New Teen Titans #1 (November, 1980)
“The New Teen Titans”
Writer & Co-Creator – Marv Wolfman
Penciller & Co-Creator – George Perez
Finisher – Romeo Tanghal
Letterer – Ben Oda
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.50
Ya know, I was gonna cover that Lex 2000 book today… but, I think by now we’re all kinda spent on the election thang. Let’s just have some fun instead, eh?
The only sorta-kinda political comment I’ll make is… I hope the election went the way you wanted it to…
Now let’s get right down to it!
We open with Robin holding a golden woman… okay, I’m not gonna pretend I don’t know who these “New” Titans are… you know who they are, I know who they are. Let’s start over… We open with Robin holding a fallen Starfire while surrounded by Cyborg, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash,
Beast Boy Changeling, and Raven. Their little collective is surrounded by frog-faced alien creatures.
We then shift to what is labeled as an “epilogue”… but I have a sneaking suspicion Marv meant “prologue”… anyhoo, Starfire is fleeing from those same frog-faced aliens. One refers to her as Koriand’r… however, she corrects him… it’s Princess Koriand’r. She loads her bronze bod into an escape pod, and zooms off… but to where?
We now join Dick Grayson, who is sleeping at the Wayne Foundation building. He is having a nightmare featuring the old Teen Titans… alongside some New Teen Titans. He wakes up with a shout, and before he can shake the sleep from his system, he sees a woman in a long cloak standing at the foot of his bed. This of course, is Raven. She has need of him. Him, and… the Teen Titans.
She hands him a phone… which has already been dialed. On the other end… Wally West. Dick tells him what’s up, but Wally just ain’t feeling a return to the superhero lifestyle. He’s currently a full-time college student, and here we learn that Dick has dropped out of school. Dick hangs up, and Raven says she’ll “handle Kid Flash”, and suggests he find Wonder Girl. He suits up, and walks past a very dapper looking Bruce Wayne (complete with ascot and pipe!) before heading out.
Robin hops on his motorbike and follows Raven’s soul-self directly to Donna Troy. She is standing in the wreckage of the building that Wonder Woman found her in all those years ago. This is a plot point we discussed during Who is Donna Troy?. She recounts her origin… which at this point, wasn’t nearly as convoluted as it is these days.
Dick arrives… which startles Donna, so much so that she takes a swing at him. Once she realizes that it’s the Teen Wonder, she pulls back. As they catch up, they notice a dog… with green skin hanging around. It’s
Beast Boy Changeling!
They reconnoiter for a bit, and before long a suited-up Kid Flash arrives on the scene with a new resolve. The Raven-effect is in full-force. The foursome decide to bring the band back together and help their new caped friend.
We shift scenes to Newark City College in Newark, New Jersey. We watch as an incredibly athletic young man performs feats of amazing… well, athleticism. He is pleading with his coach to allow him to rejoin the team… after all, he’s an Olympic-level athlete. The Coach says it’s not in the cards, and our man lowers his hood. Half of his head is comprised of steel… why it’s our old friend, Victor Stone… Cyborg! After the Coach shuffles off, Vic gets a visit from Raven.
Shortly, the rest of the Titans arrive, and Raven gives them their mission. Or she’s about to, when she notes that their final member has not yet arrived. She sends the Titans to the United Nations Plaza to meet the threat head-on… and whattaya know, it’s the frog-faced alien menace!
We get a few pages of a fight, and the Titans handily take down the green guys. Raven’s soul-self heads off toward the nearby Secretariat Building in search of their final member… she cannot find her. Of particular interest, Robin calls attention to Raven taking off during a fight… but Wally is quick to stand up for her.
We jump to an apartment in the East Village. Through the skylight, we can see our Princess Koriand’r laying in a bed. A young couple is tending to her wounds while she babbles away in her strange alien language.
The fella who is tending to her turns out to be one Grant Wilson. Yeah, as in Deathstroke’s other son… the one without the buttered-popcorn head. By all appearances, his relationship with his girlfriend Carol is quite contentious. She accuses him of cheating on her with several gals… and also calls him out for hanging around some bad apples… who I’d have to assume are bee-themed villains. As they argue, the frogmen invade!
Lucky for all involved, the Titans are hot on their tail. A battle ensues… and in quite close quarters. The frogmen swipe Starfire and flee… leaving a miniature black-hole behind to suck our heroes in. By some crafty teamwork, including Donna’s golden lasso… nobody gets yanked into the void.
With a job… kinda done, the Titans prepare to leave. Grant is quick to inform them that they, ya know… destroyed his home. Robin gives him a somewhat dismissive answer and tells him he’ll be compensated. This seems to trigger something in our ravaging pal.
We find that Starfire is being held captive on the lead frog-man’s space ship. Apparently this young lady has a lofty price on her head, and has fallen through their fingers at least once before. Shortly, Raven deposits the Titans on board… then vanishes in search of a computer. Robin again calls attention to that fact… annnnd, Wally again defends her, this time with a bit more ‘tude.
Another battle ensues, and the Titans make really quick work of the alien menace. During the fight, Vic and Raven are attending to the busted on-board computer system. Robin rescues Starfire as Gar is summoned by Raven to help.
Gar arrives at Vic’s side. He is needed to attach a wire deep within the computer console. He shifts into the shape of a mouse, and does his best rodent electrician impression. Soon as that’s done, the Titans take their leave.
Just in time for… the ship to explode! Whoa, that’s pretty hardcore. Gotta wonder how many frog-faced aliens perished in the blast… at the very least, one called Weezak. Now, what would Batman say, Dick?
We wrap up with the Titans deciding to make their teaming arrangement permanent. Raven informs them that there is much work for them to do. Off on the periphery is our pal Grant Wilson… and a member of the H.I.V.E. discussing the very destruction of our New Teen Titans.
Now this is a loaded issue, innit? A great one, as well!
It seems that many Titans fans I’ve chatted with over the years feel that this volume took about a year (or two) before finding its feet. I’m not sure I’m totally on board with that assessment. I’ll concede that there were a few weak ones in the pre-Terra issues, but overall I really dug it. This initial offering from Marv and George does a great job of setting the table for an amazing run.
It’s been a long time since I’ve read this issue, but it feels like slipping on a comfortable pair of shoes. Here we have several disparate individuals melding into a fine oiled machine of a team within mere pages. It may seem unnatural… and the best part of this is… it’s sorta supposed to be. We’ve got the ultimate wild card in Raven… an empath, who can ya know… kind of effect the way folks act. Just look at her effect on Wally West… this actually becomes a really cool story point later on.
Sticking with the Raven-effect for just a bit… it’s pretty telling that she was somehow able to pull this team together to begin with when by all appearances none of them appeared to be terribly interested from the get-go. Like I said… a lot of this is actually addressed… and it’s pretty great.
We also get the first appearance of Grant Wilson… the Ravager! I’d completely forgotten he was in here… I would’ve sworn he first appeared in the next issue… which, *grumble grumble* is the only issue of New Teen Titans that I am still missing. He doesn’t seem nearly as menacing as I remember either… just some punk dude with a chip on his shoulder. It’s amazing to consider what a seminal moment in not only Titans history, but DC Comics history this all winds up becoming… and all by chance!
If I were to pick any nits… and ya know I gotta… it’s gonna be my classic DC complaint… the bad guys. Some frog-faced aliens don’t really rock my socks… not that I’m all that hot on Trigon either, but I’d much rather them face a big threat right out of the gate.
Overall… if you’re a Titans fan, you’ve probably already read this. If you somehow haven’t, yeah… definitely do so. It’s been collected a bunch of times, and should not be too terribly difficult to come by. Hell, you could probably stumble into a decent “reader” copy for under $10.
(Not the) Letters Page: