Titans #15 (May, 2000)
Writer – Devin Grayson
Penciller – Mark Buckingham
Inker – Marlo Alquiza
Color – Gregory Wright
Separations – Heroic Age
Lettering – Comicraft
Associate Editor – Maureen McTigue
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.50
I ever tell ya that this blog was originally going to be all-Titans, all the time? I probably have… but I beg your indulgence, cuz I’m gonna say it one more time (today… I’m sure I’ll repeat this eventually down the line).
Way back when we first started this… my first post was a look at Tales of the Teen Titans #55. One of my favorite single issues of all time. I figured, from there I’d just use my Showcase Presents: Teen Titans “phone book” and maybe do an issue a week.
Well, that’s not exactly how it worked out is it? Maybe it’s like when you change something like a half-degree… and it doesn’t look like it’s that far off the mark until it’s hundreds of miles away. I dunno.
Anyhoo. I took a look at my index… and, found it actually quite humorous that there’s so little Titans material covered here! So, I’m gonna try a little harder to rectify that.
As we open, we come to find that things aren’t so sweet with the recently-re-formed Titans. The Honeymoon is most definitely over, and all of their idiosyncrasies are no longer looked as as cute. When Donna suggested the founders maybe “get away” for a little bit and try to find themselves, the newbies felt that was a capital idea… and from the looks of it, even volunteered to help them pack for the trip!
And so, the founding five (or four-plus-Speedy) have gone off for a Titans retreat on a deserted island. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a little Titans camp-out… and it won’t be the last. Donna plays “den mother” and tries to keep the peace among the gang… but it’s to no avail. She stomps off to unload the T-Jet, leaving the boys to bicker among themselves.
The razzing grows more and more personal until Donna just can’t take it anymore. She hurls their baggage… their literal baggage, that is… into their campfire. Ay yai yai. It’s probably worth noting that Donna’s not exactly herself around this time… ya see, there was this Dark Angel… and Donna lost her memory… and everything Donna knows about herself is based on Wally West’s memories of her. It’s a whole “thing”.
Just then… it starts to rain. Ain’t that always the way? Then, as we know… rain can only do two things to a situation 1) make it romantic… or, 2) make it a whole lot worse. Well… let’s explore that second thread first. The fellas continue to squabble, with Roy going to stomp away into the woods/jungle/place on the island covered with trees. Dick lambastes him for “walking away”, and Aqualad calls him (Roy, that is) a junkie and… a racist. Well, Roy ain’t havin’ none’a that. He reminds the gang (and us) that he was raised by the Navajo, which rules out any sort of “-ist” allegations. I’m not sure that’s how it works, but his heart’s in the right place. Then Garth doubles-down with the junkie talk. Feels like we might be reaching a point-of-no-return, don’t it?
As Roy disappears into the trees, Dick spills the beans that Roy and Donna are currently knockin’ boots. Speaking of which, we next join Roy and Donna… who look to be getting ready to… knock boots.
While Dick, Wally and Garth try and build a quickie shelter… and argue some more… we shift back over to Titans Tower, where Vic and Kori are trying to get some New Tamaran information from a… cold and very distant Oracle. Ya see, they don’t know Oracle’s true identity… but Oracle knows that Kori might still have eyes for one Dick Grayson.
Back on the islands, the rainstorm has advanced into a full-on monsoon. Roy loses his grip on his bow (and no, that’s not a euphemism)… Donna flies off to grab it (again… not a euphemism). Then… they start arguing! Donna brings (Roy’s daughter) Lian up… which really gets under his skin. Donna then tells him that she’s afraid what will happen to Lian after she and Roy eventually break up. That’s probably not the kinda conversation you wanna have with the woman you love, right? Anyhoo… Roy splits… because, evidently… that’s what Roy does?
Back at the beach, Tempest… fearful of the rising tides… has encased the T-Jet in ice, which… I dunno, sounds so much worse than having the tide come in? I’m not sure jets work after being thawed out… then again, I’m no engineer. Roy approaches to resume their earlier quarrel… and the fellas realize that this time Dick’s disappeared. At this point, Wally really lets loose with some anti-Dick sentiment. And again, that’s not a euphemism either.
Elsewhere on the beach, Dick is (unsuccessfully) trying to build a lean-to while Donna rattles his cage about her recent encounter with Roy. They are soon joined by the rest of the team. Wally and Garth mock Dick’s carpentry skills… claiming that Batman would’ve already figured it out.
The argument intensifies… again. This time Wally and Donna split off from the group. Donna reveals how weird it feels to be “built” from Wally’s own memories of her. She doesn’t know what’s real… or what’s Wally’s “Pollyanna Fantasy” version of “Donna Troy”.
Just then… a tree falls! Like right on top of Wally! Donna tells him to vibrate through it… and he does. Once the dust (and wood chips) settle, she lambastes him for endangering her with his out of control vibration. I mean, wha–? You gotta be more clear with your demands, Donna… vibrate or don’t. Er, not a euphemism? Worth noting that our monsoon has been upgraded to “hurricane” at this point.
As we approach our conclusion, the Titans reconnoiter and notice that Nightwing found a cave!
As they go to enter it, however… Dick triggers an explosion which closes off entry. I dunno… if given the choice between being out in a hurricane, or sitting in a caved-in cave… I’m gonna brave the rain!
We close out with the “big” reveal. The Titans have been acting so terrible toward one another because of… the Gargoyle? Oh, c’mon.
Okay… we’ve got quite a bit to unpack here.
Devin Grayson seems to get a lotta flack online for how she handled the Titans. Gotta say… I’m not so sure I agree with some of the levels of vitriol I’ve seen.
Let’s get it out of the way… the ending sucks. That said, the only reason why I feel that way is because of how strong I felt the rest of the issue was. The Gargoyle reveal feels like such a cop out. It’s like when you’re watching a really good episode of Twilight Zone or something… and you’re just riveted to the set, and the climax is… aliens (or something just as cop-outty). The “easy out” almost never results in a satisfying story… and sometimes is even bad enough to spoil what came before.
Let’s look at the Titans… and what brought them here. These are young people who have been friends forever. They didn’t have a shot at a “normal” life… and so, not only are the Titans friends… they’re also their own support structure. Nobody in the world can educatedly-empathize (which totally isn’t a word that exists) with them better than other members of the team.
Look at friends you’ve had since you were little… or if you’re still little, look at the friends you have now. You can’t tell me you’ve never gotten on each others’ nerves. Maybe even threw (and/or received) a punch or two. That’s just something that happens. It’s human… which is my whole point. We have a team of young people who didn’t have the opportunity at a “normal” life… who are acting in a completely normal way!
The Honeymoon is over. They’ve reunited… the hoopla has passed… and now it’s time to move forward without the novelty of “how cool is this?”. I mean, if we wanna be complete wannabe literary savages… we could compare this to the readership. The novelty of “how cool is it that the Titans are back?” has, at this point, passed. We’re in our second year of stories… so, what’s next?
It also might be worth pointing out that the Titans are all at different points in their lives… which, is a very new dynamic for them. This is just another “human” thing they must face. Wally’s on the Justice League… so he can’t give the Titans all of his time. Roy and Garth both have children. I think, as we’ve all gotten older (those of us who are “older”), we’ve seen friendships… well, maybe notsomuch “end”, but “go cold” as people have moved on with their lives. Gotten married… started families and careers… stuff like that. It can be hard to swallow… which, makes the Titans’ reactions here so damn good.
For all I know, this might’ve originally been intended as a fight-free/villain-free arc, as the founding five (or four plus Speedy) re-learn why they’ve been a “family” for so long. The Gargoyle might’ve been a last minute addition. I hope that’s the case anyway… because this could have (and perhaps should have) been a Titans Classic. Grayson’s definitely got the chops to make this feel like “real” interactions.
I remember absolutely loving this the first time I read it half a lifetime ago. Though, when the jibes started to go “over the line”, I was just waiting for that other shoe to drop… and unfortunately, it did.
Overall… despite not caring for the ending (at all), I’d still recommend checking this out. This Titans volume isn’t perfect (and it becomes pretty much unreadable toward the end)… but I’d say this bit is worth a look. Mustn’t forget we’ve got Mark Buckingham on art… and he really does a great job here as well.