Retro Trade Review: The New Teen Titans Vol. 3 By Wolfman, Pérez & Others For DC Comics

Contains New Teen Titans #17-20, Tales of the New Teen Titans #1-4 (March 1982 to September 1982)

Written by Marv Wolfman

Co-Plotted by George Pérez (Tales of the New Teen Titans #2)

Pencilled by George Pérez 

Inked by Romeo Tanghal (#17-20), Brett Breeding (Tales of the New Teen Titans #1), Pablo Marcos (Tales of the New Teen Titans #2), Gene Day (Tales of the New Teen Titans #3), Ernie Colón (Tales of the New Teen Titans #4)

Coloured by Adrienne Roy 

Spoilers from thirty-eight years ago

The second trade of these classic comics was a lot better than the first, leaving me with hope that this series would continue to improve, and that I’d eventually figure out the massive appeal of the title.  It must have been gaining ground rapidly, as in 1982 there was a four issue miniseries, Tales of the New Teen Titans that focused on solo adventures and origin stories of some of the team.  That was still pretty unheard of in those days.  It’s also surprising that George Pérez managed to draw both comics.

So, let’s see how things continue to improve…

This book features the following characters:

New Teen Titans

  • Kid Flash (Wally West; #17-20, Tales of the New Teen Titans #1-4)
  • Raven (#17-20, Tales of the New Teen Titans #1-4)
  • Cyborg (Vic Stone; #17-20, Tales of the New Teen Titans #1-4)
  • Changeling (Gar Logan; #17-20, Tales of the New Teen Titans #1-4)
  • Robin (Dick Grayson; #17-20, Tales of the New Teen Titans #1-4)
  • Wonder Girl (Donna Troy; #17-20, Tales of the New Teen Titans #1-4)
  • Starfire (Koriand’r; #18-20, Tales of the New Teen Titans #1-4)

Villains:

  • Doctor Polaris (#17)
  • Doctor Light (#19)
  • Varaha (#19)
  • Marasimha (#19)
  • Parasurama (#19)
  • Matsya (#19)
  • The Disruptor (Michael Beldon; #20)
  • Brains Beldon (#20)
  • The H.I.V.E (Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Elimination; #20)
  • Ron Evers (Tales of the New Teen Titans #1)
  • Trigon (Tales of the New Teen Titans #2)
  • The Arsenal (Galtry; Tales of the New Teen Titans #3)
  • Komand’r (Koriand’r sister; Tales of the New Teen Titans #4)
  • The Citadel (Tales of the New Teen Titans #4)
  • Gordanians (Tales of the New Teen Titans #4)
  • Psions (Tales of the New Teen Titans #4)

Guest Stars

  • King Faraday (FBI; #18)
  • Starfire (Leonid Kovar; #18)
  • Hawkman (Katar Hol/Carter Hall; Justice League of America; #19)

Supporting Characters:

  • Francis Kane (#17)
  • Mrs. Kane (#17)
  • Maladi Malanova (#18)
  • Sarah Simms (teacher; #19)
  • Terry Long (Donna’s boyfriend; #19-20)
  • Professor Silas Stone (Vic’s father; Tales of the New Teen Titans #1)
  • Mrs. Stone (Vic’s mother; Tales of the New Teen Titans #1)
  • Arella (Raven’s mother; Tales of the New Teen Titans #2)
  • Juris (of Azaroth; Tales of the New Teen Titans #2)
  • Coman (of Azaroth; Tales of the New Teen Titans #2)
  • Azar (of Azaroth; Tales of the New Teen Titans #2)
  • Vernon Quester (Gar’s stepfather’s business manager; Tales of the New Teen Titans #3)
  • Myand’r (Kory’s father; Tales of the New Teen Titans #4)
  • Okaaran Warlords (Tales of the New Teen Titans #4)
  • Ryand’r (Kory’s brother; Tales of the New Teen Titans #4)

Let’s see what happened in the comics, with some commentary as I go:

  • Wally heads into his college, where he runs into Francis Kane, a friend of his who has only just returned to school.  She wants Wally to help her catch up on her courses, but worries that her mother won’t be happy if Wally comes to the house.  They go anyway, and Wally is surprised to see that Mrs. Kane is wearing a robe, sitting in a pentagram, surrounded by candles as she attempts to contact her dead husband and son.  She forces Francis to join her, and soon a vortex of energy starts drawing household items towards Francis.  After Mrs. Kane gets knocked out, Wally changes into his Kid Flash outfit and tries to protect Francis until she comes out of her trance and the madness ends.  Mrs. Kane starts yelling about how Francis should have died with her father and brother.  Wally leaves, worried about her, and returns a week later with Raven (who he has to pretend he doesn’t know).  Raven senses the mother’s loss, and as they watch, an aura forms around Francis, and stuff starts flying at her again.  Raven catches all the metal objects in her soul self until the storm passes again.  Mrs. Kane thinks this is proof that her daughter is possessed.  Later, the team (without Starfire, who is still recovering from the loss of her lover) gathers at a local hospital that happens to have massive diagnostic machines.  The doctor determines that she has above average magnetic readings in her brain, and things start to go haywire again.  This time, there’s a demonic shape to the aura around Francis, as she starts to draw metal things, including Cyborg, towards her again.  Mrs. King wants to stab her daughter with a scalpel, and after things calm down, disowns her and walks away.  Later, the team has Francis at Titans’ Tower, where she admits that she’s always known that Wally is Kid Flash (apparently they’ve been friends for a long time).  Cyborg is at STAR Labs working on something.  Francis tells them that she was driving her brother and father home from the mall when a strange force pulled the car they were driving off a cliff, and Francis floated down, which is why she was the only survivor.  When Robin and Wonder Girl try to scan her brain, the aura appears again, this time as a gigantic demon form that surrounds the Tower.  Metal things start flying towards it from across Manhattan.  Robin and Raven want to short-circuit Francis’s brain, and Raven’s soul self, Wonder Girl, and Changeling work to stop the flying metal from destroying the Tower (Gar takes on the shape of a massive T. Rex).  Raven can’t pull Francis out of her trance, while Gar gets knocked down by a very large boat.  Vic arrives, with a new anti-magnetic reverser built into his body.  He uses it on Francis, and things immediately calm down.  Later, Wally and Francis talk on a pier, and we learn that Francis’s weird magnetic thing is gone, that her mother still won’t speak to her, and because she’s starting to develop feelings for Wally, she leaves.  In another dimension, the villain Doctor Polaris is angry that he can no longer reach Francis, whom he was using to open a portal so he could return from the prison Green Lantern left him in.  
  • In Russia, in the Bureau of Scientific Records, a man learns that his son is dead, killed by American in El Salvador.  This same man lost his brother during World War II, and his wife in Vietnam, and blames Americans for those two losses as well.  He digs up an old file and plots revenge.  He calls in his secretary, Maladi Malanova, and asks her to take an envelope to New York to give to an agent.  She worries that she won’t be back in time for her wedding, but he assures her there’s nothing to worry about.  When she picks up the envelope, we see a green glow appear around her hand.  A week later, Robin and Wonder Girl meet FBI agent King Faraday, who wants to tell them that the Russian hero Starfire (Leonid Kovar), who they met once before (apparently in Marv Wolfman’s first ever Teen Titans comic he introduced this guy, and then decided to reuse the name), is on his way to the US in secret.  Faraday wants the Teen Titans to see what he’s up to.  Robin explains that when they met Starfire, he helped them catch a jewel thief in Sweden, and that he never used the powers that he claimed he got from fooling around with an alien ship that crashed in Siberia when he was younger.  The Titans have a full team meeting, and our Starfire is surprised to learn there’s another with her name.  Kid Flash demonstrates some very strong anti-Russian positions.  Kory is still upset at the loss of Franklin (although people are surprised that she’s been grieving for a month).  We see that Maladi arrived three days before, and passed on the green glow to a customs agent, a cab driver, and a doorman (this whole montage could have been used in a PSA about coronavirus).  A week later, Leonid arrives, and sees the same customs agent, who passes out with green boils on his skin.  Changeling observes this scene, and reports to the others what happened.  They follow Leonid to a local hospital, where he is seen by Raven to be asking about the customs agent.  Apparently the guy needs to be cured within 96 hours of his “radiation-created cell-deterioration”.  How does one cure that, anyway?  The Titans spend two days following Leonid around.  He finally locates Maladi’s hotel, and is just getting into an elevator when he spots her.  He smashes his way out of the conveyance.  The Titans notice that the woman who gets into the cab looks ill, and Raven suspects she’s connected.  Leonid comes smashing out of the hotel in his Starfire outfit, and our Starfire and Kid Flash attack him, against Robin’s commands.  They start fighting, and Leonid tries to explain to Donna that he’s there doing his country’s bidding and can’t explain to them what’s going on.  Raven finally takes him down.  When he wakes up, he’s in Titan’s Tower.  Robin tells him that the Russian embassy gave him clearance to talk to him, and he just accepts that.  Wally keeps trying to argue with him.  Leonid explains that the guy from the science office purposefully “irradiated a woman with a deadly bacillus”, which makes no sense, and that Maladi has no idea that she’s causing so many infections.  Apparently the infection can be solved easily, within fourteen days, but Maladi is a lost cause.  Wally mouths off again, and Leonid punches him in the jaw and jumps out a window, diving into the river and swimming towards Manhattan.  Gar follows.  Maladi, meanwhile, goes to a doctor, who recognizes “radiation disease” and wants her to go to the hospital, but also helps her stand when she stumbles.  Maladi insists that she has to leave, and the doctor infects the nurse with his green glow.  Gar can’t find Leonid, so he returns to the Tower, where Wally feels put down for being “a mid-Western conservative”.  They start calling around until they find the doctor she visited.  Maladi has gone to the Cloisters, where she believes an agent is waiting to meet her.  Instead, Leonid arrives, and it’s clear that she knows him.  He explains that he’s there to make sure she dies.  Kid Flash rushes in and punches him, and all the Titans begin to fight him, except for Raven, who wants to save Maladi’s life.  Leonid fights back, and holds his own against the team, while Raven realizes there’s little she can do.  Finally, Vic is able to take Leonid down.  The team gathers around him, and he sees just how bad Maladi looks.  He still wants to end her pain, but Robin insists that she be taken to a hospital and made more comfortable.  She lingers for a week before she dies in hospital.  She was pleased to learn that all the people she infected were cured before she died.  Wally mouths off at Leonid again, calling him a “cold fish” for volunteering to be the one to kill Maladi, but when Leonid tells him that they were engaged, and that this was to be their wedding day, Wally has nothing to say.
  • Vic watches Sarah Simms and the kids she works with skate on a pond in Central Park, and decides that they are all better off without him; he hasn’t spoken to Sarah since she got kidnapped by Deathstroke, two months before.  We see that Sarah hasn’t stopped thinking about him, and misses him a lot.  In India, Carter Hall (so in the pre-Crisis 80s, who was Hawkman – I thought this was space cop Katar Hol era; did an alien cop use museum curator/archeologist as a cover identity?  That would take a lot of planning) oversees the loading of a bunch of Hindu artifacts onto an airplane.  In a New York prison, Doctor Light obsesses over the fact that the Riddler got away with a massive heist.  This makes Light feel like a loser, so he enters a lightbulb and somehow teleports himself back to his secret base in New Jersey, where he suits up and reads the newspaper, which gives him the idea of robbing the Indian exhibit at the museum that is opening the next day.  Carter shows some guy named Willis around the exhibit, and they talk about a small statue of Vishnu, holding four crystals and facing then smaller statues of his different forms.  When Willis touches the crystals (seriously?), he feels some energy from them.  Kory and Donna fly towards Titans’ Tower, and Donna tries to help Kory get over her loss.  Dick sees Raven looking sad, and tries to get her to open up, but she ducks him.  Light busts into the museum, and starts using his light powers to pick up statues and put them in a bag (seriously).  Carter changes into his Hawkman gear, and they fight briefly.  Light sends his light through the Vishnu statue, and catches one of Hawkman’s wings on fire.  He heads out to roll around in a snowbank to put his wing out, while Light is confronted by four massive creatures – four of the figures on the statue came to life.  They try to smash him, so he flees, having to leave his findings behind.  He decides to fly (he’s wearing Gizmo’s hip jets) to Titans’ Tower, figuring that the creatures who are following him might kill his enemies.  Vic and Gar are chatting when Vic notices that Light is flying towards them, and pushes the alert button (“with the ease of a practiced professional” – I guess pushing buttons was tough in the 80s).  Everyone on the team seems annoyed by this.  Light smashes through the wall, and Vic punches him into the arriving heroes.  Light tries to tell them what’s happening; Gar flies out to see, and quickly returns, as the four aspects of Vishnu converge on the Tower.  Robin recognizes them as Varaha, Marasimha, Parasurama, and Matsya.  Raven calms Light down, while Kory, Wally, and Donna start to fight the beasts.  Wally almost gets caught by one guy’s axe, which is thrown at him, and follows him no matter how fast he runs.  Vic helps Kory with the bull-man, and she in turn helps Donna.  Raven tries to catch the axe with her soul self, but it causes her pain.  Light decides to leave while Dick and Wally take down one of the creatures.  The fish one is chasing Hawkman, who is only now arriving.  Hawkman realizes that Doctor Light has left, and so Robin gathers the team to go after him.  They find him in the museum, again using his light powers to carry a bag full of stolen goods.  Robin and Light fight while Hawkman gathers the crystals that were used to animate the statues in the first place.  Light claims that the circuitry in his costume was broken in the fight with Robin (which does not explain how he was able to get into a lightbulb earlier).  Instead, Starfire takes the crystals, and when the four creatures break through the wall again, she fires her own energy through the crystals, causing the beings to crumble.  Hawkman grabs Light, and is so intimidating that he faints.  Later, Light is back in prison, taking pleasure in the fact that so is the Riddler.  Terry Long gets a visit from Sarah Simms, asking for his help.
  • Issue twenty’s lead story is built around the framework of Wally writing a letter to his parents, explaining a recent realization he’s had.  Through it, he narrates a recent Titans adventure.  Vic and Gar were in the sewers under New York hunting for a villain called The Disruptor (it doesn’t say why).  We learn that Wally doesn’t really think that much of either Vic, who he sees as angry, or Gar, who he thinks talks too much and never takes things seriously.  They split up, and Gar found The Disruptor first; his powers forced Gar back into his regular form.  Vic heard and came running, but The Disruptor was able to freeze Vic’s metallic parts.  The Disruptor used his powers (these powers are not clear at all) to blast open a pipe, so that both Titans would drown.  Luckily, Gar regained control in time to rescue Vic.  Later, at the Tower, the team talked. Dick admitted he felt outplayed.  Later, they held a surprise party for Vic’s birthday (Wally was annoyed by Gar trying to make it fun).  He tried to talk to Raven, but she wouldn’t chat with him.  Donna wasn’t having fun; birthdays make her remember that she doesn’t know her own birthday or her real name.  Donna left.  We also see that Sarah Simms sent a gift, and Wally writes about how Vic is still feeling bad for getting her caught up in Deathstroke’s plans.  Wally heard Kory and Raven talk about how much Kory misses her family.  Wally went to the roof of the Tower to think, and looking through binoculars, happened to see Donna get taken down by The Disruptor.  He ran across the river, but The Disruptor flipped the whirlwind he was forming back on him, dropping him into the river as well.  The Disruptor, feeling good about this victory, got into his father’s limousine, only to have the older man, Brains Beldon, put him down for not ensuring that the two heroes died.  Wally fished Donna out of the river (he vibrated so was fine) and followed the Beldons to their house in Long Island.  There, he overheard Brains explaining to his son that he wanted the Titans dead so he could secure the open seventh spot in The HIVE.  Wally broke through the wall and attacked, but The Disruptor made him freeze and knocked him out.  Later, Wally woke up to see Beldon talking to someone from HIVE, who was not interested in letting him in the organization.  Wally’s speed wasn’t working, but he was still able to use his vibrations to send a sonic boom to Titans’ Tower (which makes no sense).  The Titans responded, breaking into the Beldons’ place.  The Disruptor messed up Flash’s speed, so he knocked over Robin.  The others got messed up too, except for Raven, who wrapped The Disruptor in her soul self, and terrified him.  Afterwards, Raven empathized with him, as they both have monstrous fathers.  The Disruptor ended up taking the rap for his father, who was still disappointed in him.  Wally wraps up his letter by explaining how he’s realized how good his parents were to him, and how much he loves them.  When Robin offers to mail his letter for him, he decides to deliver it in person instead.
  • Issue twenty also includes a silly story about an evil scientist who discovers Earth Prime (is this the first that that world appeared?), and goes there to kidnap Marv Wolfman and George Pérez so he can learn the Teen Titans’ secrets; in the end the Titans rescue them.  It’s dumb, and very Marvel Bullpen.
  • Tales of the New Teen Titans rounds out this volume.  It opens with Vic jumping around the Grand Canyon, joining the rest of the team at the butte where they’ve parked their jet and set up some tents for a camping trip that Gar suggested.  Even Raven has joined them, wearing everyday clothes.  When Wally realizes that Raven is a vegetarian (how long have they known each other at this point?) he apologizes for only packing meat.  When Gar talks about how the team have become friends, Vic starts to talk about his childhood.  His parents, scientists, conducted some tests on him as a small child, which might be why Vic had such a high IQ.  Vic insists that his parents loved him, but it wasn’t until he was older that he started to see how much he was missing.  He’d sneak out at night to walk around New York, and almost got run over, except an older kid named Ron Evers saved him.  They became friends, but that led to Vic smoking, and getting caught “looting” a grocery store (odd verb choice, there).  Vic’s father was furious with him, but an outcome of this situation was that he was allowed to go to school, where he fell in love with sports and a girl named Marcy.  His father was always concerned with his studies, and didn’t want him hanging out with kids he thought were animals (Vic’s parents would have been into respectability politics, I think).  While out on a date with Marcy, Vic ran into Ron, who wanted him to come back him up in a fight against a white gang called “The Hawks”.  Vic refused, but Marcy convinced him, as she agreed with Ron’s view of racial animosity.  Vic held up well in the fight, but got slashed across the stomach and had to flee when the cops came.  Later, at home, his father was furious, and his mother told him off for putting the blame for everything that happened on his dad, pointing out that he made his own choices.  Vic got angry.  Later, he saw Ron again, and learned that he intended to “take over” the Statue of Liberty as a form of protest.  Vic refused to help and Ron told him they weren’t friends anymore.  After that, Ron was arrested and went away for a year.  Vic went to college (on a scholarship) and worked on getting into the Olympics.  One day, he decided to visit his mother at STAR Labs.  This was the day his parents brought that weird organism from another dimension, and it killed his mother and ate half of Vic’s body before his father managed to send it back.  His father’s other project at that time was building cybernetic body parts for the military, so he used them to save Vic’s life, turning him into the Cyborg.  When Vic woke up, he was furious, and stayed angry with his father through the five months or so he spent in rehab, relearning how to walk and hold things.  Vic felt like a freak, and his few trips into the world continued to make him feel that way.  He finally left, renting a crappy apartment in Hell’s Kitchen.  Ron found him there, and wanted his help in blowing up the United Nations building.  Vic refused, but Ron played on Vic’s isolation, telling him that “Whitey” wasn’t going to let him enjoy his life.  Vic returned to his college, where he learned that he was taken off his team due to the unfair advantage his new body gave him (that makes sense), but we also learn that his marks were low, so he lost his scholarship.  He returned to Ron, and agreed to help him.  Later that night, Vic went to the UN building earlier than he was expected, and saw Ron and three others were already there. They set the bomb on the roof, and talked about leaving Vic to be the scapegoat while they headed to their benefactor, Mr. K’s, country.  Vic confronted them, and ended up fighting them all.  Ron got knocked over the side of the building, holding on to the edge for dear life, but Vic saw that the bomb was jostled and about to detonate.  He chose to toss the bomb and then save his friend (I mean, if he’d grabbed Ron first and the bomb went off, wouldn’t it have killed them?).  When he went to get Ron, he was too late, and he fell (although his body was never found).  Vic then talks about how meeting the Titans was what led to him reconciling with his father before his death.  This story sat strangely with Raven, who was raised to not care about people.  (Is it worth questioning why Vic is breaking a big chain on the cover?  That reads wrong in 2020…)
  • Okay, this was a tough one to get through, so bear with me.  It’s Raven’s issue of Tales of the New Teen Titans!  Raven has a dream about her father trying to kill her and her mother protecting her.  She wakes up screaming, and the guys in the guys’ tent rush over to the girls’ tent to see what’s up, reacting before her tentmates.  Raven doesn’t want to talk about her problems, but then she decides to, since they are her only friends.  This makes Wally thankful.  Raven recaps her mother Arella’s story – falling in with a cult, being given to Satan, who turns out to be Trigon, and then fleeing, pregnant, and finding salvation on Azaroth, a beautiful city between dimensions.  The apparent leader, Coman, offered her a place to stay, knowing that she carried Trigon’s child (he’s known for having killed all his previous children).  Some guy named Juris didn’t like that she was there, and he wanted to cast her out into the limbo behind their Great Door; Coman told him off.  After Raven was born, Juris tried to take her through the Great Door himself.  Coman tried to stop him, mentioning that Juris was one of the original people to come to Azaroth (it’s worth noting that Juris doesn’t look older than thirty-five).  When he opened the Door, a beam of light killed him, but saved Raven.  Then Azar, their actual leader, summoned the child to her.  We learned that this Azar is the third to take this name/role, after her mother and grandmother (which doesn’t make sense if, as it was implied just a page before, the people of Azaroth are immortal).  Azar took Raven to train her to contain the demon within her.  Azar taught her how to teleport and how to use her empathy to heal some things.  During this time, Arella wanted to spend time with her.  Someone came to tell Arella that Azar was dying and wanted to see her.  Her last words were to tell Arella to never fear Raven.  Arella took over Raven’s training and around the time she was thirteen, the image of Trigon came to her.  We learn that the people of Azaroth created Trigon (seriously?).  Raven opened the Great Door and saw Trigon.  He was mean to her (I didn’t pay a lot of attention by this point) and Arella came and got old, and Raven manifested her soul-self, which Trigon blasted, and that proved that she is his daughter so he went away.  He wanted to make sure she had power, but then returned Raven and Arella to Azaroth, and they didn’t hear from him again until Raven put the New Teen Titans together.  Raven explains this is why she needed to control her emotions.  Wally feels bad for always trying to get her to fall for him, and Gar feels happy that his life wasn’t as messed up.
  • It’s the third day of the Titans’ camping trip, and Gar wants to roast hot dogs for everyone over the fire and tell his story.  He rather quickly rushes through his early childhood, when he lived in the African region (nation?) of Upper Lamumba with his parents, who were scientists.  When he came down with something called Sakutia, a disease that only animals recover from, his father used an experimental genetic code ray thing to cure him, but it turned him green and kinda hairy.  He later learned he could turn into animals, and saved his mother from a black mamba that way, but couldn’t save them when they rode a boat over a waterfall.  He got adopted into the family of a local chieftain who lived up to a lot of racist stereotypes, but the racist stereotype witch-doctor (seriously) didn’t like him, so he made a deal with some white Indiana Jones types, who ended up killing the witch-doctor and turning the eight-year-old Gar into their thief.  After they killed each other, some guy named Galtry became Gar’s guardian, who was using him for his parents’ money.  On the up side, he had a girlfriend (by this point, he should have still been pretty young) named Jillian, and then somehow got connected to the Doom Patrol, and adopted by Rita Farr and Steve Dayton (although he didn’t get along with Dayton), and then the Doom Patrol got killed, so he ran with the Teen Titans West for a while.  There’s a running gag that while Gar is telling these stories, he is also burning the hot dogs.  He then tells them about how he ended up in Hollywood, working on a Star Trek rip-off series.  What he says about his time in Hollywood is not the same as what the comic shows, and we see that the director was terrible to him.  Suddenly an armored villain calling himself The Arsenal came on the set, trying to kill Gar, but when he decided he couldn’t achieve that there, he flew off.  Shortly after, the show got shut down, and while Gar bragged that things were going so great for him, with girls and jobs, but the truth was that he lived alone and had very little.  This makes no sense, as he would have been at most fifteen or sixteen, and if he was is so many TV shows and movies, the others would have known that, because he’s green.  He started dating that girl Jillian again, although her father hated him, but eventually, The Arsenal returned and kidnapped Jillian.  Gar followed him to an elaborate old Hollywood mansion, which he snuck into wearing only his underwear (have you ever noticed how often Gar is the least-dressed Titan?).  The Arsenal captured him, and revealed himself to be Galtry, his former guardian.  Galtry wanted twenty-five million dollars to let Jillian go.  Gar figured he could easily get that money from Dayton, his adoptive father, but after calling Vernon Questor, he learned that Dayton had left and that there was no way to approve a transfer like that.  The Arsenal decides to kill Jillian then, leaving Gar in an escape-proof glass cage.  Gar challenges Dick to figure out how he got out, and Dick guesses it – he turned into a porcupine and fired his quills into the glass until he escaped (instead of just turning into something big enough to break through).  He chased after Galtry, who by this point had Jillian in a birdcage.  Gar and Galtry fought for pages until Gar turned into a starfish stuck on his armor’s face, and blinded, Galtry ended up in the lake inside the mansion.  Gar turned into an electric eel and zapped him, then a giant crab to break him out of his armor, and then just slugged him.  He felt that he got rid of his anger in this moment, acknowledging that it returned when they fought the people who killed the Doom Patrol.  While Gar was burning the hot dogs, Vic cooked some using his internal generator (which sounds gross) so they eat.  Kory thinks about her world. 
  • It’s the last day of the camping trip, and while the rest of the team is packing up, Kory is flying around, wishing she could stay.  She starts to talk about her homeworld, Tamaran, and how when she was born, her sister Komand’r was jealous of her.  It got worse when it turned out that only Kory could fly.  Her world, as peaceful and beautiful as it was, was also almost constantly under attack from The Citadel, although they were never able to penetrate its defenses.  While the Tamaranians were fighting The Citadel, Komand’r would beat on Kory.  Their parents sent them to the Okaaran Warlords to be trained in fighting, along with the children of rulers of other worlds (really, quite a lot of them).  Kory did very well there, and her final test was an arena fight against her sister.  Komand’r cheated, but that wasn’t enough to stop Kory.  By mistake, Kory knocked her into an endless hole, but also swooped down to save her, which only made her more angry.  Komand’r lashed out at Kory, but the Okaarans stopped her from killing her, and then sent her away.  Instead of going home, she went to The Citadel and told them the secrets of Tamaran.  The next time The Citadel attacked, they were able to defeat Kory’s father.  Their agents, the Gordanians, demanded Kory be taken into slavery (this was Komand’r’s doing), and she spent six years being hired out to different terrible beings for a year at a time.  Finally, in her last assignment, Kory killed her “master”, and was returned to Komand’r for punishment.  Just then, the Psions, another race that had issue with The Citadel, attacked, and managed to take Kory and Komand’r prisoner.  They wanted to experiment on them, and hooked them to a machine that was designed to fill them with solar energy until they died.  The Citadel attacked the Psions while this was happening, and Kory got free with the new powers this device gave her.  She decided to free her sister, who blasted her and gave her over to the Gordanians again.  She killed one and escaped, which brings us to the point where we first saw her in New Teen Titans #1.  Their camping trip over, and everyone feeling closer to one another than before, Wally breaks out champagne (with some sparking water for Raven and cola for Gar), and they drink to their friendship (before one of them would have had to pilot a jet).

So now I’m three trades deep into The New Teen Titans, and feel like things are still improving, but I also found this trade to be a total grab-bag, including only four issues of the regular series, and four issues of the Tales miniseries that was designed to help explore the new characters in the book, and to round things out, Changeling too.

These issues suffered from all being done-in-one stories.  Wally’s friend developed weird poltergeist-like powers that were out of her control.  It got dealt with.  A Russian sent a plague to the US, and a former acquaintance of the Titans clashed with them while he tried to fix it.  Doctor Light tried to steal some statues, and ended up bringing them to life.  A villain with a massive power set that is never fully explained (is it him, or his suit?) tries to kill the Titans so his father will love him, and join HIVE.  With the exception of the ongoing issues with HIVE, all of these threats are dealt with very quickly, and don’t have any lasting consequences on the team, making this trade a placeholder at best.

The origin stories did allow a lot more space for character development, if not growth, as we began to learn more about some of the newer or more mysterious Titans.  It’s worth talking about most of the characters individually.

Kid Flash – Wally has received very little screen time in this series so far, so it was interesting to see him be the focus of most of the regular issues in this trade.  We see Wally’s desire to help his old friend Frances Kane, but also get a clear idea of just how conservative he is when the Russian Starfire comes to town.  He even calls out his peers for their more liberal views, which is interesting.  It’s curious that it’s almost immediately after that story that he also becomes aware of just how privileged he is, comparing The Disruptor’s family to his own.  Wally has been a favourite character of mine since the time when he became The Flash, but the way writers like Mike Baron, Bill Messner-Loebs, and of course Mark Waid portrayed him doesn’t fit with the way Wolfman is writing him here.  I guess Wally really did grow up more than most.

Cyborg – Vic is becoming a strange mix of contradictions.  He’s described as being a genius as a child, but it’s not clear if he still retains that intellect.  He isn’t often shown, to this point, as being particularly smart, when according to this, he’s probably the smartest person on the team (Robin might have something to say about that though).  At the same time, he lost his scholarship to college because of poor grades, but it’s not clear if that’s because he missed months while recovering from his accident (and becoming Cyborg), or if it’s because he legitimately messed up his coursework.  It’s also curious that Vic, as a star athlete, has never really had friends before joining the Titans.  I wonder if we are going to learn anything more about the guy who tried to have the United Nations building blown up.  It is nice to see that Vic is losing his anger, and I hope to see him continue to grow as a character.

Raven – Yeah, the issue that shared her childhood story did nothing to make me like her more.  I’ll admit that I didn’t read it very closely, as my eyes were glazing over, but am I to understand that Raven’s soul-self didn’t manifest until she was with Trigon, and that he did something to make it evil?  Are we ever going to learn why her speech bubbles look different from everyone else’s?

Changeling – Gar’s misogyny is getting harder and harder to deal with.  It’s clearly stated that he’s only sixteen years old, yet he’s lived in Hollywood by himself and been in long-term relationships?  There are a lot of contradictions where Gar is concerned.  I can live with that, but I really hate his dialogue and his little hornball act.  More than anything else, it’s Gar’s character that shows how dated this comic is now.

Starfire – Kory started this trade still grieving her dead lover from Volume 2, but by the end of it, she seems to have moved on with life.  Her origin issue gives us a lot more details about her childhood rivalry with her sister (who I think was barely mentioned before this), and also helps flesh out how her years of slavery were spent.  It’s interesting that she’s not more traumatized by these events.  It’s clear that her Tales issue was designed to set up future storylines involving her sister and world.

Wonder Girl and Robin – These two were more background characters this time around.  Donna has moved past her treatment at Hyperion’s hands, and she and Dick seem to be settling into their role as leaders and the most experienced members of the team.

It’s interesting to see how George Pérez’s art looks in this volume, as he ends up working with five different inkers who have a variety of effects on how things look.  It’s clear that Pérez is still developing his style at this stage, although his approach to layout stays consistent.  

This was a decent enough trade, but I’m hoping the next one will be more to my liking, with a return to longer and more involved stories.

You can check out my Retro Review archives here.

If you’d like to read this trade, follow this link: New Teen Titans Vol. 3

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