Titans Secret Files & Origins #1 (1999)

Titans Secret Files & Origins #1 (March, 1999)
“Come Together”
“Lian’s Bedtime Story”
“Bad News”
Writers – Devin Grayson, Marv Wolfman, Dan Jurgens & Jay Faerber
Pencillers – Paul Pelletier, Mike McKone, Dan Jurgens & Rick Mays
Inkers – Dexter Vines, Sean Parsons, John Stokes & Rick Mays
Colors – Tom McCraw & Digital Chameleon
Letterer – Comicraft
Assistant Editor – Frank Berrios
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $4.95

After yesterday’s chat about a rather infamous Devin Grayson work, I figured… why not read something else by her?

Also, seeing I didn’t get any kind of nasty tweets or mail, I’m hopeful nothing I said yesterday was taken as offensive.  Either that, or just nobody read it.  Probably the latter… but hopeful for the former.

Anyhoo… let’s check out the Titans recruitment drive in the… over-sized, over-priced Secret Files and Origins!  Also, if you want to check out my thoughts on the first issue of this series, click right here.

Our first story opens with Arsenal and Gar using their new, ahem, Vic-computer to check out the Titans roll-call archive.  Looks like ol’ Cyborg’s already making himself useful to the team!  Roy let’s Gar know that there’s room for him on this new team if he chooses to be a part of it.  He gets a pretty flippant response about being an afterthought for his offer.  This leads to a flashback, wherein the “founding” Titans discuss their recruitment process.  Our main takeaway is that Roy is a flirt… something that we will unfortunately see more of as we continue.

We pop over to our first old Titan cameo.  Apparently the reformation of the Titans is big enough news (and public-enough news) to be broadcast and reported on… which, I dunno… feels kinda weird.  Anyhoo, we see Flamebird watching the news report… and waiting for the phone to ring.  Some say she’s sitting there to this day!

We shift over to watch our first actual recruitment go down.  Flash heads to the mall, where… of course, Toni Monetti, Argent is hanging out.  She’s portrayed as a pretty big superhero fangirl… something that’s kinduva “thing” in comics these days… so, she might’ve been a bit ahead of her him in that regard.  Anyhoo, she geeks out… and unleashes her energy daggers… almost killing some of her fellow shoppers.  Wally is able to save the day… and uses the event as proof that she needs some training.  She accepts the invitation, natch.

Back at Dayton’s, Vic and Gar have a poolside chat about their potential futures as Titans.  Seems like Cyborg’s just happy to have a second chance after that whole Technis Imperative mess… but Gar… isn’t too sure.  After all, he’s got his Hollywood career to consider.  Yeah, really…

To our next recruitment… it’s Nightwing attempting to draft Jesse Quick.  He gets a “thanks, but no thanks”.

Then it’s cameo-the-second… and it’s our old… old friend, Duela Dent.  She’s in a bar reading the newspaper… and the Titans reformation is actually front-page news (soooo, in other news… nothing!).  She’s sure she’ll be getting a call.  She even brags to another bar patron about her having fooled the original Titans into believing she was the daughter of the Joker… and then the daughter of Two-Face.  Well, she was lying both times… because, in reality she’s the daughter of… Doomsday?!

We’re off to… maybe Atlanta, where Damage is surrounded by the Feds.  I mean, if you destroyed a great big chunk of Atlanta… and got banned from the city… why in the hell would you keep trying to go back???  Anyhoo, before he can be taken in, Tempest arrives to make him an offer.  The Feds don’t seem to care, and refuse to back off… so Garth uses his whole “Atlantean diplomat” card.

This only enrages the lead Fed-guy… and he attempts to show Garth Damage’s file… only to find that it doesn’t exist!  How can that be?  I’m glad you asked… ya see, Arsenal erased it while making out with a federal clerk… because Roy’s sole character trait at this point is “very sexual dude”.

We briefly pop back to Dayton’s to see Vic and Gar… still talking about what they’re going to do.  This time, they’re playing PlayStation though.  We then hop back to Nightwing’s recruitment attempt.  He surprises Jesse (Chambers) Quick by visiting her in her civilian guise.  He gives her the pitch again… however, before she can reply… he vanishes.

Then we’re off to Bludhaven, where Starfire (who’s been crashing on Dick Grayson’s couch) is fighting the former Killer Moth (now a disgusting bug-beast called Charaxas).  Shortly, Donna Troy zooms in to help her out… and invite her to rejoin the Titans.  Kory agrees, but wonders why it was Donna, and not Dick to “pop the question”.

Cameo the third!  Mal and Karen pretend to be “cool” with their retirement.

We next join Arsenal, who is chatting up Supergirl.  If you recall she spent some time as a Titan.  Hell, those were some pretty dark times for the Titans, so I wouldn’t hold it against you if you blocked it out.  Anyhoo, Roy… being Roy, flirts a bit.  That is, his sole character trait, after all.  Well… flirting and heroin, anyway.  Anyhoo again, he asks her what her idea of a “good time” is, prompting her to whisper something quite vulgar into his ear.  Wonk wonk wonkkk?

Back with Nightwing… Jesse Quick finally tracks him down, after canvasing the entire east coast for an hour.  They talk… and it comes down to her feeling like a cheap replacement for full-time JLAer Wally West.  Well, if it walks like a duck, right?  Anyhoo… she finally agrees.

Back at Dayton’s, Roy checks to see if Vic’s made his decision yet… annnnd, he’s in!

We wrap up back at Titans Tower, and get our first look at the new team.  Nightwing asks Gar if he’s joining up to… and he turns down the offer!  That’s kind of a strange note to end on… but it’s the only note we get!

Our second story is a two-page bit where Donna is putting Roy’s daughter, Lian to bed.  The tot notices the first picture of the Teen Titans doesn’t include Donna nor her daddy… and asks “Wassupwitdat?”  This leads to Donna telling her the tale of Mr. Twister… which more or less bores little Lian to sleep.

Our third story is yet another two-pager… this time starring a young Argent.  While… at the mall, she witnesses a battle between the New Teen Titans and the Brotherhood of Evil… and is immediately awe-struck.

Our fourth and final story is a “lost” story… that kinda puts a bow on the last iteration of the New Titans… the “Arsenal Titans”.  Ya see, they were fighting a fella calling himself the Disruptor… who for a little while made them all look like a bunch of geeks.  He even takes down Kyle Rayner (who was, believe it or not, a Titan).

Finally, Donna (who was a Darkstar… calling herself Darkstar at this point) distracts the Destructor long enough for Roy to sneak in and sock’m in the mush.

All’s well that ends well, right?  Well, no… a nosy reporter (we know she’s a reporter because she’s wearing a great big “Press” pin on her lapel is watching… and taking notes.  Nearby, a pair of police officers are busy looking for Starfire….’s boobs, er “hair”.

Turns out the reporter’s scathing take on the Titans latest caper gets them “fired” from their federal position.  Wow, talk about a mercy killing!  Roy disassembles the team… and we find out that might’ve been the plan the entire time.  Wow, so it really was a mercy killing!

Ya know… I don’t think I’ve ever read a DC Secret Files and Origins where I felt I got my money’s worth.  I mean, five-bucks is a lot to ask of a reader today… imagine almost twenty-years ago!  Five-dollars for a story that could’ve ran in the ongoing title… followed up by some throwaway strips and some (often contradictory) profile pages that had long lost their novelty since Who’s Who in the DC Universe first ran… yikes!  That said, I love running into them in the cheap-o bin.  Feels like I’m getting away with something!

That also said… the price is one of those things that would definitely affect what I “got out of” this issue.  Because the (lead) story… is pretty good!  If this were just another issue of Titans, I’d say it’s one you ought to check out.  There’s some neat character interaction, a few semi-obscure cameos, and Paul Pelletier art.  A solid and fun issue of Titans.  Unfortunately… it’s a Secret Files and Origins… which, as I said… you might find in a cheap-o bin, but then again… you might find it bagged/boarded/binned at your local shop with an (even more) inflated sticker price.  I’ll tell ya what, if I paid $4.95 for this… I don’t think I’d have enjoyed the story as much as I did.  I’d still feel somewhat ripped-off.

Anyhoo… Secret Files and Origins “format” rant out of the way… let’s try and bring the positivity back and talk about what we do get.  Our lead story, and really our only “full length” story, was a fun… if not entirely necessary, read.  It’s always fun to check in with some former/retired Titans, and seeing the likes of Doomsday’s Daughter Duela was pretty neat.

I thought some of the pairings here were great as well.  We’ve got Flash being the only Titan who can keep up with motormouth Argent in conversation… thought that was a lot of fun… even if I’m not entirely keen on her character.  I hate to use terms like “Mary Sue”, because it’s overused… and often-used as a sort of “catch all”… but I do feel like it’s a bit telling that Ms. Monetti was the only member of the New New New Teen Titans to cross over.  I can’t recall if she ever starts crushing on Nightwing… but that would about seal the deal for me.

Dick recruiting Jesse Quick was fitting… they’re both characters that push themselves… and overburden themselves with responsibility.  Jesse herself refers to him as a “fellow workaholic”.  I think Dick making the trip meant a lot more than if Wally had.  It might’ve informed her that they were serious about bringing her on board.

Dick not recuiting Kory, while it seems a bit obvious and “cheap”, at least opens us up to exploring some potentially interesting story threads.  Still not too happy that she’s being recruited as a “mentee” when she’s been a member of the Titans for….ever.  Same with Vic, while we’re at it… though, at least with him… he’s in a brand new body, and might require some training.

Then there’s Roy.  Oh boy.  I really hate it that he’s been made into this one note flirt.  That’s really his whole gig here.  He threatens to flirt with Jesse and Toni… he flirts to erase Damage’s file… and he flirts with Supergirl.  I dunno… just strikes me as a pretty lame waste of a character.

We’ll wrap up with Gar… it feels like we’ve already read this story.  Gar no longer wanting to be “the joke”… no longer wanting to be “laughed at”.  Maybe I’m conflating him with other superhero team “class clowns”… I’m sure I’ve read this story about a dozen times before with Iceman in Beast Boy’s role.

Not sure why they didn’t have him join up… it’s not like there were any big plans for him.  Though, to be fair, I wanna say he had a miniseries around this time… maybe they were freeing him up for that.  If that’s the case, I’m cool with it.

Our back-up features were… I dunno… they happened, I guess.  The Mr. Twister bit was fun in a “this is how everything started” sort of way… but, completely unnecessary.  Gotta figure, if you’re slapping down a fiver for this book, you probably already know about that.

Our other two-pager is an Argent story… which, again… I feel like isn’t something we needed to see.  This could’ve been explained in a single word balloon.  I get that we’re trying to fill pages here… and this is really more a complaint about the over-priced SF&O format… but, ehhh…

The final story bridges the gap from New Titans to… this Titans, or at least to the Technis Imperative.  Roy wants to dissolve the team… so he, has them save the city from the Disruptor in front of a reporter?  Yeah, that’s some solid planning there, pal!  Maybe I’m just dense… but, what exactly did the Titans do wrong here?  They saved the day… they might’ve stumbled a bit… but nobody was hurt, and the city wasn’t destroyed.  How exactly would this lead to Sarge Steel giving them the boot?  If teams were disbanded every time a villain got in a lucky punch… we wouldn’t have any teams left, right?  I dunno… just seems forced… and silly.

The Profile Pages?  Well, they’re also a thing that exists… and at this point we were about five-years removed from the latest DC reboot… and five-years away from the next.  So, I guess we got to enjoy them for a little while anyway!  I will say, I always enjoy base blueprints… and I’m glad we got to see the plans for the new Titans Tower (included below).

Overall… I really hate to say it… but (at cover price and above) this one is for Titans completists only (even digitally, you’re stuck paying $2.99 for this one).  If you luck across it in a cheap-o bin, however, don’t hesitate!  There is a really fun story in here… which I’m guessing a lot of folks might’ve missed out on the first time around.  There’s also plenty of great art mixed into this package.

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