Contains New Teen Titans #9-16 (July 1981 to February 1982)
Written by Marv Wolfman
Pencilled by George Pérez
Inked by Romeo Tanghal
Coloured by Adrienne Roy
Spoilers from thirty-eight to thirty-nine years ago
I found the first trade in this series, collecting the classic Wolfman/Pérez run of New Teen Titans to be a bit of a rough go, but a) decades of comics fans can’t be completely wrong, and b) my ‘to-read’ stack is mostly NTT trades at the moment, and stores still aren’t open enough for me to pick up more on the cheap. So, I’m going to push on, secure in the knowledge that it gets better!
I mean, the last issue of the first trade ends introducing a plotline about puppets that kill people. How could that possibly be terrible? Actually…
This book features the following characters:
New Teen Titans
- Changeling (Gar Logan; #9-15)
- Robin (Dick Grayson; #9-11, 13-16)
- Cyborg (Vic Stone; #9-11, 13-16)
- Raven (#9-16)
- Kid Flash (Wally West; #9-11, 13-16)
- Starfire (Koriand’r; #9-16)
- Wonder Girl (Donna Troy; #9-16)
- Puppeteer (#9)
- Deathstroke, the Terminator (#9-10)
- The H.I.V.E (Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Elimination; #9-10, 16)
- Hyperion (Titan; #11-12)
- Brontes (Cyclopes; #11)
- Steropes (Cyclopes; #11)
- Arges (Cyclopes; #11)
- Iapetus (Titan; #11-12)
- Themis (Titan; #11-12)
- Crius (Titan; #11-12)
- Mnemosyne (Titan; #11-12)
- Coeus (Titan; #11-12)
- Phoebe (Titan; #11-12)
- Crounus (Titan; #11-12)
- Rhea (Titan; #11-12)
- Oceanus (Titan; #11-12)
- Tethys (Titan; #11-12)
- Madame Rouge (#13-15)
- General Zahl (#13-15)
- Plasmus (The Brotherhood of Evil; #14-15)
- Houngan (The Brotherhood of Evil; #14-15)
- Monsieur Mallah (The Brotherhood of Evil; #14-15)
- The Brain (The Brotherhood of Evil; #14-15)
- Phobia (The Brotherhood of Evil; #14-15)
- Warp (The Brotherhood of Evil; #14-15)
- Robotman (Cliff Steele, Doom Patrol; #10, 13-15)
- Hippolyta (Queen of the Amazons; #11-13)
- Paula Von Gunther (Amazon scientist; #11)
- Athena (Greek god; #12)
- Zeus (Greek god; #12)
- Hera (Greek god; #12)
- Ares (Greek god; #12)
- Hermes (Greek god; #12)
- Artemis (Greek god; #12)
- Hephaestus (Greek god; #12)
- Eos (Greek god; #12)
- Boreas (Greek god; #12)
- Poseidon (Greek god; #12)
- Mento (Steve Dayton, Doom Patrol; #13-15)
- Vernon Quester (Gar’s stepfather’s business manager; #9-10)
- Sarah Simms (teacher; #9-10)
- Terry Long (Donna’s boyfriend; #9, 12-13, 16)
- Wintergreen (Deathstroke’s assistant; #10)
- Dr. Benson Honeywell (Deathstroke’s lab chief; #10)
Let’s see what happened in the comics, with some commentary as I go:
- Just as the last volume ended, this one begins with a man on the board of Dayton Industries getting killed by a bunch of toy soldiers. Garfield arrives home, where Questor is waiting to tell him that four board members have now been killed, and that it has something to do with Project: Promethium. Gar does not want to be involved in Dayton Industries, which is not very heroic of him, but when he goes to his room, he’s attacked by a toy robot. He decides to call Robin in to help with this, and they go to Dayton Industries together. We learn that the Promethium project involves a perpetual energy source. Questor already suspects that the killer might be a former employee, Jordan Weir, the Puppeteer. Robin and Changeling go to Weir’s place, where they are shot at by a robot, and barely escape before the apartment explodes. We see that the Puppeteer is working for HIVE, who want the Promethium formula. We also learn that the Puppeteer has plans for the Titans. Cyborg and Raven are at the school for disabled kids where Vic’s friend Sarah Simms works. Vic took Raven hoping she could help heal the kids (who are missing limbs), but of course she can’t (I think they just needed to find some way to shoehorn Raven into this issue). We see that Vic and Sarah are getting closer. As the two heroes leave, they are attacked by a small Batman doll which somehow manages to take control of Vic’s mind after it explodes. He has red glowing energy tendrils flowing from him that look like Marionette strings. He attacks Raven and then stands still, so she sends her soul-self for help. Wally sees her flying over his campus, and gets suited up. Koriand’r is trying on dresses in front of Terry Long (kind of creepy). When Donna joins them, we learn he is twenty-nine (Donna is what, eighteen?). Raven summons the two heroes, and they head out. Puppeteer gets control of Kid Flash once Cyborg attacks him. Starfire and Wonder Girl arrive, but they get caught too. Raven escapes, but it seems that’s part of the Puppeteer’s plan. Robin addresses the remaining board of Dayton Industries, but is interrupted by Raven appearing. The rest of the Titans attack (I guess Raven is a slow teleporter), and during the fight, Kid Flash is able to free himself. He frees Starfire, while Robin takes down Cyborg by kicking him in his softest place (you guessed it). They manage to all get free, and then head to the Puppeteer’s lair (they followed the energy residue). The Puppeteer calls out his “soldier”, a huge pile of lethal toys, but of course the team manages to destroy them. The Puppeteer escapes from them, but we see HIVE members planning on shooting him. Back at Dayton Industries, we see that there’s a big fire happening, and that Deathstroke has made off with a tube labeled “Project Promethium”.
- Deathstroke is at home studying up on the Titans, who he intends to kill. He has his lab chief, Honeywell, going over the Promethium plans, and learns that it could be used to create great destruction. A few days later, a navy vessel in the middle of the Pacific is attacked by unseen assailants; we learn it’s carrying a nuclear warhead. Questor talks to Gar about how he needs to get more involved in Dayton Industries. Gar blows him off, and then finds Vic playing video games in his room. As Gar changes, he starts to talk to Vic about his time in the Doom Patrol. He explains how his parents inadvertently gave him his powers while trying to cure him of a disease in Africa, and how they later died when their canoe went over a cliff. A while later, Niles Caulder found him and had him join the Doom Patrol. After that, Rita Farr, Elasti-Girl, got married to Steve Dayton and the couple adopted him. Later, the team (but not Gar) sacrificed itself to save a town of 14 people. Later still, Gar learned that Robotman survived, and Gar is now paying him to track down Dayton, who is himself out looking for Madame Rouge, who caused the Patrol’s deaths. Gar calls Robotman, Cliff Steele, for an update, and learns that Madame Rouge might be in Uganda. After the call, Gar tells Vic that it was his friendship that allowed him to forgive Cliff. Sarah Simms is out grocery shopping and thinking about how poor she is. After she drives her car (she lives in Manhattan and has a car, but thinks she’s poor) to her unheated apartment (sell the car!), she is grabbed from behind. Somewhere in the Middle East, some CIA types in orange jumpsuits spy on a plane full of terrorists, before being killed by some Arab stereotypes. We see that terrorists from all over, including Russia and Korea, are on their way to America. Starfire flies around, thinking about her family and, for the first time, her sister, when Deathstroke shoots her in the neck from a distance. He approaches her after she falls, and they have a short fight. He knocks her out, but it’s clear that’s not his goal, so he takes a hit from her as she recovers, and then tosses a bomb at a building so it starts to collapse. Kory has no choice but to help people and let her escape. After he’s home, Deathstroke gets a call from HIVE, who are angry that he took the Promethium plans. He tells them that he’s auctioning them off the next day. Gar and Vic take a Titans jet to Titans’ Tower, where they find the rest of the team waiting for them. When they are all talking, a transmitter that Deathstroke stuck on Kory’s neck starts broadcasting his voice. The tells the Titans that he wants them to help prove the effectiveness of the Promethium Bomb he’s built. He tells them that he has Sarah Simms, and Vic gets really angry until Raven can calm him. Gar feels that this scenario is similar to the setup that got the Doom Patrol killed, but the team waits for word from Wilson, and then flies to the Grand Canyon. There, he gives Sarah back, but tells them they have to do as he says. Later, Deathstroke addresses the terrorists who have gathered in a base he has in the Grand Canyon (I guess no one would notice that?). He has a demonstration for them, and we see that the Titans are all lying unconscious in the desert. A plane flies over and drops the Promethium Bomb on them. The explosion is massive. As Deathstroke starts the bidding, the HIVE representatives kill all the other terrorists, and tell Wilson to keep the gold they all brought. Deathstroke kills the two HIVE folk. The Titans show up, and we learn that they replicated the explosion with their powers after Kid Flash disabled the bomb (which was not a Promethium Bomb afterall, but the nuke Wilson stole from the Navy ship). Wilson calls on his massive mercenary army to kill the Titans while he makes a run for it. Gar goes after him, and they fight for a while before Deathstroke zaps him with his staff. Raven feels this, and as the Titans finish their fight with the mercs, she tells them that Gar is dead.
- Okay, so Gar is not dead, but he is in bad shape. The Titans are flying through New York on their way to Paradise Island to find a way to save their young friend (having stopped at STAR Labs for a suspended animation tube, apparently). Donna explains that the purple ray on Paradise Island can heal wounds like Gar’s (which we can’t actually see on his shirtless body), but also sometimes doesn’t. Wally is surprised by how upset Vic is at the thought of Gar dying. They pass through a storm and arrive at the island, which Kory finds very beautiful. Because of a decree of the gods, none of the males can step foot on the island, so the women have to fly down, carrying Garth (although, I suppose they could have landed the plane and stayed inside. Hippolyte (I thought it was usually spelled with an ‘a’ at the end) greets them and takes them to the device. The male Titans set course for Africa, hoping to find the woman that killed the Doom Patrol as a favor to Gar. Deep beneath Paradise Island, awash in lengthy prose, the original Titan of myth, Hyperion, breaks free from his rocky prison in Tartarus, and begins to climb into sunlight again. Hyperion stands in front of the sun, which somehow dims its ability to power the purple ray, thereby not saving Garth. Donna flies up to get Hyperion out of the way, and he is immediately taken by her beauty. He does something, so that Donna instantly falls in love with him. Kory flies up to break them apart, and he blasts her away. She has to be rescued by some Amazons when she falls into the water. Raven tries next, and her soul-self is shattered. Hyperion, now at full strength, takes Donna with him back to Tartarus, where they are attacked by the three Cyclopes. Together, Donna and Hyperion defeat them. Hippolyte gathers the Amazons, who prepare to go to war to get Donna back. Hyperion gives Donna a lengthy history of the beginnings of Greek mythology, which ends with Zeus imprisoning the Titans. Hyperion talks a lot, and then they kiss. At the same time, Hippolyte, Starfire, Raven, and the Amazons fight a big monster and try to make their way into Tartarus. There’s a solid diamond wall in the way, which Hippolyte uses a magical sword that can only be used once, to destroy it. Meanwhile, Hyperion frees the rest of the Titans. Starfire leads everyone into the same space, and there is some posturing. Hippolyte wants to talk, but Donna, now wearing a dress, tells her mother that she wants to stay with Hyperion. The Titans all teleport away, and Hippolyte fears that her daughter is lost to her, until someone else (we don’t see who) shows up and tells her that he or she will stop the Titans.
- It is Athena who has come to the Amazons, and whose storied wisdom restores the correct spelling of Hippolyta’s name. She wants the Amazons to help fight the Titans, but Hippolyta believes in the vision of peace that Cronus explained to her. The Titans make their move on Olympus, as Donna remains smitten with Hyperion. He promises her godhood, which makes her pause a little. The Three Seasons want to stop the Titans from coming further, but the two Moon God Titans put them to sleep. Inside Olympus, Zeus wants to kill the Titans, while Hera tries to keep the peace. The Titans face the Furies, who appear as skeletal beings with snakes coming from their foreheads and mouths. Donna joins in the fight, but she is starting to feel doubt. The Ocean Titans bring forth rains to get rid of the Furies. Next, they face Zeus and his pantheon, and the fighting begins. Donna doesn’t want to fight against the beings she was raised to worship, but can’t bring herself to stop fighting. Cronus seals all the Olympians in rock, ending the fight. He wants to kill them all, which Donna questions. Just then, Hippolyta, Starfire, and Raven appear at the front of the Amazon Army, as does Athena. There’s a lot of talking. Athena explains that Cronus’s utopian vision would take away all willpower from mankind. Donna is upset by this, but Cronus loses patience. Starfire attacks him, but he shrugs it off, and then the Amazons attack the Titans. Raven and Starfire try to free Zeus. Rhea, Zeus’s mother, tries to stop them but Raven grabs her in her soul-self. Donna starts to shake off Hyperion’s control, and Kory finally frees Zeus. Cronus is upset by that, but Athena tries to speak some wisdom. The other Titans try to convince Cronus that they could return to Tartarus and make it into a nicer place. Hyperion, being a sun god, doesn’t want to leave. Donna now knows that Hyperion controlled her mind, and as Cronus restores her to her regular outfit, she shows Hyperion some kindness. Cronus and Rhea free the rest of the Olympians, and the Titans leave. Later, we see a plane leave Paradise Island, while Starfire and Raven talk about how Donna left without even speaking to them. Hippolyta understands what Donna is going through. At the same time, the purple ray works, restoring Gar to life, but he seems different, and wants to kill someone. Donna turns up at Terry Long’s apartment, where she wants him to hold her; he tells her he loves her.
- Donna stops some guys stealing crates of computer components (mostly by smashing them and their forklifts into the crates, and then bringing a pile of them down on the would-be thieves). Afterwards, still conflicted by the Hyperion incident, goes to see Terry, who is waiting with her street clothes. They have lunch and talk about what’s happened, and how she needs to return to Paradise Island to check on Gar’s progress. On the Island, we see that Starfire is participating in some gladiatorial-style games involving riding giant kangaroos. Starfire does well in the jousting-like event, but the staff battle event brings back bad memories of being trained to fight by the Warlords of Okaara. She ends up victorious, and later chats with Hippolyta and Raven about how much the Island reminds her of Tamaran. Their chat is interrupted by an explosion on the island where Paula Von Gunther’s lab is. In Uganda, Robin, Kid Flash, and Cyborg are scouting a structure in deep jungle. Robin and Cyborg talk about how Vic doesn’t get along with Wally, and how Vic feels bad for putting Sarah Simms in danger. Wally returns from scouting to tell the others to hurry. Outside an old temple, they find Robotman strung up with a sign warning trespassers away. Vic is able to get Robotman up and running again, and he explains that he was searching a fortress under the ruins when he was hurt. On Paradise Island, Starfire, Raven, Hippolyta, and some other Amazons rush forth, where they find that Gar has turned into a giant sea monster that wants to kill them. Starfire gets knocked into the water by him, but Raven is able to get him to return to his normal form and expel whatever was making him so murderous. Kory fishes him out of the water. Later, he gains consciousness and finds himself surrounded by Amazons and his friends. They get a call from Donna, who has arrived. Robin and the others enter the underground fortress, believed to belong to Madame Rouge and General Zahl. As Wally scouts the place, he doubts whether he should be a superhero. He finds two armored guys, and takes them out before calling the others to him. They discover that the underground complex is massive, and see dozens of armored guards training and standing around. They see Madame Rouge announce on a screen that there are intruders in the base. Cliff wants to fight, but Robin convinces him to instead free Steve Dayton first. Wally checks the base, and finds Dayton. They open his cell, but Dayton doesn’t know any of them. Dick is convinced he’s been drugged. A bunch of the armored guys show up, and the team has to fight them while Dayton claims he knows where his Mento suit is. Robin luckily has a collapsible riot shield, while Vic throws his fist around on the end of a long cable. They take all the guards out, and Wally retrieves the Mento suit. They escape and make their way back to their jet, which is parked in the middle of the jungle. We see that Madam Rouge and General Zahl aren’t that upset, because this is following Rouge’s plans. As the team approaches their plane, we see something is wrong with Dayton.
- Robin, Cyborg, and Kid Flash, with Robotman and Steve Dayton, watch as the other Titans jet approaches them. Wonder Girl and Changeling emerge, and while Vic is happy to see Gar, Donna lets Dick know that something happened to her, but that she doesn’t want to discuss it. Raven talks to Wally, apologizing for what she did before. Gar finally notices that Cliff has Dayton, and realizes that he’s out of it. Starfire shows up. Dayton keeps asking for his Mento costume; Raven can’t calm him down. Wally brings him his outfit (which is terrible, I might add), and once he puts it on, he attacks everyone. Wally saves Dick from flying into a tree, and the team has trouble holding their own. Mento starts to melt Cliff somehow. Raven gets him to stop by making him think that he’s hurting his dead wife, Rita Farr. He collapses, and we learn that Madame Rouge and General Zahl have been watching the whole time, because the Titans just happened to park their jets in front of a tree with a camera in it. We see the two villains talk about how they are planning a coup in the nation of Zandia. In an interlude in Zandia, one of Rouge’s agents is attacked by someone with a French accent, and killed. The Titans have set up a tent and table now (not that far from where their enemies were – why not fly somewhere else first?), and are sitting around chatting. Dayton explains to everyone, at Dick’s urging, about how Niles Caulder formed the Doom Patrol, and how he, Dayton, developed his powers as a way of getting Rita Farr to fall in love with him. He talks about marrying her, and then seeing them all get killed. Cliff explains that he didn’t die, but had to be rebuilt. Dayton explains that he increased the power of his Mento suit, and searched Africa, looking for Madame Rouge. Instead, he thought he found Rita, but it was actually Rouge, who can change her shape. We learn that Dayton was imprisoned for a year, but has no memories of that time. Vic and Cliff want to go back and smash the villains’ base, but Gar is angry, and also wants to attack. When some of the others try to calm him down, he storms off, in bird firm, and heads towards Rouge’s base. There is an earthquake, and the team, surprised since there are no earthquakes in that area of Africa. They rush off to see what’s happened. Wally and Raven discover a huge crater. Rouge’s base, which now looks like a large city, is currently flying through the air. Gar catches up to it, and grabs ahold. The rest of the team follows in a single jet, where they figure out that the flying city is heading for Zandia, in the Baltic Sea. As the city arrives in Zandia, the armored soldiers attack the small island nation. Gar is still holding onto the rocks outside the flying city, and despite the fact that he could easily change shape into an animal with a better grip, he instead starts to slip. As Dick flies the jet, Donna, Raven, and Kory enter the fight. Wally joins in too, but there are hundreds of enemy soldiers and most of the team is overwhelmed. Raven’s soul-self is fired on. Vic is firing from the jet, and Cliff points out Gar on the side. Gar suddenly pulls out a big rifle and fires on the jet, causing it to crash. This wasn’t Gar of course, it was Madame Rouge. Elsewhere, Gar wakes up from unconsciousness, and sees in front of him the Brotherhood of Evil.
- As Madame Rouge continues to watch her invasion of Zandia, General Zahl has put the Titans and Robotman (but not Changeling) into his devolving pit – a dome filled with chemicals that will devolve them into primordial ooze. How fortunate he thought to bring that and install it in the control room of the former underground base that has now become a flying city. He’s surprised that Cliff, who is totally made of metal, isn’t devolving. Rouge’s soldiers continue to fly around shooting any citizens that are out in the open. We learn that Zandia is actually fully populated with immigrants, and that it’s a haven for criminals, mercenaries, and murderers, which is why she wants it. Gar finds himself with the new Brotherhood of Evil. He tries to attack the Brain, but Plasmus and Warp defend him. Phobia makes Gar afraid of women (as if he wasn’t misogynistic enough with his constant objectifying of every female on the team). Houngan uses his computer fetish (meaning a technological voodoo doll, not a weird desire for computers) which somehow has some of Gar’s hair in it to cause pain to his leg. Gar finally starts talking to the Brain. We learn that he and Mallah escaped death by having a trick floor that protected them when their base blew up, and then Brain assembled this new team. As much as Gar doesn’t trust these guys, he agrees to work with them to stop Rouge and Zahl. The Titans have mostly devolved into apes, and are attacking Cliff. Warp opens a portal into Rouge’s control room, and the Brotherhood and Gar (but not Brain) come through and attack. Monsieur Mallah shoots a control device out of Rouge’s hand, while dozens of Rouge’s soldiers enter the fight. Phobia make some turn on each other, while Warp teleports some to space. Rouge flees, but Gar blocks her. The Titans continue to beat on Cliff. Houngan blows up a soldier’s armor. Cliff grabs Cyborg’s arm, and uses his sound blaster to destroy the dome around the pit, and the Titans, escaping it, are immediately returned to normal. As the team gets into the fight, Raven tries to heal Mallah’s pain (Rouge blasted him before), and is upset when he kills a soldier. Vic fights more soldiers, but gets knocked off the side of the flying city. He manages to extend his arm, Inspector Gadget style, and save himself. Mallah explains his nature to Raven, so she teleports away from him. Starfire cuts loose, while Warp sends more soldiers into the water below. There’s more fighting, until Cliff spots Zahl, and chases him. Gar keeps fighting Rouge, who tries to escape him. Zahl shoots Cliff a bunch of times, and one of his bullets ricochets back into him, killing him. Gar keeps turning into mythical creatures, while Rouge runs to the city’s self-destruct device. He swats her away from it, sending her into machinery that explodes around her. He’s worried he’s killed her, and when she dies, he feels terrible. He runs to warn his friends that the city is about to explode, and finds the Brain, who is piloting the city away from Zandia. Gar and the Brain call the others, warning them, and Warp makes a portal. He goes to get Gar and Brain as well. We see the city explode, which the two assembled teams watch happen from a safe distance. Cliff wants to fight the Brotherhood now, but Gar intervenes, saying he’d cut a deal. They are allowed to leave. Mento finds the others (I’d wondered where they’d dumped him), and Dayton talks about how he is free of hate now. Gar also feels much better, and he, Dayton, and Cliff walk off with their arms around each other.
- About a month has passed, and the team (except for Gar, who is still off with Cliff and Dayton, and Starfire, who is also out) is hanging out in the Tower’s pool. We learn that Raven is about to start college, and is a little nervous. Dick and Donna talk about Koriand’r, and we learn that she and Dick were fooling around, but he gave her the “just want to be friends” speech. Since then, she’s met some guy named Franklin Crandall, and is dating him. We see that someone is breaking into Donna’s apartment. Dick and Donna continue talking while they change into street clothes, but it’s not clear if they are yelling through a wall or changing in the same room. Donna explains how Kory’s been posing for the jean campaign she was photographing, when this Franklin guy wandered in by mistake, and was smitten with Kory. He asked her out, and when Donna warneds her to be cautious, she decided to go out with him anyway. Vic stays back at the Tower when the others leave, and we learn that he’s been afraid to call his friend Sarah after they got back. The person in Donna’s apartment breaks into her dark room, which has its red light shining, even though no one is home. Kory is on a date with Franklin, who doesn’t know she’s an alien or a superhero, and has to quietly stop a runaway car without getting noticed. Wally drops Raven off at Manhattan College, and it’s clear he still loves her. Donna and Dick discover that Donna’s apartment was broken into; Dick has a fingerprint kit in his pocket. Donna figures out that the only thing taken was the contact sheets from one photo session. Franklin asks to go up to Kory’s place, and when they get there, she is concerned by the mess and the lack of Donna. She calls Terry Long, who for some reason has a two-piece telephone. Franklin admits he knows that Kory is Starfire, having spotted the green eyes she hides behind tinted glasses. Kory is happy to learn that Franklin is in love with her. At the college, Raven talks a lot when answering the professor’s question, and even mentions Azar, which excites some blonde kid in the class. Kory says goodbye to Franklin, who she is going to see that night with the others, because they have something to tell them. Kory flies around in happiness. Franklin heads home to Connecticut, where a HIVE operative is waiting for him. It becomes clear that he was hired to get to know things about the Titans, but now he wants to back out. Some guy tries to grab Raven at school for some reason, and she uses her abilities to make him freeze in place. When his friend gets confrontational, the blonde kid punches him, and Raven is upset to see someone interested in Azar resort to violence; she runs away from them. At the Tower, Donna, Dick, and Vic figure out that the photos that got stolen were of a model, Angela Dove, who was apparently dating a small-time crook. They figure that a bigger gangster took her. Kory comes in and tells the team she has a surprise about her and Franklin, but the others are suspicious. Raven feels lonely. Kory calls Franklin, and arranges for them to all come over at 8; we see him pick up a gun. The team heads to Harlem to try to find Angela. We see that she’s tied up and surrounded by gangsters. The team, who know the gangster’s drop place’s location, bust through the wall and take them all out. The gangster holds a knife to Angela’s neck, but Kory blasts him. The HIVE guy is still at Franklin’s place, and Franklin reveals that this guy is not working on behalf of HIVE, but is instead trying to gain clout from them. The guy shoots Franklin. The team arrives at his place, and Kory finds him hanging onto life. He tells Kory he loves her and dies. When Robin has to tell her that he’s dead, she punches him, complaining that everyone is always telling her what to do; she flies off to the address that Franklin told her before he died. Once there, she confronts the lone HIVE guy, and it’s clear she wants to kill him. Donna arrives and stops her just in time. Donna stands in front of the man, and Kory sees reason, flying off in pain. Somehow, the HIVE guy got away from Donna. Later, he is executed by the rest of HIVE’s inner circle. Dick and Donna talk about this, and decide not to tell Kory that Franklin was originally working for HIVE. We see Kory lying in bed crying.
Okay, this trade was better than the first one, but I still found it to be frequently tedious. The characters were portrayed as being more likeable, and the fact that individual characters got more focus (specifically, Donna, Gar, and Kory) felt necessary, and I appreciated that Raven was largely side-lined.
It felt, in this trade, like Marv Wolfman was working to solve some continuity issues, giving a lot of time to the Doom Patrol and their death. I was also surprised at how much time was given to the Greek gods and Titans, in a story that only tangentially involved three of the Teen Titans. (This is a good place to point out just how weird pre-Crisis Wonder Woman was, with Themyscira being home to purple rays, mounted kangaroos, and a curse that men can’t touch the ground).
Wolfman’s prose wasn’t quite as clunky as it was in the first trade, although Raven still manages to bore me every time she opens her mouth, and Gar’s jokes have not aged any better than his sexism.
One thing I am still struggling with is the motivation behind both The HIVE and Deathstroke. Their reasons for expending so much energy to kill the Titans feels weak in both cases. Deathstroke had the chance to kill them, but decided to leave it for an atomic bomb to do? That doesn’t make a lot of sense, and definitely doesn’t work with later portrayals of Slade Wilson. HIVE is just a poor man’s Hydra, with no real ideological purpose. Their name, Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Elimination, suggests that they would probably be better at killing people, and maybe wouldn’t always need to hire people…
I was amused by the Brotherhood of Evil, mostly because my first real exposure to Brain and Monsieur Mallah came in Grant Morrison’s classic Doom Patrol, and I find myself reading into their interactions, looking for clues of their love for one another. The rest of the Brotherhood are very lame. Phobia and Warp do keep popping up these days, but they’ve always sucked. Plasmus is not a memorable character, and while Houngan’s blending of religious practice and electronics had potential, the character is so wrapped in stereotypes that he probably couldn’t be used today.
What was emerging throughout this volume was an increased sense of these characters forming a family, and I appreciate that, and found that it gave me reason to keep reading. I think this is the strength of the comic, and I’m starting to see why it caught on so well. I expect that continues to develop in future volumes.
Let’s take a moment to talk about the characters and how they were portrayed.
Wonder Girl – Donna got a lot of development, as we saw her professional career as a photographer (albeit a very young one), and saw her (potentially inappropriate) relationship with the creepy and ten years older than her Terry Long. I don’t think Wolfman does a good job of selling this relationship – he seems like a dolt, and we only know they are in love because they keep talking about it. I feel like the Hyperion storyline, where he made Donna fall in love with him, could have been mined for a little more drama, but suspect that Wolfman realized that he’d have to justify why Donna is with Terry, and so left it. This might be coming from left-field, but was Wolfman maybe portraying a bit of himself in Terry, and this whole thing was a form of fanboy wish fulfillment?
Changeling – Gar is the other character who showed the most growth during this volume. He had to make a deal with his enemies, and also got to (rather quickly) resolve his rocky relationship with his step-father, Steve Dayton. I don’t know why Dayton is considered a step, when he adopted Gar and was married to Gar’s adopted mother, but whatever. It was nice to see Gar become a little more serious, and not be just the joke character. At the same time, there is probably a lot to say about Gar’s treatment of women in this comic, as he continuously objectifies and sexualizes his teammates and any other woman they come across. It’s awkward to read now. Also, it’s odd that he’s the youngest kid on the team, but he’s also the hairiest…
Starfire – Koriand’r also began to show growth in this volume, although a lot of her screen time is given over to the others telling her how to act and use her powers. I assume this is something that is going to be built on in future volumes.
Cyborg – It’s curious that Vic’s relationship with Sarah Simms is relegated to being “just friends”, and I wonder if that’s because of his fear that she would reject him for being only partially human still, or if it’s because of fears of showing an interracial relationship. I like how Vic and Gar are becoming better friends in these issues.
Kid Flash – Wally doesn’t do a whole lot in this volume. He’s one of the characters I feel the strongest affinity for, because I was a fan of his time as the Flash, but I don’t find anything particularly likeable about him here.
Robin – I feel much the same way about Dick here. He’s around, he does stuff, but as a leader, I don’t find him particularly inspiring. It often feels like Donna is the team’s real leader. Other than the hint that he is interested in Kory, he’s just the guy who’s around all the time, and happens to keep a fingerprint-dusting kit in his pocket.
Raven – I still can’t stand Raven. I’m just glad that there wasn’t as much of a focus on her this time around.
I saw some real growth in George Pérez’s work over the course of this book, and wonder how involved he might have been in the plotting of the story as well. I feel like the issues set on Themyscira and Olympus were preludes to his run on Wonder Woman.
In the end, I’m glad I stayed with this, and I have bigger hopes for the volumes of this series to come. I’m also impressed with how much story Wolfman and Pérez fit into each 25-page issue, and wish we could get back to comics of that length and depth again.
You can check out my Retro Review archives here.
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New Teen Titans Vol. 2