Teen Titans (vol.2) #1 (1996)

Teen Titans (vol.2) #1 (October, 1996)
“Titans Children”
Story & Pencil Art – Dan Jurgens
Finished Art – George Perez
Colors – Gregory Wright
Enhancements – Digital Chameleon
Letters – Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $1.95

We’ve got a bit of a special one today… the first issue of the Dan Jurgens Teen Titans… where allegedly, editorial refused him any access to the… ya know, Teen Titans!  I’m not sure if that has been 100% confirmed… but it sounds good enough for an internet story, don’t it?

We’re also going to wrap up today’s discussion with an installment of “Chris is a pack-rat and we should feel sorry for his wife” when we look at the Titans Beat promotional “magazine”.  It’s a neat little piece of mid-90’s Titans’ ephemera.  I don’t see it mentioned all that often online, and I hope folks enjoy checking it out.

We open in a monochrome world where a daughter… who might be a Princess, is confiding in her parents that she’s accepted a date to prom with Cody, the dreamiest guy in school while she already had a date with plain ol’ Wade.  This is all being played like a 1950’s sitcom, with a twist… and we’re about to learn why.  

Turns out this sorta-kinda is like an old sitcom… being viewed on video monitors in a strange alien locale.  Aliens Jarn and Dorek discuss how under the orders of the H’san Natall, they’ve been monitoring the girl in the vids… making sure she is prepared for what’s to come… and the arrival of “the others”.

From here we shift scenes to Colorado, where a trio of teens wait by the mountainside for their friend who is attempting to infiltrate a top secret NORAD facility believed to be hidden a third of a mile under the mountains.  That friend is Cody… hey, he’s the fella in the Princess’s photo!  He sneaks through the facility… and happens across the central command room.  On the screen, for a brief moment, the face of a fair-skinned brunette appears.

At this point alarms begin to sound… looks like Cody’s about to be caught.  He attempts to bail… however, somehow winds up in the women’s locker room.  Okay.  While in there, he gets his butt kicked… though, to be fair, it seems as though he’s enjoying every minute of it!

We shift to the Solar Tower in Metropolis where we run into Mr. Jupiter and Lilith Clay a hooded figure referred to only as Omen.  It’s been awhile since we’ve seen Mr. J, hasn’t it?  Anyhoo… Omen senses a ship headed their way.  There is also talk of “targets”.  Hmm…

Another shift… this time to Ivy University in Ivytown.  Young Isaiah Crockett is being dropped off by his parents.  We learn that he is still of high school age, however due to his extraordinary test scores, he’s been bumped up to Uni.  His parents are beaming with pride… though, poor Isaiah would rather be home.

Sticking with Ivy University for a bit, we head inside to see our old… er, young friend, Ray Palmer… the Atom!  Remember back during Zero Hour, our buddy Ray was de-aged when he ran afoul of Extant.  Well, here he be… back in Ivytown, complaining about how little (ha!) he likes being a teenager.  He hears a stirring outside, and “Atoms up”… or “Atoms down”, I guess to see what’s up.  It’s Isaiah… and his hands are on fire!

Next stop, poolside at a palatial New Jersey home.  Here we meet Toni Monetti… the same fair-skinned girl from the NORAD vid-screen.  She mentions that since her last birthday, she has had a difficult time getting a decent tan.  In fact, the more Sun she gets, the paler she becomes!  She looks into her gal-pal’s sunglasses… and in the reflection, sees both Cody and Isaiah!

Back in Metropolis, Omen and Mr. Jupiter stand atop the Solar Building.  Here we learn that the N’san Natall are headed to Earth, but do not plan on landing! They’re just headed here to abduct some special young folks… betcha can’t guess who!

Our new trio (and Atom) vanish… and reappear in that monochrome world from the open.  While they are all disoriented, there is a bit of familiarity between them due to the image-flashes earlier.  The Princess arrives… and is a bit surprised that her prom date looks and sounds different.

We leave the monochrome and reenter the “real” world to find that the three teens are wearing strange crowns, and are apparently living in the Princess-girl’s mindscape.  The Atom is also along for the ride, and does not like what he’s hearing.

And so, he beats up the alien baddies, and knocks the crowns off the heads of his new acquaintances.  If they weren’t completely disoriented before, they sure are now!  An alien attempts to sneak up on the crew, with Toni surprises herself and those around her by blasting energy blades through the baddie.

Knowing the room they are in is sealed, Isaiah proceeds to heat up his hands in attempt to burn his way through it… and, hey… he does!  It’s just too bad they weren’t in a “room” per say, but in a spacecraft!  Whoops.

I remember the first time I read this… I didn’t really think it was all that great.  A non-starter, really.  Felt kind of ripped off that there were no Titans characters here… outside of you-know-who, anyway.  Also, while it’s reined in more than most… the coloring here still has that mid-90’s “digital” muddiness to it.  Truly a shame, as it’s slathered over some great Jurgens and Perez artwork here.

I think this time around I enjoyed it a bit more… but it’s still somewhat disappointing.  This doesn’t feel like a Teen Titans book… ya know?  Though, that might just be what they were going for… kinda turning expectations on their ear and all that.  Gotta wonder how this would have been received if it had, I dunno… Psyba-Rats or Xenobrood on the cover instead of Teen Titans.  At least they found a vehicle for that de-aged Atom.  I’m actually kind of surprised that he didn’t get his own (short-lived… ha!) series following Zero Hour.  Heck, this series hits two-years after that event.  I’m not even sure what Ray Palmer was doing in the interim.  Strange…

As for our new characters… they’re arright.  I think, outside of Lilith… but we’ll get to her, Argent might be the best remembered from this bunch.  She would go on to join the Devin Grayson-era Titans as a junior member of sorts… but the others… I don’t recall seeing them.  I’m sure they bopped around from time to time… and at least one of them probably died during that horrendous 2008-2010 mad rush to kill a Titan per month.  Oof, those were some bad comics.

Individually… like I said, the characters are decent.  Perhaps a bit cliche and archetypal… but, archetypes exist for a reason, I suppose.  We’ve got Cody, who is a bit of a pompous jerk… he will be known as Risk, and we see here that that’s kind of his gig… taking risks and whatnot.  I wouldn’t be surprised to eventually learn that underneath it all he’s got a heart of gold… and a ton of fears and insecurities… just seems the way this sort of character matures.

Isaiah will be known as Joto… which, unfortunately has a different meaning in other languages.  Here it is meant to be the translation of the Swahili word for heat or fire… and not a derogatory and hateful slang term.  I dig that his powers are heat based, and appear to be triggered by his nervousness and sweating.

We really don’t get that good a look at Princess Prysm just yet.  I sure hope she’s not from that horrid video game we discussed a few weeks back!  Probably not, right?  Anyhoo, her deal is apparently capturing light and releasing it back.  It’s been a long while since I read this through, so I really can’t speak to anything about her.

Then… there’s Omen.  In 2017, we all know who this is.  Hell, it’s become Lilith Clay’s actual code name in the years that follow.  Back in 1996, however, the rumor is that this was Dan Jurgens’ attempt to sneak a Teen Titans character into this book without editorial getting wind of it.  Like I mentioned above… not sure if this has been 100% confirmed, but it sure makes for a neat internetty story.

Overall… while this ain’t Marv Wolfman Titans, it’s still a pretty decent time.  I came in for this reread a bit cold, but by the end of the issue I was rather digging it.  I know as this series rolls on, it becomes a bit more Titanic, but here… like I said, it could’ve been called Psyba-Rats… or even (shudder) Lab Rats.  Shockingly, this has been made available digitally… so, if you’re interested give’re a look.

(Not the) Letters Page:


Interesting Ads:


Titans Beat Promotional Giveaway:

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