Retro Trade Review: The New Teen Titans Vol. 5 By Wolfman, Pérez, Tanghal & Others For DC Comics!

Contains New Teen Titans #28-34, New Teen Titans Annual #2 (February 1983 to August 1983)

Written by Marv Wolfman

Pencilled by George Pérez 

Inked by Romeo Tanghal (#28-34), Pablo Marcos (Annual #2)

Coloured by Adrienne Roy

Spoilers from thirty-seven years ago

It’s time for more New Teen Titans.  This trade collects the lead-in to the story I’ve been most interested in reading, The Judas Contract, as Terra becomes a Titan, and the story moves towards the stuff that made this run so legendary.  I’m excited to finally read these classics, despite not always being impressed with this run.

This book features the following characters:

New Teen Titans

  • Changeling (Gar Logan; #28-34, Annual #2)
  • Starfire (Koriand’r/Kory Anders; #28-34, Annual #2)
  • Wonder Girl (Donna Troy; #28-34, Annual #2)
  • Robin (Dick Grayson; #28-34, Annual #2)
  • Raven (#28-34, Annual #2)
  • Kid Flash (Wally West; #28-34, Annual #2)
  • Cyborg (Vic Stone; #28-34, Annual #2)
  • Speedy (Roy Harper; #29-32)
  • Terra (Tara Markov; #30-34, Annual #2)

Villains:

  • Houngan (The Brotherhood of Evil; #28-31)
  • Phobia (The Brotherhood of Evil; #28-31)
  • Warp (The Brotherhood of Evil; #28-31)
  • Plasmus (The Brotherhood of Evil; #28-31)
  • Terrorists (#28)
  • Brother Blood (#29)
  • Mother Mayhem (#29, 31)
  • Bethany Snow (reporter; #29-30)
  • Monsieur Mallah (The Brotherhood of Evil; #29, 31)
  • The Brain (The Brotherhood of Evil; #29, 31)
  • Brother Blood’s Missionaries (#29)
  • Thunder (#32)
  • Lightning (#32)
  • Trident (#33)
  • Anthony Scarapelli (#33-34, Annual #2)
  • Deathstroke, the Terminator (#34)
  • Donna Omicidio (Annual #2)
  • Monitor (Annual #2)
  • Lyla (Annual #2)
  • The Scorcher (Annual #2)
  • Spear (Annual #2)
  • Bazooka (Annual #2)
  • Slasher (Annual #2)
  • Tanker (Annual #2)
  • Cheshire (Annual #2)

Guest Stars

  • Terra (Tara; #28-29)
  • Aqualad (Garth; #33)
  • Alfred Pennyworth (#33)
  • Jason Todd (#33)
  • Vigilante (Adrian Chase; Annual #2)

Supporting Characters:

  • Terry Long (Donna’s boyfriend; #28, 30, 34)
  • Marcia Long (Terry’s ex-wife; #28)
  • Jennifer Long (Terry’s daughter; #28)
  • Francis Kane (#29-32)
  • Adrian Chase (District Attorney; #29-30, 33-34)
  • Mark Wright (Sarah Simms’s fiance; #30, 34)
  • Wintergreen (Deathstroke’s assistant; #34)
  • Sarah Simms (teacher; #34)
  • Captain Hall (NYPD, Annual #2)
  • Wen Ch’ang (Cheshire’s assistant; Annual #2)

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

  • Changeling is chasing Terra again, as she has robbed a bank.  Their banter is such that Terra makes it clear she doesn’t want to do what she’s been doing, but can’t open up to Gar about it either.  She gets away.  In Zandia, Brother Blood’s church is attacked by four of the Brotherhood of Evil – Houngan, Warp, Phobia, and Plasmus – who start to kill Blood’s soldiers.  In New York, Kory and Donna chat as they get ready for their dates.  Kory shares that she is finding Dick to be pretty intense, but Donna defends him.  When Dick arrives, Kory suggests that they share a quiet night at home.  Donna leaves to meet Terry, who is spending the day with his ex-wife and child.  Gar catches up to Terra, and this time manages to knock her out and fly off with her.  Dick is doing some shirtless brooding on the balcony when Kory joins him.  He’s upset by an article written by Bethany Snow, and wants to contact Adrian Chase to see if he has any more information on her.  At Titans’ Tower, Raven tries to meditate on why she keeps holding on to others’ pain lately, when Wally arrives, and talks about how he’s been struggling balancing school and being Kid Flash.  Gar shows up with Terra, who wakes up and tries to escape, but is caught by Cyborg.  She lashes out with her powers, before giving up and finally explaining herself.  She says her name is actually Tara, and that her father is the leader of another country.  She was raised in the US, and when she went home two years before, she found that her father and stepmother were kidnapped.  She and her brother Brion searched for them.  When Brion was in South America, Tara found the terrorists who apparently are holding her parents, and they’ve forced her to work for them.  Raven is suspicious of her.  Tara is cagey about where her powers came from.  Donna goes to Terry’s apartment and finds that his ex-wife, Marcia, is still there, as is his daughter Jennifer.  Things are a little tense, and Donna leaves.  Some terrorists, wearing weird visors, wait for Terra on Long Island.  The Titans show up with her (well, Raven, Gar, Wally, and Vic do) and quickly capture them.  The leader admits that Terra’s parents are dead and that he’s been lying to her and using her.  Terra believes they are lying, and is about to kill them when Gar talks her out of it.  The team promises to help her, but both Vic and Raven are suspicious.
  • Brother Blood is in his church in Massachusetts, balancing on a column of skulls, talking to Mother Mayhem about how the Brotherhood of Evil has left Zandia.  The Brotherhood members we saw before talk to The Brain and Monsieur Mallah, as they fly a jet they’ve taken from Blood’s compound.  They are on their way to America to abduct Raven, but their pilot, one of Blood’s people, pulls the jet into a dive over the ocean.  Plasma discovers that the pilot is a robot, and we see the jet crash into the water.  At Titans’ Tower, Dick works out really hard in a little purple Speedo and purple slippers.  Donna suggests that he’s pushing himself too hard, and he blows her off.  She worries that she overreacted at Terry’s place, and realizes that what bothered her about meeting his ex and daughter, was that she doesn’t know her parents; she wants to know about her heritage.  Wally talks to Raven, declaring his love for her again (which has never been sold to me in this book).  She tells him that she can never care for him the same way, and suggests that he leave the team, as she believes she will be “the death” of him.  Warp has warped the Brotherhood to a deserted island in the Atlantic.  Plasmus wants to go after Brother Blood, and Warp prepares to teleport them again, having to go in stages to their target.  Donna goes to the roof of the Tower, where she finds Kory brooding about Dick.  She suggests Kory give him space, and flies into the city.  The Brotherhood teleport to another random island in the ocean, but this time a group of Blood’s “Missionaries” are waiting for them, and attack.  A young woman hovers over the ground and floats towards Titans’ Towers.  Speedy is still at the Tower, and he talks with Kory about Dick, and flirts with her.  Dick enters and tells him off, and asks Kory if she wants to go with him to speak to DA Adrian Chase.  Reporter Bethany Snow meets with Brother Blood – she is to meet with Chase and the Titans, and has memorized information for them.  Blood wants an agreement between Zandia and the US to be ratified, and I don’t know how these two things are connected.  We see that the Brotherhood killed the Missionaries, and stole their flying disks.  Gar and Terra talk, and Terra gets annoyed at how aggressively Gar is trying to help her.  She knocks him down and takes off.  There is an intruder alarm, but it’s only Frances Kane come to see Wally; she’s gotten better at controlling her magnetic powers.  She has something she wants to discuss with the team, but Cyborg leaves.  At Chase’s house, Kory plays with his kids while he gets ready.  Frances shows the Titans she can lift an engine (lucky they had one lying around) with her powers, but she is afraid of using them.  The Brotherhood teleport into the Tower, surprising Roy.  Wally is taken down by Houngan, and Raven is knocked into one of Warp’s portals; her soul self stays free, but Phobia messes with it.  She thinks that Wally is really Trigon, and envelops him.  Roy knocks out Houngan, while Frances uses her powers to try to save Wally.  Instead, she distracts Plasmus (who has a terrible German accent), and Roy freezes him with a refrigerator arrow.  Phobia distracts Roy, but Frances takes her down too.  Raven releases Wally, and he’s terrified of her, believing she wants to kill him.  She explains that it wasn’t really her that felt that way, but Wally tells her to stay away; he is afraid that she enjoyed hurting him.
  • With the Brotherhood of Evil seemingly out cold, Wally, Roy, and Frances talk openly about Wally quitting superheroing and returning to Blue Valley to go to school. Frances even uses his first name.  Wally is tempted, as he tries to figure out his feelings for Raven.  The Brotherhood attack again, with Plasmus swatting Roy out of the way, and Houngan taking Wally down.  All that’s left is Frances, and after Phobia scares her, and Houngan takes some of her hair, the villains depart.  In Brooklyn, Gar is at the run-down apartment where the terrorists kept Tara.  She changes into a second uniform she had made – more revealing and with her hair uncovered, and asks Gar if she can become a Titan (I’m not sure why she changed her mind so quickly from where last issue left off).  Dick and Kory go with Adrian Chase to meet Bethany Snow.  She tells them she wants to defect from Brother Blood, and explains that he is working to reelect three politicians so they can ensure that the American government will sell weapons to Zandia so they can fight off the Brotherhood of Evil.  An assassin takes a shot at Snow, but Dick saves her.  When Kory goes after the gunman, she flies through a doorway that explodes.  Snow tells Dick that the Brotherhood is after Raven (I’m not sure how she would know that part). Vic goes to Sarah Simms’s apartment for a party (apparently it’s New Year’s Eve), and is surprised to see that the only person there is Mark Wright, Sarah’s fiance who she’s never mentioned before, and who has been working in Washington for a year.  Vic decides to leave (it’s unclear if he’s faking receiving word of an emergency or if it’s real), and is upset with himself for thinking that there could be something between him and Sarah.  Chase drops Snow off at her apartment, where one of Brother Blood’s people is waiting for her – Snow claims that Chase and the Titans bought her every word (which makes sense, because so far as we can tell, everything she said was the truth).  At Titans’ Tower, the team gathers, Gar complains about having to cancel the New Year’s party he planned, and also announces that Terra is now on the team (apparently so is Speedy?).  Wally tells them about the fight with the Brotherhood, and Roy suggests they get “sentry devices” even though last issue Frances showing up set one off.  They talk about the Brotherhood, and try to figure out why Donna is not there.  We see that she’s having dinner with Terry at the top of Rockefeller Center.  Raven is in a church praying/meditating.  She has a brief conversation with a priest, which is interrupted when the Brotherhood shows up.  Raven almost fights them, then realizes that would involve giving in to violence, so takes off.  The Titans watch the ball drop in Times Square, but it freezes for a few moments, and they see Raven’s soul self come out of it.  Wally sees this as a sign that she’s crazy.  The Brotherhood shows up in Times Square.  When she tries to envelop Plasmus in her soul self, it hurts her.  The rest of the Titans arrive, and when Wally grabs Raven, he runs right into one of Warp’s warps.  Vic blasts Plasmus apart with his sonic cannon, and Frances uses her magnetism to stop Phobia, although the others think she should stay out of the fight (yet they brought her).  Phobia turns the crowd against the heroes.  Warp returns and drops Wally off, before grabbing his teammates and leaving again.  Terry proposes to Donna.
  • In the aftermath of the Time’s Square battle, the team tries to figure out what happened.  Wally is angry with Raven, but Roy defends her, and Vic suggests it’s better that they return to the Tower to argue and plan their next moves.  When they return, they find Donna, who tells them that Terry proposed.  Donna shares with Dick that she wants to find out about her background before getting married; Wally has to remind them that Raven’ been taken to Zandia (how exactly was Warp able to take the three of them that far, but couldn’t carry the four members of the Brotherhood even half that distance?).  Their jet leaves for Zandia.  Monsieur Mallah and The Brain watch the rest of the Brotherhood interrogate Raven, who doesn’t actually know anything about Brother Blood.  When Phobia takes a turn, Raven visualizes being in hell and seeing all her friends dead at her hands, and Wally hating her.  She passes out, and leaves The Brain thinking of another strategy.  In the Titans’ jet, Vic is grumpy about Sarah Simms, and Dick tries to blow Kory off again; she makes him realize that she’s not dumb and he shouldn’t treat her as such.  Mallah and The Brain try to be gentler with Raven, explaining that when Brother Blood passed through her soul self, he left a trace of himself behind.  She is able to lead the Brotherhood to the source of his power, which is hidden in a mountain.  Plasmus uses his weird protoplasm body to tunnel them in.  When the Titans land in Zandia, they are met by local authorities who wear shorts in one panel and pants in the next.  They don’t want the Titans coming into the country, but Frances takes away their guns.  Mother Mayhem sees this from the main base, and orders that they be allowed in, seeing as she intends to use them to her own ends.  The Brotherhood enter a cavern with a flame in the middle, but just then, the Titans come busting in to rescue Raven.  Warp gets rid of Donna, but the Titans appear to be winning.  When Wally approaches The Brain, he mindblasts them all, and Raven fears that they are all dead.  This reminds her of the vision Phobia gave her, and she freaks out, allowing Trigon to take her over.  Donna returns just in time to try to reach Raven, who regains control as her friends recover.  Donna explains that Raven was ready to kill herself (somehow in all of this, the Brotherhood all got knocked out too), and comforts her.
  • Thunder and Lightning, a pair of villains who can communicate telepathically, stand outside a low-rent building in St. Louis, demanding that the tenants tell them where a certain man has gone.  When they can’t answer, Thunder finds his anger and power builds, until he has to release it; they both let their power loose and destroy the building.  Later, they talk about how one of them is starting to become more and more comfortable with releasing his power.  The Titans fly back from Zandia.  Donna is surprised that Dick won’t open up to her; Dick is increasingly doubtful that he can keep juggling all the roles he’s placed on himself.  Starfire checks on Raven, who feels that she shouldn’t be on the team anymore.  Wally feels the same way, and Frances pushes him to come home with her.  Roy tells them that he’s going to leave the team again, wanting to keep working with drug centres instead.  Tara is annoyed that no one will tell her their real names, aside form Gar, and almost gets into it with Vic.  When they get back to the Tower, Dick blows Kory off again, and Donna suggests she give him more space.  Roy tries to kiss Kory, and gets knocked down.  Dick returns, telling them all to leave.  In St. Louis, which keeps getting spelled as Saint Louis, the military confronts Thunder and Lightning, who fight them.  Gar and Tara are going to go to the movies.  Kory decides to give up on Dick, and then Roy calls to tell them about the problems in St. Louis, but says he’s not going.  The Titans head out again, and Vic opens up to Donna about Sarah getting married, and Donna explains that she hasn’t answered Terry yet.  Thunder and Lightning are still in a standoff with the military when the Titans get there.  They start fighting, and we learn they are looking for 2nd Lt. Walter Williams.  Donna keeps trying to talk to them while they fight, but it’s not until Kory is able to hurt Lightning that he finally gives up.  They tell the Titans how they are the sons of Williams and a Vietnamese woman who was spurned by her community after Williams left.  Their mother went to the island of Hsuan, a place known for magic, where they were born as conjoined twins.  A wise man separated them with magic, and they eventually developed their powers.  They believe that they need the blood of their father in order to achieve a balance that will let them better control their powers.  Donna offers to use her connections to find their dad; a cop says that his last known address was in a fishing village in Maine. The brothers fly off.  Kory wants to follow (why not Wally?), but Donna stops her.  Raven teleports to the village, while the rest get ready to follow.  In Maine, the brothers affect the weather, and Raven gets freaked out by the fear of the residents.  She tries to stop Thunder and Lightning from causing so much damage, and Thunder strikes her.  The rest of the Titans arrive, and the fight begins again.  Tara checks on Raven.  Donna turns up in a military helicopter with news that the twins’ father was a military scientist who disappeared a while ago.  Thunder feels they are doomed, but Vic suggests they go to STAR Labs. Later, the team leaves the Lab (I assume the brothers are still inside, but it’s not stated).  Donna admits that she didn’t tell the whole truth.  Apparently Lt. Williams has been wanted by the government since the 60s, but Wonder Woman, who worked for the Pentagon (?) at this time, couldn’t learn anything else.  Donna thinks they should solve this mystery.
  • The Titans (without Robin) are gathered at a dock, where Aqualad is helping the police recover the body of the costumed villain Trident, who they all had run-ins with earlier in the day.  It looks like he’s been killed with his own weapon, and it appears to be a real mystery.  Aqualad leaves, and the rest of the team unwinds in their swimming pool, except for Kory, who has gone to find Robin.  Tara punches Gar in the face when he fools around too much, and then Gar tells the story about his and Vic’s run-in with Trident.  He robbed a bank in Manhattan, and while escaping, was able to drop a partly-constructed building on the two Titans.  Vic saved Gar.  Kory flies to Wayne Manor, where she sees Alfred Pennyworth and the young Jason Todd, who has just moved into the mansion.  Alfred tells Kory that Dick moved out a while ago.  The rest of the team moves to the kitchen, where Raven talks about how she and Donna ran into Trident at the Museum of Natural History.  He was stealing artifacts, and the two weren’t able to stop him.  When Raven tried to grab him, it was like he wasn’t even there.  As the team talks, they discuss how Trident seemed different in these two encounters.  Robin is with DA Adrian Chase (who apparently does his fair share of police work in the field).  Anthony Scarapelli, the drug dealer from the last trade, is out of jail already, and Adrian wants to take him down again.  They sneak onto his estate, and Dick punches out a guard.  Gar has learned that Trident was identified as having worked for The HIVE.  Kory arrives, and tells the team that Dick moved, and that she’s learned he’s not enrolled in college.  Tara isn’t interested in hearing about this, and instead has Wally tell the story about the fight that he and Tara had with Trident.  In their case, they fought him at a Drive-In showing ET (seriously).  Trident was surprised when Wally mentioned the amount of money he stole that morning, and was able to distract the heroes with a big fire and escape.  Kory points out that it sounds like each encounter was with a different person wearing the same outfit, and Tara takes that as a chance to body shame her.  Kory reminds them all that she’s smart, only unfamiliar with Earth, and Donna apologizes to her.  Vic gets an idea.  At some hideaway, we see two guys dressed as Trident, talking about having killed the third for hiding money from them.  The Titans show up, and after a brief fight made briefer by Vic’s discovery that the Trident can project images, they are taken down.  Dick and Chase approach Scarapelli’s house, and when they see him through the window, go jumping in.
  • Deathstroke, who is only called The Terminator in this issue, is hanging out in his palatial apartment, being served by Wintergreen, and talking about taking on a new job, although it bothers him that he still hasn’t killed the Teen Titans.  At Titans’ Tower, most of the team surprises Terra with a birthday cake, although she uses it as an opportunity to complain again that she doesn’t feel like a part of the group.  Robin and DA Chase fight Scarapelli’s goons.  Scarapelli pulls a gun on Chase, which Dick knocks out of his hand.  That illegal gun becomes the reason that Chase wants Scarapellia arrested, and since he’s only a DA, he needs Robin, who has been deputized, to take him into custody; Dick is not happy about being used.  At the Tower, Tara continues to talk about how hard her life has been (the others point out that they were slaves or have demon parents).  Gar agrees that Tara should know more, and Donna tells him to wait a bit.  She goes to talk to Wally, who talks about wanting to leave the team; Donna is supportive.  The Terminator hunts his new prey on Wall Street, and makes a move on the guy.  Terry Long is teaching his class, and getting flirted with by a student, when Donna enters and shows that she’s wearing the ring he gave her, indicating that she has accepted his proposal.  As they go for a walk through the park, Donna explains that she needs to find out who her parents were before they can get married.  Tara is still arguing, mostly with Gar, which is interesting given that he’s the most open member of the team.  She is basically talking her way out of the group when a phone call interrupts.  Sarah Simms is calling for Vic, who doesn’t want to talk to her.  When Gar puts her off, we see that Mark, her “fiance” is still there, and is a little rough with her.  She tells him that she broke off their engagement long before she met Vic, and kicks him out.  Gar and Tara are still talking when another call comes in – The Terminator is on their vidscreen, showing that he’s got a stockbroker as hostage, and he’ll trade him for the Titans.  Tara knocks Gar out and flies off, wanting to prove herself, and Wally notices her leaving.  Tara flies right to the office where The Terminator is holding the guy (I’m not sure how she’d know where to go), and starts fighting him.  Her powers surprise him, and she almost manages to take him down.  He knocks her out of the sky, but the rest of the Titans arrive in time for Wally to save her while Kory, Vic, and Gar gang up on The Terminator.  He manages to get ahold of Wally by the neck, but Tara grabs him in a giant rock fist and it looks like he’s caught.  He uses his power staff, and it looks like he explodes.  Wally thanks Tara for saving his life, and tells her she’s proven herself worthy of the team.  She is touched, and excuses herself while Kory decides that they should tell her their secrets when they next have a meeting.  Tara returns to the apartment where she used to live with the terrorists.  She’s surprised to see a man there, and we learn that she’s working with The Terminator to infiltrate the team.  Robin is at Chase’s apartment, where he confronts him for using him.  Adrian’s wife is not happy to learn that Chase broke the rules, and then points out that Chase’s “Uncle Arthur” sent the gift of a toy clown for their son.  As Chase proclaims that he doesn’t have an Uncle Arthur, and as Dick drives away from the building, we see the top floors explode.
  • The second Titans Annual opens with a news broadcast that explains what happened at Chase’s apartment.  Robin loses his temper on a reporter at the hospital, where Robin has accompanied the Chase family, while NYPD Captain Hall refuses to answer questions linking the explosion to the mob.  Scarapelli also watches the news, in the company of some other mobsters, including Donna Omicidio, who is apparently above him in ranking.  She’s furious that he’s brought so much attention to himself (he claims he never meant for the wife and children to be hurt, but the bomb he sent was hidden in a child’s toy, so there’s that), and she wants him to bring her all the files he’s collected by morning.  We learn that Chase’s wife and children have died.  Robin and Hall speak at the hospital about how the police have no reason to pursue Scarapelli for this crime, which makes Dick angry. The other Titans, except for Raven, arrive, and Dick ignores Kory to speak with Donna; he refuses to let go of his anger at this situation.  A doctor gives a press conference explaining that Chase has shrapnel too close to his heart to operate on, and that he was dead for seven minutes, but is now recovering.  Scarapelli feels that Omicidio is going to kill him, and decides to call in some extra protection, and wants to call The Monitor.  In space, we see a woman named Lyla bring some files to the Monitor, who remains unseen.  He speaks with Scarapelli, telling him he can send him six “special” guards.  Robin testifies in a preliminary hearing about Scarapelli, Scarapelli gets a court order to keep Robin from harassing him, and we learn that Chase has left the country to recuperate from his injuries, but don’t know where he’s gone.  Dick goes to confront Scarapelli in a restaurant, and things start to get violent, but Kory arrives and gets Dick out of there.  They talk on a roof about Dick’s anger and how Kory wants to help him.  While they chat, we see that a sniper has Robin in his sights, but another unseen sniper shoots him.  The dead sniper is dropped off at Scarapelli’s apartment, and he assumes Robin killed him.  At the Tower, the team discusses Dick’s plan to shut Scarapelli down.  Donna has reservations about this plan, but agrees to go along with it.  Raven tries to return to Azaroth, but is turned away, due to the growing influence of Trigon on her, or something like that.  We see a cool montage of scenes wherein the Titans, in three teams, take out criminal enterprises connected to Scarapelli at the same time, even though they can find no proof that he’s involved with any of them.  Dick does research on the computer trying to connect all of the dots around Scarapelli, and Donna again asserts that she’s not comfortable with the team doing this kind of work.  We see another series of scenes wherein the people recruited by the Monitor are brought into the story.  First, a masked arsonist named The Scorcher is recruited, then a black man called Spear, who is a jumble of racist tropes mixed with Mr. T.  After that Bazooka, a redneck character, Slasher, a female assassin, and Tanker, a purple rolling tank-suit guy, are added to the team.  In Hong Kong, an old man named Wen Ch’ang goes to see his employer, a woman he calls Jade, about taking the same job.  The Titans gather at a warehouse, where Kid Flash can find no connection to Scarapelli (Robin doesn’t appear to be with them).  They are attacked by Bazooka, Spear, and Scorcher.  Tanker knocks Donna pretty far.  Starfire, leaving the building in order to return to it, runs into Cheshire outside (that’s Jade’s professional name), and gets knocked down by her.  Slasher manages to throw a knife at Gar while he’s shaped like a fly, and hurts him.  Someone shoots Slasher from behind (we see this through a sniper scope) and kills her.  Vic destroys Bazooka’s bazooka (Bazooka is a racist as well as a redneck), while Donna wrecks Tanker’s armor.  Wally takes out Spear.  Scorcher is about to open fire on them all when he’s attacked by someone dressed mostly in black who knocks him out without the others seeing.  Kory is rescued from Cheshire by Wally, who is scratched by her poisoned nails.  The mystery sniper shoots at Cheshire, making her run away.  Wally, in pain, calls for Raven, who shows up to help him.  Back at the Tower, Donna again complains about the tactics that Dick has them using.  Dick plays a tape he somehow acquired.  On it is Chase’s voice, telling the team that Scarapelli has incriminating evidence on his fellow mobsters, and that he’s planning on surprising them at his desert property.  Donna decides the team should be there.  On that day, the mobsters under Donna Omicidio gather in the desert (why are they in the desert?  Where is the closest desert to New York City?).  Scarapelli arrives, looking confident.  Raven teleports in, warning the gangsters that they are in a trap.  Scarapelli has an underground bunker, wherein he’s hidden dozens of jetpack-equipped goons, who come flying out and attack the gangsters.  There is a lot of mayhem, with the Titans apparently trying to save the gangsters.  Scarapelli flees in his personal car, while Donna only now realizes that Dick isn’t with them.  Scarapelli returns home (from the desert to Long Island takes how long?).  His guard (who I assumed was going to be Dick in disguise) is taken out by the man in black, who as he chases Scarapelli through the house, shooting at him, rants about justice.  He reveals himself to be Adrian Chase, now calling himself The Vigilante.  Dick shows up to stop Chase from shooting him.  Dick reveals that he figured out that Chase’s audiotape had to be made after the attack on him.  When Scarapelli pulls out a gun and manages to shoot Robin, Chase shoots him dead.  The rest of the Titans arrive (from the desert?) to find Dick unconscious and Scarapelli dead.  Later, the news tells us that Robin, who suffered head and arm wounds, has been cleared of Scarapelli’s death, but Dick refuses to say who actually shot the gangster, stating he was unconscious at the time.  The anchor ends her broadcast asking if there is a new kind of vigilante in town.

This volume was pretty solid.  I liked the way Marv Wolfman built on earlier stories and arcs, bringing the Brotherhood of Evil back into the mix, as well as Brother Blood and Deathstroke, while also using these stories to launch his Vigilante spin-off series.  This book is at its best when it’s featuring traditional superheroes and focusing on the relationships of the characters (as opposed to space adventures and Raven’s problems).  

A big focus for this volume was the inclusion of Terra on the team.  Personally, I feel that revealing that she’s working for Deathstroke so early was a mistake; I think it would have been more forceful had it been revealed to the reader at the same time as the team found out (although that’s two volumes from now, and I reserve the right to change my mind on that).  Knowing that she’s “evil” makes her actions kind of transparent, and causes odd scenes, like when she feels bad in fighting the villains the Monitor sent to Scarapelli in the annual.  

I also wonder why, if Tara’s job is to infiltrate the team and learn all their secrets, she’s so confrontational and difficult all the time.  I would think that ingratiating herself would make them like her more, and then be more open with her.  Also, I doubt it would be too hard to find the identities of most of the team anyway – Gar, Vic, and Kory are clearly not able to hide their appearances, and Kory lives with Donna, which would make her identity obvious.

The other main focus of this volume, building on the previous one, is the continued development of Adrian Chase as a character.  He’s basically the DC Universe’s Punisher, with a family that was murdered by mobsters fueling a vengeance-fueled murder spree.  The costume that Chase chose as The Vigilante is terrific and so very 80s at the same time.  These books caused me to pick up the first trade of the Vigilante run that Wolfman launched shortly after these comics came out, so I’ll be revisiting him after I’ve finished reading my way through this Titans run (I only have up to Volume 9 or 10 at this point).

Aside from these newer characters, there is limited development of the other Titans, aside from relationship stuff.  Let’s take a quick look at the Titans to see what’s going on with them at this point.

  • Robin probably has the most going on in this volume, as we learn that he’s been lying to his friends about how he’s been spending his time away from the team, and has been doing more work with DA Chase, off the books.  Dick is grouchy, and very cold towards Kory, his unworldly hot girlfriend who seems determined to make him happy.  I also noticed that people started making comments about how he’s “not a boy”, which I assume is groundwork for his upcoming switch to the Nightwing persona.
  • Starfire doesn’t seem to realize that she’s in an abusive relationship, and her continued devotion to Dick doesn’t make a lot of sense given what we are shown in this book.  I don’t know why she doesn’t dump him.  Other than that, she only has one other memorable moment, when she responds to Tara’s woe is me act by pointing out that she was a slave for six years.
  • Wonder Girl gets proposed to by the older, and still creepy Terry Long in this volume, but his offer sends her into another spiral of concern about not understanding her background or heritage.  Is this the beginning of Donna Troy’s destiny to become one of the most confusing (after Hawkman) characters in the DCU?  It’s curious that she starts to question her place on the team here as well.
  • Kid Flash also goes through a lot of doubt in this volume, as he starts to move away from still resenting Raven to also feeling like he isn’t really cut out to be a superhero (there is a late suggestion that his powers are slowing down as well).  I am left wondering at what point Wolfman knew that Wally was destined to replace Barry Allen as the Flash after Crisis, and if he was starting to lay the groundwork for that.  I mean, Wolfman introduced the Monitor in this volume (I have no idea why he’s an early version of Oracle, but for villains) and was clearly planning Crisis at the time…
  • Cyborg didn’t have much going on, except for his consistent anger for Sarah Simms, the girl that he never actually dated, and who he feels betrayed him for being engaged without telling him.  Of course, if he even once spoke to her, he’d know that she’d broken off the engagement to that guy, who is clearly not right in the head.  I’m not sure why Vic was always portrayed as such a hothead.
  • Changeling didn’t have much going on in this volume at all, except perhaps a growing attachment to Terra.
  • Speedy was a good addition to the book for a few issues, and stands out as the character I know the least about in this era.  I’ve never read the Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics that feature his drug addiction (RIP Denny O’Neil), and really only got to know the character a little after he started calling himself Arsenal and Red Arrow.  
  • Raven spent most of this volume struggling with her demonic side, which, I’m afraid, means we’re going to have another Trigon story soon.  Please, spare me…

George Pérez continues to improve through this run, with the Annual (which I suspect he co-wrote, but the issue credits were removed from the splash pages) being the best example of his work so far.  He plays around a lot more with layouts there, showing different groupings of Titans at the same time, or later using talking heads to advance the story.  (This is an aside, but the use of news reporters to narrate made me think of The Dark Knight Returns, which came after this).  Perhaps some of the credit for the Annual being so gorgeous goes to Pablo Marcos, who was not Pérez’s usual inker at the time, but still, it looks very nice.

I am curious to see what happens with Thunder and Lightning after this, and to understand the animosity between Brother Blood and the Brotherhood of Evil.  I imagine that it’s around this point that fans started clamoring for more Deathstroke, as he is a pretty cool villain in these early issues (I don’t get why he’s only referred to as The Terminator at this time).

In all, this was a decent run of issues, and I’m sure that, as we get closer to The Judas Contract, things will continue to improve.

You can check out my Retro Review archives here.

If you’d like to read this trade, follow this link:
New Teen Titans Vol. 5

 

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