Monday, April 6, 2015


DC Comics presents a Wolfman/Pérez production
Script by Marv Wolfman | From a plot by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez
Art by George Pérez & Romeo Tanghal | Lettering by Ben Oda
Coloring by Adrienne Roy | Edited by Len Wein

The Plot: Through the framing device of a case summary recording, Robin explains that Terry Long asked him to investigate Wonder Girl's past since it was very important to her that she learn where she came from prior to their wedding.

Robin and Wonder Girl investigate the tenement where young Donna Troy was found by Wonder Woman, uncovering a long hidden doll. The doll leads Robin to a toymaker, and subsequently to the former owner of an orphanage. Eventually, after unwinding a long series of clues, Robin reunites Wonder Girl with her adoptive mother and her new family, and with the grave of her biological mother.

My Thoughts: The point of this story is to explain Wonder Girl's origin, a plot point dating way back to THE NEW TEEN TITANS' very first issue. As I understand it, Wonder Girl was originally created as the childhood version of Wonder Woman -- but, when the original TEEN TITANS series launched in the sixties, writer Bob Haney (apparently well known for such continuity gaffes) assumed she was Wonder Woman's sidekick and brought her onto the team. This led to Marv Wolfman later teasing an origin for Wonder Girl in the final days of the original TITANS series, and now he follows up on that here.

Though the issue is devoted to developing a backstory for Wonder Girl, the framing device makes this more of a Robin story, as the Teen Wonder uses the detective skills he's learned from Batman to follow a decade-old trail of clues involving crooked attorneys, child slavery rings, and more. It's a very nice spotlight on Robin, and more importantly, the best look inside his head we've gotten since the series began.

"Who Is Donna Troy?" is a mystery, and while there's not necessarily any sense of urgency to Robin's probing of a decade-plus old "cold case", it's a great character piece focusing on the two members of the new Titans who have probably known each other longer than anyone else on the team. And -- in light of next issue's developments -- it's a very nice swan song for Dick Grayson's Robin, too.

Co-Creators: Marv Wolfman & George Pérez
Letterer: Ben Oda | 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: On intelligence provided by Bethany Snow, the Titans raid Brother Blood's complex in Alaska. Later, Terra meets with Deathstroke at his chalet to fill him in on the Titans' activities and spar.

The next day, Terra shows up for a Titans meeting where the group plans to reveal their identities to her. But first Kid Flash formally quits the team. Immediately after, Robin announces plans to give up his identity. He will remain a Titan, but he needs to find a new look and codename.

Later, Dick Grayson and Starfire see Wally West off as he departs for Blue Valley with Frances Kane.

My Thoughts: Though not officially labeled as such when it was originally published, THE NEW TEEN TITANS #39 is generally considered the beginning of the "Judas Contract" storyline, appearing as the first chapter in the trade paperback collected edition. And it makes sense that it would be included there, devoting a large amount of time to Terra and Deathstroke, and explaining that Terra has been wearing secret "contact lens cameras" when with the Titans.

Readers may recall that I compared issue 21 to the "season premiere" of a TV series. For my money, this issue works great as another such tentpole in the Titans' ongoing saga. The Outsiders crossover works as a decent "season finale" event with "Who Is Donna Troy" acting as a quiet capper after that. Now, "Crossroads" writes out Kid Flash, begins the ascension of both Brother Blood's and Deathstroke's storylines to prominence, and sets up a new direction for Robin (which strangely backpedals on his declaration just two issues ago that he did not want to give up the Robin name, just Robin's partnership with Batman). Just as with issue 21, this was simply another monthly issue in 1984 -- but now, knowing what's to come, it feels much more momentous.

And adding to that feeling is the artwork. All due respect to Romeo Tanghal, but THE NEW TEEN TITANS has never looked this good. George Pérez inks himself and the result is, to continue with television analogies, like suddenly seeing a high definition episode of a series you had watched up to this point only in standard definition. The detail is head and shoulders above anything we've ever seen before, and all the characters look perfect. The coloring even seems to have stepped up a notch in response to Pérez's effort, providing a moody, dismal tone which fits the upcoming storyline perfectly. This is truly the best looking TITANS issue to date, bar none.

Add to the above a good plot and some strong characterization from Marv Wolfman, and we're looking at a winner, and a worthy opening chapter for the storyline which will become "The Judas Contract".

Though I have to ask, given that she wanders around his chalet in nothing more than a skimpy robe and calls him "honey" -- are sixteen year-old Terra and the very, very significantly older Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson... doing it? Because... uhh... I have no words.


  1. Terra has been wearing secret "contact lens cameras" when with the Titans.

    Of course! The old "Judas contacts" trick!

    1. That got me to legitimately laugh out loud. Well done!

  2. I do agree about the art. Looking a few issues back, it's startling how quickly Perez-Tanghal stepped up in the quality. I could say that these issues up to the Trigon saga was Perez's peak on the NTT.
    I wouldn't say Dick's decision to quit Robin as backpedaling on his earlier decision to break up the partnership but keep the ID. Keep in mind Kid Flash, Speedy, and Auqualad kept their names despite their independence from their mentors. Dick thought he could follow suit. Besides, the Earth-2 Richard Grayson kept his Robin identity to adulthood.* However, Dick soon realized that unlike his teammates, Robin is synonymous with Batman, and that to become his own man, he had to find a new identity.
    One has to realize how big a step Dick's decision is. Aging sidekicks kept their alter egos to the end. As noted before, Earth-2 Robin was still in red-yellow-green (but with tights) even though he was near 50. Wolfman and Perez saw the importance of this, beginning the issue with the Titans' last Robin adventure and later detailing Dick stripping down his signature costume. Shortly after this issue, Dick would go to the Bat titles and give Jason Todd his Robin costume to take the mantle (again, a nicer portrayal of the Bruce-Dick parting than in Post-Crisis, where Batman, after firing Dick, finds Jason and gives him the Robin ID behind the predecessor's back!).
    Also note that according to Pre-Crisis continuity, Dick was 8 years old when he became Robin. Post-Crisis aged that beginning to 12-13.
    Terra and Slade...yeah. Basically Wolfman and Perez portrayed this nature of their relationship to emphasize how pretty screwed up Terra really is.
    BTW, does the Omnibus include pages from WORLD'S FINEST#300? This story, teaming up Superman and Batman and the JLA and Outsiders, includes an interlude (by Wolfman and Perez) of the Titans (and a costume-less Dick) falling into a time warp and battling Grodanian warships.
    *I wish to note that the Robin of Earth-2 had two major storylines going on at this time.
    First, Robin, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and Atom of Earth-2 were drowned by the Stream of Ruthlessness, a river that keeps them alive but 'drowns' their conscience. Thus, under this influence, any personal dark issue their noble natures suppressed was now brought open for them to enact. In Robin's case, he went straight to the Gotham penitentary to kill his parents' murderer, Boss Zucco, now an elderly Alzheimer's patient in the infirmary. His actions caused him to be rough on the Huntress (Batman's daughter Helena Wayne), who had to knock him out before he could kill a man who no longer knew what he did to Dick in 1940. Knowing the cure to the Stream's influence is temporary, Huntress locked Robin in the Batcave where an elderly Alfred had to watch his master go cold turkey.
    Shortly after, in the AMERICA VS. THE JUSTICE SOCIETY LS, the public revelation of the late Batman's Diary revealed that the JSA were secretly Nazis during WWII. The US Government forced the JSA into a Committee Hearing to prove the authenticity of these accusations (via going through their history). Helena Wayne was the JSA lawyer, willing to defend her teammates (even if it means calling her dad a liar) while Richard Grayson joined the committee against them (loyal to his mentor even if it means betraying his teammates). It turned out, as Richard discovered, the Diary was actually a MacGuffin to direct the JSA into remember, realize, and stop an old nemesis' future plan.

    1. Yes, I absolutely agree with you that this run, up to his departure, is Pérez's peak. I just read the Trigon story over the weekend and it's magnificent.

      I appreciate your summary of Earth-2 Robin. As little as I know about the mainstream DC Universe -- I really only have a grasp on the broad strokes -- I have even less knowledge of Earth-2. I think the only Earth-2 story I've ever read was the one where Batman and Catwoman marry, because it was in THE GREATEST BATMAN STORIES EVER TOLD, which I've owned since I was like twelve years old.

      At any rate, I agree that Dick stepping down as Robin is a big deal, and I understand from behind the scenes why it was done. And I get your point that Dick's discovered, as he says this issue, that Robin will always be the back half of "Batman and..." But the decision just comes out of nowhere to me after he affirmed just two issues back that he wanted to remain Batman. This could've been fixed for me if, for example, last issue during his investigation, someone jabbed him about being "the World's Second-Greatest Detective", or maybe this issue one of Brother Blood's goons taunted him, asking where Batman was. Little bits like that would've helped to sell the idea better for me. As it is, I feel like we've been told quite a bit about Robin's inferiority complex over the past several issues, but it's barely been shown.

      (Though, as you've noted before, it was shown more in the contemporaneous BATMAN and DETECTIVE COMICS issues, which I haven't read.)

      The relationship between Terra and Wilson doesn't just show us how screwed up Terra is; it doesn't really do much for Deathstroke's character, either. Plus, cradle-robbing just feels out of character for him, though I don't know why since we haven't seen a lot of his personal proclivities at this point.

      No sign of the WORLD'S FINEST 300 story in the Omnibus, and now that you've described it, that's unfortunate. DC was pretty good about collecting all the Wolfman/Pérez stuff in this series, so I'm a little disappointed they missed that. Though knowing their usual practices, if they had included it, they probably would've just dropped in the Wolfman/Pérez excerpt without the rest of the story...

    2. Wow, how bizarre: an AMERICA VS. THE JUSTICE SOCIETY TPB just popped up on DC's solicits this month, for release in July! What are the odds? Taking into account that I'm not usually a fan of Roy Thomas's scripting, at least at Marvel, would you recommend this?

  3. Well, it's basically a retelling of the JSA history, with each of the members telling the committee what happened 1940-1985 (Roy Thomas tying all the continuities together from ALL-STAR COMICS, JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA and his own series ALL-STAR SQUADRON 1-20, ANNUAL 3), with the subplot the civil strife of the Bat-children. Not so fond of the art (mainly Alfredo Alcala's inkwork; I wish Jerry Ordway- the essential JSA artist- hadn't backed out from drawing the series as planned, only doing the covers). But it is informative and a fitting coda to the original Dynamic Duo that debuted in 1939-40 (before CRISIS...).

    1. Thanks! In that case, right now I'm thinking I'll pass on pre-ordering it. I may check it out sometime down the line after release, though.