Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Team Titans #1 (1992)


Team Titans #1 (September, 1992)
"Total Chaos, Part 3: Childhood's End"
"The Electrifying Origin of Killowat"
"The Shape-Shifting Secret Origin of Mirage"
"Nightrider"
"The High-Flying Origin of Redwing"
"Terra"
Writer - Marv Wolfman
Pencils - Kevin Maguire, Kerry Gammill, Gabriel Morrissette, Mike Netzer, Adam Hughes, & Phil Jimenez
Inks - Will Blyberg, Al Vey, George Perez, & Karl Kesel
Letters - John Costanza, Bob Pinaha, Albert DeGuzman, Clem Robins, Gaspar, & Bob Lappan
Colors - Adrienne Roy, Juliana Ferriter-Bruce, Matt Hollingsworth, & Tom McCraw
Assistant Editor - Frank Pittarese
Editor - Jonathan Peterson
Cover Price: $1.75

If you'd have told me I'd be covering Team Titans #1 for my 900th DAILY DISCUSSION... I'd have said you were nuts... there's no way I'd still be doing this that long!

--

Note: Even though these issues all begin with the character-specific "backup" stories... we're going to save them for the end.


So... we open, pretty much exactly where we left off last chapter.  Donna Troy is about to give birth... and Lord Chaos has arrived on the scene just in the nick of time.  The Teamers immediately jump into battle while the Titans try and make sense out of everything they're seeing.


Terra brings down the roof atop Chaos... which freaks both Nightwing and Deathstroke out.  Before they can act, Mirage hops over to try and make Dick understand what they're doing... and why they're doing it.


Starfire ain't havin' none'a that hussy hitting on her man... and so starts the Titans vs. Titans segment of the issue.  They pair off and fight for a bit... even a cute bit where Gar transforms into a wasp and stings Terra on the rear.


Finally, Dick and Miri call for both teams to stand down... so they can try and figure things out... the discussion doesn't get far, however.


Lord Chaos tires of this silliness... and he and Donna phase out.


We jump ahead and the amalgamated Titans reconnoiter at one of Steve Dayton's properties.  This scene... I dunno, everything inside me says I ought to hate it... but, I can't help but to crack a smile as I look it over.  I mean, it's silly... and the Titans are kinda acting silly... but, it's like this "punchy" silly, that sorta fits the situation.  I mean, we even have Deathstroke getting bandaged by Terra... while Gar looks on.  Just so weird!


After everyone's "settled in", Miri regales the Titans with stories of their not-so-far-flung future... and, naturally, it's a pretty glum place.  Chaos is born "completely sentient", and so... immediately ages himself to adulthood, kills Donna Troy... then takes over the world.  He reportedly kills one-half of the United States... and used the food-additive "numb dust" to drug the rest of the world into submission.  However, this "numb dust" resulted in altering the hypothalamus... and resulted in 1:1,000,000 babies being born with a metagene... which, I dunno... seems like we have a higher meta-birth rate without all the hassle!


Anyhoo, Nightwing ain't sure he's willing to take the Teamers at their word... and hems and haws a bit when asked if he's buyin' what they're selling.  This leads to Terra going off on a terrific rant, where she mocks the Titans... and more importantly, Terry Long.  Nightwing is almost willing to give the Teamers the benefit of the doubt... but, that doesn't mean he'll allow them to kill Donna though!


Speaking of Donna, we rejoin her and Lord Chaos in some cave... far from her prying friends.  He wants her to be comfortable... after all, she's about to birth a God!


Back at Dayton's, Nightwing asks Miri about their "Leader"... and so, we get what little they know of his origin.  Ya see, the Leader is a metapowered fella who Chaos' men found in the Pacific Northwest... and so, they toss him in prison.  He's got a pretty cool design here, I'll give 'em that much.


The Leader (who we still don't know the identity of yet) organizes a revolt.  They break out of the prison, and thus... a rebellion is born.


Back in the present, Miri suggests that their Leader is actually one of the current Titans... and again, instills in them the urgency of Lord Chaos being "on the loose" in the present day.  She knows the only way to stop him from destroying the Earth... is to prevent him from ever being born in the first place.


Which... well, I don't know how to tell y'all this... but, you're too late!





Killowat's story opens with a pair of young men attending, what amounts to be an "open house" to get a job working for the Chaos Company.  We're in Gibbstown, Louisiana on February 18, 1998... and these two young men are Charlie and Josh.  The pair are surprised to see that Lord Chaos himself has shown up... though, he's just there to for an inspection.


Turns out, a pair of Team Titans (who we never met) are also in attendance... and they leap right into action!  Without even thinking, Charlie too hops into action, however does so in defense of Lord Chaos.  His Lordship makes short work of the Titans... and, in recognition of Charlie's bravery loyalty, offers him an elite position in the fold.  Chaos is feeling so generous, he even throws buddy Josh a bone.


The pair enter the Elite Force, and start their training.  Charlie is an obvious stand-out, and is sent on a special mission to Transylvania.  He returns a somewhat changed young man though.  No, he's not a vampire (that's someone else's secret origin)... he's now just had enough combat experience under his belt to begin to question Lord Chaos' methods and goals.  Josh just writes his concerns off.


We jump ahead to August 27, 1999... and Charlie is leading a crew of elites (including Josh) into a mission.  They're in a sewer hunting down hostiles... and, at first sign of 'em, they fire on sight.  When the smoke clears, Charlie gets an eyeful of what he just commanded his team to do... which is basically... killing kids!  That night, he writes a letter to his Aunt Annie expressing his disgust with himself.


He later goes off and has a clandestine meeting with a pair of Guardians of the Galaxy Team Titans (I mean, tell me this ain't Martinex and Charlie-27)... and offers to join with them to take down Lord Chaos!


We jump ahead to February 16, 2000... and once again, Charlie is leading his Elites on a mission.  This time, however, ol' second-in-command Josh notes that his pal doesn't seem as "into" the gig as usual.  He even flat-out questions him... which is a bit awkward.  Anyhoo... their target... the Team Titans... the ones we actually care about.  I mean, we do care about these geeks, right?  The elites burst into the headquarters... and Prestor Jon takes a blast to the back.


As the battle rages, Jon asks his sister to carry him over to the computer before he dies.  As she does so, another Teamer, the Silver Shield, takes a fatal shot through the heart.


Charlie removes his helmet and pleads with his team to stand down.  These are just kids, after all.  Josh ain't havin' none of it... and the two get into a firefight.  Dodging a shot, Charlie accidentally throws himself into an electrified panel... which Josh recounts to the reader in the most awkward way possible!


Seeing their field commander burn up into an electrified Human Torch is enough to get them to bug out.  When the dust settles... Redwing checks on her brother, Prestor Jon... who is very much dead.  Or, is he?  Ya see, I had it all wrong... I thought he was this incorporeal being... which, I guess he kinda is... but I just figured he was an ambiguous presence, not necessarily a Titan "in the net".  But, it's confirmed here that, yes... he's a Titan-in-the-net.


The rest of the Titans then bug out before the place goes boom... and they are surprised to see that Charlie came with them!


We wrap up with Charlie offering to replace the fallen Silver Shield in their ranks... an offer they are very quick to take him up on.  Like, scarily quick.  Anyhoo, that's what we got... on Killowat.




Mirage's story opens with Chaos' men infiltrating a "Birthing Nest", which is more or less, exactly what it sounds like.  Ya see, Lord Chaos has a vested interest in any potential meta-human births.  Anyhoo, we join a birthing "already in progress"... a mother-to-be, named Maggie is joined by her husband Joe just as she's about to pop.  The baby is born... and that's when the baddies strike!


Turns out that "Joe" wasn't Joe at all... indeed, it was Mirage (though, we're not calling her that just yet).  Ya see, Joe died in battle... but Mirage knew how important it was for "him" to be by Maggie's side during childbirth.  It's all pretty moot, however... the Elites are quick to kibosh Mirage... and they stomp off with her slung over one shoulder... and the under-a-minute-old newborn over the other.


At the Chaos Induction Center a few hours later, our girl refuses to identify herself to her interrogator... and this is when she's given the name Mirage (which, we later learn is like uncannily close to her actual name!).  Anyhoo, the interrogator tells her she's going to be converted into a Chaos devotee...


... and that's exactly what happens!  We jump ahead to March 2, 1998 and join a crewcutted Mirage at the Chaos Recruitment Hall.  Here she meets a fella named Abraham who she will become quite close to.  Part of the "theatre" of the Chaos Recruitment is... uh, killing a bird.  Ya see, this represents that Freedom=Death.  Fair enough.  Anyhoo, Abe plucks a bloody feather from the carcass... and hands it to Mirage.  How romantic!


We jump ahead to a sparring session between Abraham and Mirage... during which, Miri uses her shape-shifting powers to win the bout.


March 28, 1998... New York City.  Miri, Abe, and some more cadets go out on a successful mission, wherein they beat up some civilians.  Fun date!  We then jump ahead to one month later at the Great Hall, where Miri and Abe are fighting for Lord Chaos' amusement.  Miri wins the bout... and, get this, is ordered to kill Abraham!  She has no choice... they both know if she refuses, Chaos will kill them both.


Back in New York on June 18, 1999... Miri is using her shape-shifting powers in order to disguise herself as a member of the resistance.  She enters their underground hostel... and takes a moment to observe the everyday misery of the rebellion.  She, of course, leads the Elites to this bunker... however, meets them with some firepower of her own!


She meets a young girl with a pair of red wings... and (apparently) a pretty little butt.  They leave together... with a maniacally-grinning Miri now understanding that Freedom=/=Death... it's actually Freedom=Life.




Nightrider's tale opens in Transylvania... April 29, 1998.  The young Dagon has been taken captive by by Chaos' Commander Stalg... who is very much our modern-day Dracula stand-in.  He orders the boy thrown in the dungeon... which, I suppose is something a vampire might say.


Stalg then clears out an inn so his men can rest up for the night before their next excursion.  He orders the innkeeper (who resembles a leaner Archie Bunker) to cooperate... and also to ensure that there are plenty of the ladyfolk around to entertain his men.


We shift into the dungeon, where a certain member of Chaos' elite forces feeds Dagon some soup... and chats him up about his thoughts regarding his Lordship.  This soldier is obviously our main man Charlie/Killowat.  We learn that Dagon was taken in because he attacked the food processing plants, because of their use of the subservience-facilitating food-additive "numb-dust".


Meanwhile, Stalg is suckin' blood.  Well, actually, he's just biting necks to be a jerk-ass... despite the flashy collar, he's not actually a vampire.


We jump back to Archie Bunker, who is warning folks of the Walpurgis Moon... which, by my shallow Wikipedia research... is actually a real thing that happens/is celebrated at the end of April in Germany.  Of course, the real one doesn't wind up killing everybody... does it?  Anyhoo, Innkeeper Archie has proven himself to be enough of an annoyance to be shot in the chest.


Jumping ahead, Stalg has his men escort young Dagon to Castle Dracula.  Quite the showman, this Stalg.  Dude does all the great vampire poses!


He brings the gang inside... and into a laboratory of sorts to show off his quarry.  It's the very skeleton of Count Dracula himself... complete with the oaken stake still jammed betwixt its ribs!  Ya see, his plan is to use the residual DNA... and use Dagon as Dracula's new host body!


... and that's exactly what they set out to do.


Unfortunately for them... this is right around the time when the Walpurgis Moon is kicking in... and so, all of the townspeople... the, ya know, dead townspeople... come together as some Lovecraftian eyeball horror.


Commander Stalg goes to flee... leaving his entire regiment to perish, and we've got some good news... and some bad news for the goof.  Good news... his little Dracula-DNA experiment worked!  Bad news... Dagon's pretty ticked off at him.


Dagon feeds off the Commander... and halts the Walpurgis Beast before it can devour... (I'm gonna assume) Charlie.  He defers to their compassion... and asks that they stand down... and they do!


We wrap up with Dagon leaving Transylvania in search of the Chaos Resistance.




Atlanta, Georgia... 1985.  A lovey-dovey pair of S.T.A.R. Labs folk... act all lovey-dovey.  Their flirtation is interrupted by a "major league poop" of a man who suggests they just get married already.


We jump ahead to the day of an experiment in radiation.  Karen is alerted that there's something wrong with the nuclear seals... and rushes into the room to check on her beloved Paul.  Realizing the line of work they're in is potentially dangerous, it's here that they decide to finally "make it official" and tie the knot.


First comes love... then comes marriage... then comes, well... you know.  The following year, Karen is very much "with child".  She winds up going into labor early on in her pregnancy...


... and gives birth to twins!  A boy... and a girl with the buds of wings sprouting from her back.


Eight years later, it's 1994.  Karen and Paul are watching the news... and it's all Lord Chaos, all the time.  What's more, Senate is legislating metahuman tracking... which, really sucks for this family.


Three years after that, we're in 1997... where Lord Chaos visits Paul at S.T.A.R. Labs to check on the progress of the metagene DNA tracker.  During this meeting, his Lordship gets a good look at young Carrie... and hoo'boy does it get creepy fast!  Getting some Benny Mardones "Into the Night" vibes here...


Vibes that Paul Levine picked up on too!  Well, sorta... he doesn't think Lord Chaos has any romantic interest in Carrie... but, he fears he's aware that she's a meta.  And so, he loads the family into the station-wagon and drives out to The Middle of Nowhere, Tennessee (I hear it's beautiful there this time of year).


Jump ahead another two years... it's 1999, and the metagene satellite is complete.  The Levine's watch the news of it being rocketed into space... and at that very moment, their son Jon is "merging on line", which... oh by the way, is his metahuman power.  Not sure if I mentioned that yet.  This, naturally, pings Lord Chaos right where he itches... and it's only a matter of time before he finds them.


Like, literally.  Chaos's Elite Force find them in like seconds.


They abduct Jon... but, since she was on a fun-flight, did not nab Carrie.  Instead she gets to return to their destroyed cabin, and find her dead parents.


We learn now that Carrie is able to track her brother anywhere he goes... which is, ya know, convenient.  She follows him to New York City... however, after the long wing-propelled flight, passes out in an alley.  She is picked up by some members of the resistance, and brought underground to their bunker.


This leads right into where the bit we just read where she meets Mirage... and has her "pretty little butt" complimented.  They vow to each other to always fly free.




Finally... Terra.  This was originally the only version of this book I owned.  Terra was the only character here I cared about... and, I'm guessing I wasn't alone in that.  We open on Christmas Eve (well, it is still technically Christmas on Infinite Earths... in July!) and the Team Titans are off to check on a superperson who is reportedly wrecking Elite Force fools inside a dam.  This superperson is... Terra.  The Titans suggest she settle her tea kettle... after all, if she destroys the dam... it'll really mess with the cities that depend on it.


About to be overcome by Elite gunfire, the Titans (and Terra) wind up fleeing.  It's here that we learn that this Terra is... Brion "Geo-Force" Markov's daughter.  We'll just put a pin in that for now.



The Team Titans Leader and Prester Jon discuss this possibility, and automatically assume that she's lying.  Even though she is a DNA match... there's just no way that Brion would ever name a child after his psychotic killer of a sister.  Hell, stranger things have happened... but, I get what they're going for.  Nightrider is sent to Terra's grave-site to see if anything's amiss... the tomb has been desecrated, but everything is still intact.


The Leader then officially welcomes Terra to the team... a gesture which brings her to tears.  About ready for that other shoe to drop?


Well, duh... we jump ahead to Terra's room (which is under Prester Jon surveillance).  They catch her reporting the Teamers' location to Lord Chaos.  I guess you can take the Terra outta traitor... but, not the... yadda yadda yadda.


Elsewhere, Lord Chaos is meeting with his committee... and spills the bean about Terra 2.0.  Ya see, he assumed that none of the Teamers would have a clue about the original Terra's treachery.  Really?  I figured that would be in the pamphlet somewhere... Apropos of nothing, it's charming that Lord Chaos celebrates Christmas.


Back at Titans HQ, the Teamers bust in on Terra to call her out on her trickery.  They then throw her into a cerebro probe (on loan from Xavier?) to get to the bottom of what she's all about.


What they learn is... Terra was a girl, who fit the original Terra's gimmick.  She was abducted from a hospital... given plastic surgery and an unstable injection of the original Terra's DNA, which would leave her subservient to Lord Chaos.


The Titans debate just what to do with her... Miri wants to "eliminate" her flat-out.  The Leader refuses... claiming that Terra is ultimately an innocent in all of this.  We jump ahead one week to New Year's Eve... 2000.  So, we're going to ring in the next Millennium with the dropping of the Millennium Ball in what once was Times Square, New York City.  It's actually a pretty cool sight!


The Teamers attack Lord Chaos as he pontificates on what this new Millennium will be.  Chaos watches as his Elite Forces are overcome by a tiny group of teen-agers... and when he goes to intervene, he is surprised to find himself clobbered by a whole bunch'a earth.


It's, duh, Terra.  And, while she's not exactly the old one... she might be just as crazy.  She destroys the Chaos statue... really makes a mess of the square.  It really is reminiscent of the closing bits of the Judas Contract!  She reveals that her memory implants have been broken... and she will (somehow) be able to survive without Lord Chaos.


During the brouhaha, it turns out Lord Chaos missed the clock ticking over to midnight.  So... he missed the dawning of the next century.  This, of all things, leads to him jamming out.


We close out with the team wondering what the year 2001 might have in store for them.


--

Whew... but that was a whole lot of story!

And... dare I (continue to) say: So far... so good?

Let's start with the real "meat" here... Chapter Three of Total Chaos.  Feels like we're at the end of "Act I"... and it ends, pretty much exactly the way it ought to!  Donna births Baby Chaos... and the Titanic Teams (+Deathstroke) start to work together.

We readers get filled in on a whole lot of exposition... and, for the most part, it comes across quite natural and unforced.  The bit about the Leader... ehh, maybe a bit forced (and uninteresting)... but, I suppose "needed".

The interaction between the teams was, as mentioned in the never-ending synopsis... fun!  Silly fun, sure... but, a lot more fun than I remembered.  Just seeing things like Terra and Gar... or Terra and Deathstroke, so weird... but so good.  Also, jealous Kory... ready to snap the neck of any girl who gets 'tween her and Nightwing... great stuff!

We also have Terry... who, is pretty shaken, and with good reason... he really serves his role well here.  I feel like Marv's planting the seeds here for his soon-to-be disdain of Donna's unflagging allegiance to the Titans.  It feels... right... also, like it's been a long time coming!

So... more or less, top marks for our "main" story.  Really enjoyed it... and I'm looking forward to what's to come!

Now... the "back-ups"... which, were actually "front-ups" I guess, since they came first.  Kinduva mixed bag... but, we'll get to that.  Let's first talk about... the gimmick!

Five Number Ones... with five different character-centric leads.  Now... tell me, is there anything more "comic book" than that?  I mean, really now... if the Big Two could get away with something like this today (and I'm definitely not saying they couldn't... just look at the ridiculous amounts of money spent on variant covers alone!) look out!

When I first approached doing this... I really thought I was going to come out on the side of "bad gimmick"... and, while I gotta say, it's definitely not my favorite... it's still a really decent value for your 1992 dollar.  What we have here isn't a 6-8 page back-up... it's a full-blown 20+ page leading story... followed by a 20+ page regular story.  That's a whole lotta pages for $1.75!

That said... I'm glad this kinda thing didn't persist!  Off the top of my head, the only other time I can think about this happening was in 1998 when Marvel launched Slingers starring Spider-Man's four "Identity Crisis" personas.  I remember being pretty annoyed then... and I wanna say those were just 6-8 page back-ups too.

So, where to start... 

Mirage's story.  Thought it was pretty good!  Not sure it needed the amount of pages it got... but, I'm not mad at it either.  I know I poked fun at the romantic gesture of Abe handing her a blood-soaked feather... but, looking back... it's kinda sweet.  I mean, these kids are born into war... they only have these little "moments" to be "human", to be "free".  Very nicely done... and actually added a touch of poignancy to Miri having to, ya know... kill him in the arena.

Killowat's origin might be the most cliche of the lot.  Dude is all gung-ho to join the elite forces... finds out first-hand that the position's not all it's cracked up to be... and he rebels.  We've seen it before... but, it's decent enough.

Nightrider's story... wasn't so much cliche, as it was just flat-out campy.  I mean, just look at that Commander Stalg... make his face a bit ashier, and he's Grampa Munster!  I'll give it this much... I enjoyed that Dagon was somewhat responsible for Charlie/Killowat really seeing "what's up" with Lord Chaos... and, I did learn a little something about that Walpurgis Moon thing!

Redwing and Prester Jon's origin was interesting... I dug the big of misdirection at the start with it being Carrie's mother... when I kind of expected it to be her.  Though, the 1985 date should've tipped me off, I suppose.  One of this story strengths was how it filled us in on some Chaotic exposition... we see that Lord Chaos is in the news like all the time, which is pretty neat.

Another strength was letting us see the elder Levine's during their lovey-dovey courting days... in a time before Chaos.  It really lent to our actually feeling something when they ultimately met their fates.  Good stuff.

Finally... Terra.  Neat angle... but, I don't feel like it stuck the landing.  Don't get me wrong, it was mighty cool seeing this Terra be just as sneaky as her namesake... and I'm sure this scratched a few Titans fans where they itched when it came out... but, everything after that was just a bit too convenient.

Not mad at any of the back-ups... didn't love 'em... I feel like they could've shrunk 'em all down and just had the one version... but, they weren't bad!  I also can't help but to really dig the amount of world-building Marv did.  I am a huge sucker for things like that... and it was great to see just how fleshed out this not-so-far-flung future really was!  Also... the art in all of these stories was good-to-great.  Really don't have any complaints!

Overall... can hardly believe I'm gonna type this, but... Team Titans #1 is, in my opinion, worth tracking down!  There's only one version of the book listed on DC Digital... hopefully it has all of the back-ups included... I mean, I can't see why it wouldn't!

And that... is 900 daily discussions and reviews in the books!

I usually get all sappy at this point of my "milestone" posts, and thank everybody (and their mothers) for coming to check out what I do here... but I'll try not to drone on much longer... this has been a heckuva long post... and I really do respect your time.  Also, we've got an even bigger milestone on the horizon... and also, perhaps the finish line.

I'm going to try my best to get us to 1,000 daily posts... however, after that... I can't make any promises.  While I won't abandon the blog... it's highly likely that it will no longer be a "daily" thing.

With that... here's to you!  Thanks so much for sticking around (even through Brightest May...), and here's to the next hundred!

--

Interesting Ads:


900

3 comments:

  1. wow, 900, congratulations. Awesome entry for this milestone too.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Jeremiah! This one was a whooooole lot better than I thought it would be!

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  2. I continue to be awed at your depth of coverage of any given issue! This was like at least 6 in one, so all the more impressive!

    And though already said before...congrats on the 900!

    I feel like I came across some of these in the last year or two; and may have even picked them up for the novelty; but I'll be darned if I know where they physically are at the moment!

    While one can "usually" just "ignore" and AVOID variants and stick with just one single copy of an issue...if the publisher is gonna count on readers buying multiple copies of what is functionally/should be the same issue, at LEAST with this, there are differences so it's not 100% the same issue. As you said, though--for the "different" stories being basically full length, it's sort of like "buy this unique story, and they all come with the same other story."

    Definitely glad this isn't a regular thing, at least in 2018 and at 2018 prices (you know each would be $5.99-$7.99 from Marvel in 2018 and likely $4.99 from DC).

    But I definitely find that the sleaziest, cheesiest, most egregious money-grab stunts from the '90s are perfectly acceptable to me at 25 cents an issue--I'd even HAPPILY drop $3.25 on the 13 covers of the first Gen13 #1 (ongoing)...that'd still be cheaper for one issue than one current Marvel comic.

    I generally feel like for all the "crap" 90s comics take, they WERE at least innovative, AND even with the enhanced and gimmicky stuff, it at least wasn't "just" numerous same-paper covers (so charged more or not, you at least got a cardstock cover, with other fun enhancements)...and sometimes that was the ONLY cover, or even with a "collector's edition" AND a "newsstand edition," companies would have TWO covers for an issue that was done on, and it was not EVERY SINGLE freakin' issue of every single title in their line every single month, with certain issues getting MORE than 2 covers.

    Buuuuuut you know MY feelings on variants anyway.

    Again...congrats on 900, here's to the "Final 100"...and however many non daily after that!

    ReplyDelete

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