Teen Titans (vol.2) #16 (1998)

Teen Titans (vol.2) #16 (Late January, 1998)
“Titans: Then & Now, Epilogue”
Story & Layouts – Dan Jurgens
Finished Art – Joe Rubenstein
Colors – Gregory Wright
Enhancement – Digital Chameleon
Letters – Richard Starkings & Comicraft/LA
Associate Editor – Dana Kurtin
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $1.95

When I started this blog, I figured I would use “blog tags” for writer, penciller, title, and year… just to assuage my own compartmentalizing-mania.  I always get a bit “itchy” when we get into “layouts” and “finished art”… never know what to include.

I suppose the “correct” answer is “include everything… colorist, letterer, inker, etc.” which, if I had it to do over again… I probably would.  Not gonna go back and edit nearly a thousand reviews though!  I say all of that, so I can say this… welcome to the tags Joe Rubenstein!

When I’m done with this discussion, I’ll add it to the “Collected Editions” Page with the rest of “Titans: Then & Now” for easy revisiting and/or for time-travelers.

We open with the surviving Titans preparing to attend the funeral of the fallen Joto.  Worth noting… Lilith’s “funeral attire” might be the worst thing ever.  I mean, a do-rag?!  Anyhoo, they happen across Isaiah’s diary… which Lilith spoils, due to her “hocus-pocus witchy stuff”.  Cody heads in to gather the team… and suggests that Isaiah’s journal will rake him over the coals for being a jackass.  Lilith tries to correct him, but he ain’t havin’ it.

Next stop, the graveyard.  The Titans (Then & Now) are in attendance… as well as the Crockett family.  I’m tellin’ ya, I can’t get over how ridiculous “Do-Rag Lilith” looks.

After the ashes to ashes, the Titans split off.  Wally suggests that things like this shouldn’t happen… which, I mean… it’s a bit too late for that, ain’t it?  While the oldsters discuss the validity and efficacy of this new team, Mr. Jupiter is confronted by Isaiah’s father, Judge Crockett.  It’s not a comfortable chat.

Jean Loring, the Atom’s ex-wife approaches to diffuse the situation by… riding the fence.  Ray overhears the chat and wanders over… the Judge suggests that it might be time to pull the plug on “people like him”, and goes as far as to claim that, more than anything, vigilante heroes actually create the bad guys.  Nothing we haven’t heard before… and it doesn’t really get the adequate room to “breathe” here.

Elsewhere, Cody is approached by Isaiah’s sister Nikki.  He braces for a reaming… ya know, because he was never all that nice to Joto.  He is surprised to learn that Isaiah actually held him in high regard.  Nikki thanks him for being her brother’s friend.  It’s a pretty neat little scene, and provides an interesting juxtapositional contrast from the funeral.

Elsewhere again… Argent approaches Dick (who she calls “Joe” since nobody knows his civilian identity) about training the Newbie-Titans.  He turns her down flat… and in kind of a jerky way.  He tells her that she needs to find her own way.  Probably not what she was expecting… especially as they’re in the process of burying one of their own!  Apropos of nothing, Dick is drawn with reddish hair here… not sure if that’s a “civilian disguise”, though I assume it is.  Either way, every time I see him, I mistake him for Matt Murdock!

We follow Toni as she heads over to Prysm.  She refers to the originals as “elitist jerks” which sounds like something a petulant teen-ager might say.  Anyhoo, she vows to redouble her efforts in making these Titans a “thing”… in honor of Joto.

Off to the side, the originals reconnoiter.  Roy decides he’s going to keep his Haze-given outfit… and go back to wielding a longbow (as opposed to the crossbow he’d been carrying).  Wally suggests perhaps they stick around and mentor the kids… which Dick kinda scoffs at.  He doesn’t think they’re needed because the Newbie Titans already have a mentor in Lilith.

Speak of the devil, and she appears.  Lilith, in full Omen get-up arrives… and explains that her “new” powers were passed down by her (unrevealed to us) mother.  The Titans agree to get together and talk things out later that evening.  Hey, there’s a scene I’m looking forward to!

We shift over to the Newbie Titans as Argent approaches them in her uniform.  She wants the gang to get their stuff together right away, and train to be the Titans Joto would’ve wanted them to be.  None’a the others are really “feeling it”… and suggest that Toni’s actually being disrespectful.

An argument ensues… and it gets pretty volatile, until Lilith arrives… Joto-journal in hand.  She decides to read from it to settle everybody’s tea kettles.

Just as her teammates start getting the “warm fuzzies”, Mr. Jupiter saunters in to spoil the mood.  He tells his “kids” that the Teen Titans… are no more!

Later that night, Judge Crockett is visited by… some dude. He is Garrison James, and he works for the man in charge of some governmental “alien investigations”.  I always kinda roll my eyes when we hear about these investigations in the DC Universe… I mean, c’mon… aliens ain’t nothin’ new or special here.  Anyhoo, James wishes to talk about the “alien Titans” that killed Isaiah.  I’m bored already.

Next we join Lilith, as she visits her half-brother Jarrod Jupiter at the psyche unit.  She taps into his mind, and sees his “vision”.  It’s a somewhat happy childhood with his sister and father.  The Jarrod-tot proclaims himself to be “king” and kicks over all of his Teen Titans action figures.

We shift outside “The Slab” where a woman proclaims it would be easy for a member of Dark Nemesis to bust out.  I’m bored again.

We wrap up with a couple of pages of the Newbie Titans going their own way… and the originals going to Bibbo’s Ace of Clubs to reconnect.  Unfortunately, we don’t really get to “join” them.  C’mon, that was the scene I was waiting for the entire issue!  Oh well.  Oh, also… Argent creates a statue of Joto at his gravesite.

For starters… I wanna say how pleased I am that they didn’t reuse the “Titans Walking Away” cover.  Ya know, this one:

 Though, in fairness… it hadn’t been homaged yet in 1998… but still, looking back in 2018, feels like anytime the Titans split up anymore, we get one of ’em.

Now… onto the issue.

It was a bit… hmm, uneven?  I mean, there were some neat scenes that I wish they could’ve expanded on… interspersed with scenes I felt went on too long or I’d rather we didn’t get at all.  I guess “epilogues” are kinda like that sometimes.

Also “uneven” here… the art.  We get a few spectacular pages… and some really, I dunno, halfhearted ones.  Makes the book feel kinda like an afterthought… which, again… I guess “epilogues” are kinda like that sometimes.

Not sure why Dick was so intent on living up to his name here when Argent approached him.  He could have (and, I feel, should have) turned her down a bit gentler.  Him shutting her down the way he did just didn’t feel in-character.  It’s especially baffling when he tells the originals that Lilith will be the Newbie Titans’ mentor.  Why couldn’t he just tell Argent that?  Also, just a short while later, Dick’s going to start a new team of Titans… with the express purpose of mentoring the next generation!  So weird.

I’m not sure why Mr. Jupiter pulling the plug on the team actually means anything.  It’s not like he was on the front lines or anything.  Hell, the one time he was, it cost them a team member!  I see no reason why Ray couldn’t just say “Okay, beat it old man… we’ll do this our way”.  Does Jupiter own the Teen Titans “intellectual property” or something?!  I dunno… just felt kinda weak.

Much as I hate to say it, “weak” might just be the right word for this issue.  Doesn’t feel like anybody’s heart was completely in it.  Also, the one scene I was actually looking forward to (the old Titans “catching up”) we don’t even get!  Felt kinda like a cop out.

Overall… I dunno.  This issue is kind of important, while at the same time feeling unnecessary… which is a shame.  I know the Teen Titans would eventually get “funeral heavy”, but this comes from a time before that.  I don’t really see this as a send-off worthy of a Titan.

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