Deathstroke the Terminator #14 (September, 1992)
“Total Chaos, Part 1: Child’s Play”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Penciller – Art Nichols
Inker – Will Blyberg
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor – Frank Pittarese
Editor – Jon Peterson
Cover Price: $1.75
We really gonna do this?
Ya know… I feel like we’ve been brushing up against this one for a while now… and to be honest, it’s been so long since I’ve read this, I can’t remember much outside of the main “Lord Chaos” beats… and something about a food additive (I think).
Yesterday I wrote about how folks are quick to write off Team Titans as trash, sight unseen because “hurr hurr, nineties”. I fear my unfamiliarity with Total Chaos might make me fall into that sort of column as well… and, I’d really like the humble blog to be better than that.
Can’t promise we’ll be covering this every day… because, as we’ve learned, burnout is almost an inevitability when it comes to a project like this… also, because this Wednesday is our NINE-HUNDREDTH daily discussion… so, there might be something special planned for that entry… if I can think of something special to stick there, that is.
Anyhoo… let’s hit it and git it, Total Chaos starts… now.
We open in New York City, and the Titans are trying to hunt down Deathstroke… the fugitive! Ya see, Slade allegedly caused some chaos (no relation to the “Total” variety) during an earlier adventure that caused him to be thrown in jail by Superman… he’s busted out, and he’s currently on the run. That’s where the Titans come in. We are just post-Titans Hunt, as well… which ended with (highlight to see spoiler) Slade being forced to kill his son Joey “Jericho” Wilson. Sooo, the Titans are kinda of mixed feelings on the man right now.
As a disguised Nightwing and Starfire head down the street… and, I mean… Starfire is still a seven-foot tall golden woman with a giant four-foot ponytail… she’s just wearing street clothes (and glasses)… but, I suppose we’ll allow it. Anyhoo… as they head down the street, Kory gets her pocketbook swiped by a skateboarding kid. As Dick hops into pursuit another kid trips in front of him. Ya see, the whole thing was a con.
Nearby, Slade watches the whole thing go down… and realizes his chances for escape are pretty slim at the moment. Lucky for him, he just so happens to be standing outside a clothing store… and so, he goes “incognito”. Oh, and it’s worth noting, he knows this is Dick and Kory because, as mentioned, Starfire is still a seven foot tall golden alien goddess.
Slade packs his arsenal into a duffel bag and heads down the mean street… where, he too falls victim to the skate-rat purse thief gang. As he gives chase, another kid falls into his path. Slade is a little less polite about this obstacle than Dick was. Worth noting, these kids are currently on the run from the Mafia… and yeah, we’ll be coming back around to that.
The girl that fell on Slade starts causing a scene, claiming that he robbed her. This draws a crowd, and eventually… the attention of a still nearby Nightwing!
Nightwing and Slade fight for a few pages. Dick tries to reason with Slade, and tells him that the Titans will have his back if he’s truly innocent. Slade’s all “nuh-uh”, and even at his halved levels of power, manages to beat the hell outta the former Boy Wonder.
Starfire runs to Nightwing’s side (calling him “Dick” in front of a large crowd). As Deathstroke makes a run for it, Dick orders Kory to use her star-bolts… but, for whatever reason… she can’t. We’ll be coming back around to that as well. When she fails to act, Dick writes it off as her having been weakened during Titans Hunt.
Dick and Kori reconnoiter with Changeling, Red Star, and Pantha… and have an odd little chat about the situation… likely only to facilitate some comments Gar makes toward Kory about how she’s “changed”. The team decides to head back to Steve Dayton’s, hopeful that Donna might’ve returned.
We shift scenes to those thieving kids… and we learn that one of the bags they’d swiped belonged to the mafia… and was packed full’a computer disks. For those unaware, computers used to come with these thin slits called “disk drives”… you’d slide a disk into it in order to access programs and whatnot. Anyhoo, the Mafia is here… and they want their stuff back. Lucky for the kids, Deathstroke is also here… and he wants his stuff back as well.
After dispatching the baddies, Deathstroke nyoinks the tots and tries to figure out just what the heck is going on. When they finally come clean about the disks, he asks them to meet him at a hotel later on tonight. There’s a request that hasn’t really aged well.
Then… dun dun dunnnn, Lord Chaos. We get a quick and dirty on the future Son of Donna Troy. He hails from the far-flung future (2001), and is the “Absolute Ruler of Earth”, which I doubt is an elected position. Those who stood in opposition were the… Team Titans, who ultimately threw themselves back in time in order to follow through with a “Would you go back in time to kill so-and-so-bad-guy in the crib?” situation… or in this case, would you ensure so-and-so-bad-guy was never born? And so, Lord Chaos also came back to ye old 1992 to ensure the Teamers don’t succeed!
Speaking of Donna Troy, we shift over to S.T.A.R. Labs where she and Terry Long are walking the halls… talking about her time as a superhero. She decides then and there, that once she has the baby… she’s retiring! They are then confronted by Team Titan Redwing, who tells them that she cannot allow the baby to be born… because, he‘ll destroy the world. Dang, I wonder if Terry and Donna wanted to be surprised about the sex of the child?
Just then, the baby begins to… grow, inside Donna’s belly… like, big time. The swelling is so out of control that Donna falls to the ground… looks like the kid wants out!
We pop over to Dick and Kory, having some touchy-feely time on the couch. After Dick gets all hot ‘n bothered (he refers to himself as a, ugh, “gland”), Kory leaves to check on Donna. As this is all going down, we see somebody escaping from captivity… hmm…
Later on (at Jericho’s grave site), Deathstroke meets with his associate, Squirrel. He’s doing that thing where it’s “one more job, then out”… which, I swear Deathstroke does like every third issue. He instructs Squirrel to divert all of his funds appropriately.
Then, over with the Teamers, Fake-Terra shows off her new 90’s look… and tells her teammates that she’s made them all new costumes as well (with stolen materials, natch).
You haven’t forgotten about those street kids yet, have you? Because they’re back… at the hotel, waiting for Deathstroke. Unfortunately, the Mafia goons are also there. Deathstroke pops in, and throws all of the baddies out a window… right at the feet of Officers Abbott and Costello. I guess that’ll do?
Slade unmasks… and reveals a very sweaty face… he’s definitely in a bad way. He instructs the kids to deliver those disks to the F.B.I., but they are a little squirrelly (no relation) about that. Then, police sirens start blaring… so, Slade knows he’s rapidly running out of time (even though Officers Bud and Lou have been outside the whole time?). He gives the kids an address and tells them to ask for “Sweet Lili”.
Deathstroke flees into the night… and into the sewer, hopeful that he can make it to S.T.A.R. Labs and give himself an examination before his powers completely give out. He doesn’t make it far, collapsing in the sewer… just a few feet in front of a shadowy figure.
We wrap up this chapter back at the Dayton Estate. The Titans discuss everything that’s gone down… however, they don’t chat all that long before a very angry Starfire bursts in wondering why nobody bothered to come looking for her. Ya see, she’s been tied up in a tenement for three days. I know what you’re thinking… that can’t be possible, we just saw her like five minutes ago! Well… don’t adjust your comic book… we really are seeing double!
So far… so good?
Maybe I’m softening in my old age… in fairness, it’s been several forehead wrinkles and more than several gray hairs since the last time I tried reading this, but… as an opening chapter, I gotta say… I liked this. Keep in mind that I also enjoyed the first issue of Millennium… so, I suppose this isn’t really saying much.
I’d totally forgotten about the street kids… and, even seeing them now didn’t refresh my memory any. I am expecting that they will grind on my nerves as we work our way through… though, perhaps I shouldn’t be so quick to judge. After all, that’s what this exercise is really all about!
The two Starfires. I’m pretty sure we’ve touched on this before, but I’ll not spoil it just in case. I mean, I don’t expect people to dig through the Infinite Archives with any regularity… heck, I’m not expecting anyone to read this! It’s definitely a somewhat interesting beat… and I’m looking forward to re-experiencing the reveal.
Lord Chaos… well, we don’t get a whole lot from him, and honestly… we didn’t really need to. We “meet” him, and learn a little bit of what he’s all about here, and that’s pretty much all we should’ve gotten here. Donna jumping through her trimesters with the quickness is also handled well… rather than just have her suddenly be “ready to pop”, they gave her brief pregnancy an in-story reason. Well done.
Still not a fan of his design… which feels like an already-been-chewed George Perez image… that curly hair… that odd short skirt. Asamattafact, anytime I think of Total Chaos, I picture super “busy” pages, like the one where we’re introduced to his Lordship here. I think that might just be the top reason why I haven’t revisited this story for so long…
Gar being a little so-and-so here. It’s annoying, yes… but, it makes sense. I mean, first of all… look at his haircut… who could be happy with something like that on their head? But also, he (like the rest of the team) is dealing with the fallout of Titans Hunt… and, he’s never been the most mature… or most comfortable with his feelings, so it stands to reason that he’d be the first to sorta “lash out” at the situation.
Only bits I was kinda “ehh” about was Deathstroke tossing the baddies at the cops… then being freaked out that there were cops on their way. Seems kinda weird. Though, I suppose he is a wanted fugitive… just seems a little uneven.
Also… this issue might be haunted. Hear me out… I snapped so many pictures of this issue, the panels… the cover… and nearly all of them came out blurry! This book simply refused to be photographed! I mean, I’ve taken tens-of-thousands of pictures (of varying quality) for this blog… but today… I dunno, it was a real challenge! If you don’t hear from me ever again, run (don’t walk) to your local shop and pick up this issue… I might’ve been sucked in. I’m counting on you.
All told… if I were to have read this back in ye old 1992, I’d have been all about it. This is intriguing… and feels like we’re headed to a great adventure… funny, back in ye old 1992, I did go to Great Adventure in New Jersey on a class trip. Anyhoo, I’m now tentatively looking forward to checking out the rest of this… though, with the understanding that (just as with Millennium) the other shoe will very likely drop.
If you’re down, Total Chaos has been collected in trade paperback.
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