Team Titans #6 (1993)

Team Titans #6 (March, 1993)
“It Should Have Been a Wonderful Life”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Penciller – Art Nichols
Inkers – Will Blyberg & Al Vey
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Gene D’Angelo
Assistant Editor – Frank Pittarese
Editor – Rob Simpson
Cover Price: $1.75

Welcome to another day of Christmas on Infinite Earths… in July!  Today’s a special one because the (entire) book doesn’t actually take place on Christmas Eve!  I mean, it ends there, but, at least this spoilery synopsis won’t start with “It’s Christmas Eve…”

Or will it?

It’s Christmas Eve… Eve, and the Team Titans and the Longs are lamenting the fact that the Long family farm (and the “Teamer’s” current digs have been destroyed in a battle with… I dunno, some rogue Titans team from an alternate future or something.  That used to happen a lot back in the day.  Also, there’s a whole lot of characters to meet here… but, we’ll stick to the ones that actually get story beats.  The Team Titans, if’n ya don’t know, are also from the future… but the not-so-distant future, so there ought to be younger versions of themselves running around in the then-present of 1992.  You follow?

So, the Teamers decide to… head off and meet up with their circa-1992 families.  Kilowatt will head off to New Orleans, Dagon (also known as… Nightrider) will head off to London… fake-Terra will, I dunno, look for signs of who she used to be, and Mirage will… sit this one out.  She doesn’t want to see her family suffer a second time.

And so, she runs off to go cry at a… random outcropping of rock on the Long farm?  Sure, why not?  After collapsing in tears, she is visited by… Phantasm, who claims to have been summoned by her grief.  She seems more bummed out that Dick Grayson didn’t come with the ol’ Sheet-Man.  They gab for a bit, but it’s clear Mirage just wants to be left alone.

We shift scenes over to Kilowatt/Charlie, as he flies toward his hometown… which he is surprised to find is actually a rather large city on this Earth.  He lands and begins to investigate some of his old stomping grounds.

He pops into the old soda shack he used to take his girlfriend to and checks out a phone book… and finds out that his aunt and uncle still live at the same address.  And so, he heads “home”… only to find that his relatives… look just a little bit different on “our” Earth.  Uncle Jack is also packin’ a piece… and isn’t shy about blasting away at the weird, blue glowing man in the sky.  Charlie flies off, in tears.

Next, we join Battalion at Radio City Music Hall.  He is there to see his younger self and his wife leave the performance… and is shocked to find that, well… on this Earth his wife is married to some other mullet-headed jabronie.

Next stop, the friendly skies… looks like Mirage is actually heading… somewhere.  Also, she must have disposable income to grab a Christmas Eve Eve flight so suddenly.  Then again, the seat next to hers’ is empty.  Can’t say that’s something I’d expect so close to Christmas either!  Anyhoo, she starts crying… then runs off to the lavatory… where her face starts to get funky, and she starts hearing voices.

Over in London, Morbius Nightrider watches his younger self do some Christmas caroling… outside a building… and nobody is watching/listening.  It’s a pretty sad little scene.  Anyhoo, he thinks back to how he became a Living Vampire, how he was in an accident as a boy… and instead’ve being taken to the hospital, he was actually dropped off at Castle Dracula… yeah, really.  Well, turns out… this was the night of the accident!  Suddenly, his younger self decides to cross the street… right into the path of an oncoming dairy truck.  Nightrider swoops down and saves his younger-self from being hit… and, in theory, from being swept off to Castle Dracula.  At least I think that’s what just happened!

Back on the plane, Miri is chatted up by… Phantasm… again.  She finally comes around and admits that she has no family… because in her past, she killed her father.  Phantasm comforts her… and tries to get her to see things a different way.  Meanwhile, the folks outside the lav think Miri’s about to join the Mile-High Club… hell, for all we know… they might not be wrong!

Next stop… is the biggie.  Fake-Terra visits Real-Terra’s grave site.  If’n ya didn’t know… and nobody would blame you if you didn’t… this new Terra was actually just some girl with similar powers to the original Terra, whose DNA was then mixed with the real deal so she could “pass” for the actual Terra.  I’m sure there was a clearer way to explain that… but, my head already hurts.  Maybe we’ll do… Total Chaos here one of these days.  Then again… maybe we won’t.  Anyhoo, Terra-Two is fully aware of all the badness the OG-Terra was responsible for back in the long ago.

She is approached by a groundskeeper, who… I would say “fills her in” on Terra a bit more… but, he really doesn’t.  All he really says is she was a Titan… the Titans were sad when they buried her… and the green kid took it especially hard.  I’m wondering if there’s some poignancy that I’m missing here?  I mean, he says something about the true meaning of family (blood being less important than love)… so, I guess there’s that?

Next stop, the Titans Christmas Party… I’m gonna assume it’s finally Christmas Eve at this point.  It looks like a rollicking good time… well, not really so much.  Starfire offers to help the Troy-Longs rebuild their farm… but Donna tells her that their home is a “power-free zone”, which… I dunno, is pretty lame.  Especially considering that the bad guys who wrecked the place didn’t really follow that rule themselves.

Then… the Teamers arrive!  Realizing that “home” is where the heart is… and all that blibbuh-blabbah.  Also, Mirage finally introduces herself with her given name of Miriam Delgado.  Merry Christmas to all… and to all, yadda yadda.

Now… Team Titans is one of those books I refer to as being “funny, ha-ha”… like, they’re kind of a punchline unto themselves.  Seriously… folks online’ll joke about ’em without ever picking up an issue to see what they’re about (see also: most early 1990’s books)!  Make no mistake though, Team Titans is definitely a result of 90’s-excess… and feels mostly like sizzle without the steak.

This issue though?  Not the worst thing I ever read.  Hell, probably not even the worst thing I’ve read today!  It’s far from perfect… and falls flat at moments where I’m sure the intent is for there to be a measure of poignancy… but, it’s not bad.  Maybe I’m just a sucker for Christmas stories… because, I am a sucker for Christmas stories.

Let’s look at “worked” here.  The premise is a solid one… the Teamers are from the not-too-distant future… and so, it stands to reason that their younger selves (or at least their closest relatives) are stomping around ye old 1992.  It only makes sense for them to want to “visit”.  Why it took six-issues (or three, minus Total Chaos) to come to that conclusion… and why it’s treated like such a stunning revelation here… that, I don’t know.  Way I figure… if I were ever sent back to the not-too-distant past, the first thing I’d do would be visit myself.  Paradoxes be damned!

All that said… it’s a good premise, and worth exploring… and makes for an interesting Christmas-type story.

So, did it work?

Let’s look case-by-case.  Kilowatt finds that his New Orleans is quite different from “our” New Orleans… and that he’s not related to “our” Jack and Annie Watkins.  Kinda heartbreaking… I guess.  Really feeds into the “home is where the heart is” theme the issue is working towards.

Batallion seeks to be either reunited with his wife… or maybe to just get a glimpse of her.  Well, he certainly gets an eyeful… only, she’s marrying another dude… a mullet-head named George.  Izzat heartbreaking?  Sure, it’s a bummer.  Worth noting, however, Battalion doesn’t show up at the Titans Christmas Party at the end.

Nightrider winds up saving a boy from being hit by a dairy truck… and, perhaps from becoming a “Living Vampire”.  This one… I mean, I get it… and it’s always a good idea to push children out of the way of oncoming milk trucks… but, on “our” Earth, Lord Chaos isn’t a thing, right?  So, even if the boy was hit by the truck (which I’m certainly not advocating for)… it’s highly unlikely that he’d be  dropped off at Castle Dracula, right?  Then again… it’s not even clear that this is a younger Dagen.  But, again… always cool to push a kid out of the way of oncoming traffic.

Mirage’s story… ehh.  Is the implication that she was a victim of some sort of abuse?  That she killed her father in self-defense?  It’s not really clear… though, if that is the case… it makes what she does to Dick Grayson later on a bit more off-putting.  I feel like we didn’t get enough information for this revelation to really “ping” the poignancy meter… though, if it is what I’m suspecting… while cliche, I guess it’s something?

Finally, Terra.  I think this was supposed to be the “big” scene of the book… and really “spoke” to Titans fans of old.  Buuut… I dunno, it kinda fell flat.  There were no revelations… Terra-Two didn’t find out a single thing about herself… which was, at least in theory, the point.  It all built to that “home is where the heart is” spoo.  It actually reminded me of a Christmas episode of Golden Girls where they were snowed in, and couldn’t go “home” for the holidays… and ultimately realized that, despite not sharing common blood, they were a “family”.  Sappy, sure… but decent enough.  Not what I was looking for here, however.

I appreciate the Teamers’ struggle to find “home” being juxtaposed with the literal destruction of the Long farmhouse.  Their arrival in this timeline… and their removal from their own “home” has resulted in the loss of “home” for their caregivers/babysitters.  Pretty neat little twist.

The concept of “home” is always an interesting one to explore.  Some equate it with their house or a place… some, with a time… I mean, it’s an abstract concept that we could all discuss for eons… and I’ll try not to waste much more of your time while I babble about it here… especially as I’m not entirely sure what my own thoughts on the matter are!  I guess it’s kind of a “liquid” thing… maybe it’s not something you can actually point to… or, it’s more just something you only know when you’ve already left it.

Or… maybe it’s just wherever you were when you were 12 years old.  That seems to be the age many of us remember most fondly when it comes to the world around us.  Just so happens, I was 12 when this bugger came out in 1992.

Overall… if you’ve ever been Team Titans-curious, this isn’t the worst issue to pick up.  I’d probably suggest having a wiki open so you can check out who some of these folks are… but, it’s not nearly as confusing as I remembered it being.  Truth be told, I still haven’t read this entire twenty-odd issue run… and, what’s more… I couldn’t say for certain that I ever will!  This issue, however… worth a look.  Especially if you’re (like me) a sucker for Christmas stories.

Issue is available digitally.

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