New Teen Titans #26 (1982)

New Teen Titans #26 (December, 1982)
Writer & Co-Creator – Marv Wolfman
Artist & Co-Creator – George Perez
Inker – Romeo Tanghal
Letterer – Ben Oda
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60

This week’s “project”, if I may call it that is The Life and Times of Tara Markov.  Going to try and cover some of Terra’s bigger moments over her relatively short career.  Today we’re going to start… at the start, Ms. Markov’s first appearance!

We join the Titans as they are returning home from an adventure in space.  Vic and Wally are in the cockpit, and the subject of conversation is the recent revelation that their teammates Dick and Kory are well on their way to becoming an actual romantic “item”.

… and so, we shift to Robin (with a broken ‘wing’) knocking on Kory’s door.  Inside, he reveals/clarifies that he’s in love with her… and he’s not talking as a friend.  He’s deeply in love with her… however, he is also deeply confused and conflicted.  Kory appears to be pleased by the news… and promises to wait as long is it takes.

After a brief stop in Turkey, with some swarthy folks transporting “television components”… aka drugs… unsuccessfully (more on them later), we pop in on an apartment in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.  A young boy is talking to… somebody… he’s planning on running away to New York to avoid showing his abusive mother all the D’s on his report card.

Next stop, da Bronx.  Young Luis is packing his bags in front of his frantic mother and despondent father.  His mom’s always bugging him with questions… cuz, you know how moms be… so Luis is pulling an “Anthony” and he’s Movin’ Out!

Last stop before getting back to the Titans… Skokie, Illinois.  Young, pregnant Lizzie is getting the ol’ heavy-ho from her dad.  He tells her to “marry the scum” that knocked her up, and let him take care o’ the kid.  He calls her a rotten slut, and tells her to hit the bricks.

We rejoin our young heroes as they arrive at Titans Tower.  Gar is so happy to be home, he literally kisses the ground.  Since they’re home, they decide it’s probably best to return to their normal lives and responsibilities for a bit.  Vic’s gonna check in with his friends at the Special School, Gar’s gonna parlay his floor-kissing to girl-kissing, Raven’s going to re-enroll in College, and Donna’s going to “catch up” with… grumblegrumble… Terry Long.

Later that night, Dick and Kory head out on what would be their first “formal” date.  It is, however, interrupted by the sudden appearance of a certian knife-wielding Minnesotan junkie D-Student… and District Attorney, Adrian (Vigilante) Chase.  The junkie is either on a bad trip or dealing with a horrendous bout of withdrawals… whatever the case, he needs money for another fix.

Since Mr. Chase is the best-dressed man on the scene, the kid heads in his direction.  Adrian easily defends against the blade, however, he didn’t plan on getting kneed in the crotch.  The kid runs off… right into the path of an oncoming car… which kills him instantly.

Back at the tower, Gar is getting his butt-kicked while playing Swordquest… gotta wonder which version of Swordquest he was playing… and if he was ever in contention for one of those bad-ass prizes Atari was offering!  Suddenly, an emergency signal hits… something’s going down at the Statue of Liberty.  This is where we meet the girl of the hour… Terra.

Gar’s arrival allows Terra to demonstrate her powers… she is truly a dangerous threat… but, is she a threat?  She claims that she’s been ordered to take Lady Liberty down… and plainly states that it’s not something she wants to do.  She continues, begging Logan and the police to back off… so she doesn’t have to kill them.  She then flees, while expressing fear that she’ll be killed for having failed in her assignment.

We check in with Raven as she’s hanging out with some of her classmates.  They all appear to be fascinated by her, and she is uncomfortable from all the attention.  She notices a certain pregnant Illinoisan… and via her empathic nature, feels her pain and hunger.  She introduces herself to Lizzie, and takes her to Vic’s apartment for a bite to eat.

Here we learn that she’s got this guy… this guy who she gives all her money to.  I don’t know why they’re skirting around the word “pimp” here, when they’re going to use it in a few pages.  Anyhoo, her pimp’s name is Howard… and he’d recently been picked up by the police.  We see a man outside the apartment building… watching… waiting… looking very much like a beardless Terry Long… creepy punk.

Vic and Raven take Lizzie to a home for runaways.  Along the way, Vic shares that he’d left home a fair amount during his younger days, and always found a safe place to lay his head at the Center.  Lizzie is introduced to Dr. Raymond, who will give her the once over.  A woman named Ellie brings the Titans into her office, where they run in with… Adrian Chase… who is less than impressed that the “Kiddie Do-Gooders Squad” is on the case… c’mon Ade, why ya gotta be like that?  You give us lip… then ask for help?  Bad form, fella.

Outside the window, young Lerry Tong is listening in… he doesn’t hang around all that long… he’s apparently got a boat to catch… or stare at through binoculars.  It’s the boat of Mr. Scarapelli… presumably, a drug lord.  He’s lamenting the fact that the “Turks” snafu’d a shipment worth a quarter of a billion bucks!  Ehhh, no big… they’ll just send their stupid runaway kid brigade out to make up for the lost dosh… this sounds quite familiar to the New Titans Drug Awareness issue…

Shortly, due to a glimmer beaming off the binocs, the jig is up.  Lerry runs off while the baddies unload their guns in his relative direction.

At Police Headquarters, the Titans and Chase confab over the recent bout of runaway madness.  Adrian makes mention of being tired of “laws”… he’d rather worry about what’s “right” than what’s “legal”.  This instantly makes Robin think of his pointy-eared mentor.

The Titans leave HQ, and head back to Vic’s apartment to reconnoiter… boy are they surprised to find what appears to be Terry Long, face down in a pool of his own blood!  Okay, we all know it’s not Terry… it’s the boat-watching boy from before.  Maybe he wasn’t as much of a creep as I thought!  Needless to say, this is… [to be continued…]

This is such a great era for the Titans.  Here we have a PSA-style story, and it’s still a hell of a good book.  It’s stories like this that make those Drug Awareness issues not feel out of place, lack of Robin notwithstanding.  The Titans are a great fit for these relatively low-key street-level bits… no matter how cliche they may be.

Dick and Kory finally coming around to their true feelings was great to see.  This relationship may just be the one thing missing from the post-Rebirth Titans.  Even though in the recent Starfire ongoing series they made mention of it… I still miss it being a “thing”.  It’s always amusing to me that Starfire actually has a “civilian identity”… I mean, how many 6-foot-plus golden-skinned women with hair to the floor are walking around New York City?

It was neat seeing an Adrian Chase cameo.  I always like it when creators “world build”, and watching Wolfman build his is a lot of fun.  Weaving these folks together, at least for me, makes things seem more important… and not nearly as gratuitous as it feels these days.

Let’s move on and discuss Terra for a bit, shall we?  This is her first appearance… and I gotta admit, if I were reading this at the time… I’d have bet good money that she’d be our next Teen Titan.  Here we have a young girl acting against her will… actually begging the police and Gar off… pleading with them not to make her harm them.  Of course she’s gonna be a Titan!  It’s only a matter of time… right?

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