LBR X Retrosode 6: New Teen Titans Spotlight

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2020 is the 10th anniversary of the Longbox Review podcast, and to celebrate, I am spotlighting 10 episodes from the archive. This is a rebroadcast of episode 92 from 2015 where I talk about one of my very favorite comic book titles of all time, The New Teen Titans.

Thank you for supporting the podcast over these 10 years.

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RandoMonday: Titans #4

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Titans 4

Titans #4 by Dan Abnett, Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund, Andrew Dalhouse, Carlos M. Mangual, Brittany Holzherr, Alex Antone, and Booth/Rapmund/Dalhouse (cover)

“The Return of Wally West, part 4: Now You See Her…”

No sooner is the pre-Flashpoint Wally West back in the post-New 52 DC universe and back with his old pals, the Titans, Abra Kadabra shows up to enact revenge by kidnapping the New 52 Linda Park, threatening to kill her to defeat Wally. Meanwhile, the Titans fight magically conjured doppelgangers as they search for Linda. In the end, Kadabra places everyone in peril, forcing Wally to race off to try and save them all.

sigh DC’s Rebirth had such promise, but this train wreck of a title was a slap in the face to Titans fans. Who said Dan Abnett was a good writer? The opening story, of which this issue is a part, is derivative and unimaginative. The Booth art (he has never been a favorite of mine) is same ol’, same ol’, and his slanted panels get annoying. It’s Dalhouse’s colors that make this issue more than just a waste of my time and money.

I recommend you avoid this run of Titans altogether, but if you insist,it’s available on the DC Universe app and at Comixology.

RandoMonday: Justice League of America #11

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Justice League of America (2006) #11 by Brad Meltzer, Gene Ha, Rob Leigh, Art Lyon, Adam Schlagman, and Eddie Berganza, with cover by Michael Turner and Peter Steigerwald

This has always been one of my favorite issues of the Brad Meltzer written JLA. I first read this in the trade collection, and in large part because of this issue and that I loved the relaunch of this title so much, I went and bought all of the single issues. This is a gripping done-in-one story focusing on Red Arrow and Vixen. A building has collapsed and they are both trapped inside. A lot of the story is Roy Harper assessing the situation and convincing Vixen to use her powers to get them free. Vixen, unfortunately, comes across as the damsel in distress and is a disservice to the character, but it does also show that heroes sometimes have feet of clay. I just think they could have easily reversed the roles, especially because of Red Arrow’s past and his anxiety over orphaning his daughter, and the story would have been just as strong, though the ending would need to be tweaked.

Ha’s and Lyon’s art really worked well to convey the claustrophobic nature of the story. There’s a reference to smoke where they are trapped and the grainy way the colors are shown really accentuates that aspect. The pacing of this story is top notch. The first page is mostly black panels with jagged borders and dialog boxes with gray text to give us what happened before page one. As each panel progresses, we see more and more of Red Arrow on the right as they situation is revealed to us, and when you turn the page, there’s a two-page spread reveal. The next few pages build the tension as Red Arrow attempts to locate how close Vixen is to himself. Then there’s another reveal demonstrating just how bad things are for the characters.

The rest of the issue is mostly discovery: that Vixen’s powers have changed and is why she can’t call upon a burrowing animal to help them escape, and, in another full-page reveal, that they are trapped upside down in the rubble. The following page is again mostly black panels with text, but the dialog boxes start off upside down and turn as you read each panel, simulating the movement of the characters in total darkness. Of course, they finally escape, and the issue ends with them ascending in the water as the panels fade to black again, just as they issue started. The dialog of the people who spot them ends with, “Sure that’s them?” “Definitely them.” “The ones who saved us.” I like it when the heroic efforts of our costumed heroes are appreciated.

Finally, there’s a few Titans references Red Arrow throws out, further endearing me to this story, such as when Dick trained him to breath and focus in a crisis situation, just as Batman had trained Dick, and Red Arrow compares the trembling in Vixen’s voice to Gar (Changeling) when he lost Terra. I love when writers/artists throw in continuity stuff, thus building a larger narrative. It’s called the DCU for a reason! :)

RandoMonday: New Titans #72

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.


New Titans 72

New Titans #72 by Marv Wolfman (writer), Tom Grummett (penciller), Al Vey (inker), John Costanza (letterer), Tom McCraw (colorist), Jonathan Peterson (editor), and Grummett and Vey (cover)

Ahh, Titans Hunt. One of the last great Titans stories that we got from Mr. Wolfman. This issue is the second part of the story, which continues the Wildebeast Society’s take down of the Titans. This time, the Wildebeasts kill Golden Eagle, and severely wound Aqualad. While Golden Eagle was really ever just a bit player on the Titans stage, the brutal way in which he was killed, not to mention all of the blood from the fight (especially from Aqualad), impressed upon me that I was reading at least a PG-13 book for sure. Meanwhile, Deathstroke, the Terminator, having been called in to help by Steve Dayton, searches for his son after the Wildebeests took him prisoner in the previous issue. Dayton and Deathstroke find the dead Golden Eagle, and the issue ends with Aqualad having been found, but he isn’t breathing, and we’re told that next issue things will get worse.

Looking back on it now, Tom Grummett provided good superhero art, but the style doesn’t quite fit this grittier Titans story, plus, the story just went on way longer than it needed to, and the after affects of this story goes on for many issues and years after. It was truly the last great New Teen Titans story for me.

RandoMonday: Titans #45 (1999)

Here’s a comic chosen at random from my collection.

Not much is very interesting about this issue of Titans. Damage (never a favorite of mine) and Jesse Quick (who was until Titans screwed her up) team up to solve what starts out as a ghost story, but turns into a fight psychic manifestations story. The side story shows that Dick is being a dick when it comes to Jesse, and not much of a friend to Garth, which contributes to my dislike of the story. This series started out so very strong with me, but petered out in the end. What is of note about this issue (and the next) is that Barry Kitson did the plot and breakdowns. I had no idea at that time who Barry Kitson was really. I remember loving his art on L.E.G.I.O.N. (but not paying attention to who was doing the art), and then a few years later on Legion of Super-Heroes and Empire with Mark Waid. A quick search of my comic stash reveals that Kitson cowrote six issues of L.E.G.I.O.N. ’90 and this two-part tale in Titans.

Unfortunately, the best thing in this issue is the ad for Firefly: