New Teen Titans (vol.2) #19 (1986)
“Breaking Up is Hard to Do”
Writer/Editor – Marv Wolfman
Penciller – Eduardo Barreto
Embellisher – Romeo Tanghal
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Cover Price: $1.50
I came to the realization that I haven’t given nearly enough attention to the Teen Titans on this here blog. Gonna work toward rectifying that. It’s funny, sometimes it’s more difficult to look at/discuss the books I hold the most dear. The Teen Titans (in their many incarnations) is definitely one of the “toughies”.
One of the goals I had in starting such a blog is to help bring readers into the gestalt of when the issues were published. That is why I’ve always included some of the more noteworthy ads at the bottom of my review pieces. From this point on, I decided that (when applicable) I’m going to try and include letters pages as well. I remember eating those up as a kid… always loved reading them, especially those with numbered questions!
Anyhoo… enough housekeeping, let’s get on to the usual spoilery synopsis.
We open as Gar Logan’s stepfather, Steve Dayton (in full Mento gear) is blasting Cyborg as Changeling protests. This is during a time in which Dayton’s Mento helmet is making him crazy, so I believe the team was kind of treating him with “kid gloves” knowing he’s not fully responsible for his actions. This current action, however, may prove fatal to Gar’s best buddy Vic Stone… so he realizes he’s going to have to act… before it’s too late.
Mento shows Gar what’s going on inside his mind, and he is treated to visions of the fallen Doom Patrol members… all blaming him for their deaths… and telling him the only way to make things right is killing the Titans. During this destraction, Cyborg is able to rally off a desperation energy blast into Mento’s back, rendering him unconscious.
Gar shifts into a baboon form, and hoists his buddy up onto his shoulder. He takes him to S.T.A.R. Labs, more specifically the office of Dr. Klyburn (who, last we saw her at the blog… she was harping at Booster Gold). Dr.’s Klyburn and (Vic’s would-be girlfriend, Sarah) Charles access the damage, and ready Vic for surgery.
We shift scenes to Dick Grayson’s apartment. Donna’s stopped by for a visit, though it’s pretty clear that Dick would much rather be alone. This is just following a story arc in which the team went to Starfire’s home planet Tamaran. To bring about peace, Starfire had to agree to an arranged marriage. Being as though Dick was her at-the-time boyfriend, this did not go over all that well with him. Here we see Dick trying to process that…
Donna keeps pressing Dick to talk this through… though he’s just not hearing it. He repeatedly asks her to leave, yet she won’t. She sees her friend hurting, and wants to be there for him.
At this point, Dick flips the script. Donna wants to talk? Okay, they’re gonna talk. Say, Donna… where’s Raven? Raven (along with her mother) had just recently been mixed up with the Church of Brother Blood. Donna is taken aback… and doesn’t quite know how to respond. She begins stammering… she certainly wasn’t prepared for that.
With Donna on the ropes, Dick asks why she allowed Gar and Vic to go running off after Mento. Mento, who is extremely dangerous, and who is in possession of a helmet capable of leveling the city… Donna’s still reeling.
Then, Dick reminds Donna that (former Titan) Kole was dead (she died during Crisis on Infinite Earths). Dick calls Donna out for being too involved with her husband, (urg…) Terry Long’s college papers to be an effective leader, and flat out implies that Kole’s blood is on Donna’s hands. Donna’s had enough! She smacks Dick clear into the next room (literally… like, through a wall).
Donna gives chase, but Dick’s acrobatic finesse allows him to slip past. He exits the apartment, and tells Donna to lock the door when she leaves. Dick changes into his Nightwing togs, and immediately regrets the confrontation.
Donna calls Terry, interrupting a conference he’s currently having. Terry’s professorship is in jeopardy unless he’s able to produce some published work. This has been going on in the background for a little while now. They don’t chat long, as Donna’s gotta head to S.T.A.R. Labs to check in on Vic.
At S.T.A.R., it almost seems as though a different Donna shows up. Cold, impolite… just not the same Donna. The confrontation with Dick really appears to have affected her on a deep level. We learn that Cyborg’s robotic parts were never meant to be abused the way they had been, and there are no guarantees for the ongoing surgery.
We get a scene with Donna and Gar. She apologizes for her behavior, and asks how she’s been as leader. Gar jokes that she’s… good, not great… and expresses great delight at that fact. For as long as he’s known her, she’s been perfect. He likes knowing that even she struggles from time to time.
The pair run into Vic’s old flame, Sarah Simms from the special school. They tell her what’s up, and she insists on joining them at Vic’s side. At S.T.A.R., the Sarahs finally meet… Simms asks Charles to “be good to him”, and they part amicably.
We join Nightwing as he does dome digging on the Church of Brother Blood. He is still lamenting the event with Donna, and questioning whether or not the Titans life is still for him. He is unsuccessful in getting any info, and almost gets himself caught. After narrowly escaping, he begins to look at Donna’s stint as team leader in a bit of a different light.
On Tamaran… Starfire and her husband duel, and make love. That’s about all there is to do on Tamaran… sorry, but Titans-in-space stories put me right to sleep… in fact, just about any team-in-space has that effect. Probably why I don’t get the Legion of Super Heroes.
Back on Earth, Cyborg’s surgery is a success! After a brief celebration, Donna is contacted by Titan’s FBI contact King Faraday about a gig. Seeing the state of disarray her team is in, she has little choice but to call in some replacements… Meet the new/old Teen Titans… Wonder Girl, Hawk, Speedy, Aqualad, the Flash, and Jason “Robin” Todd.
Amazing issue all around. I’ve always been a sucker for team-turmoil issues, and this one is done incredibly well. Dick and Donna’s brief but explosive argument was absolutely great. This is a hallmark of Marv Wolfman’s writing… even with the pair at each other’s throats, you can still see that they love each other… more deeply than if they were in fact, lovers. It’s that familiarity that gives them the ability to “push buttons”… and hit each other “where it hurts”…
We’re all close with people who sometimes get on our nerves. It’s just part of being human. When things are heating, it’s common for both parties to overreact… but also, there are those moments where you unleash a statement that has just enough truth in it, that it can absolutely devastate the other. Dick goes about grading Donna on her performance as team leader… addresses her absenteeism due to her spousal responsibilities… he digs and digs and digs… until his finds that one raw nerve. We’ve all been there… as soon as the words leave our lips, we wish for nothing more than the ability to draw them back in. An amazing scene.
In the aftermath, Donna affects a coldness… almost an aloofness. Instead of dealing with and reconciling her emotions, she basically just swallowed it. Dick, on the other hand clearly regrets how heated and escalated the confrontation became. The underlying issues with Vic serve as the perfect backdrop for all of this inter-Titan-drama. I almost can’t blame Donna for not taking the time for decompress… because, sadly, there is no time. Titans business had to be attended to, and in light of Dick’s recent accusations, she knows she can’t “let down” the team (in her mind) yet again.
The surprise ending was a lot of fun as well. This, I would imagine, was perhaps the first time contemporary (at the time) fans saw such a team of Titans. Wally and Roy had popped in from time to time, but Hawk, Aqualad, and Robin (Jason Todd) may be a neat novelty.
Have no complaints about the art. I think the worst thing people can say about Eduardo Barreto is that he’s “not George Perez”… and, lemme tell ya, there’s only one George Perez. This issue featured a lot of talking as well as action, and Barreto delivered. I really liked how during the big Dick ‘n Donna scene, it appeared as though he evoked the look of an old 1960’s romance comic!
Definitely worth tracking down. Shouldn’t be terribly difficult to come across, and shouldn’t hurt the wallet all that much either. The New Titans Omnibuses haven’t quite made it to this issue, to my knowledge… however, at the rate they’re going, I would expect it in Volume 4 (if it’s in the offing).