So I have to admit that the early 2000s are a period of time I don’t remember well, at least when it comes to comics. I think this is probably because I was in in my early twenties and therefore occupied with other things; plus, I had moved from New York to Arlington, Virginia, and was living on my own, so getting to a comic book store was not of the highest priority (ironically, I lived above one). This means that DC’s event “The Silver Age” completely passed me by except for the Teen Titans special.
Honestly, I only know that because I own it. I don’t have much recollection of buying it and reading it, although I know I read it because I didn’t have a massive stack of unread comics back in those days. And when I try to think of why this even passed me by, the reason has to be that I either didn’t have the money to spend on it or I had declared myself done with DC events after DC One Million, which I admit I didn’t like when it came out in 1998 but rather enjoy now. Maybe I was distracted or had felt burned by Genesis? Who knows. What matters is that I only bought this because “Teen Titans” was on the cover.
Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Pat Olliffe, this is an adventure taking place during the team’s early days and features our four heroes heading to a small town where the teenagers have been “turned into zombies.” The culprit here is a man named Sheriff Law, who is using a mind control ray to transform the teenagers of the town of Seaside into automatons. Further complicating matters is the presence of The Penguin, Black Manta, and Mr. Element–but they’re not those villains, they’re actually Batman, Aquaman, and The Flash. And that’s because the overarching conceit of the Silver Age event is that the heroes have switched bodies with the villains as part of a plot by a villain named Agamemno.
The adventure goes as one of this era usually would have–the kids get to the town and investigate, they’re captured and put into traps that nullify their powers, they manage an escape, and they take down the bad guy. Their fights with the “villains” are actually superfluous to the story even though Robin seems to suspect that the “Penguin” is telling the truth (there’s even a funny bit where he’s constantly out of breath because Batman is trying to run like Batman in Penguin’s out-of-shape body). Even so, it’s an enjoyable one-off and Wolfman gets the character beats from the original series (including its Scooby-ness) completely correct, and it feels like a celebration of sorts of the original team.
I guess the only quibble I have with the issue is the artwork. Now, the cover is done by Nick Cardy and Dave Gibbons and it’s a real treat; the interiors by Pat Olliffe are solid, but they don’t feel like a Silver Age DC book so much as they feel like a 2000 DC book. It would have been pretty cool to see them go for a more authentic Silver Age feel, especially since they took the time to use the 1960s-era DC Comics logo, smacked a gigantic Comics Code Authority stamp on the cover, had those quarter-page “read this DC book” ads throughout (featuring other books in the event), and even had an old-school “Direct Currents” feature.
Still, it’s a fun story that actually has me curious about the rest of the crossover, which might be worth diving into cheapie bins for.
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