders, teams which Just happen to count Batman and Robin among their memberships.

Some part of my expectation is simply due to the fact that I'm reading these NEW TEEN TITANS issues in a sort of vacuum. The fans of the eighties were able to read TITANS alongside monthly issues of BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS -- and as we've seen noted before, Robin has been splitting his time between the Titans and Batman lately, so it's not like this is a reunion long in the making. But for me, these two haven't shared a panel since the Justice League guest spot in issues 4 and 5, so I've had an artificially created anticipation for their "reunion" here.

So once I get past these issues, is the story enjoyable on its own merits? I suppose so. Dr. Light continues to crack me up as a perennial loser -- though more recent revelations about the guy continue to color my perceptions of him, as I found myself glad he didn't do more to Dr. Jace than merely tie her up when escaping at the story's close. I've learned that Light wasn't always a goofball loser as in the Titans stories, but even so -- all his past stories are retroactively tainted now.

Anyway, other than Light, the rest of the Fearsome Five don't do much for me. I feel like Marv Wolfman considers them, especially Paimon, a much bigger deal than I do. Light is a joke and that's fine, but the rest of the group are apparently meant to be taken seriously. But when it comes to original Titans villains, these folks are nothing compared with Deathstroke, the H.I.V.E., Trigon, Blackfire, and Brother Blood. Tossed in with those villainous luminaries, the Five feel like a bunch of also-rans.

But the biggest event in this story is the reunion of Terra and her brother. I recall reading something where Marv Wolfman explained that he and Pérez created Terra -- powers, costume and all -- and, totally coincidentally, Mike Barr and Jim Aparo created Geo-Force -- powers, costume and all -- completely independently at the same time. When their characters began appearing in comics and they saw what they looked like, the creators put their heads together and came up with a shared history for the two.

Obviously this was in the works for a while, as Terra mentioned her brother Brion and her past in another country (Markovia) in previous issues, so I don't know at exactly what point the similarities were discovered and the plans were made. But in any case, the solution works surprisingly well and feels nothing like retroactive continuity. Indeed, it really adds to Terra's character arc as she seriously loves her brother and now that he's become a friend of the Titans, she worries for his fate when she inevitably betrays them to Deathstroke.

Also, it's interesting to note that in NEW TEEN TITANS #37, Robin tells Batman that he would like to dissolve their partnership, but he wants to remain in the identity of Robin. Just two issues from now, however, in #39, he will retire from that identity entirely. I recall that he has a monologue in 39 explaining why he's quitting Robin, but I don't remember its content. Clearly Wolfman and Pérez have been building to this, but even now Robin wants to keep his name and costume. What will happen over the next couple issues to change his mind?

Final note: These issues introduce the number/month box which I most associate with the few DC comics I read as a kid. I've always liked this box with that super skinny font inside.


  1. The Titans did it first!: I don't know who the magenta-wearing fellow with a brain-aquarium on the cover is, but I know that Erik Larsen does not score full originality points on his Mindblast of the Femme Fatales.

    1. The fellow with the visi-brain is Psimon, leader of the Fearsome Five. But to be fair, I would bet that such a thing existed earlier too, maybe in some sci-fi comics or pulp covers from the olden days.

    2. Quite likely, but in the superhero comic books circles and especially with the color scheme them both sport it's kind of a stand-out.

    3. What!? I am surprised that your review has ignored a major turning point in the Dynamic Duo relationship. Robin standing up to Batman, taking control of the situation to its successful conclusion, and getting his mentor's approval for his capabilities. Dick has finally gained Bruce's respect and acceptance that he is no longer the child-sidekick but a man who can wisely make his own decisions as adult, hero, and leader. This is a major progress to Dick's eventual independence from Batman, not to mention a warm, respectful parting compared to later retcons where Batman cruelly fires Dick as Robin (either because of an injury that made Batman rethink putting capes on kids or because he felt Dick no longer proved worthy).
      Anyway, this marks Dr. Light's last association with the Fearsome Five. Psimon will try to get a new recruit during the non-Perez break between TotTT#50 and the Trigon saga.
      The Outsiders will eventually learn Batman's secret ID around issue B&tO#12-13, where Alfred reveals the truth before a close-to-death-and-unconscious Batman. When Bats awakes, he reveals his ID to the team, who play dumb about it (still, the fact that Batman has the team associate with Bruce, use the Batcave & Alfred, plus giving Katana and Halo his old HQ at the Wayne Enterprises penthouse should have given warning signs).
      Black Lightning will eventually come to terms with his responsibility in a girl's death. The victim's parents will send a super-villain team- the Masters of Disaster- to kill him, but they repent and protect him.
      You probably have already read what's coming up for Terra, so doesn't her concern for Brion come off a bit OOC?

    4. I tend to write these things based on what I'm thinking right after finishing the issue(s), and I just sort of go from there. I don't usually make notes about specific things I want to cover; I just start writing. So, while Robin speaking up and overriding Batman's orders (which I did at least note in the summary) is a big deal, it just didn't occur to me to say anything about it.

      Never understood the ret-cons about why Robin left the job, though. DC seemed to go through this phase in the late eighties/early nineties where they had to retroactively add lots of conflict and angst to stories that never had them in the first place. I don't get it.

      I actually just read TALES issues 56 - 58 a couple weeks ago, so I know the story you're talking about. It's interesting that the Fearsome Five don't seem to take their name all that seriously. That particular story begins with four of them and then their membership balloons up to six!

      Glad to hear the Outsiders don't stay in the dark about Batman's identity for much longer. Reading this issue, I had trouble with the idea that they were living in Bruce Wayne's penthouse but apparently never put together the idea that he and Batman were the same person.

      I agree with you that Terra seems way out of character here with her feelings toward Geo-Force, but then I thought maybe he was just the only person in the world she actually cared for. Her behavior in "The Judas Contract", though really seems to go against the idea of her caring for anyone, period. I think I like this idea better, that there's at least one person on Earth who means something to her.