Titans $ell-Out! Special #1 (November, 1992)
“The Titans $ellout $pecial or, The Bucks Stop Here!”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Pencillers – Tom Grummett, Steve Erwin, Adam Hughes, John Statema, & John Costanza
Inkers – Adam Hughes, Al Vey, Kevin Branch, Dave Hunt, & Charles Barnett
Letterers – L. Lois Buhalis & Bob Pinaha
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Assistant Editor – Frank Pittarese
Editors – Jonathan Peterson & Rob Sampson
Thanks – Gordon Kent
Cover Price: $3.50
Tired of the Titans yet? Me neither… though, ask me again in about five minutes, and I might give you a different answer.
Today… we sell-out! What an awful thing to “sell-out”, am I right?
By the by, if anyone wants to contact me about any sort of selling-out opportunities, you’ll find all of my contact info on the right.
We pick up hot off the heels of our Totally Chaotic conclusion. The amalgamated Titans have returned home from the Home of the Gods. Upon arrival on Titans Island, they notice that Lord Chaos’ pyramid has been destroyed. One of the Teamers posits that Battalion is likely responsible for the mess. Battalion, by the way, ain’t here… even though he was at that God World with them all. Phantasm does some spooky monologuing (is that a word?) before vanishing through a portal. As the Titans get their bearings… they see they already have a visitor.
Well, of course it’s New York City Mayoral Hopeful, Elizabeth Alderman. I swear, she’s starting to feel like a thorn in my side, much less the Titans. She’s flanked by reporters and cameramen, and it’s made clear that she’s running on a platform of, get this, banning the Titans from New York City. That’s it! Taxation… transportation… who cares about any’a that stuff?! Pantha gives her a… uh, warm welcome.
Alderman, who is currently a City Councilwoman… so, she might have some stroke, hands over to Nightwing a court order banning the Titans from using their powers within the city. Dick is dumbfounded (gobsmacked, I tell you!) but can hardly be too surprised, considering the smoldering island they’re currently standing on (which is smoldering for the second time in about as many months). Also, Alderman’s been after them for quite some time now… so, it’s not like this was going to go completely unnoticed.
Just then, rhe Feds arrive on the scene, and suggest Alderman slow her roll. Deep among the wreckage, Beast Boy finds… Deathstroke… and he’s dead! So, Deadstroke, then.
Despite some Titanic debate, the Feds bag Slade and load him into a chopper. The Titans aren’t exactly pleased. Then, the rest of the team(s) show up, already defying Alderman’s court order by actually flying in. Oh, and Donna’s hair is short again. It wasn’t three pages ago, but it is here. Guess adding that third editor worked like gangbusters! Anyhoo… the Titans hop on their T-Raft, and head over to Manhattan proper, where they are met with a fair amount of heckling. No cursing though, so DC’s New York is definitely different than the one I grew up in.
Steve Dayton is waiting for them… and he sweeps the team off to yet another of his fabulous estates. I mean, is this wise? In the past few days, the Titans have destroyed both his penthouse, and that other estate. Oh well, the Titans are happy so long as this crib’s got a pool. While funnin’ and sunnin’ Dick considers their options… maybe they don’t have to stay in New York anymore. Steve Dayton perks up… he’s got just the place.
The next few pages are set up to look like a photo album or a scrapbook. There’s some cute stuff here… but, I’m not so sure about any of it.
We shift scenes to see the Titans doing some more sunnin’ and funnin’… this time on a beach. Dayton chats Dick up about repairing the image of the Titans… and suggests marketing! Ya see… the title of this book is coming back to roost. Since Dayton owns… like, one of everything… he’s sure to have a toy manufacturer and a public relations firm in there somewhere. Dick stops reading his book-with-no-words-in-it, and thinks on it.
But, let’s not stop with toys… am I right? We can do cartoons… movies… all sorts’a stuff! They even talk casting (Tom Cruise for Nightwing, Julia Roberts for Starfire). Baby Wildebeest is pretty bored by all of this (and I can’t say that I blame him, so he leaves to build a sand castle).
Of course, the sand castle is insane. Titans $ell-Out! is filmed before a live-studio audience.
Next thing we know, the Titans are preparing to sell their souls… and are watching Hollywood-types volley ideas for their licensed feature film. Dayton puts the financials at “one hundred million” by the way. One of the agents pitches a story… and, not kidding… I swear they’re pitching the plot to Youngblood #1.
The discussion shift to perhaps making the Titans film into a “toon” (just try and get them to say cartoon… they won’t do it!). They list the benefits of doing it this way… which is mostly a kinda hamfisted attempt and making commentary about how awful things in media are. Not saying anything they say is wrong… but, it’s like… dude, we get it.
Then… er, wait a sec. Mr. Cameraman? Can we get an “enhance” here.
Okay, one more time.
J-just… what in all hells is going on here? Is that man… pulling his eyeball out of its socket?! Is that what we’ve come to?! Just what is it he doesn’t want to see??? Should we be seeing it?! What. Does. He. Know? Well, okay okay, maybe the art’s just unclear… but tell me that doesn’t look like it! Anyhoo… the Titans dig what they hear, and sign on the dotted line. They are officially licensed.
And we immediately jump into… the pilot of Teeny Titans. The episode is called “Teeny Roast!”… and folks, this isn’t good. I mean, there’s a certain novelty to it… and if it only lasted a page or two, I’d be on board. This is thirteen-pages long… it overstays its welcome by at least ten.
Suppose we oughta press on. The Teeny Titans are Nighty-Night (Nightwing), Daddy’s Little Princess (Starfire), Presto-Chango (Beast Boy), Beesty (Baby Wildebeest), and Kitty Litt’r (Pantha)… and it only gets worse from here. They fight a bit in their “play room”, until their gun-wielding “teacher” Mr. Wilson pops his head in to tell’em to “Shaddup”. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be a riff on Muppet Babies… not that it would make this any more enjoyable.
After this, Daddy’s Little Princess realizes that her Beesty is missing, and fears it’s been snatched. And so, she searches all ova da place for her lost doll. I think it’s a doll. I mean, we’ll learn soon enough, but I think we’re supposed to think it’s a doll for now.
Don’t worry DLP, Nighty Night’s on the case. He pulls out a magnifying glass, and literally circles the planet looking for the Beesty. Along the way, they pass before an electronics store with a television in its window. On said television is a commercial for the Toymanator… who is, ya know, Deathstroke. He holds aloft a broken toy… with hair that looks like a bowl of buttered popcorn.
The Teeny Titans rush off to the television studio in order to confront the Toymanator… but find the place is completely booby-trapped. After falling into one trap, Pantha… uh, kills and cooks a cow with her bare hands. Why there was a cow at a TV station, I’ll never know.
They give chase to the Toymanator… across several different show sets, including phony versions of Star Trek, Cheers, and Oprah. Daddy’s Little Princess finally spies her Beesty amid a pile of toys… and the Teeny ones learn the true identity of the Toymanator. Why, it’s their own Preschool Teacher, Mr. Wilson!
They fight some more before Beesty grows into his final form… and proceeds to maim poor ol’ Mister Wilson. Also, Wilson is a toy himself… got batteries in his back and everything. A Nighty Night Nightyrang sees to those.
And… bah-bleep, bah-bleep, bah-bleep… that’s finally over, folks!
Back in the “real world”, the Titans are none too pleased about the “toon” they were just subjected to. Trust me Titans, I’m with ya on that one! Despite having already signed all of the necessary contracts, the Titans do not want this “toon” to air. Again, can’t blame ’em. They threaten the (shirtless) Hollywood agent… and he seems to come around. And so, the Titans head home.
As the Titans jet off, however… Hollywood falls in love with the Teeny Titans property… and decides to spin them off (despite never having actually aired) into their own programs… hoping by the Fall to be the, get this, “All-Teeny Titan Channel”. Yee-ikes.
What’s there to say? This just wasn’t very good, was it? There were a few cute ideas… just, stretched over faaaaaaar too many pages.
Let’s start with the Teeny Titans. This “animated” style really did the issue no favors. It was like “animated without the charm”. Instead of looking like Looney Tunes characters, which I’m assuming was the gimmick, they instead come across like… I dunno, dollar store Garbage Pail Kids. Just very little charm here… and any charm they might’ve had, wore off within the first few panels. Unfortunately, this was a thirteen page “bit”.
A few cute ideas, yes… Deathstroke firing “seventy-billion bullets” made me chuckle… and also, crushing the Jericho doll was neat… but, for the most part, lame-city.
Let’s talk about the ridiculous notion that the Titans would license their likenesses at all. Here we’ve got a team… led by Nightwing, ward of Batman. Like he’s really going to sell his likeness and risk anybody out there putting two-and-two together? And, I mean… Steve Dayton’s a smart dude… is this something he’d ever really recommend?
Hell, dude’s the… what, fourth richest man in the DC Universe… if he’s so concerned about the Titans financial situation… he could probably lend a hand, right? Or, just hire a P.R. firm without all of the movie nonsense. If “current year” media has learned us anything, you don’t have to have a movie out in order to engage in some optics-improving “spin”.
The art here… well, it’s sort of a “jam book”, and it’s pretty uneven throughout. It’s to be expected, I guess. What I’m concerned about, and this is going to sound silly… the continuity here is a bit of a mess. I mean, with every additional editor we pull on board, they seem to get more and more wrong (Hi, 2018 Marvel!). Silly things like, Donna’s hair length drastically changing between pages. I mean, nobody caught that? Battalion, despite being with the Titans a few seconds ago, nowhere to be found? And, where were the Teamers during the licensing spoo? Just hanging out on the beach the whole time? Characters just seemed to walk in and out of the panels, nilly willy… as though this was a sitcom.
Waitasec… you don’t think? Nah… this couldn’t be a commentary on things like sitcoms, could it? I mean… a few of the hallmarks are there. Characters have become caricatures… it’s like we’ve hit the sixth season of Full House or something… Danny’s a neat-freak first and foremost, Jesse’s futzin’ with his hair, and Joey’s got a
beaver woodchuck (thanks Google!) puppet sitting on his lap at all times. These Titans have devolved into their base traits… which is especially bothersome coming off of the (relatively) strong ending of Total Chaos. Also, I swear I heard a laugh track when Baby Wildebeest built that wacky sandcastle. I assume you all heard that too.
Or… or… does this book feel so soulless because… like on a meta-level, the Titans have sold their souls to Hollywood? I mean, this book (and team) definitely feels as though it’s soul has been forcibly ripped from it… maybe that’s the game?
Wow, those paragraphs sure got away from me. Chalk it up to me embracing my inner caricature. I’m in one of my “later seasons”, might as well just let myself go!
Anyhoo… despite some cute moments, I really didn’t dig this. I don’t see Dick and the gang just leaving a newly-depowered Donna on the other side of the country without a thought. I’m not sure if Marv and Company thought the Titans needed a “cool down” period… but, even looking at it that way, this book fails. It straddles the line of real and wacky… and, in my opinion, fails to stick the landing on both sides.
Not really one I could recommend… unless, of course, you’re dying to see that Teeny Titans bit in its entirety. Otherwise… hard miss. Which, uh, doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t follow up on this one sometime soon.