Titans #16 (June, 2000)
“Survival, 2 of 2: Limbo”
Writer – Devin Grayson
Penciller – Mark Buckingham
Inkers – Marlo Alquiza & Richard Bonk
Colorist – Gregory Wright
Separations – Heroic Age
Lettering – Comicraft
Associate Editor – Maureen McTigue
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.50
I ever tell ya this place was originally going to be a Titans blog? Prob’ly…
Anyhoo, today we wrap up the two-part Survival “epic” from 2000 (Part 1 is right here). I’ll go ahead and toss it up on the Collected Editions page in a bit.
We open with a young Dick Grayson sitting out Haley’s Circus with his elephant pal Zitka. He heads into the park proper and chats up his parents… and they have a bit of a quarrel about his “playing Gotham”, and suggest perhaps “playing Metropolis” was more a more worthy game.
We then shift scenes to Paradise Island where Wonder Girl is diving from a waterfall. A friend asks about the whereabouts of Diana… to which Donna suggests she’s on “Man’s World”. Hey, waitasec… wasn’t Donna herself just there as well?
Next stop, Atlantis… where a young Garth is being comforted by his mother. I guess the Atlantean kids were making fun of his purple eyes… which I suppose was probably a thing that happened. Garth feels like something just ain’t right.
Elsewhere, a young Wally West gets beaten up by his post-Crisis (and, perhaps… a Manhunter) father Rudy.
Finally, we meet up with Roy… who swings over to his Park Ranger father while in full American Indian garb (plus blue jeans). Things might begin to get a bit meta here… Roy asks about his mother, to which his father mentions that he doesn’t have any particulars to share about her… she’s was just “never referred to”, and was never meant to play into Roy’s story. Weird.
At this point, grown-up Roy walks into the scene… and it’s revealed that his “father” is actually… the Gargoyle! That reaction you just felt was probably either yawning… or fighting off a yawn. Don’t hold it in, it ain’t good for ya.
Young Roy then (somehow) convinces his father/Gargoyle to escort him to Haley’s Circus… where he meets young Dick Grayson… and where it’s confirmed that they still have memories of their real lives.
Then… Wally, Garth and Donna also enter the tent (Donna escorted in by John Grayson)! They’re still a bit salty toward one another, but come to realize that their anger is both (in part) caused by and strengthening the Gargoyle.
John Grayson is then revealed to be… the Gargoyle! He reveals that the kidlets are in Limbo, and explains that he was able to return to taunt them due to the recent “crisis in hell”, which we’ve already discussed here at the blog during Day of Judgment. Worth noting that this fella had been locked away since Teen Titans #14 (March, 1968)… and is actually a transformed version of Brom Stikk… ya know, Mister Twister!
The Titans tussle with the Gargoyle for a while, but it’s plainly clear that they can’t do much to hurt the baddie in Limbo. Robin hurls a ‘rang at him… which, actually looks to do the trick. Well, actually… it’s pretty obvious that it is a trick. Gargoyle just wants the Titans to keep up with the in-fighting.
And so, the Titans begin to walk… through all of the bits of scenery we opened with… barring Atlantis of course, that would just be madness. During this walk, the Titans make nice… and actually decide to push their baggage aside and listen to what each other is saying. It’d be touching… if it weren’t so contrived.
Then… then… Roy starts getting confrontational again. The rest of the Titans haven’t the foggiest idea what he’s on about. It gets so heated that he actually punches Robin in the jaw… which, uh… somehow wakes them all up in the present?
Okay… it’s flimsy, but we’ll let Dick explain. He claims that the Gargoyle was trying to “stagnation”… which is to say, doing things the same way. Roy’s punch was “novel” and therefore made them “unstuck” in Limbo. I… guess?
We wrap up with the T-Jet being thawed out… and the Titans heading home. While in the air, Roy admits that his “saving the day” was purely accidental. Wonk wonk.
There was that saying that went around the internet awhile back… hell, you still see it from time to time. What was it… “You never go full…” something or another. Ah, it must’ve been… “You never go full Twilight Zone“!
The second part of Survival goes full Twilight Zone… and, for the most part… it’s a bore. Anytime we take a team and toss ’em in Limbo… or put them in their most “perfect world” or make them face their “worst fears”, I kinda check out. It’s overused… overdone… and, really not a whole lotta fun (rhyme!).
I’ll admit… the way Roy busts’em out of Limbo was cute… and definitely a “zag”, when I was expecting a “zig”… but, that doesn’t really make up for the rest of the book. I get the feeling that maybe Grayson thought of the (admittedly clever) ending first… and wrote backwards?
I’ll give a bit more credit where it’s due… Grayson really did some digging here. The Gargoyle/Mister Twister isn’t a villain we hear about all that much. I’d go as far as to suggest many current-day Titans comics fans only know about him from the semi-recent Titans Hunt limited series. And this was 2000… before Showcase Presents “phonebooks” and digital distribution made these stories easily and affordably accessible… so, there was definitely a little bit of homework done. The idea that she might’ve had some “help” does nag at me a bit… but for now, we’ll just play it straight.
For the cliffhanger last issue… the Gargoyle doesn’t even appear as much of a threat (also, how did Dick get out of the caved-in cave?). I really wish they’d have just played this one straight. Could’ve been a Titans Classic! We do at least get a bit of closure on Wally and Donna’s drama… which was handled pretty well, if not wiped away a hair too conveniently.
The art here, while still nice… wasn’t as nice as last issue. I did notice there was an extra inker listed on this one… which might’ve had something to do with it. Worth mentioning… ya know how sometimes we bag on artists for only having a handful of go-to “faces” in their arsenal? Gotta say… Mary Grayson just looked like a taller version of Wonder Girl here… and, ya know… vice versa.
Overall… Survival started out exceeding all expectations. Great interpersonal drama… fun conflict… rising tension… and then, freaking Limbo. If Twilight Zone riffs are your thing, you might dig this.