New Titans #100 (August, 1993)
“The Darkening, Chapter Four: Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something… Dead”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Pencillers – Tom Grummett & Bill Jaaska
Inkers – Al Vey, Rob Leigh, Steve George & John Statema
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Letterer – John Costanza
Assistant Editors – Frank Pittarese & Keri Kowalski
Editor – Rob Simpson
Cover Price: $3.50
Looks like we’re in a sort of “wedding week” here at the humble blog. From the sublime to the ridiculous… or more ridiculous, we shift from the nuptials of Wally and Linda to the even-more doomed union of Richard Grayson and Koriand’r… complete with a foil cover that pretty much refused to be photographed!
Hell… if I were this book, I’m not sure I’d want my picture taken either.
We open with a prologue. Beast Boy… Changeling… whatever we’re calling him, has drifted to the bottom of the sea after the Titans latest tussle with a reborn Brotherhood of Evil. In the fracas, he noticed that among their number was… Rita Farr?! Hey, that oughta make the bot who has has searched my site over 200 times the past couple of days for her! Anyhoo, by the grace of his undersea pals, Tempest saves salad head.
Post-prologue, we enter the story proper… where Starfire, and a tiny ape-boy rush into Steve Dayton’s estate with some great news. Unfortunately… there don’t seem to be any Titans around to share it with! Well, at first anyway. Suddenly a whole slew of ’em appear… and boy howdy, they are quite the sight! Ya know, I’ve gone on record as hating it when we refer to things simply by their decade of origin… but, c’mon… lookit these geeks.
The Titans share the story of their run-in with the Brotherhood with Dick and Kory… and lament the fact that they seem to have lost Gar. As luck would have it, just then a sopping wet Gar and Garth (oi) arrive. On the subject of “decade of origin”, there be some heinous hairstyles in this book.
Gar informs Dayton of his Farr-tastic discovery, but Steve-O ain’t buying it… and he probably shouldn’t. Dick decides to lighten the mood… and announces that he and Starfire are to be married!
We shift to City Hall where Dick and Kory are attempting to procure their marriage license. The poor clerk isn’t quite sure what the protocol is for an inter-species marriage… which isn’t what Dick wants to hear. He loses his cool and grabs the civil servant by the collar until he makes with the license. We’re learning a lot about pre-marriage blood tests this week… today’s lesson: co-habitation allows you to waive them! I suppose that’s one way to marry an alien! Outside, the love birds… stumble into a group of protesters, who find their love kiiiiiinda weird. One shouts “Titans are Deviants“, which begs the question… did we forget that people don’t know that Dick Grayson is Nightwing?
We move over to Donna and Terry Long’s New Jersey farmhouse where the blessed event is going to go down (14218 Athena Drive, Princeton NJ… yeah, I saved you a few seconds and Googled it, it’s sadly not a real address). Nothing seems to be going right… everything from flowers being the wrong color to… Dick’s mentor Bruce not being able to attend (Knightfall, donchaknow). Donna asks if the Team Titans (ew) can attend… but there’s some baggage there. Teamster Mirage kinda tricked Dick into gettin’ it on not too long ago. As Dick stomps away, Terry and Donna discuss his odd behavior.
Later Donna peeks in on Starfire who is being fitted for her wedding gown. It looks like she’s using the same dress-designer Donna did back when she made the worst decision of her life. We get some standard “cold feet” chatter here… which doesn’t amount to a whole heckuva lot. Kory’s scared… but is still willing to go through with it.
Outside, Dick is on the warpath… shouting at Roy for letting Lian be “in the way”. I tell ya what, Dick’s acting like a real… well, er… ya know. He swiftly apologizes to the ginger archer… and comments about how despite this being everything he wants… it all feels so wrong.
We immediately leap to the wedding ceremony. Wow, they are moving along pretty quick. The honorable Allan Rothstein is presiding, and we get one of those scenes where we can see all the famous faces in the crowd. Gotta say, this one’s lacking.
Just as the officiant is about to announce Dick and Kory as husband and wife, well…
He gets blown to bits! You might be asking, who would do such a thing? Well, some questions are better left unasked… because, you’re about to meet the new-look… Raven!
The heroes in attendance (including Tim Drake) all instantly suit up and prepare to fight off this gaudy gaggle of wedding-crashers… and we get about a hundred pages to witness the battle. Perhaps the most interesting bit features Dick fighting off Deathwing… a sleeper-agent of the Time Trapper with his own memories implanted. This gets into Zero Hour and Team Titans stuff… that I don’t have the brain power to parse at present.
Then it happens… we get a shift in artist from Tom Grummett to Bill Jaaska. Hooooooo boy. For his first trick, Raven erects a forcefield around she and Starfire… and we get a very unfortunately-angled scene of the two. Without getting too crude there’s, um… a shape… around Raven’s inner thigh. Ummm… that’s all I’m gonna say, I’ll just leave the image here and let y’all decide.
|It’s not just me, right?|
Now, Raven’s gig at this time is… well, same as it ever was. She’s the daughter of Trigon the Terrible. At this point, she has one-hundred of Trigon’s children inside of her (yeah…). And so, she plants a big open-mouth kiss on Kory… implanting her with one of the Seeds of Trigon.
With her mission complete, Raven assembles her remaining forces… well, force… looks like just Deathwing made it… and skadoos. Emergency responders arrive to collect the riff raff, and load Starfire into an ambulance. Donna rushes up to console Dick… and we can see that while her friends were battling, Mrs. Long went off to change dresses and cut her hair short. Continuity!
We close out in Washington, DC where Roy Harper is talking to our old friend Sarge Steel. He’s been tasked with leading the Titans in a more… ugh… government entity sort of way. Anyone else tired of the government superhero trope yet?
Wow… not a whole lot to like here, innit? This was supremely unpleasant all around.
Before heading into the story… let’s tackle the art. Tom Grummett’s usual top-quality work doesn’t really work here. We can see from the credits that there were a slew of inkers involved… perhaps this was a rush job. Hell, maybe (considering the story) nobody’s heart was really in this one. All throughout, Dick looks overly “jowly”… and as I joked above, ape-like.
That’s nothing, however, compared to the back-end of this bad boy. Welcome to the Bill Jaaska era. I guarantee you’re not going to make it through the experience. Well, maybe that’s not fair… I’ll just say that I know I won’t. I’ve tried… trust me, I’ve tried. It’s weird to compare his sequential work with his pin-ups… I’ve included a Jaaska pin-up below that is worlds better than anything in the story… almost looks like a completely different artist! So, he’s got the chops… but just doesn’t work (for me) in “motion”.
Now… the story. It’s not all bad… I actually kinda like Dick’s behavior here. Well, maybe not “like”, but appreciate. I think we’ve all been in situations where we really want to do something… and despite all evidence that it’s the wrong thing (or wrong time), we press on anyway. Maybe we do it to assuage our own doubts… maybe we do it to prove everyone else wrong… point is, I think this kind of behavior is relatable… and human. Though, that might be more telling of me than the human condition.
Dick and Kory being referred to as “deviants” when applying for their marriage license was… I dunno… weird? Felt a little bit like we had a page from an X-Men comic fall into our Titans book. For all the Mr. and Mrs. Superman stories we’ve had over the years, you’d think the DC Universe might be a bit more open-minded about human/alien relations. I dunno… just feels like manufactured oppression… didn’t really work for me.
Also… it comes a bit too close to outing Dick as Nightwing for my liking. I mean, we’ve got Starfire getting married to a mullethead Dick Grayson. Everybody knows that the Titans leader is… well, also a mullethead. I don’t think it’d be terribly difficult to put two and two together, right? Maybe it’s just me.
The Raven reveal (if it weren’t ruined by the cover) might’ve been something. Then again… I think if we showed this cover to a more casual fan and asked who the dark-haired lady on the cover is… “Raven” might not be in their first five replies. Her gig of passing on the seeds of Trigon isn’t a bad one. I think it’s actually interesting… it’s just too bad that the shift in art ruined all that. It was just too distracting… too many jagged lines… just… blech.
You don’t need to read this one… so do yourself a favor, and don’t. By this point DC, editorial, and the creative team appear to have all checked out. This reads like a fulfillment of a contract and nothing more. There doesn’t appear to be any more passion for this team/property from any of the contributors… a feeling which will remain for the next couple of years worth of stories as New Titans limps toward its conclusion. I mean… compare this to the wedding of Donna and Terry. For as much guff as I give the curly-one, that felt special… this feels lame. For Titans-completionists only.
Pin-Ups (including a “Swimsuit” page… because those are a thing that used to happen!):