New Teen Titans #2 – Reviews of Old Comics
The big release this month, at least where comics are concerned, was the launch of DC Universe. DC Universe is a streaming service hyped for its inclusion of lots of television and movies. Also included is a fair library of DC comic books going back to Action Comics #1.
I like this inclusion, and it’s one reason that I will most likely keep the service. There are a lot of holes, such as a dearth of Legion of Super-Heroes comics, and there’s no efficient way to browse the titles available on my TV. On my phone I can see all of the available titles. Given that it just launched, I’m not terribly concerned. I trust that they will improve it. There are some gems, like both Prez series, including the excellent 2015 series by Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell. Naturally, it looks very Batman heavy right now, but with the new Titans television series set to debut soon, there are a lot of issues of Teen Titans available, including the first year of the landmark New Teen Titans series by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez.
I wanted to go into this early period for the series, as it was at a point in George Pérez’s development as an artist that the hallmarks of his style were developing. It’s also good to get a look at a team that wasn’t yet familiar with each other in the manner that has come to define the team. I also decided to look at an issue I have never read., since it’s usually priced out of my reach. It’s the first appearance of Deathstroke, the Terminator.
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciler: George Pérez
Inker: Romeo Tanghal
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: Ben Oda
Deathstroke, the Terminator has been approached by the H.I.V.E. to kill the New Teen Titans. When they won’t meet his terms, he tries to leave, but they unleash a barrage of automated attacks against him. He escapes them and discovers that the people he was talking to were just holograms. As he marches out, the H.I.V.E. watch on camera. They have analyzed the Terminator with a variety of scanners and are convinced that they can duplicate his powers and make their own Terminator that will do their bidding.
Carol Sladky argues with her ex-boyfriend Grant Wilson. When she refuse to get back together with him, he begins to get abusive. Starfire and Wonder Girl enter the room and repel him with their powers. Grant leaves, swearing that his new friends will help him take care of the Titans. Kid Flash arrives and takes the two heroines where the rest of the team is stopping some costumed drug smugglers. They easily break up the operation, but Starfire uses a level of violence that Robin is uncomfortable with, even with it revealing the smugglers are robots. He laments that she doesn’t speak their language. Starfire kisses him, and reveals that her race can learn language through skin-to-skin contact. Cyborg refuses to contact his father for help tracking the robots with S.T.A.R. Labs computers, but agrees to contact S.T.A.R. without using his father.
Grant Wilson goes to an island and undergoes a procedure to increase his brain capacity and become better than the Terminator. He’s doing this with the intention of destroying the Teen Titans.
Raven goes to another dimension to ask forgiveness from an otherworldly force. It sends her to the home of Kid Flash, before vanishing again. Kid Flash wonders if she did something to him to make him want to join a new Teen Titans.
The Titans meet at Changeling’s father’s estate to take in some swimming. He has provided bikinis for Starfire and Wonder Girl. Wonder Girl comments on how skimpy they are. Everyone shows up except for Raven and Cyborg. Cyborg is meeting with his father at S.T.A.R. Labs. Cyborg’s father is examining the robot drug smuggler. They argue about Cyborg’s father turning him into a metal monster. He storms out to be attacked by Grant Wilson, now calling himself the Ravager. Cyborg gets the upper hand with a White Sound Blaster. Unfortunately for him, Grant is rescued by the Terminator, who takes him away.
At the pool, the new Titans bond, especially Starfire, who misses her family. Cyborg then arrives to inform them of the attack he just survived. In Terminator’s penthouse, he informs Grant Wilson that the powers that the H.I.V.E. gave him will kill him, as they feed on his body’s energy supply. Grant refuses to listen and storms out to find and kill the Titans.
He meets the Titans and finds that the Terminator has followed him. The H.I.V.E. watch remotely, remarking that they’ve gotten the Terminator’s services for free. In the battle, Terminator shows himself to be a very formidable opponent. Starfire unleashes a barrage of Starbolts on Ravager, and the effort of dodging them begins to drain his energy reserves. Terminator goes to his aid, and Raven appears, stopping the Titans from further engaging their foes. Grant Wilson dies, just as Raven gives him a vision that he completed his mission. The Terminator blames the Titans.
As Grant Wilson is buried, Terminator reveals to his assistant Wintergreen that Grant Wilson was his son. The H.I.V.E. watch remotely, delighted that the Terminator has agreed to the job he initially refused.
The writing is solid and follows a linear progression, but the revelation that the H.I.V.E. planned to use Terminator’s son to get his services on their terms comes a little out of left field. The conversation Starfire has about being confused about wearing clothing has become a cliché. Chris Claremont used it before this in Uncanny X-Men, and other writers dragging it out in various other ways. The supposition here is that Starfire is an alien, especially to Earth customs of decorum. Wolfman later reveals how emotionally open her society is, but this scene is only a hint at that, and in many ways, a little unnecessary. Nothing is lost from Starfire’s story if you take out these three panels.
The Terminator is an excellently written villain. He proves himself very capable, although the myth of humans using only 10% of their brainpower is hogwash. However, there are still those in telling stories that like to use it. It’s unclear at what point this was starting to be revealed as incorrect. From my limited research, it was after Wolfman created this character, so I won’t fault him for that here.
George Pérez does a great job on the art, and shows the hallmarks that made him the modern master of the art of comics. He gives expressions that tell what a character is thinking. He does make errors in how tall the characters are compared to each other. Starfire would come to be depicted as much taller, and Robin and Changeling would be slightly shorter. However, he doesn’t skimp on the details, and renders Raven as suitably mysterious and spooky. Overall, I really like his art at this point in his career, but not as much as I would grow to like at the culmination of the story in The Judas Contract.
This issue has been reprinted in New Teen Titans Archives, Vol.1 (ISBN: 1563894858), New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 1 (ISBN: 1401271282) or The New Teen Titans, Vol. 1 (ISBN: 1401251437), if you want to read it in a collection that’s more affordable. If you want a print copy of the single issue, it might set you back a few bucks for a copy in decent condition. In reading shape, it’s more affordable. Personally, I recommend reading it digitally.
Final Rating: 8.7 (out of 10)
Now that is all out of the way, is DC Universe worth the monthly subscription? For me, it is. However, if you really don’t like the experience of reading comics digitally, and only want it to watch movies and television shows, it might be worth more to you after the original content starts.