I don’t know if I said this or not when I was writing about the first trade paperback of the Wolfman-Perez Titans, but it’s weird to “review” something that you know you’re going to keep both in trade and single issue format, and you only own in trade because you don’t want to have to dig out the single issues. Granted, volume 1 of these trade collections was a more practical purchase because my copies of those early New Teen Titans issues are actually worth a little bit of money and “reading copies” aren’t exactly easy to come by. But, really … I’ve read these comics multiple times. Do I really need to review them?
Well, since it’s part of my mandate, then the answer is yes. Plus, with these books aging into their forties, they are worth another look.
And while I know it’s not some huge relevation that 1981 was forty years ago, but when I started reading comics in 1991, 1951 was four decades prior. I had access to some of those 1950s stories through “Greatest Stories Ever Told” collections, but they weren’t being touted as a high water mark the way that some of these late Bronze Age stories are.
It’s not the high water mark for the title yet–that is a couple of years away–but whereas the New Teen Titans spent a lot of its first year finding its footing (albeit with some amazing stories), this set of stories is where things really hit their stride. Beginning with the second Deathstroke story and going straight through the search for the killers of the Doom Patrol, there’s not a single clunker in the trade. Sure, issue #16, where Kory falls in love with an undercover HIVE agent, is a bit weaker than the others, but it’s still better than a number of books that were on the stands at the time.
The real strength of the book, believe it or not, is Marv Wolfman’s willingness to have the team be apart for significant periods of time. The Titans collectively fight Deathstroke in issue #10 and it ends with Changeling getting killed, but once issue #11 opens, the women of the team head to Paradise Island while the men start picking up both Gar and Steve Dayton’s search for the Doom Patrol’s killers, spurred on by Cliff Steele’s having gone missing. It’s a logical separation-at that point in DC history, men couldn’t set foot on Paradise Island–and it gives us a Wonder Girl-centered story where she is seduced by Hyperion and a war erupts between the gods of Olympus and the Titans of Myth. These characters would return at the beginning of the Baxter series, and then would take a center role in Donna’s retold post-Crisis origin as well as the Return of Donna Troy mini, which I covered during last year’s JLMay podcast crossover.
That storyline is great mainly because George Perez gets to have fun drawing the world of Wonder Woman. You can tell he’s in his element and I can see why he would write and draw the book several years later. My favorite of the stories is the Doom Patrol three-parter. We’re introduced to the new version of the Brotherhood of Evil–an Eighties “action figure” villain team if there ever was one–and while there is a resolution to the story, everyone in the original DP (save for Cliff Steele and Mento) remains dead.
So I’ll continue to read and gush over these books, which are proving to be a fun reading project between work stuff and other podcast reading. Thankfully, they’re easily available for just about anyone.
Keep, Sell, Donate, or Trash?