Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Writer-Editor-Co-Plot: Marv Wolfman | Co-Plot: George Pérez | Layouts: Daniel Jurgens
Embellisher: Romeo Tanghal | Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Adrienne Roy

The Plot: New York honors the Titans with a parade and a presentation of the Key to the City. Wally West and his family, with Frances Kane, watch the parade on TV while elsewhere, the winged alien pines for Lilith and Jericho recovers in the hospital after the Titans' encounter with Trigon. Later, the Titans assess damage to their tower and then attempt to adjust to life as celebrities, while Arella heads out to search for Raven. Eventually, when he realizes that something is troubling Donna, Terry suggests a Titans' holiday in the Grand Canyon. There, the group discusses their experiences with their dark sides and eventually reaffirms their status as a team.

My Thoughts: I just had to give it one more issue, didn't I? Based on the cover and then the splash page, I figured this would be a feel good "quiet" issue in the aftermath of the Trigon saga. Well, it's definitely the latter, but in no way is it the former. It seems the Titans' fame has made them all suddenly realize how laughably careless they've been with their secret identities since the series began, as they suddenly can't get a moment's peace with the press and fans hounding them. Besides that, they're all disturbed by the visions Trigon showed them, in which their dark sides did terrible things to their loved ones, which led to the Titans giving in to the darkness and killing those evil versions of themselves.

So, to cope with this trauma, the group spends the final nine pages of the issue moping about their feelings to each other. The entire Grand Canyon scene is a slog, as the Titans pour out all their emotions in a way that just doesn't feel real to me. I like my super heroes to keep their angst bottled up, to soliloquize about their feelings through thought balloons, and to express their emotions by screaming and punching teammates who say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Seeing this group sit around and yak about what's eating them rubs me the wrong way.

Sadly the artwork isn't much better here, coming from a young and very green Dan Jurgens. His effort is decent, but after the spectacular work of George Pérez over the past few issues, it feels like a huge letdown. Romeo Tanghal ensures that all the characters remain on-model even with a fill-in artist, but he can't elevate Jurgens' art to anything more than a journeyman's work.

But since this is the final issue I'm slated to cover, at least for now, let's look back on the run as a whole. It's easy to see why THE NEW TEEN TITANS is viewed with such reverence nowadays. At the height of their powers, Wolfman and Pérez comprised one of the best writer-artist teams -- possibly the best, in terms of plot collaboration and creative synergy -- of the eighties. They easily rank alongside Lee & Kirby and Claremont & Byrne for their work on this series. Things started a bit rough, with some Silver Agey plots, poorly paced issues, and less-than-compelling storylines. But within a year, they had hit a stride and worked out most of the kinks. And within two years, they had turned the series into a real superhero epic, featuring numerous ongoing sub-plots and recurring foes.

I wasn't a fan of Wolfman's writing at first. He tried too hard to be a hybrid of Stan Lee and the overwrought scribes of the seventies. But when he eventually found a proper "voice" for the series, there was no looking back. I still get irked when characters utter "Lord!" as an exclamation, but by the end of the run, that's the worst thing I can say about his writing.

And Pérez! What can I say that I haven't already? It's been amazing to watch his evolution over the course of these sixty or so issues, transforming from a solid but not overly exciting penciler into the detail-oriented powerhouse I eventually discovered years later in the pages of Marvel's INFINITY GAUNTLET. His character designs weren't always great -- a problem I've long associated with him -- and Jericho, who was apparently his sole creation, doesn't exactly set my world on fire, but other than those two little issues, there's no negative I can cite with regards to Pérez's artwork. He kept things exciting and, especially near the end, his experimentation with various artistic techniques was amazing.

And together they brought us Trigon, the Fearsome Five, Brother Blood and Zandia, Azarath, the Vegan System, the Vigilante, Deathstroke the Terminator and the H.I.V.E., and so much more. Some ideas were winners, others not so much. But the sheer creativity evidenced in these pages can't be denied. Wolfman and Pérez threw a heck of a lot against the wall, and a surprising amount of it stuck.

It's rare that I read a classically beloved run later in life and find that everything I've heard about it is true. Usually, without the benefit of the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, I see the flaws and I just don't get it. And yes, I did see some flaws in THE NEW TEEN TITANS, which I addressed as they came up. But I was able to look past them because the underlying work is just that good. This original Wolfman/Pérez run absolutely lives up to the hype I've heard for years. It's a run I can see myself returning to now and then over the years, alongside all the stuff I grew up with. It really is an amazing body of work, and I'm very happy to have read it.


  1. // This original Wolfman/Pérez run absolutely lives up to the hype I've heard for years. //

    Yay! I’m so glad to hear you think so. As I mentioned over at Teebore’s when we discussed this at some point, yeah, stuff like “Lord!” prompts an eye-roll, but the core of this run really holds up and, like you say, the creative synergy is amazing. While I didn’t get to rereading it this summer as hoped, I still look forward to going through your posts when possible once I do.

    1. Well, when you get around to it, I hope you'll stop by and comment! I liked most of it, but I'm always happy to get other perspectives on stuff I wasn't so keen on.