Wednesday, February 10, 2016

New Titans #71 (1990)


New Titans #71 (November 1990)
"Beginnings... Endings... and (we promise) New Beginnings?"
Marv Wolfman - Writer
Tom Grummett - Pencils
Al Vey - Inker
John Costanza - Letterer
Adrienne Roy - Colorist
Jon Peterson - Editor
Cover Price: $1.75

The Titans turnaround of 1990 can be summed up in two words... Titans Hunt.  Interestingly, here I sit over a quarter of a century later... reading a monthly title, which by all accounts is looking to reinvigorate the Titans, called Titans Hunt.  Apparently, the current title is shedding a few of its issues, dropping from a twelve-issue limited series to a mere eight, though it appears to be leading into the Rebirth event, and will bring us a new ongoing New Titans title.  I figure it is as good a time as any to revisit this old favorite for a reread.

The Titans were considered somewhat stale as we enter the 1990's.  I was a Marvel kid, and felt that most of DC's output looked and felt rather dated.  They were the books that older fans read.  They were the books that I would never find interesting no matter how much praise they get.  How times change, eh?  The feeling at this time, from letters columns to various ancient Usenet posts I have been able to scrounge up is that the Titans were a bit stagnant.  This is usually attributed to creative team burnout, which is more than understandable.  Writing the same characters for a decade can definitely lead to a bit of fatigue.

A taste of how people felt toward The New Titans at this time.
From this issues' "Titans Tower" letters column.
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Fresh off their latest adventure, the Titans are gearing up for their big (ten-year in "real world time", not sure how long in "comics time") anniversary party.  This gives Wolfman the opportunity to let the characters reflect... see how far they'd come, and analyze their relationships with one another.

Of the team, Speedy (Roy Harper) and Troia (Donna Troy) announce they will, regretfully, not be able to make it to the party.  Roy is heading back to California, while Donna (and... Terry Long) are off to the Grecian island of Dianata in attempt to both find the source of Donna's current nightmares and so that Terry can do research for a book he is planning to write.

Ugh
The team splits out, with the intention of seeing each other later on at the anniversary soiree.  Our main focus, and point of view character here is Nightwing.  We watch him reflect on how he came to meet each of his current teammates, giving the reader insight to the various origins of the main roster (even briefly thinking of his own).  These bits are interspersed with seemingly random violent outbursts around town, which an individual Titan attends to.

This is really nothing new to introducing a reader to an ensemble team, however, the twist here is that each of these occurrences were a meticulously planned trap by Titans' foe, the Wildebeest.  One by one, the Titans, Starfire, Cyborg, Jericho, and Changeling are abducted by the 'beest.  As we draw toward the end, Nightwing arrives at, much to his surprise, an empty restaurant where the party was to be taking place.  He waits several hours for his dinner-mates to arrive, only to be attacked and nabbed by the Wildebeest.

We close on Changeling's guardian, Steve Dayton having to call on the definitive Titans foe for assistance in finding and rescuing the team, Deathstroke the Terminator.  Going as far as offering him money, though Deathstroke agrees to help without pay, as his son Jericho was also taken... this time, it's personal... and we are [to be continued...]

--

All in all a fun issue, and a great start to the Titans Hunt story line, which unfortunately in my opinion grows gradually weaker by the chapter.  This issue, however, offered not only a fantastic narrative, it also provided a perfect jumping-on point for new and lapsed readers.  If this book was published today, I have zero doubts that a #1 would be plastered on it, and it would have at least a dozen variant covers.

I may be completely biased here as I'm discussing an all-time favorite, but Marv Wolfman is a master of storytelling and characterization.  His voice for the Titans characters is, as always, wonderful.  He makes these extraordinary characters relatively easy to relate to, and gives them a tremendous amount of heart.  When discussing superhero teams, it is cliche to refer to any given team as a "family".  The Fantastic Four are literally a family, yet this team of Titans appear to be one even more so.  Gar and Vic bicker like brothers, but you know they also love each other like brothers and will always have each others backs.  Dick, while the same age as his teammates is very much the patriarch of this group.  You can see how he feels a measure of responsibility for his teammates, and feels their safety and comfort is as important (even more so) than his own.

The addition of Tom Grummett as penciller was a great way to maintain the caliber of art on this title, while making it feel more contemporary.  I hate attributing things to their decade of origin, though there is something of a line separating art of the 1980's and art of the 1990's.  Tom Grummett has all of the technical brilliance of any number of great comics artists, and breathes new 1990's flavored life into these wonderful characters.

Definitely recommended.  If you have any interest in the Titans, this is most definitely one of the highlights of their publication.

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Interesting Ads:

Justice League America/International is one of my "comfort food" reads.
I usually read it in its entirety at least once a year.
It is around this point that it start to feel kind of like a chore...
House Ad for the first Robin mini-series.
There was ONE kid in my junior high school that had a Lynx.
He would bring it to school, and play it at lunch...
He seemed like he changed the batteries out daily.
Is this the first mention of The New Titans: Games graphic novel?
This comic featured a fold-out Predator 2 poster, that really taxes the strength of the issues' staples.

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