Retro Trade Review: The New Teen Titans Vol. 4 By Wolfman, Pérez & Tanghal For DC Comics!

Contains New Teen Titans #21-27, New Teen Titans Annual #1 (July 1982 to January 1983)

Written by Marv Wolfman

Co-Plotted by George Pérez (#23-25, Annual #1)

Pencilled by George Pérez 

Inked by Romeo Tanghal 

Coloured by Adrienne Roy (#21-22, 26-27), Carl Gafford (#23-25, Annual #1)

Spoilers from thirty-seven to thirty-eight years ago

It’s time to dig into another Titans trade, this one covering the series’s third-year anniversary.  These comics have been growing on me, as Marv Wolfman and George Pérez have hit their stride, and fallen into the kind of easy collaboration that makes for legendary runs.  I notice that Pérez started getting co-plotter credits during the Tales Of miniseries, and that that continues into this book.

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

This book features the following characters:

New Teen Titans

  • Starfire (Koriand’r/Kory Anders; #21-27, Annual #1)
  • Raven (#21-27, Annual #1)
  • Cyborg (Vic Stone; #21-27, Annual #1)
  • Wonder Girl (Donna Troy; #21-27, Annual #1)
  • Changeling (Gar Logan; #21-26, Annual #1)
  • Robin (Dick Grayson; #21-27, Annual #1)
  • Kid Flash (Wally West; #21-26, Annual #1)

Villains:

  • Terrorists (#21)
  • Brother Blood (#21-22)
  • Mother Mayhem (#21-22)
  • Confessor (#22)
  • Gordanians (#22-25, Annual #1)
  • Blackfire (Komand’r; #22-25, Annual #1)
  • The Branx (#24-25, Annual #1)
  • Lord Damyn (Citadel; #24-25)
  • The Citadel (#24-25, Annual #1)
  • A Psion (#24-25, Annual #1)
  • Terra (#26)
  • Anthony Scarapelli (#26-27)

Guest Stars

  • Aqualad (Garth; #23)
  • Superman (Clark Kent, Justice League of America; #23-24)
  • Nimbus (Omega Men; #24-25, Annual #1)
  • Kalista (Omega Men; #24-25, Annual #1)
  • Primus (Omega Men; #24-25, Annual #1)
  • Harpis (Omega Men; #24-25, Annual #1)
  • Broot (Omega Men; #24-25, Annual #1)
  • Tigorr (Omega Men; #24-25, Annual #1)
  • Demonia (Omega Men; #24-25, Annual #1)
  • Auron (Omega Men; #24-25, Annual #1)
  • X’Hal (#24-25, Annual #1)
  • Speedy (Roy Harper; #27)

Supporting Characters:

  • Sarah Simms (teacher; #21)
  • Bethany Snow (reporter; #22-23)
  • Adrian Chase (District Attorney; #23, 26-27)
  • Ryand’r (Kory’s brother; Annual #1)
  • Myand’r (Kory’s father; Annual #1)
  • Kory’s mother (Annual #1)
  • Ellie Corben (Runaway Center; #26-27)

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

  • Starfire and Raven interrupt a Yankees game, convinced that there is a bomb in the stadium.  Some guy in a blue half-mask waits in the bleachers with a sniper rifle; he’s been hired to run the heroes “through their paces”.  A bunch of guys dressed like that one come rushing the field, shooting at the heroes.  Raven and Kory take them down relatively quickly, and Raven learns that the bomb is under third base.  Kory grabs it and flies, trying to get it far enough away from the city before it explodes.  She tosses it, gets hit in the shockwave, and falls.  Raven catches her with her soul self, and teleports her back onto the field.  Kory’s not moving though, because apparently it’s hard for her to be in the soul self, but Raven uses her empathy to take her pain.  They are being watched by an unseen being in a satellite, who is collecting information for his client (is this the first appearance of the Monitor?).  Marcy, Cyborg’s ex-girlfriend, runs through a forest as someone pursues and shoots at her.  We learn that she’s been staying somewhere for months, but now she wants to go home to her family, and promises she won’t say anything.  As she reaches train tracks, a woman dressed a bit like an evil nun tells her that she’s going to be ‘excommunicated’ for sinning against Brother Blood, but the train that we all see coming kills the gunwoman.  Vic is hanging out with Sarah Simm, finally apologizing for things that happened two volumes before; Sarah was never upset with him.  Vic receives a call from Marcy, who is calling from their old friend Ron’s place, using a two-piece phone (seriously, why does Pérez keep drawing these?  I was around when this book came out, and I never saw phones like that except in old movies – Terry Long has one too!).  There is an explosion, and Vic races to her, but it’s too late, as three more of these evil nuns have shot her.  Vic collapses, asking why over and over.  In Massachusetts, in what looks like a massive church, a woman named Sister Karyn is brought before Brother Blood, because she investigated Marcy, but never reported that she knew Cyborg.  She is dropped through a trapdoor, into a room with a massive spider that almost eats her, before Brother Blood, a man wearing a weird underarm cape, orders it to stop as proof of his mercy.  Blood wants his cult’s people in government to take care of the Teen Titans for him.  The rest of the Titans are at Titan’s Tower, talking to Vic on the phone, as they try to figure out who Brother Blood is.  The next day, at Marcy’s funeral (funerals happen very quickly in this world), her father blames Vic for her death.  The rest of the Titans turn up, and Raven uses her abilities to calm the family down.  Her dad explains that after he made Marcy dump Vic, she got drawn into the cult but then wanted to leave.  He is able to tell them where Brother Blood’s retreat is.  Dick, Donna, Wally, and Raven go undercover as new recruits, and get driven to the retreat which is a massive complex of churches and older style architecture.  An acolyte says that Blood is 700 years old, and that the church was started in Zandia.  Beneath the complex is a facility including a room with massive monitors, where a guy stands in a crow’s nest suspended from the ceiling, watching them.  A computer ticker tape is taken to Mother Mayhem, showing the biological anomalies of three of the new recruits.  Dick and Wally settle into their new room, and change into their acolyte clothes, while we learn that Wally, in addition to being a conservative, is also religious.  Raven and Donna talk about how obviously evil Brother Blood is, based on a portrait in their room (because obviously his name is not a tip-off).  They join all the acolytes in church, where Blood calls on acolytes by name to repent their sins.  A girl named Wendy calls Blood out for being a devil, and he fries her dead (thereby obviously proving his holiness to the congregation).  The girl’s pain sets off Raven’s powers, and everyone attacks the Titans.  Wally changes into his Kid Flash gear and tries to attack Brother Blood, but can’t get through his electrical field.  Raven teleports away, while Robin and Wonder Girl join the fight (we saw that Robin didn’t have his costume on under his black pajamas, so I’m not sure how he’s wearing it now).  Instead of going to get the others, Raven returns to help in the fight (despite her avowed pacifism).  Blood brags about how he has followers in powerful places, and melts the batarang Robin tosses at him.  He knocks Robin out, and then fries Donna while she knocks down columns.  Raven teleports away from the acolytes who try to grab her, while Blood drops huge chunks of stone on Donna.  He manages to knock Raven out too, but her soul self hovers above, now realizing that she needs to go get the others.
  • Brother Blood gloats over the fallen Titans, and wants them dumped in the pits to die, although he then decides to have Robin taken to the Confessor for interrogation.  He also worries that Raven’s soul escaped, and will be returning with the other Titans.  Mother Mayhem tells Blood that one of their followers, Senator Hardy, wants to speak with him.  The Senator tells him that there is resistance in the Senate and House to their desire recognize Zandia and his church as a true religion; Blood wants him to let his colleagues know that the new President of Zandia is promising democracy.  He goes to check on Robin, whom the Confessor has been torturing.  Dick talks back with bravado.  Back in Titans’ Tower, Vic is lifting weights and nursing his anger that he was sidelined on this mission.  Gar tries to calm him down, but Kory takes his side.  Vic and Kory prepare to leave, and Gar has to wrestle Vic to stop him.  Raven’s soul self arrives to get their help (why didn’t they move somewhere closer to Blood’s base and wait, instead of staying home?).  The Confessor continues to torture Dick, who is stripped to his speedo, gloves, and booties, but won’t share any information (whatever that information would be).  Blood decides Dick won’t tell them anything, and has him dumped in the same pit of greenish foam that the others lie in.  The spider beast thing we saw last issue attacks, and Dick has to do a lot of jumping around to stay away from it.  He figures out that Donna is still alive, but is not sure about Wally and Raven.  He grabs Donna’s lasso to help with a plan.  The other Titans fly their jet to Massachusetts, and Gar tries to apologize to Vic, who isn’t mad at him.  A reporter, Bethany Snow, has arrived at Blood’s monastery, and starts a TV broadcast, interviewing him about his religion, Zandia, and the fact that Blood feels he’s persecuted for his beliefs.  He says that some superheroes are on their way to “exterminate” him, and just then Kory and Vic bust through a wall, while Gar, shaped like a horse, jumps in through a window.  Blood’s people attack with guns, and they all start fighting while Snow continues to broadcast and worries about the state of America.  Vic goes after Blood, and realizes that Gar was right, that Blood is using them.  Dick has managed to tie Donna up above the spider thing, and next goes to rescue Raven, just as her soul self returns.  She teleports away and confronts Blood.  He’s able to walk right through her soul self, causing her pain.  Vic comes after him again, while Raven opens the door to the pit the others are in.  Wally has revived, and he makes a windstorm to left Dick and Donna out.  Kory comes up behind Blood and blasts him.  They all attack him, but he blasts them away and runs.  Vic chases him again, while the others go to help Gar, who has been fighting the acolytes on his own.  Vic finds a jet lifting off, and jumps onto it.  He rips the wing off, and the jet crashes, to the horror of the other Titans.  Mother Mayhem addresses Blood’s followers, stating that he will rise from the grave, and that their religion is not dead.  She speaks to the reporter, and says that Blood would have forgiven the Titans.  Dick worries about what to do with Vic, but Raven tells him that Blood wasn’t on the plane.  We see that Blood and some of his followers are in a submarine, and he swears that he will triumph.  In space, we see a Gordanian slave ship on its way towards Earth.  The head Gordanian is called to his commander’s presence, grumbling to himself about how she’s ordered them into a war, even though they don’t have many weapons on their ship.  We see that the person in charge is Blackfire, Kory’s sister Komand’r, who is after Starfire.
  • The Gordanian slavers, under Blackfire’s command (Commander Komand’r, really?) launch three ships to go to Earth and retrieve Kory.  The Titans, meanwhile, are brought by helicopter and National Guard escort, to meet with New York’s District Attorney, Adrian Chase (why, if the fight with Brother Blood happened in Massachusetts, would it fall under the jurisdiction of the New York DA’s office?).  There’s a tense moment where the Guard looks like they might start a fight, as Robin asserts the team’s innocence in Brother Blood’s faked death.  This whole thing is being broadcast by Bethany Snow again, who is talking about how the DA’s office is going to ‘whitewash’ the whole situation, and keeps mentioning how innocent Blood’s church was.  When the DA (who would go on to become the Vigilante) talks to the kids, he reveals that Bethany Snow is a member of the church, and that he knows that Blood staged his death.  He shares that there are many crimes they are investigating Blood for, and he wants the kids to stay out of the way.  He also says that Blood has dropped all charges, and Chase leaves the team in his office while he goes to talk to the press.  The Gordanians pick up on Starfire’s location, and prepare a mental grappler probe.  Dick reads the files on Blood, and believes that he really is 700 years old.  Just then, Kory collapses.  In the hall, Chase is interviewed by Snow, but it’s more like an argument.  Suddenly, his office explodes, and we see that Kory has blasted her way through the outer wall.  She’s flying around, firing her energy blindly.  Donna and Gar fly after her, while Raven tries to talk to her.  The Gordanian ships show up, and retrieve her.  Donna and Gar try to stop them, but both get knocked down.  Wally saves them, while Vic jumps onto one of the vessels (that conveniently has its top open, because most space ships are convertibles).  He manages to take control of the ship, but the Gordanians in it get away.  One ends up on the ground in front of the soldiers from before, and while Dick tries to bargain with him, the soldiers open fire, and then the alien disintegrates.  Likewise, the one that Raven has grabbed with her soul self disintegrates too, and she feels guilt.  Vic lands the ship and sees two more Gordanians die.  The team realizes that the others got away with Starfire.  Vic flies his ship, which he figures can only carry three of them, back to the Tower.  Robin’s contacted Aqualad to retrieve the Gordanian ship that fell into the ocean during their first fight back in the first issue.  He brings it, but declines to go with the team to space, since he needs to be dunked in water every hour.  Robin offers him a place on the team anyway.  A few hours later, the two Gordanian ships, holding the Titans, leave Earth and somehow quickly find the larger ship the Gordanians came from (why wouldn’t they have left?).  Blackfire is happy they are coming, and wants to use them to torture Kory.  Kory is angry, and Blackfire kills some Gordanians in front of her.  She squeezes Kory’s face, and then lets her know that her friends are coming to help her.  The two captured ships are brought in by tractor beam.  The Titans disembark, and are attacked by drones equipped with lasers, cables, and other surprises.  Soon, the drones have taken down the team, and have cut Vic’s legs off.  With Kory watching, Blackfire expels them into space, and then her ship ‘star-slides’ away.  Raven has the team wrapped in her soul self, but doesn’t know how long she can keep them safe.  Luckily, Superman is the only person in the JLA satellite, and he is able to bring her in with their tractor beam.  Superman talks to them, and explains that he’s lost most of his powers at the moment, so he couldn’t do more to help.  Donna looks out at space and promises to get Kory back.
  • Superman takes the Titans to another part of the JLA Satellite, where the Omega Men are hanging out.  They have just finished an adventure with Superman, and are preparing to return home to Vega, which is where Starfire has been taken.  Primus, their leader, knows who Kory is, and agrees to help rescue Kory.  Blackfire’s ship continues to travel home, and while Komand’r continues to taunt Kory, she breaks free and fights Blackfire and Gordanians for a bit, before she is taken down and captured again.  Just then, they make it to The Citadel’s homeworld, a strange world encircled by fortifications built on the remains of the planet’s moon.  They land in a small flying ship, and a servant insists that Blackfire and Kory wait for a vessel to take them; Blackfire kills that guy.  Soon, she’s brought to The Citadel’s leader.  The Omega Men and Titans fly through space, and the Omega Men are generally rude to the kids.  One of them, Demonia, is openly hostile, and her “evil soul” makes Raven uncomfortable.  In The Citadel, Komand’r brings Kory to Lord Damyn, who is basically a very dark neckless gorilla, who sometimes wears a fez, and refers to himself as ‘me’ all the time, as in, “me get idea, me do.”  (This is the guy who rules twenty-two planets?).  As he lefts Kory, she blasts at him.  Damyn wants to eat Kory, and maybe Blackfire too.  They go to a feast, where they are served a servant that Damyn just killed.  Blackfire asks if she can kill Kory herself.  A Psion joins them; he’s defected to The Citadel, and intends to capture X’Hal, the living goddess of the Tamaran people.  As the Omega Men approach, they get some guy named Auron to get ready to meet with X’Hal.  Kalista gives Gar a translator (how have they understood each other up to this point?), and some of the Omega Men and all the Titans head to Okaara.  There, Auron leads them to X’Hal, who is his mother.  They go to a chamber with a red device in it, which is where X’Hal re-forms.  Auron asks that his mother come so he can die, as he’s eternally cursed to be an angel of death (I really do not understand what’s going on at this point).  X’Hal appears, and her light bothers Demonia, and she tells Auron that he must avenge her death.  Just then, The Citadel attacks, and Auron attacks their lead ship.  The rest of the Omega Men get ready to fight, while Dick tells the team to split up, as they’ve planned (does their plan depend on The Citadel attacking just then?).  Gar turns into a Gordanian, and pretends to take Dick and Vic prisoner, while the others fight.  Gar approaches a couple of Citadel soldiers (who don’t look like Damyn – these guys are purple with horns), and claims that he has prisoners for questioning.  When the transport they take arrives on a larger ship, Gar, despite Dick’s entreaty not to, gets chatty, talking about needing to take the prisoners to the homeworld so they can be interrogated and then taken to the prison world.  The Citadel guy says that the prison world was abandoned a month before, and they pull their weapons on him.
  • The Titans and Omega Men continue to fight the armies of the Citadel on Okaara.  X’Hal wants to be freed from the containment device she is in, so she can destroy the Citadel.  The Citadel shuttle that carries Gar in the guise of a Gordanian, with his “prisoners” Cyborg and Robin, approaches a larger vessel.  The Branx guards have figured out that Gar is fooling them, but between him and Cyborg, they take control of the ship.  The fighting gets more and more fierce on Okaara, and the death and misery causes more and more stress for Raven, almost releasing the evil part of her soul that has been tainted by Trigon.  She is able to fight her way back to gaining control, and Wally tries to comfort her.  X’Hal commands the fighting to stop, and tells the Citadel soldiers that she will go to their world.  Auron reminds his mother that if she leaves Okaara, she might go mad and get all destructive again.  One of the Branx agrees to take her. The Branx that Gar captured pilots their shuttle towards the Citadel homeworld.  The Branx agrees to get them inside, wanting to live to see his family.  They manage to get through the guards outside the palace, although that guard is soon eaten by something looking like a dragon.  As the group gets further into the building, their prisoner alerts the guards to their presence, and Vic kills him.  The three Titans take out their opposition, and Gar heads out to scout.  The Psion continues to torture Koriand’r, while Komand’r and Damyn watch.  Demonia turns up, and offers to betray the Omega Men to Damyn, in return for a world of her own.  Just then, Damyn learns that the others are in his palace, and tells Demonia to go find them.  Gar, Dick, and Vic continue to work their way through the place, taking out guards as needed.  Wally and Raven talk about what happened to her, while Donna talks to Primus, holding him to his promise to help them free their friend.  Vic takes out another guard, and they are able to look into the throneroom, where they see Damyn and Komand’r have X’Hal held prisoner in a stasis field.  The Psion brings Kory into the room, and she lies at Damyn’s feet, looking dead.  Dick is furious, and attacks.  Komand’r threatens to free X’Hal, explaining that she’ll kill everyone, while Vic gets a hold of Damyn and holds him hostage.  Kory speaks to Dick, and Komand’r kills Damyn herself, making her the new ruler of the Citadel.  Dick suggests that she doesn’t need to do anything with Kory, and that they should be allowed to take her back to Earth.  Instead, Blackfire wants to kill Kory, but only after she’s made her watch as she destroys all of Tamaran.  Kory vows to stop her, even if it means she has to kill her.
  • Things are going pretty crazy on the Citadel’s homeworld, as Kory fights Komand’r, and Gar, Dick, and Vic battle the Citadel, while Demonia thinks about how to come out of the whole thing on top.  Kory knocks Komand’r through an exterior wall, and their fight continues on the planet’s cold surface.  Dick gets hit, and when Vic tries to help him, he takes a shot in the back.  Some Gordanians fire on Gar, and it looks like they kill him.  It takes multiple shots to bring Vic down and then the Psion gathers the rest of the Citadel Council.  Kory and Komand’r continue fighting, until the Psion stops them.  He explains to Komand’r that she will not be accepted by the Citadel Council, but makes an offer.  He wants the sisters to fight on Tamaran, and if Komand’r wins, she can take over the Citadel; if Kory wins, Tamarind will be spared.  The Omega Men are at the vanguard of a large group of ships.  Donna questions Primus’s motives for helping them, and then we get a lengthy history of X’Hal, explaining how she was a human woman who brought the worlds of the Vega system together before being killed by the Psions.  They experimented on her body, and brought her back as a god, who went mad and caused a lot of destruction before she was brought to Okaara and put under control.  The Omega Men and their fleet approach The Citadel’s homeworld.  Kory and Komand’r face off against each other on Tamaran; the Psion has forbidden them from using their energy blasts, so the fight will be more physical.  They argue and fight, and Komand’r tells her sister that their brother killed their parents and then was killed himself.  Kory gets more and more angry, and we learn that the Psion has made plans to take over on his own, using this battle as a distraction so his people can plant bombs all over the place.  Komand’r is upset that Kory uses her powers of flight.  The Omega Men attack The Citadel.  Demonia talks to herself about how to come out on top of this situation, and is overheard by Gar, who is not dead.  Demonia and him head to where Dick and Vic are being kept prisoner, and attack the Gordanians guarding them.  Kid Flash is the only person able to pilot a ship through The Citadel’s defenses and knock a whole in their grid, allowing the others to press their attack.  Robin and Cyborg fight some more Branx.  Kory ends up fighting her sister in a river, not noticing someone watching them from the foliage.  Komand’r finally uses her energy blast, which boils the river and sends the two of them over a waterfall.  That’s when we learn that the Psion keyed his bombs to Blackfire’s energy signature, so his bombs are about to go off.  Auron leads the way through The Citadel until the other Titans and Omega Men find Vic, Dick, and Gar.  X’Hal blinks out, and uses her godly powers to stop the Psion’s bombs from going off around the solar system, which maybe sacrifices her in the process?  The Citadel guys decide to kill the Psion, while everyone else heads to Tamaran.  Raven is able to heal Kory of her injuries, and the team embraces her.  Her brother, Ryand’r, emerges from the woods, as do her parents.  Kory is happy to be home, everyone thinks that Komand’r is dead, but then Myand’r, Kory’s dad, tells her that she still can’t stay home because of the original deal struck with The Citadel (who just lost a lot, and aren’t really in a position to make good on a twelve year old threat, but whatever).  Dick embraces Kory, Broot says goodbye, and the team heads home in some spaceship.
  • The Titans are flying back to Earth from their space adventures, with Vic and Wally piloting, and discussing the blossoming love between Dick and Kory.  Dick goes to talk to Kory, and professes his feelings for her, but admits that he hasn’t fully figured out how he feels yet, and asks for time.  In Turkey, some guys transporting “television components” get stopped by police and get into a firefight.  In Minnesota, a teenager decides he can’t take another beating over his report card, and decides to run away to New York City.  In the Bronx, a teenager decides he’s had enough of his mother trying to run his life, and leaves home.  In Illinois, a teenager is upset that her father is kicking her out of the house because she’s pregnant.  The Titans return to their Tower, and are happy to finally be home.  Vic wants to go see Sarah Simms and her students, while Raven wants to go re-enroll in her courses with Wally.  Dick takes Kory to Gotham, while Donna says she wants quality time with Terry Long.  A couple of weeks pass, and Dick and Kory are back in New York, heading to a Broadway show together on an official date.  They see DA Adrian Chase in the crowd, but Dick reminds Kory he doesn’t know them in their civilian identities (because there are a lot of orange-skinned women with hair to their butts).  The kid from Minnesota approaches Chase, brandishing a knife, wanting money so he can get the bugs off of him (he’s clearly dope sick).  Chase disarms him and almost takes him down; the kid runs off, and gets hit by a car.  Later, as the paramedics load him into an ambulance, Chase talks to his wife/girlfriend about how he feels like animals have taken over the city.  Gar is playing Atari in the Tower when he gets an alert.  He flies to the Statue of Liberty where a woman in a brown uniform, calling herself Terra, says she has to destroy the statue.  Gar tries to stop her, but she makes it clear that she doesn’t want to fight him or hurt the cops that come after her.  When Terra sees that more cops are coming via helicopter, she takes off, worrying that “they” will kill her for messing up.  Gar, somehow, is out of power, so he can’t go after her.  Raven is having a meal with some of her fellow students when she gets a flash of pain.  She spies the pregnant teen from Illinois, dressed as a sex worker and in pain.  Raven goes to her, and takes her to Vic’s apartment where she feeds her.  Vic surprises the girl, but decides to take her for help.  A guy with curly red hair is watching Vic’s apartment.  Vic and Raven take the girl to a runaway center, where Vic knows Ellie, the woman in charge, from his days of running away from home.  Ellie tells Vic and Raven that Adrian Chase is there and wants to see them – he wants help with a massive drug shipment expected to hit town.  The curly haired guy is listening outside the window.  He then goes to watch a gangster named Anthony Scarapelli, who is the local drug lord, as he sits on his boat surrounded by beautiful women.  The kid from the Bronx happens to notice red hair, and tells his boss.  As the red haired kid runs, a gangster follows in a car, and we see him pull out a gun.  The Titans (except for Gar and Wally) meet with Chase, who has learned that the drug dealers are going to use a bunch of kids to move the drugs through the city.  Chase feels too constrained by the law, so wants the Titans to figure things out.  Robin has his doubts, but agrees to help out.  The team heads to Vic’s place, but Raven senses someone in pain in his apartment.  It’s the red haired guy; he’s bleeding and not moving.
  • The last issue in this volume opens with a sequence wherein Luis, the kid we saw working for the drug lord last issue, goes around recruiting more runaways.  In Vic’s apartment, the team (without Wally or Gar) surround the curly-haired guy, who is bleeding on Vic’s couch.  Raven tries to take his pain, but the effort drains her.  The others hear her arguing with someone, likely Trigon, until she rallies and recovers.  We learn that the red haired guy is named Paul, and he’s the brother to the runaway from Minnesota who died in front of Adrian Chase.  Paul learned some things when he went through his brother’s things at the Runaway Center.  That has the team returning there, where Ellie introduces them to Roy Harper (who they already know as Speedy), who is there to work with Chase as a civilian expert on the drug trade (I’m assuming this is after Roy’s own run-ins with heroin, but as that is never mentioned, I’m not all that sure (although a quick Google check shows that this is well after his drug problems were revealed)).  I guess Chase always hangs out at the Runaway Center, as he’s there again.  Roy’s learned that a huge drug shipment is coming in, and Paul shares that he knows where it will be arriving.  We cut to more scenes of Luis and his protegé, a kid named Sly, recruiting more runaways.  Paul wants to come on the raid, but Chase says no.  Ellie pulls Raven aside so she can talk to Lizzie, the girl she helped before.  Lizzie shares that she wants to go home, but she’s scared.  Raven gives her some strength, and she heads out.  At the bus terminal, Lizzie’s pimp, a guy named Rondo finds her, and convinces her to do one last job for him.  It seems that the whole time she packed and went to the bus station, the Titans continued the same conversation, as they are still in it when we rejoin them.  In the end, Raven has to pull the location out of Paul’s memories, and doesn’t seem to have any problems doing that.  Roy makes a point of asking to join the Titans.  Back at the Tower, he changes into his Speedy costume (which, really, kind of blows his secret identity given that he’s working with cops and feds who will be at the scene as well when the bust goes down, but whatever).  He hits on Raven, and then they fly off in their jet.  DA Chase is still at the Runaway Center, and learns that Paul knocked over Ellie when she tried to stop him from joining the Titans.  On a dock somewhere, Scarapelli gathers with his goons and a bunch of runaway kids as a boat approaches.  Luis mouths off at a goon, and Scarapelli tells them to “teach him a lesson.”  Scarapelli addresses the runaways, making it clear that they are each going to be given a quantity of uncut drugs to deliver, after which they will each be given a hundred dollars.  Ravent teleports into the middle of the crowd of kids, and then the rest of the Titans and Speedy arrive, having quietly parked their jet in the middle of the street a block down.  The fighting is not all that difficult for the Titans, and Donna and Kory take care of the boats.  One kid decides to try to grab some of the drugs, and one of the goons shoots him dead.  Luis snaps, and beats on the guy until he’s dead.  The Titans try to move all the kids out of the area, and one of the goons ends up shooting and killing Sly.  This makes Vic lose it, and he crushes the guy’s gun and tosses him into the river.  Chase has arrived with the cops, and he agrees with Vic’s methods.  Scarapelli is arrested, as is Luis.  Lizzie apologizes to Raven, who comforts her before finding Paul, who is sitting by the Titans’ jet, too afraid to have entered the conflict.  In an epilogue, we see Paul return home to tell his parents what happened to his brother.  Lizzie returns home, but her dad won’t take her back, and in Virginia, some other kid gets mad at his mom and storms out of the house.

I found this trade to be another mixed bag.  The story about Brother Blood was kind of silly, but balanced character and plot nicely.  The issues concerning Starfire’s sister and the fight against The Citadel didn’t really do it for me, but the attempt at addressing social issues in the runaway storyline really fell flat.

I know that I have to remember to read these books in the context of a Comics Code Authority that didn’t like depictions of drug use or other questionable things.  In that sense, the hints about teen prostitution and drug use might have been progressive at the time, but the way that world is portrayed is about as fantastical as that of The Citadel.  I didn’t understand the role that Roy Harper played, or why Adrian Chase needed the Titans to help him, aside from pulling information from an upset teenager (which, let’s face it, police are pretty good at doing on their own).  Vic’s ability to relate to all the runaways is a bit questionable, when his recent origin issue (in the last volume) shows his flirtations with the runaway life as being brief.

The Citadel storyline irritated me for a few reasons, the biggest of which is that Lord Damyn, the ruler of multiple planets, is portrayed as an absolute idiot.  I know that we currently are in a situation where the leader of the most powerful country on the planet is only slightly more eloquent than Damyn, but still, he’s not shown as being surrounded by intelligent beings (one lone traitorous Psion is not enough).  Where this story really lost me is in the stuff surrounding Auron and X’Hal, and the idea that the god of that system is unable to control her rage.  It threw me out of the rest of the story.  A big part of that storyline seemed to be given over to amplifying up the Omega Men, whose own series started soon after, but there was nothing happening there that gave me any interest in reading more of their adventures.  They seemed boring, and not all that unique as characters (I have only ever liked them in Tom King’s excellent run a couple of years ago).

The Brother Blood stuff also stretched credibility in a few ways.  I remember that people were a little obsessed with cults back in the 80s, so it’s cool that Wolfman and Pérez wanted to construct one in the DCU.  I think their mistake was in stating that Blood was 700 years old, but only just beginning to expand his religion into the United States.  His power set is never really explained, nor are his goals.  Why is he running this cult?  Is it just to access young American women, or is it about riches?  These things are probably not as important to a 700 year old, who already appears to have massive resources.

I do like the way that Wolfman introduced Adrian Chase to the Titans’ world, and portrayed him as increasingly fed up with the justice system.  I know that Chase will go on to become the Vigilante, a character whose appearance I’ve always enjoyed (despite having never read an issue of his series – I’m thinking I should rectify that).

One thing that stood out to me in this comic is how many scenes show people casually smoking, even in offices and the Runaway Center.  It’s remarkable how that has become so inappropriate and noteworthy in my lifetime, and has me wondering what the first North American comic to depict people casually wearing facemasks will be.

In terms of character development, there isn’t a whole lot in this trade.  I feel like the rationale for why Kory can’t stay home doesn’t really hold up, but I guess that helping her find some closure with her family is what allows her to get more involved with Dick, and I know that relationship lasts a long time.  I found the issue where Wally talks about his faith to be interesting, especially given his anti-Russian views from before.  I get the impression that were these stories being written today, Wally might be a Proud Boy or something.  The hints that Raven is getting ready to have another confrontation with Trigon bores me. Aside from that, most of these characters are in a holding pattern for this volume.

Anyway, the next trade starts with Terra’s story (which was briefly previewed here), and that has me excited.  I know the bare bones outline of what happens with Terra, but am looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

You can check out my Retro Review archives here.

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New Teen Titans Vol. 4

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