Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tales of the Teen Titans #50 (1985)


Tales of the Teen Titans #50 (February, 1985)
"We Are Gathered Here Today......."
Writer/Co-Plotter/Editor - Marv Wolfman
Penciller/Co-Plotter/Editor - George Perez
Embellishers - Mike DeCarlo & Dick Giordano
Letterer - John Costanza
Colorist - Adrienne Roy
Special Thanks - Carol Flynn
Cover Price: $1.25

Well, yesterday we saw Terry Long at his worst... I could say he's always "the worst", but the poor fella's unceremonious demise was the lowest of the low.  Today we're going to celebrate him at his best... his wedding to Donna Troy!

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We open on Paradise Island... the Temple of Athena to be specific.  Inside Hippolyta has been praying for several days by this point.  I'd make a snarky remark that she was praying for something unpleasant to happen to Terry Long, but today's not the time for that.  Speaking of Mr. Long, we shift to the palatial Dayton Estate where his wedding ceremony is scheduled to occur that very same day.


Beast Boy has been tasked with catering the event, and is dutifully directing traffic.  Steve Dayton's butler, Questor is somewhat skeptical as to whether or not young Gar is up to the job.  His fears are only compounded when he sees the green lad greet one of the scheduled entertainers... Bonzo the Clown!  The Q-Man attempts to intervene, but Gar informs him that the man in the big shows is there to entertain the fifteen children who will be attending!  Maybe our boy is capable of pulling this off after all!


With the Clown outta the way, several other vendors begin ganging up on Gar.  Questor offers to step in for a bit so Beast Boy can take himself a shower.  As Logan leaves, Questor expresses disappointment in the way the vendors are conducting themselves... It's nice to see him proud of (and sticking up for) Gar.


We shift scenes to the home of Adeline and Joe Wilson.  Mom wakes up, and goes to wake up her son... only to find that he's been awake quite some time.  Joey has spent the night working on Donna and Terry's wedding gift... a painted portrait of the happy couple!  Adeline presses Joey to allow her to set up a gallery showing for his work... but he doesn't feel he's ready just yet.


We shift again... this time to Raven, and she'zZzzzZzzZzzz *snort* oops, sorry about that, dozed off... she's in that Azar dimension... and I'm very bored.

Yeah, c'mon Azar... give us a break here...

Next Titan we check in on is our pal Vic.  He's headed toward the wedding with his date, Sarah from the Special School.  He is worried that he will stand out, given his appearance.  She insists that he's got nothing to worry about.


Back at Dayton's, a very tackily-dressed Gar relieves Questor of his duties.  The butler heads in to check on Mr. Dayton... who is having a pretty rough time of it these days.  The former Mento has something of an addiction to his old helmet.  Questor reminds Steve that he'd made a promise to Logan.  More on that later.


Next stop, the bridesmaids' room, where some familiar faces are getting all dolled up.  Of note, we've got Starfire and Lilith... and every time I read this scene, I remember that Terra was supposed to be part of it.  The ladies are chatting, and our old friend caveboy Gnarrk gets name-dropped!


They also mention that Donna is engaging in some "girl talk" with her sister... Wonder Woman!  Seems as though Donna's got a belly full'a butterflies... which, I would attribute to nausea having to live with Terry Long for the rest of her life (okay, okay...).  Diana asks a few of the key "wedding day" questions, and between them they conclude that she's making the right choice.


Moments later, Dick Grayson checks in with the bridal party... and finally in on Donna herself.  This is a wonderful little scene, where we see how much Dick and Donna love each other.  It's really an amazing few panels.


We shift to the courtyard, where the ceremony is just about to begin.  Terry is chatting with his family and posing for pictures.  It isn't long before the music starts to play.


As the bridal party begins making their way down the aisle, we see some familiar faces... including the creators of the book!  Hey, even Elmira from the orphanage Donna stayed up showed up.  It's nice to see she's still talkative.  Finally at the alter, Dick gives Donna away.


The ceremony proper begins, and the couple read their vows.  This two-page piece is particularly well done!  And so, Terry Long and Donna Troy become man and wife.

 

After the ceremony, Gar runs heads out to see that the reception gets off to the right start.  Questor notices some suspicious rippling in the pool, and heads over to shoo whoever might be loitering outta the water.  He's surprised to find Garth and Tula... the aqua-teens (no, not those)... and, yeah... they're naked.


At the reception, Gar is emceeing and introducing the bridal party.  Once Terry and Donna are announced, the music for their first dance begins... it's Annie's Song by John Denver, by the way.


Before long, the dance floor fills up... giving us the perfect opportunity for some cameos!  We've got former Titans, Mal "Guardian" "Herald" "Hornblower" "Vox" Duncan and his wife Karen, Clark Kent and... Lana Lang... oh yeah, almost forgot this was pre-Crisis where Clark and Lana were a "thing"... also, we've got Sting?  How about that, eh?  I thought it might'a been John Constantine!  Anyhoo, while this is going on, Vic is surprised that nobody seems to notice that he's mostly machine.  Maybe Special School Sarah was right...


While Lilith chats with the Duncans, she gets an eerie feeling... at that very same moment, Questor feels a similar sensation coming from one of the "secondary" rooms.  Elsewhere Roy and Wally are discussing how there're so few originals left in their "club".


We shift to Dick Grayson leaning over the balcony... he is soon joined by Bruce Wayne!  Bruce notices that Dick's preoccupied, and inquires what's up.  This is during the time where Bruce was trying to adopt Jason Todd... and Dick feels a bit strange because Bruce never tried adopting him.  Sounds reasonable.  The two work it all out, and it... like much of this issue... is quite touching.  They end by toasting to both the Titans and the Outsiders.


Elsewhere, Vic is thinking on how nobody has mentioned that he's... ya know, a cyborg.  He grows suspicious and heads over to Beast Boy.  Here we learn that Gar asked Mento to don the terrible helmet to shield the way Vic really appears!  Guess that was the favor... anyhoo, Vic becomes enraged and stomps away.


Ready for more cameos?  Cuz we got some!  Donna and Terry meet up with Hank and Don Hall, the original Hawk and Dove!  Elsewhere, Dick Grayson runs into his old friend... Duela Dent!  Wouldn't recognize her, as she's put on a few... Dick also realizes that she's far too old to be Two Face's daughter.  She's all "duh"... but refuses to elaborate.


Back at the pool, several former Titans discuss "bringing the band back together"... that is, Titans West.  Aqualad, Aquagirl, Golden Eagle and (the Golden Age) Bat-Girl, think on it... before realizing that some things are best left in the past.


Back to the balcony, and now it's Gar having himself a sulk.  It isn't long before he's joined by a repentant Cyborg.  Vic apologizes for overreacting, and the pals shake and make up.


Inside, Jericho is rocking out with the Waldos... and I dunno why I think that's so funny.  Donna and Terry are looking on, however are pulled away... to that secondary room, where Questor and Lilith felt those bad vibes.  They enter to find... Hippolyta!  She is there to bless their union.


Time passes, and the day grows to its conclusion.  After cutting the cake and the ceremonial tossing of the bouquet and garter belt, the guests begin to file out.  The Titans remain and present Gar with a "Master Caterer" medal.  Gar's old girlfriend, Jillian gives him a peck on the cheek to boot!.


Before we leave... I gotta mention that we get a look at the guest book.  Several familiar names fill it... mostly, creative team members and their families.  Of particular interest, some Titans super-fans were also included... such as one, Rob Liffield.  Misspelling aside, yeah... it's that Rob Liefeld!  Apparently, he was asked to send in a photo so he could be included as a guest... but he took too long to mail one to George Perez.  Whoops... what could'a been.

It's Rob Liffield, Maaaaaaaaaaaan!

We wrap up with the Longs, Donna and Terry taking off on one of Steve Dayton's private jets... and it's heavily implied their both about to join the Mile-High Club.  Guess they can't all end on a high note!


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Now, what can I say about one of my favorite issues of all time?  Had a wonderful time with this.  I've read this story so many times, and it's always a pleasure.  It's so well done that even its Terry-centric nature isn't a hindrance to my enjoyment.  I also gotta mention that this is one of those books where I notice something new each time I read it.  

This read-through made me notice the page where Terry and Donna are reading their vows... with each row of panels, they grow closer together... until the bottom where they share a single panel.  Such amazing subtle symbolism to illustrate two becoming one.  Though, as I often do, I'll concede that I can be a bit dense... and this may have been completely obvious to everyone but me.

I think this issue has several "themes", family and togetherness among them.  The one that stands out to me though, it that of maturation.  We can start with Donna and Terry themselves.  They are entering into a new phase of life... Donna is now not just a new wife... but a step-mother to Terry's daughter Jennifer.  This is perhaps less so in Terry... as it is, this is his second "go round" with the vows.

For the other Titans, let's start with our Master of Ceremonies... Garfield Logan.  He accepted the responsibility of catering this entire humongous event... and did so with gusto!  Why, even ol' Questor appeared to be beaming with pride for the boy.  Everything went swimmingly... and he even made special accommodations for his teammates.  Speaking of which... Victor.  He had to overcome his fear of how folks would receive his extraordinary appearance.  While Gar made it so nobody could tell... Vic didn't know that, and so he actually took the risk... and put himself in an uncomfortable situation to ensure he was there for his friend.

The old Titans West characters, in deciding to let the past remain behind them, showed a great deal of maturity.  One would assume that these (still quite young) adults might find comfort being part of a familiar team.  It may also give them a reason for being.  Understanding that a part of one's life is behind them is something most (young and otherwise) adults struggle with.  It might have been a throwaway scene... and I might be (as I do) thinking way too hard on this, but I appreciated its inclusion.

Dick's scenes here are brief... but powerful.  Let's start with his bit with Donna.  We can see an intrinsic... almost, I dunno... primal (?) love between them.  It's not romantic, but something stronger... something permanent.  Perez's ridiculously amazing art really punctuated this scene... the pride in Dick's eyes, Donna's lip quivering... man, what an awesome page!  Later, we get a scene between Dick and Bruce that... to be honest, I'm surprised didn't happen in the pages of Batman.  I guess it just goes to show what a tremendously huge book Titans was at the time.  Another great bit... and answered questions that I am sure were on the minds of many'a fan during this era.  Why would Bruce adopt Jason and not Dick?

The cameos were a great treat.  Even after all my rereads, I was still surprised to see Duela Dent!  I can't recall if her nebulous parentage was ever followed up on... but this was a neat little nod to longtime readers.

The only problem I had with this issue, and this is going to sound stupid... is the one-page with Raven.  Not that it wasn't well rendered, it's just so often I open an issue of Titans... and there's Raven... knelt atop a craggy outcrop of rocks, with purple and red lightning-filled skies behind her... and it's never interesting (at least not to me).  I really could've done without this here.  But, hell... if out of a 40 page book, I've only got a problem with one... I think we're doing pretty good.

Overall though... an amazing issue.  Wonderful writing and drop-dead gorgeous art.  This is truly a celebration of the Titans... New and Original Recipe.  The fact that the ceremony wasn't interrupted is another feather in its cap.  Gotta consider that releasing a book back in the mid-1980's, with zero action... that's a somewhat risky proposition, right?  Especially an extra-sized extra-priced issue like this one.  Then again, maybe Jericho wielding an ax is all the action this book needs!


If you haven't read this one... I'd strongly recommend you do.  Even if you only know the Titans from their current Rebirth incarnations, this is still something you should read.  If you have read this... I'd encourage you to read it again.  This is definitely part of my "comics comfort food" diet, and is one that I read (at least) annually.  This has been collected, most recently in the Who is Donna Troy? trade paperback.  That's a book you just can't go wrong with... it includes another one of my favorites, the titular Who is Donna Troy? from New Teen Titans #38.  It has also been made available digitally.  Also, like so many DC books from the 1980's... this can be found pretty easily in my favorite format (the single-issue) in the cheap-o (and relatively cheap-o) bins.  Do yourself a favor and give it a look!

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2 comments:

  1. Very nice review, Chris.

    I used to own this comic back in the day. I remember being distinctly underwhelmed by it at the time (I was 15, to be fair), although there was always a frisson of excitement whenever I saw one of those golden ‘anniversary’ covers. Perez’ art was, as always, a delight, but, like you, I never really took to Terry. The guy had a beard, for crying out loud! What on earth was Donna doing getting together with a guy like him? Plus, he was genuinely the most boring character in comics at the time.

    As for Raven, gosh, yes. Angst-ridden goth girl will do what angst-ridden goth girl does, I guess. (Issue 6 is well worth a look for some insight as to why that angst is entirely understandable, btw, but it stops being interesting as a character trait eventually – certainly by issue 50.)

    I think for me, I just didn’t have enough experience with the characters or the wider DC Universe at the time for the issue to have much of an impact on me and, Perez’ art notwithstanding, the whole thing just felt a bit empty to me. Reading it now, though… Perhaps, I’ll have to give it a try.

    As for being able to find this issue in bargain bins, the very idea of that would be unthinkable back in the 80s when the Titans were riding high on a wave of popularity that was only really surpassed by the X-Men (and perhaps Swamp Thing). How times change… ��

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    1. Hello Jeremy... I somehow missed this comment (that is to say, I approved it... meant to respond, then got distracted by something shiny and/or sugary)

      I'm definitely a sucker for the Golden Anniversary covers too... just like those Marvel 25th Anniversary "headshot" covers from 1986. They do incite a bit of excitement, to be sure.

      Terry is about as milquetoast a character as we're gonna find... hopefully. I don't think it's possible to do a Google search for "Terry Long" without the word "creepy" popping up. He has the look of a man who might just have a refrigerator full of human body parts in his basement!

      The Raven bits always drag for me. I did enjoy her story arc, but like you say... by issue #50, it's time to move along! It's strange, she always gets like a single (or double) page spread of this psychedelic Azaroth-Azteroids... and they feel like they take several minutes to read. They are just so boring and repetitive... it's the same thing every time!

      I'd definitely recommend giving it a reread... it's a wonderful issue, made even more so if one can "place" it in the gestalt of that DC Universe. It felt like a celebration in the truest form... without any threats, baddies, or battles.

      It's a sad reality that these books have fallen to the cheap-o bins... and like you say, not too long ago, such a thing would be unthinkable! There are a scant handful of (non-Batman) DC Comics from the late-70's through today that cannot be procured with a couple'a bucks (usually less). Tales of the Teen Titans #50 is a regular 25-50 cent bin stuffer out my way... and while it's great to imagine folks being able to grab it, it denotes a lack of value... which likely keeps the more casual reader away.

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