Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #3 (August, 2003)
“Graduation Day, Part Three: Recessional”
Writer – Judd Winick
Penciller – Ale Garza
Inks – Trevor Scott & Marlo Alquiza
Colorist – Jeromy Cox
Associate Editor – Lysa Hawkins
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.50
By the time you’re reading this… I’m back in Arizona. Did the whole graduation thing, and it was very nice. The journey had its bumps, but I’m glad I went. Now that your humble host is a college graduate, you can expect my grammar to improve, my insights to be keener, and use of a much richer vocabulary… orrrrr, maybe these pieces will just become a bit longer from time to time.
Let’s see how the Amalgamated Young Heroes of the DC Universe, Ltd. get out of this one. By the way, here’s another “Spoiler Alert” cover, eh?
We open with Tempest being kapowed from S.T.A.R. Labs-Silicon Valley into a nearby fire engine. Dr. Sarah Charles and her team have arrived, and upon seeing Garth’s prone body calls in one helluva trouble ticket… it would seem that one of their Superman Androids have been activated! Probably not a good idea to have Superman androids, is it?
Anyhoo, we shift to a scene in which the Supermandroid is beating the holy hell out of the amalgamated Young Titans (Titan Justice?). Impulse is thrown from the fracas and lands next to a strange bubbling goop… which will be sorta important later. At an opportune moment, Donna spears the robo-Supes out of the building. This gives Arsenal… with his stupid-looking cyber-beard, the chance to repair the little blue robot girl.
Supermandroid and Donna duke it out in the air, and Superboy arrives to lend a hand. With the Android distracted, Nightwing approaches and attaches a thermo-charge to the bot’s back. This really just ticks him off.
Back at S.T.A.R., Roy and Robin tinker with the girl robot. They suddenly smells something kinda strange… something between trees and bread. Turns out what they were smelling was that strange bubbling puddle, now poppin’ fresh with the yeasty goodness of Metamorpho!
Back outside, Donna and Supermandroid continue their brawl. Donna lands a powerful blow that knocks the bot’s left arm off. She tackles him, and proceeds to pummel it. The Supermandroid lay motionless… and just as Donna is about to land the “killing” blow, it’s left eye glows red.
… and burns right through Donna’s chest.
The Supermandroid pulls itself to its feet just as the little blue robot girl arrives. She uses her… whatever the hell powers to deactivate him. The two machines slump to the ground. The day is saved… but the Supermandroid’s damage has already been done. To the side, Dick and Roy are cradling Donna Troy’s lifeless body.
We shift ahead to Donna’s funeral, which appears to be occurring on Paradise Island. Many of the pantheon of DC heroes arrive to pay their respects. Too bad the same can’t be said for Lilith. They may as well have just loaded her in a dumpster.
Following the service, Superboy, Robin, and Wonder Girl discuss the futility of what they do. Cassie brings up the (valid) point that they’ve been heroes for awhile, however, when push came to shove, they were worthless. Kinda craps all over Peter David’s Young Justice, but it serves the story… it also leads to an eavesdropping Cyborg getting an idea.
Elsewhere, Dick and Roy are arguing about “what comes next”. Roy thinks there’s still a need for the Titans… but Dick, who is really living up to his name here, isn’t feeling it. He pulls off his mask and proclaims the Titans to be as dead as Donna.
Who… it turns out, isn’t all that dead at all. Ya see, we wrap up with Donna in the world of her nightmare. She picks herself up, dusts herself off… arms herself with a shield and sword… and runs off to meet her next challenge.
Well, I guess I didn’t dislike this as much as I did back in 2003… but I think it’s still pretty unpleasant. Not just because of the death and stuff… it’s just not a fun issue to read.
I suppose we can start by discussing the [Spoiler Alert] “death” of Donna Troy. I remember reading one of the rumor sites back around the time this occurred. It was said that Paul Levitz, who was still the President and Publisher of DC Comics at this time, was against the death… hence the nightmare framework, and the epilogue. It was also said that Donna would be back pretty quick… and she was, just two years later. Makes ya wonder why this even had to happen.
What’s more, poor Lilith’s death is completely overshadowed here. Lilith’s death was actually quite a bit more permanent than Donna’s too… she didn’t make a real return until the New-52, when all bets were off so far as continuity was concerned anyway! All she gets here is a mention that her funeral service was small. Pretty lame to kill off a character that had been around for over 30 years, and not even give her a sendoff.
I didn’t really need to know that Metamorpho smells like yeast… even though I can totally see it. I fear that anytime I see him from this point on, I’m going to have the smell of festering yeast creep into the back of my nose. I always kinda had his smell pegged as like crushed cinder block… and no, I really don’t know why I ever thought what Metamorpho might smell like either. His appearance here does very little beside giving him a second of panel time before the launch of Outsiders (vol.3).
Really not a whole lot to say about the Supermandroid… other than the fact that it’s really stupid to keep a ridiculously powerful, nigh unstoppable robot version of Superman laying around. I mean, what’s to stop Lex Luthor or (ahem) Brainiac from activating it? What’s worse, Dr. Charles said “A Superman android has been activated”… emphasis on the “A”… meaning they’ve likely got a garage full of ’em. That’s really not very smart!
My last takeaway is the same as it’s been for the past couple of issues… Nightwing does not come off well here. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him be such a jerk. He’s never been the guy who just snaps at his teammates… which makes the very few times something like that happens really stand out. I’m thinking about him firing Danny Chase from the Titans when he makes a real peach of a comment about Jason Todd’s death.
Here, though? Dunno… I totally understand him feeling the pressure after burying Donna. It makes sense for him to “go off” after that. The thing of it is… he was acting the exact same way for the first two parts of this… so his “losing it” at Roy didn’t feel like he’d finally “had enough”… it was him just acting the same way he had been. It didn’t stand out… it was just him still being unpleasant.
The art here feels a bit looser than earlier in the miniseries… perhaps the pressure of a three-part biweekly series caught up with Garza toward the end. Some of these panels, when put side by side with those in issue one, look pretty rough.
Overall… I have a tough time recommending or suggesting avoidance of this one. It’s a piece that really sets the table for both the tone of and what’s to come for the post-Didio DCU… and looking at it as such, it’s sorta historically important. Otherwise, however… any recommendation I’d give of this story would be soft at best.