Contains Tales of the Teen Titans #49-58 (December 1984 to October 1985)
Written by Marv Wolfman
Co-plotted by George Pérez (#49-50)
Pencilled by George Pérez (#49-50), Carmine Infantino (#49), Rich Bucker (#51-54), Ron Randall (#55), Chuck Patton (#56-58)
Inked by Mike DeCarlo (#49-50, 52-54, 56), Dick Giordano (#50, 54), Bob Smith (#51), Ron Randall (#55), Romeo Tanghal (#57-58)
Coloured by Adrienne Roy
Spoilers from thirty-five to thirty-six years ago
I started reading these trades because I’d never experienced the legendary Wolfman/Pérez run, and because I wanted to read The Judas Contract with all context intact. I still have two trades in the initial pile that I bought almost a year ago, and this is the first one that has less of George Pérez’s art in it. By this point, the Titans had two monthly books – Tales of the Teen Titans, and the relaunched, direct market, finer paper New Teen Titans. For whatever reason, the Tales story took place in continuity before the relaunched book (there was a delay after the first New Teen Titans got renamed), and so this trade collects ten issues of the secondary book, featuring work by a few different artists.
From the cover, it’s obvious that this trade also contains Donna Troy’s wedding to the much older, and slightly smarmy, Terry Long. I’m sure I’m going to have some things to say about that by the time I get to the end of this volume. Past that, I’m coming into this one with few preconceived notions or expectations. By this point, Wolfman has the team dynamics down, and I’ve come to like the cast a great deal. I see Deathstroke returns in this volume, which is appealing.
So, let’s see what there is to see…
This book features the following characters:
New Teen Titans
- Dick Grayson/Nightwing (#49-58)
- Wonder Girl (Donna Troy; #49-50, 53-54, 56-58)
- Starfire (Koriand’r/Kory Anders; #49-58)
- Cyborg (Vic Stone; #49-58)
- Lilith (#49-54)
- Kid Flash (Wally West; #49-50)
- Changeling (Gar Logan; #50-58)
- Jericho (Joseph Wilson; #50-52, 56-58)
- Raven (#50, 56)
- Speedy (Roy Harper; #50)
- Doctor Light (#49)
- President Marlo (Qurac; #51-52)
- Cheshire (#51-52)
- Deathstroke, the Terminator (Slade Wilson; #53-55)
- Shimmer (The Fearsome Five; #56-58)
- Gizmo (The Fearsome Five; #56-58)
- Mammoth (The Fearsome Five; #56-58)
- Psimon (The Fearsome Five; #56-58)
- Jinx (The Fearsome Five; #57-58)
- Neutron (The Fearsome Five; #58)
- Wonder Woman (Diana; #49-50)
- The Flash (Barry Allen; #49)
- Aqualad (Garth; #50)
- Aquagirl (Tula; #50)
- Superman (Clark Kent; #50)
- The Guardian (Mal Duncan; #50)
- Bumblebee (Karen Duncan; #50)
- Batman (Bruce Wayne; #50)
- Hawk (Hank Hall; #50)
- Dove (Don Hall; #50)
- Harlequin (Duela Dent; #50)
- Golden Eagle (#50)
- Bat-Girl (Bette Kane; #50)
- Hippolyta (Queen of the Amazons; #50)
- Azrael (#52-54)
- Monitor (#58)
- Harbinger (#58)
- Terry Long (Donna’s husband; #49-50, 53, 58)
- Jennifer Long (Terry’s daughter; #49-50)
- Maude Stone (Vic’s grandmother; #49, 54, 56-58)
- Tucker Stone (Vic’s grandfather; #49, 54, 56-58)
- Sharon Tracy (Donna’s friend; #49-50)
- Francis Kane (#49-50)
- Vernon Quester (Gar’s stepfather’s business manager; #50, 55)
- Sarah Simms (Vic’s friend; #50, 56, 58)
- Steve Dayton (Mento, Gar’s adopted step-father; #50, 54-55)
- Jillian (Gar’s girlfriend; #50, 53-55)
- Adeline Kane Wilson (Searchers, Inc.; #50-52, 56)
- Lana Lang (#50)
- Wen Ch’ang (Cheshire’s assistant; #51)
- Amber (Searchers, Inc; #51-52)
- Adrian Chase (judge, fka Vigilante; #53-54)
- Wintergreen (Deathstroke’s assistant; #54-55)
- Bethany Snow (reporter; #55)
- Doctor Jenet Klyburn (STAR Labs; #56-58)
- Doctor Sarah Charles (STAR Labs; #57-58)
- Captain Hall (NYPD, #57-58)
Let’s see what happened in the comics, with some commentary as I go:
- This volume opens with Dick getting fitted for his suit for Donna and Terry’s wedding. Terry, his brother, his daughter, and some others are there with him, and the brother is needling Dick about whether or not his girlfriend looks as good as Donna does. When Donna walks in with Kory, Dick kisses his girl, and the older men are jealous. Donna and Kory take Jenny with them to get Donna’s dress. Vic is at home with his grandparents, trying to avoid calling Sarah Simm to invite her to Donna and Terry’s wedding (which is the next day). His grandmother convinces him to give it a try, and Sarah accepts. Diana, Sharon, and Lilith, Donna’s friends and maybe former roommates wait for her to arrive at the dress shop. Donna’s gone to get her stepsister, but they finally all arrive. Donna mentions that she hasn’t received an RSVP from Wally yet, so Sharon offers to call for her. When she reaches the Wests, she learns that Wally’s moved to Central City. At this point, Carmine Infantino took over the artwork, and the focus shifted to Wally and Frances Kane in Central City. Wally, whose powers are giving him pain, is in the middle of a fight with Doctor Light, and gets hit. The story backs up, and we see that prior to this, Wally and Frances were in a jeep, which Frances was levitating with her magnetic powers, trying to get them to a meeting on a butte in the desert outside the city. Wally was sure that his powers were killing him. They saw a light flash by in the sky, which we see was Doctor Light, on his way to rob a bank. While waiting to meet with The Flash, Wally heard a radio broadcast about the robbery, and decided he had to go do something. Frances flew them there, and since they didn’t have costumes, they decided to be careful. Light fired at some cops, and Frances wrapped a light post around him. Wally saved bystanders from his blasts, while Frances threw cars at him. Light started firing around black light, making it impossible for anyone to find him, but Frances just started sending every stray piece of metal she could find (including some very peculiarly dressed man’s clothes) into the black light bubble while Light tried to fly away. She captures him in a garbage can, while I realize that we never returned to the initial scene of Wally being hit by one of his beams, so I should still be writing in present tense. Light is arrested and decides to give up crime (again). Wally and Frances return to the butte, where the Flash, who is facing a murder trial, agrees to see if he can help Wally. They go to one of Barry’s friend’s labs in a university, where Barry figures that Wally’s problems are caused by the fact that he hadn’t been fully grown when he received his Kid Flash powers. Barry doesn’t think he can cure this problem, and Wally admits that he’s started studying chemistry to see if he can cure himself. Wally is convinced he’s going to die. Pérez returns, and shows us Donna and Terry lying in a park watching a kite, as they discuss last minute wedding plans. She’s still worried that Wally hasn’t responded yet. Later, we see Donna’s answering machine as Wally calls in to say he and Frances will attend the wedding (tomorrow).
- Issue fifty tells the story of Donna and Terry’s wedding, and it’s absolutely packed with characters from the Titans’ past, and lots of easter eggs that probably would have been easier to catch in the 80s. Some of this got past me, but I’ll do my best to recap. On Themyscira, some Amazons are worried because Hippolyta has been praying for a full day. Gar works through the last minute preparations, directing caterers, flower delivery men, and roadies around Dayton Manor. Vernon Questor is impressed that Gar thought to hire a clown to entertain the kids, and decides to take over so Gar can get showered and prepared for the day. Adeline Wilson wakes up and realizes that Joseph (aka Jericho) has been up all night painting a picture of Terry and Donna as his wedding gift to them. Raven sits in some dark dimension cursing Azar and her fate and stuff. Vic and Sarah Simms head to the wedding. Vic is worried that he has no real reason to be there so far as the general public is concerned, conceding that Donna has photographed Gar and Kory, so their presence is explained, but never realizing he could be there as their friends. Gar is ready, so Questor checks on Steve Dayton, who appears to have been drinking. Gar meets Donna’s new family, and is pleased when Jillian arrives. The bridesmaids, who include Kory, Lilith, Sharon, Donna’s adoptive mother, and her step-sister get ready. Donna hangs out with Diana (aka Wonder Woman) for a bit, talking about their lives. Gar frets. Dick visits Donna, and they embrace. The ceremony is lovely, and I’m sure there are a ton of comics creators drawn into the audience. The lovers exchange vows, and doves are released as they kiss. Gar feels good about himself. Questor finds Aqualad and Aquagirl making out in the pool (naked). In the ballroom, Gar gives a short speech, and introduces the bridal party. Donna and Terry enter, and as Michael Jackson sings “Annie’s Song”, they dance. There’s general mingling, while various celebrities play music. Sting chats with Vic, who wonders why no one is mentioning that he’s half-metal. Clark Kent is there with Lana Lang. Mal and Karen Duncan (aka Guardian and Bumblebee) introduce themselves to Terry. Lilith gets a weird feeling. Questor thinks he hears something in a room, but there’s nothing there. Wally, Garth, and Roy Harper chat, and it’s clear that Roy’s date doesn’t know he’s Speedy. Some women check out Dick while he talks to Bruce Wayne about the fact that Bruce never tried to adopt him, but is now trying to adopt Jason Todd. Dick explains that he was too young and too focused on being Batman, but always saw Dick as his son. Vic confronts Gar about the fact that no one is noticing him as Cyborg, and Gar explains that it’s because his stepfather, aka Mento, is using his psionic powers to make it so no one notices Vic’s metal. Vic gets angry and storms off. Diana has a chat with Adrienne Roy, the book’s colourist. People fawn over Kory. Donna introduces Hank and Don Hall (aka Hawk and Dove) to Terry. Dick chats with Duela Dent (aka Harlequin), and explains that he finally realized she couldn’t be Harvey Dent’s daughter. While Garth and Tula swim again, Golden Eagle tries to convince them to join with him and Bat-Girl to restart Titans West; they aren’t interested. Gar feels bad about upsetting Vic, but then Vic comes to apologize to him (something that Sarah takes credit for when talking to Jillian). Dick, Joseph, and Mal start playing music. Diana comes to take Donna and Terry to the same room we saw before, where Hippolyta is floating in a portal, waiting to talk to them. She blesses their marriage. Gar talks to the crew that is filming the wedding, and we see scenes like the cutting of the cake, the tossing of the bouquet, and whatever that garter belt tradition is. At the end of the day, the Titans gather around Garth to give him a medal for being a “master caterer”. Questor looks over the guest list (which includes most comic creators who have ever worked on the book), as Terry’s siblings talk about how happy Terry seems. Donna and Terry are on Dayton’s private jet, where Donna has put on a Themysciran outfit. They are happy, but worried about Raven, as they kiss and fly into the sunset.
- The Titans, who have Lilith working with them now, are taking down some gun runners. After they’re done, they pose for a news photo. Somewhere in the Middle East, a guy named President Marlo briefs someone about Adeline Wilson, who crippled his country’s efforts to invade his neighbouring country, Kyran, by deleting all their data on that country. We learn that he’s hired Cheshire to track down Wilson to return their data (she has a photographic memory, apparently). Marlo tells Cheshire that Joseph is with the Titans, and that he wants Joseph dead; he is also offering a bonus to kill any other Titans (those were his guns they seized at the beginning of the issue). Cheshire leaves to go to her accommodations, thinking about how “he” is a Titan, and that he (we know it’s Roy Harper) left her with a child. She talks to Wen Ch’ang, who mentions how “him” as well. At Titans’ Tower, Kory and Lilith talk about how she’s trying to figure out what her next moves should be. Kory says she’s moving into Terry’s old apartment, and offers Lilith a room; they joke that they can talk about Dick’s ex-girlfriends. The rest of the team gathers, and they talk about how Raven hasn’t been around. Vic offers to look for her at her college. Gar says he’s going to go watch jury selection for Deathstroke’s trial, and Joseph is apparently heading home. The team splits up. Dick is suspicious of Joseph, having learned that the government wants to talk to him about him. In Alaska, three STAR Lab scientists investigate a frozen alien starship that’s buried in ice. We learn that Adeline Wilson runs an organization called Searchers Inc. that appears to be a detective agency, but is really an information network. She checks in with an old lady named Gert, who used to be a spy codenamed Icy. Gert has learned that President Marlo has put a hit out on her. Just then, Adeline hears someone in the hallway. Cheshire busts into the room and they fight while Gert transfers all their computer files somewhere. Gert takes some shots at Cheshire, who throws pieces of the crystal chandelier at her, killing her. Cheshire scratches Adeline, poisoning her. Just then, Joseph comes home and begins to fight the assassin, who knows not to look at him. We see her kick him hard in the head. At the Pentagon, Dick learns that the news photo of the team busting up the gun runners has alerted people to Joseph’s whereabouts, and that the unnamed Mideast country is now after him. He calls Gar to ask him to go get Joseph. Gar takes things slightly the wrong way, and assumes that Jericho is no different from Terra, and there to betray him. He flies to his house, where Joseph appears to be getting off the floor. Joseph can’t explain why he doesn’t want to go with Gar, and they end up fighting one another. Eventually, Joseph is able to take over Gar’s body and knock him out. He takes off on a motorcycle. Gar wakes up and heads back to the Tower. Jericho heads to a rough part of Manhattan, and visits his friend Amber, who he apparently used to go see more often. At the Tower, Gar explains what happened, and is upset that no one else is as suspicious of Jericho as he is. Dick mentions that Jericho is not actually a Titan, which is news to me since he’s been with the team for a while now. Dick wants to take a vote to decide what to do. Cheshire begins to smack Adeline around so she’ll tell her what she wants to know. In Alaska, the scientists work to melt the starship out of the ice. They are shocked to see what they think is a man frozen in the ice.
- In the Mid-East, President Marlo (still having trouble with this very Arab name) is holding Adeline Wilson prisoner, and wants her to share all the information she erased from his computers, which he assumes her photographic memory holds. He’s called away because someone named Krigor has arrived; this is the arms dealer who he needs to buy guns from so he can invade neighbouring Kyran. Krigor decides he wants Marlo’s art collection, and they make a deal. Joseph is with his friend, Amber, who it turns out is also an employee of Searcher’s Inc., and she wants to help rescue Adeline. At Titans’ Tower, the team tries to figure out the truth about Joseph. Lilith somehow knows that Joseph and Amber set out to the Middle East that day. Gar sees that as proof that he’s a traitor. Vic gets a call from STAR Labs, and they want his help dealing with the spaceship from Alaska and its pilot. Vic asks if anyone wants to come with him to the lab, and Lilith gets the sense that going there might change her life. In Qurac (I don’t know why they didn’t name the country before that), Amber and Joseph start looking for Marlo, and get into an odd version of a bar fight (complete with stereotypical curved sword-wielding Bedouins). Cheshire shows up and knocks Joseph out; Amber is taken prisoner. At STAR Labs, the team looks into a chamber that is holding the frozen pilot. Lilith senses something, there’s some chatter, and then something explodes or something. The chamber holding the pilot is about to explode, and Vic and Lilith are caught in the blast. Marlo continues to press Adeline for info, and shows her that he has Joseph, and is prepared to cut his throat again (apparently the Jackal, the guy that cut Joseph’s throat the first time, was working for him). She promises to talk, and then after a half hour of debriefing, the Wilsons and Amber are left alone in a cell. Adeline hatches an escape plan; Joseph hides inside her (his body is immaterial when he possesses someone), and then when the guards come to check, he knocks them out. They take their weapons and start to leave the dungeon complex. In New York, Lilith floats in the air in front of the alien pilot, who looks something like an angel (or the X-Man, Angel). They apparently fall in love on sight. As Joseph and Amber run, Marlo starts examining Krigor’s weapons (apparently he only needs a few crates of machine guns to take over his neighbouring country). Amber burst into the room and shoots a guard. She holds Marlo and Krigor at gunpoint, but Cheshire shows up. Amber manages to kick her in the head, but Cheshire tries to shoot her; it turns out that it’s actually Joseph in charge of Amber’s body. He reappears and manages to punch Cheshire in the face. He takes care of some guards too. Cheshire leaves, and Marlo, wanting to stop them all, pulls out a grenade. Adeline wants Joseph to shoot Marlo, but he freezes. Marlo drops the grenade and runs. Joseph grabs it and tosses it into another room, rescuing them all, but Joseph is sad that some of the art has been damaged. Adeline is unhappy with Joseph for not killing Marlo, but Amber sticks up for him.
- While Vic tinkers with a device, Dick and Kory play Donna and Terry at tennis. Vic’s machine makes their gym into a Danger Room of sorts, and the friends enjoy their time together. Lilith takes the weird flat barge to the island, and sees Deathstroke standing on the shore. He blasts the barge, sending her into the river. She swims and joins her friends, telling them what happened. Dick confirms that Deathstroke is still in jail, preparing for his trial that starts that day or the next. Lilith also talks about how she keeps having precognitive visions of the alien guy STAR Labs has. They also confirm that Jericho and Adeline are being questioned by Interpol in Europe, although they all believe that Jericho wouldn’t do anything wrong. At the trial, we see that Adrian Chase is the judge, and learn that he’s apparently not the Vigilante anymore. Slade and his lawyer seem to be up to something, and Gar is there to keep an eye on things. In STAR Labs, the scientists continue to study the alien. The Titans are there for some reason, but everyone thinks that Lilith should stay away from the alien. She disagrees, and approaches him anyway, and her arm starts to glow and radiate heat. The others try to stop her from approaching him, and she somehow makes the tank he’s standing in shatter. She radiates more heat, so that only Kory can approach her. Kory tries to get Lilith to calm down, but as she absorbs more energy from her, Kory has to fly away before she explodes. When the others approach Lilith, she blasts them with eye beams (honestly, I still have no idea who this woman is or what her powers are, but I’m sure they weren’t this). Vic fires his white sound at her, and knocks her out. The alien flies away through the hole Kory made. Vic leaps at him and misses, but Kory grabs him. Kory and Donna fly after the alien, who they think might have been controlling Lilith. Dick and Vic follow in sky cycles we’ve never seen before. At the trial, Gar interrupts, but Jillian calms him down. Lilith explains to the STAR Labs folk that whatever happened to her has nothing to do with the alien, and goes running off to find him. Kory continues to pursue the alien, who just wants to get away from them all (even though he feels like he’s in love with Lilith). Donna almost catches him, but he gets away. They catch him again, and Kory touches him, thinking that will allow her to absorb his language (that’s her weirdest power), but it doesn’t work. He escapes again, just as Vic and Dick catch up. Vic tries to catch him again, misses, and needs to get saved by Kory again. Donna catches the alien with her lasso, but he’s strong enough to free himself from it. He knocks some window washers from their platform by accident, and Dick and Donna have to rescue them. The alien finally gets away, and Dick reminds the team they are due to attend Deathstroke’s trial. There, Donna testifies against Slade, but his lawyer creates confusion as to how they can prove that it was Slade who did all the things they say he did, given they didn’t confirm his identity some times. The lawyer even brings up the attack on Lilith that morning. The Wall Street guy that Slade kidnapped ages ago testifies, but because he never saw Slade’s face, and because his voice was electronically disguised, he can’t be sure it was Slade that attacked him. Gar is angry.
- Gar blows up in court and attacks Deathstroke. The others try to calm him down, eventually pulling him away. Judge Chase refuses to hold Gar in contempt, but bans him from the remaining proceedings, which weirdly seems to be what Gar wanted to have happen. The winged alien from before flies around looking for Lilith (somehow he knows her name, despite not knowing how to speak English), and examining his feelings for her. At Titans’ Tower, the team talks about how they don’t know where Gar is. They decide they should investigate who impersonated Deathstroke in the previous issue, and decide to go looking for Wintergreen, Wilson’s close friend. Vic stays behind, but Dick, Donna, and Kory meet Wintergreen at some docks (apparently he just saw his son off on his honeymoon). As Wintergreen denies all knowledge of who could be using Wilson’s gear, they are attacked by Deathstroke. They almost catch him, but he manages to escape in a boat tied to the dock. When Kory fires a shot at it, the boat explodes. Kory recognizes it as belonging to Steve Dayton, which makes things more mysterious. At the same time, Vic is at STAR Labs, consulting with some scientists. His grandparents show up, and his grandmother is not happy. She’s learned that Vic intends to replace his steel parts with a more flesh-like plastic. Maude is worried about the risk to “Corky”, but Tucker agrees with Vic, and generally, it’s believed that there wouldn’t be much threat. The next day, Lilith testifies at Deathstroke’s trial (about the possibility of there being more than one Deathstroke the Terminator), and reveals that she is not actually working with the Teen Titans right now, she’s really just hanging out with them. Dick testifies next, convinced that no one could imitate Wilson’s movements. The defense picks Dick’s arguments apart, and Chase calls as recess. Lilith gets upset with the Titans, because they kept her apart from the winged alien. She ends up explaining that the fire that manifested around her happens when the alien is not around too, and that she often wakes from nightmares with her bed on fire. When she left the Titans years prior, it was to figure out who she really was, and she still doesn’t know herself. The alien is watching this scene, but he also believes that he is the reason she burst into flames, and decides he should leave. Lilith leaves the team, and the remaining three Titans discuss honouring her wishes. Back in court, Judge Chase decides that he has to reluctantly acquit Wilson for the kidnapping of the stock broker, as they cannot prove it was him. He does remand Wilson into custody for the illegal weapons he possessed, but the maximum sentence for that is a year (yeah right). On the way out, Wilson is menacing to the Titans, but also admits he doesn’t know who was impersonating him (or how he knew about it, which is the part that never got discussed). At Dayton Manor, Gar is caught using Dayton’s Mento helmet to make an image of Kory. We learn that it was Gar projecting an image of Deathstroke during the attack on Lilith, and at the docks. His goal was to get Wilson freed, so he could kill him, and he decides that he’s going to go ahead and do it anyway, even if he’s in custody.
- Issue fifty-five shares narration by Gar with narration by Slade Wilson. Dick is angry with Gar for how he acted in court, and Gar refuses the offers from Kory and Vic to talk about things, instead flying off in anger. Wilson is incarcerated at a minimum security prison in upstate New York. Gar heads home, where he blows off Vernon Questor (who I thought ran Dayton Industries, but is more often a butler-type now). Steve Dayton yells at him, and then Jillian tells him that her father has forbidden her from seeing Gar anymore. Slade talks to a guard who knew him in Vietnam; the guard tells him that Bethany Snow is coming to interview him. Gar sees the interview, wherein Slade claims to have been a legal mercenary, and that someone else used his identity to commit crimes. He makes it sound as if the Titans had a vendetta against him for no reason, and Snow talks about the way they persecuted Brother Blood as well. Gar smashes the TV, and when Dayton, very drunk, confronts him, he turns into an ape and smacks him before flying off again. Gar flies to the prison. Slade meets with Wintergreen, and learns that Adeline and Joseph are not in trouble with the government any more. Slade wants the senators in his pocket to free him; Gar sees this from the ceiling. After Slade goes to sleep, Gar wakes him and attacks him, trashing his cell in the process (his cell is pretty nice). Their fight takes them outside, which is what Slade wants. Once they are in sight of the guard tower, Gar slips away. The warden confronts Slade, who shows him what happened to his cell, but doesn’t explain. Slade is freed right then – Wintergreen is already there to pick him up. Slade talks to him about retiring to Africa. Gar sits at a zoo thinking about his anger, and decides he needs to see things through to the end. Slade receives a letter from Gar, telling him to meet at a chasm on Friday. Slade decides to accept the challenge, even though Gar makes it clear he wants to kill him. As the two men prepare to fight, Gar visits Terra’s grave, and Slade visits his son Grant’s. At the chasm, Gar swoops over Slade, but then when he sees that he’s not in his Terminator gear, he gets angry. Slade tells him that he will have to kill him as Slade Wilson. Gar prepares to attack as a buzzard, but can’t bring himself to kill him. He asks Slade why he attacked the Titans in the first place, and Slade explains that the Ravager was his son, and that his sense of honor obligated him to fulfil Grant’s contract with the HIVE. Gar thinks that this reason is nuts, and Slade offers to buy him coffee. They go to a diner and talk about things in a scene that is surprisingly touching. Slade explains his code of ethics, but Gar brings up Terra. Slade explains just how vicious Tara was, telling Gar how she killed an African king – Tawaba, the man who raised Gar for a while. Slade claims that Tara found him, and he thought he could take her under his wing. He slowly realized how damaged she was, and how much she hated everyone, including Gar. Slade believes she got close to him just to hurt him. Slade says that he’s done with this life, and insists that his son Joseph is a good and trustworthy person. Slade admits how much he loves Adeline and Joseph, and regrets not being with them. Gar talks about how everyone who ever loved him has died, and how he worries that the Titans are done with him, and never took him seriously in the first place. Slade suggests he talk openly with his friends, and praises him as a good person. Gar asks Slade if he had sex with Tara, and Slade doesn’t answer (which is basically an answer). Slade tells him that he’s leaving, and really means to hang up his Terminator suit. Gar thinks about things for a while, and starts to feel better.
- Raven stands around in the other dimension she’s been in, talking to herself, until she decides she has to act to save the life of a child (I’ve enjoyed this break from Raven). A truck delivers a dangerous patient to STAR Labs in NYC; Doctor Klyburn is there to greet it, but first talks to a young child in STAR’s hospital for some kind of procedure. The patient being delivered is dangerously radioactive, and sealed in a tube, but no explanation is given as to who he is or why he’s there. Some armed men in strange outfits show up to take the patient, and shoot at the guards with stun guns. Raven arrives, and ranting, starts taking the men down. Her powers run out of control, and start to hurt everyone there, including the regular patients. She comes to her senses, and then taps into Trigon’s powers to kill the small girl we saw before. In the confusion, the men escape with the radioactive prisoner, but at least the little girl, and many other patients, are now cured. Gar goes to meet Jericho and Adeline Wilson at the airport, and apologizes to Joseph for being a jerk. Vic is hanging out with Sarah Simms at her school, talking about the surgery he’s about to undergo. The Fearsome Five (although there are only four of them without Doctor Light) show up at Tri-State Prison, looking to free someone named Jinx. Some of the Titans (Nightwing, Starfire, and Wonder Girl) show up to stop them, and they fight. Psimon uses his powers to send Dick hurtling into the sky. Kory grabs him, but the momentum sends her flying too. Somehow, Donna manages to snag them with her lasso and bring them back to Earth (just how long is this lasso anyway?). While that happens, the Five make their way into the prison, where they freeze some guards and make their way to Jinx’s cell. Donna rushes after them, while Kory, fearing that Dick is injured, flies him to a nearby roof and argues with him. Doctor Klyburn prepares Vic for surgery, and makes it clear to him that while the plastic they are looking to repair his metal parts with will look normal, it won’t be able to withstand the strength he will still possess, as it’s only the outer layer that’s changing. This means his time as a Titan will be over, given that the surgery works and his body accepts the plastic (this part doesn’t make a lot of sense to me). Vic agrees, and the doctor begins her work. Vic’s blood pressure goes nuts, and the doctors have to work to save him. Sarah Simms hangs out with Vic’s grandparents outside the operating room. The Fearsome Five reach Jinx’s cell, where she is kept in a glass tube. They argue a bit about their goals – Gizmo only cares about money, while Psimon wants power, and Shimmer wants the ability to humiliate the Titans. Mammoth goes along with his sister. Donna and Kory arrive to fight the villains again, but Shimmer is able to knock Kory unconscious with gas, and fuses Donna into the wall. Psimon takes Jinx’s tube, and they leave.
- Vic survived the surgery, and is eager to have his bandages removed so he can see how things went. He looks like a regular person again, with faint scars outlining where his metallic parts once were. The Fearsome Five (actually still four) gather around the tank holding Jinx in a dockside warehouse in New Jersey. Dick, Donna, and Kory return to Titans’ Tower, to find Gar and Joseph there waiting for them. They decide to hang out in the pool area for a bit. Dick and Kory enjoy the hot tub, while Joseph gives Donna a massage, and Gar swims as a dolphin. Gar tells the others that the Tri-State Prison called earlier, and told him that Jinx, an Indian national of such power she has been mistaken for a goddess, has been taken by the Fearsome Five. Gar offers to tell them about his adventure with Slade, if Kory shows him something; she stands up and is apparently naked in the hot tub. Dr. Klyburn introduces Vic to Doctor Sarah Charles, his physiotherapist (I didn’t know they were doctors). They have a bit of a love-hate thing going on as we see a montage of Vic regaining control of his body (his hair starts growing back, so we know this takes a while). Psimon introduces the rest of the Fearsome Five to Jinx, who is still unconscious. He is about to teach her English telepathically, but she wakes up and attacks them. Psimon is able to reach her, just as Gizmo says he quits because he can’t figure out how to get their other “guest” out of his medical tube. Gizmo suggests they kidnap Dr. Klyburn to force her to help. Dick and Kory train outside the Tower, and Kory loses control a little, and almost hurts him badly. She is upset that the Titans are always trying to get her to reject her warrior nature, but then they make up. Gar has been trying to find Vic for days, but only now speaks to his grandparents, who tell him that Vic is at STAR Labs. At the same time, the Fearsome Five arrive at STAR, and come for Klyburn, who is in the physio space with Vic and Dr. Charles. The villains grab her, and Vic, claiming to be her assistant, insists on coming with her (he asked Charles to call his friends). The Five and their captives teleport away. Shortly afterwards, the Titans arrive and learn what happened. Psimon tells Klyburn that he wants her to revive their guest. She refuses, claiming it’s too dangerous, so Shimmer starts to turn Vic’s body into water. Klyburn agrees to help, so she turns him back (without noticing how much of him is metal and plastic). A couple of days later, after looking for the Five with no luck, the Titans gather on a rooftop to meet with NYPD’s Captain Hall. He tells them that the Five are planning on making an announcement, so they’ve called a press conference and want the Titans there. Psimon is annoyed that Klyburn and Vic haven’t revived their guest – who we finally learn is the Superman villain Neutron – yet. Vic has rigged the capsule so it explodes, stunning the five and allowing Vic and Klyburn to escape. As they run, Klyburn explains who Neutron is, and Vic starts melting, at least all of his new plastic parts. He passes out. The Titans attend the mayor’s press conference, at 6 AM on a Sunday, but it is interrupted by a psychic projection of Psimon, who gives them sixty minutes to agree to give him New York City, or he’ll destroy it.
- The Fearsome Five put out the fire in their warehouse, and are surprised to see Neutron emerge from the smoke. They explain to the very egotistical villain what their goals are, and he agrees to work with them. Captain Hall waits for the villains to appear at a wharf, while the Titans scour the west side of Manhattan looking for them. As they approach the docks, they attack Hall and the soldiers he appears to be commanding. Psimon is about to kill Hall when the Titans arrive, and Starfire sends Psimon flying into the river. Neutron blasts Kory and sends her flying, while the others start to mix it up. Dick takes down Gizmo, while Donna gets stuck between Jinx and Mammoth. Gar saves her by turning into an elephant and sending Mammoth flying into the river (through a few big freighters). Jericho manages to get a hold of Jinx. Doctor Klyburn rides in an ambulance with Vic, who is in rough shape. They are headed for STAR Labs. Most of the Titans attack Neutron together, but he blasts them and appears to knock them all out. Psimon is sinking in the river, and struggling to maintain a psionic bubble of air around himself. His powers fail him, but instead of drowning, he finds himself teleported to the Monitor’s ship in orbit. The Monitor, with Harbinger standing beside him, explains that Crisis on Infinite Earths is beginning in three months, and that he needs Psimon for it. Klyburn wheels Vic into surgery, and he is unhappy that he’s going to have to return to his metallic form. The Fearsome Five gather Gizmo and leave together. They head towards Central Park and start a bit of a rampage. The army attacks them, but they are able to force them back. Jericho, still in Jinx’s body, finally makes his move. He jumps from her to Gizmo to Shimmer, focusing on stopping Neutron. That’s when the rest of the Titans arrive and take down all of the villains. Shimmer is conscious but under Jericho’s control, so she’s not happy to watch her team lose. When Gizmo returns to consciousness, he quickly surrenders. Later, the Titans gather around Vic’s hospital bed, as he explains that he’s realized he shouldn’t be so insecure about his appearance. The physio doctor that was so hard on him stands in the doorway crying for reasons I don’t entirely understand. Later still, at the Tower, Dick and the others finally make Jericho’s membership official, and invite him to join the team. He happily says yes.
There was a steady decline in the quality of this volume, as the book went from being the focus of Wolfman and Pérez’s entire run to being the secondary title, filling in some gaps before the relaunched higher-quality book, with the higher-quality art, began. We went from the beauty and quality of the wedding issue to some bizarre stuff featuring little known and unnamed characters, through the emotionally wrenching issue that had Gar confront Deathstroke, to a third or fourth outing against a poorly conceived team of villains.
I loved the wedding issue, and trying to identify all the Easter Eggs hidden in it (which is hard from this vantage point). Pérez was at his best on that issue, and because these characters have been growing on me, I enjoyed seeing them having fun for a change.
The storyline about Lilith and the winged alien made little to no sense to me. Having not been a longtime Titans reader, I had no idea who Lilith was, and thought it odd that nothing was done to introduce her, given the vast disparity in popularity between this book when it came out, and the issues Lilith was in. I also thought the whole thing about her falling in love with Azrael, whose name I had to look up online, was very poorly handled. I had no idea how these two could be in love, nor did I care what happened to either one of them.
I like that Cheshire started to become a more established character in this book, and that the groundwork regarding her daughter was laid here, but the rest of the Qurac stuff left me cold. I don’t like the way Adeline Wilson is suddenly a superspy leader of an independent all-female spy agency. It would have made more sense to make her a government agent.
Deathstroke’s trial was goofy at first, but as Gar was forced to confront his anger and sense of decency, it got a lot better. The issue where Gar and Slade sit in the diner and talk is one of the most nuanced I’ve read since starting this whole Titans project (regular comment Chris Ulichney said this would be a favourite, and he was right). I like the idea of Gar becoming a more mature and thoughtful character, and hope that Wolfman doesn’t backtrack too much in subsequent volumes.
The stuff about Vic changing his appearance was also pretty goofy. I’m not sure how any plastic in the 1980s was going to look and feel like real skin, but I also don’t buy the notion that covering cybernetic parts with plastics is going to be rejected by the human part of his body. I guess Wolfman needed Vic to make peace with his appearance, but I’m not sure I bought any of it.
The Fearsome Five are terrible villains. None of them look cool, and they are just too powerful to be trying to take over a city for unclear ends. Psimon is such a powerful character that there needs to be a reason for ineptitude. The same holds for Shimmer. I didn’t buy Jinx wanting to join the team, and her powers are never established, but more than enough to take down the rest of the team after Jericho took control of her.
So, in the final analysis, this was a mixed bag of a very inconsistent trade. You would think that the general lack of Raven would have made me happier with it, but… After Pérez left the book, the art really went downhill quickly, with the exception of Ron Randall’s work on issue 58. Rich Buckler’s work is serviceable enough, but Chuck Patton’s is pretty poor, or at least, was very rushed.
I’ve only got one more trade in this series left on my bookshelf, but luckily, it’s the one that features the first issues of the deluxe format book, which I assume got a lot more attention paid to it than the later issues of this trade did. I guess we’ll find out next time.
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New Teen Titans Vol. 8
Tags: DC Comics, New Teen Titans, Retro Reviews