New Teen Titans #13 (1981)

New Teen Titans #13 (November, 1981)
“Friends and Foes Alike!”
Co-Creator & Writer – Marv Wolfman
Co-Creator & Artist – George Perez
Embellisher – Romeo Tanghal
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Letterer – Ben Oda
Editor – Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60

Who is ready for two great tastes that taste great together?  Today we’re going to be discussing the start of the New Teen Titans‘ second year in which they team with Doom Patrol member Robotman in order to rescue Mento, and hunt down the killers of the original team.  It’s bound to be a great time… let’s get down to it.

We open as Donna Troy is dealing some major league damage to some fools at a warehouse.  She’s just tossing geeks around left and right… ultimately causing a crate avalanche by throwing a forklift in the direction of the gang-bangers.  Donna, being Donna chooses to spare the baddies, and pulls them from the wreckage so that they could be arrested.  We learn her outburst was due in no small part from the events of an earlier issue in which she was made into a pawn by the god Hyperion.

As if the day couldn’t get any worse, Donna’s next stop is lunch with… Terry Long.  The two share an uncharacteristically stilted conversation where Donna shares her fears… both in regard to her vulnerability in being controlled, and in regard to her teammate Gar Logan’s health and well-being as he lay on Paradise Island where he is being bathed by the purple ray after being shot by Deathstroke the Terminator.

Speaking of Paradise Island… it’s our next stop.  I’ll be upfront here and say… I really dislike Paradise Island.  It just bores me to tears.  And, speaking of things that bore me to tears, we’ve got arena battles!  Starfire is competing as Hippolyta and Raven look on.  While we don’t really know how adept Starfire is in competitive battle at this point, she makes short work of her opponent nonetheless.

After completing the “kanga-back” round, Starfire begins the hand-to-hand combat piece.  Here is where we start to get a look into her formal battle training.  As she competes, we see her both in her current battle as well as a flashback to battle on her home planet of Tamaran.  She wins this round as well.  The celebration, however, is cut short when an explosion occurs on Paula’s Laboratory Island where Gar Logan is recuperating.  

We shift scenes to the jungles of Uganda where Robin, Kid Flash, and Cyborg are looking to rendezvous with Robotman, formerly of the Doom Patrol.  They are looking to team up to locate Gar’s adoptive father, Steve Dayton… better known to us as Mento… also of the Doom Patrol.  The trio have been waiting quite some time, and as such Wally decides to engage in a bit of high-speed reconnaissance.  He leaves Dick and Vic behind, where the subject of friendship comes up.  Victor is having a difficult time making nice with some of his teammates, and is also a bit nervous about his new friend Sarah Simms (from the special school).

It’s not long before Wally returns… and he has bad tidings.  He leads his teammates to the man they were to meet… and he appears quite worse for wear.

The boys bring Robotman down where Vic can take a better look at him.  He is able to revive Cliff… who is just as ornery as ever.  We get some fun back and forth between the two (mostly) metal men while “the new 1981-style” Cyborg performs some spot-weld-surgery.

Back at Paradise Island, we discover the cause of the explosion at the island lab.  It’s Changeling… now in the form of a brachiosaurus.  We learn that the purple ray had overloaded him and driven him mad.  It is left to the resident empath, Raven to sooth the savage beast… boy.

Later, Gar wakes up.  He is atop a table, surrounded by several Themysciran goddesses.  He attempts to step down, but is advised that his non-female feet were to ever touch the ground, they would lose all of their powers.  Poor Gar, surrounded by lovely ladies… and relegated to a cold steel table.  Before we leave this scene, Wonder Girl calls in to inform her sisters that she is headed home.

Back in Africa, Robotman has led the Titans to a secret entrance to an underground bunker where he believes Steve Dayton is being held.  Wally decides to play canary-in-a-coal-mine by running ahead to scout the situation.

What he finds is a pair of sentries… who he takes out with the quickness before giving his pals the all-clear to join him down below.

Now, what they find is… a crazy underground city chock full of sentries.

On a nearby video monitor, the crew sees Madame Rouge as she addresses her faithful folks.  She lets them know that they’ve got intruders… and they’d best do something about them pretty damned quick.  Cliff is rightfully enraged upon seeing her face… after all, she is (partially) responsible for the deaths of his old friends Rita, Larry, and Niles.

The fellas are able to weave their way through the facility and eventually find themselves standing before a… woozy… Steve Dayton.  He doesn’t appear to recognize any of them… not even Cliff.  Before they can get in any proper reintroductions, Wally warns that the hordes are on their way.

A short battle rages… so short in fact, that the Titans bring attention to it.  Why would so few sentries attack when earlier they saw what must have been hundreds of them.  Fearing it to be a trap, the gang decides they’d best hit the bricks.  For the duration of the battle, Dayton has been mumbling about his Mento costume… which Wally fetches for him after the dust settles.

Our story draws to a close as the fellas head to their T-Jet.  In the distance Rouge and her Doom Patrol-eliminating associate Zahl look on.  We end with a bit of a heavy-handed hint that there might just be more to Steve Dayton then meets the eye.

I’m of two minds with this issue.  On one hand, I love the Doom Patrol related scenes… while on the other, Paradise Island is always an instant yawn for me.  I was hoping Marv and George would be able to change my mind, but alas… still totally bored me.  For me Paradise Island is something akin to outer space stories… familiar heroes and characters dealing in unfamiliar environments (at least to me).  My least favorite Titan’s stories seem to always take place on either Starfire’s homeworld or Donna’s homeland… at least under Perez’s pencil, it all looks real pretty.

Luckily… again, at least for me… the other half of the story was wonderfully compelling.  Two of my favorite teams taking care of business together… actually following up on official Doom Patrol issues, amazing stuff.  It must have blown some minds back in 1981, seeing the death of the original Doom Patrol addressed.

The opening bit was well done, with Donna lashing out in order to process her feelings of vulnerability after having been controlled by Hyperion in an earlier issue.  Even despite all of this, she still acts heroically in the end… which is a testament both to her constitution and her upbringing.  Sadly, we also get a lunch scene with our old friend Terry Long.  The dialogue between the two is painfully lovey dovey in a way that feels inorganic… forced, even.  I mean, “little lady that I love”, gimme a break, Terr’… nobody talks like that, man… nobody.  His sensitive man shtick/gimmick sometimes gets a bit too thick for my liking.

Overall… its Wolfman/Perez Titans, and regardless of my reservations in regard to the goings-on on Paradise Island, I wholeheartedly recommend checking this out… and that goes for the entire run.  I understand that my mileage on Paradise Island may not be indicative of others… and, even I will admit that what happens there is important, and there is some good action and a few funny lines.  There is definitely stuff there to be enjoyed.

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