New Teen Titans #39 – Review Of Old Comics
Let’s talk about where New Teen Titans turned a corner. Here is where the subplot of Terra infiltrating the Titans started building to the head that was the Judas Contract, which became the first major tragedy for the New Teen Titans. It changed them and set the stage for new characters and a shift away from the “Teen” Titans.
Before we progress, whenever you see the Terminator mentioned, the character has come to be known as Deathstroke. Why his name was changed is a matter for another time.
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: George Pérez
Colors: Adrienne Roy
In Alaska, the Teen Titans attack a paramilitary base. All of the soldiers inside are dressed like American military but Robin’s intelligence is that they’re not. Kid Flash follows Raven through a door while the others mop up the soldiers easily. Starfire blasts them into the room Raven and Kid Flash went in, only to find its an energy trap to transfer their powers to Brother Blood and kill them. Changeling, Starfire and Cyborg overload the trap and easily defeat Brother Blood’s minions.
We then see everything happening from the point of view of Terra’s contact lens camera, as she narrates it. The Titans find evidence that Brother Blood is backing two U.S. Congressmen and a Senator for re-election.The Titans turn the information over to the authorities. Terra and her partner, the Terminator then discuss the Titans and their mission. He doubts that the politicians were working for Brother Blood. Their discussion turns into a challenge for a combat exercise.
The Terminator is assaulted by boulders that explode, never seeing Terra nearby. He’s surprised by a lava blast, although the nearest volcano is hundreds of miles away. Then he’s taken off guard by a sudden avalanche that had no tremor to precede it. He then proceeds to fight off multiple projectiles which conclude the training exercise, with Terra applauding his skills. He complements her too, but instructs her to go back to the Teen Titans, where she’s scheduled to learn all of their secrets.
She goes in with Wally West, not attending the meeting as Kid Flash, since he has news for the team. He’s quitting and retiring as Kid Flash. Robin then takes the opportunity to announce that he’s quitting as being Robin. This shocks everyone, but he announces that Robin will always be Batman’s partner, but he needs to move on. Until he does, he suggests that the team’s field leader be Wonder Girl. One of the last things he does is welcome Terra to the Teen Titans, and express how much confidence he and the other Titans have in her. Watching through her contact camera lens, the Terminator expresses how much faith he has in Terra’s hatred for the Titans.
Dick Grayson and Starfire go with Wally to the dock where Frances Kane is waiting for him. As they drive off, Dick expresses how much he’s going to miss him.
This is a great comic set up completely in a linear fashion, almost entirely from Terra’s point-of-view, although near the end, we shift to the Terminator, and then Dick Grayson. It’s nice to see a comic, even from this era, that progresses logically instead of bouncing around subplots and from character to character. Also even though the issue starts off with a fight scene, this story is more character driven, and even though the cat is out of the bag about Terra working with the Terminator, Marv Wolfman writes her so we still completely don’t know where she’ll fall in the end of her story. The real heart-wrenching part though is Robin’s speech about giving up being Robin. This is peek inside the head of Dick Grayson for one of the first times, which is something other writers have built upon.
George Pérez does some of his best work. He makes use of symbolism with reflections and draws Terra’s point of view as if it is her point of view. He also has her carry herself differently with the Terminator than with the New Teen Titans. If there’s a weak spot, and it shouldn’t be considered weak at all, it’s in the scenes from Titans Tower. There seems to be no discernible light source in Titans Tower. It should be from above, but the few shadows don’t give that impression as much as it should. Pérez also gives the impression that the floors are so highly polished that there are reflections in them, but then uses the cheat of shadow lines. When so much detail is used everywhere else, it would have been nice to see just an indication of actual reflections in those floors. Keep in mind that this is all minor nitpicking, and in an age before computer assisted art in comics, it wasn’t noticeable at the time.
I gave credit to colorist Adrienne Roy, and she deserves mention here, too. When she got the chance to shine, she took it, using color to enhance severe lighting and of course, my favorite coloring of this time period, skies. I enjoy it so much, that I included that example above. Do yourself a favor and start looking at the coloring in comics from the 1980s, and see what some of those colorists were doing.
It shouldn’t be too hard to find a copy for a few bucks, maybe even in a bargain box, depending on the condition. As of the time I write this, you can get it digitally as well. While one would think that the only collection that it’s been in has been the second New Teen Titans Omnibus, it was reprinted in the collection of The Judas Contract. It should also be in the sixth collected trade paperback, but with volume five not scheduled until July, 2016, I wouldn’t hold my breath. We always recommend checking there before ordering online.
Final Rating: 9.8 (out of 10)
The opening scene in this issue is often seen in examples of Rob Liefeld’s using other artists’ work as a basis for his own work. I couldn’t review this issue without bringing this up and sharing a classic example below.