Thursday, August 30, 2018

Teen Titans Giant #1 (2018)


Teen Titans Giant #1 (2018)
"Enter... the Disruptor!"
"Teen Titans"
"When I Grow Up..., Part One"
"fun and games"
Writers - Dan Jurgens, Geoff Johns, Peter J. Tomasi, Justin Jordan & Dan Didio
Pencils - Scot Eaton, Mike McKone, Jorge Jimenez & Kenneth Rocafort
Inks - Wayne Faucher, Marlo Alquiza
Colors - Jim Charalampidis, Jeromy Cox, Alejandro Sanchez & Daniel Brown
Letters - Tom Napolitano, Comicraft, Rob Leigh & Carlos Mangual
Associate Edits - Tom Palmer, Jr., Paul Kaminski & Jessica Chen
Edits - Brittany Holzherr, Eddie Berganza & Katie Kubert
Group Editor - Jamie S. Rich
Cover Price: $4.99

"This isn't supposed to be for me"

That's what I kept saying... even up to the moment I plunked the fiver onto the counter.  These DC Giants aren't supposed to be for us "seasoned" readers... they're for the casuals, or in John Byrne parlance, "civilians".  People who don't normally purchase comics... and most certainly never darken the doorway of a comic book shop (unless they've got that super-special-ultra-rare Funko Pop... that they won't buy because the LCS marked it at $50+.)

I even rolled my eyes when I saw folks on Twitter proudly showing off their photos of their "Walmart finds".  Kept saying to myself... "those aren't for us!"...

Then...

Then... I learned that these Giants have exclusive content!  These aren't just reprints!  This was probably obvious to many of us... I keep off the "comics news" websites, so I guess I didn't get the "whole story".  I hemmed and hawed about picking up the Teen Titans Giant... being a completionist from way back, it just didn't feel right not to.  I mean, I stuck it out through a lot of Titans books... it'd be hypocritical to leave this on the shelf.

Oh, the things we tell ourselves...

What follows is a look at the entire package... reprints and all.  We've already discussed the reheated material here at the blog... but, if you're a Chrispletionist... you're definitely gonna wanna read it again (hey, it worked for DC!).  If you're a "civilian"... well, these are all new to you anyway!

We'll wrap up with a discussion about the new story... and some of my hot-takes about this DC Giant initiative.

--


We open with Beast Boy bouncing into Titans Tower, pizzas in hand.  What he finds there... is, nobody!  Well, he doesn't have to wait long before Raven pops in to let him know where the rest of the team went.  Ya see, they're down at S.T.A.R. Labs fighting some geek calling himself "Disruptor".  We briefly met this dude back when we discussed Titans Secret Files & Origins #1.  He was actually (retroactively), in part, responsible for the dissolution of the New Titans (that is, of course, the long storied Wolfman run).


The Disruptor is here to swipe something from the Lab... and is doing a pretty good job "disrupting" everyone around him.  He's able to mess with people's eyes... and even shuts down Starfire's starbolts.  Dude's got his stuff together.


He makes his way inside S.T.A.R. Labs, and finds himself faced with Beast Boy in the form of a gorilla.  He "disrupts" Gar's power, and kayos him.


The Disruptor then stands before the Director of S.T.A.R. Labs... who suggests that he's here for "the Amplifier".  Turns out, that's exactly what he's here for.  Raven makes one last attempt at stopping the baddie... and very nearly does.  He boots her at the last moment and continues on his merry way.


Robin shows up and delivers a kick.  Disruptor ain't interested in going toe-to-toe with the Boy Wonder... so he instead "disrupts" that S.T.A.R. Director into jumping out the nearest open window.  Robin breaks away from the conflict to stop the assisted suicide attempt, leaving the Disruptor free to nab the Amplifier.


Well, he would be if not for Gar Logan taking the form of a tiny insect and mucking about in the baddie's inner ear.  The Disruptor figures he's screwed... so he, get this, hurls the Amplifier out the window... right into Starfire's waiting arms.  This creates enough of a distraction for the Disruptor to get away... so, I guess dude's a bit smarter than he looks.


Back at Titans Tower, the team returns to find Beast Boy has... gasp... eaten all of the pizza.  An angered Starfire throws the Amplifier at him... yeah, that top-secret super-powerful tech... she just throws it at Gar for eating the last slice.


The Amplifier bounces on the floor, and opens... revealing it to be empty!  Looks like the Disruptor is actually a lot smarter than he looks.


We wrap up with the Disruptor delivering the contents of the Amplifier case to... H.I.V.E.!  The big bad of the hive unhoods, revealing himself to be... the Director of S.T.A.R. Labs!


Onto the first of our reprints, and second story overall (originally covered here November 7, 2017):




We open in Smallville, with Ma and Pa Kent... well, Auntie and Uncle Kent at this juncture... driving their "nephew" Conner to Smallville High School.  Superman has set up a civilian identity for the lad so he could have something resembling a "normal" childhood.  He arrives at school... scans the hallways, and decides "nahhhh".



He thinks listening to chats about cow-tipping are pretty lame... so he instead heads out and makes some Superboy-inspired crop circles.  Seems just as lame, if you ask me.  Anyhoo, as he plays hillbilly hooky, Superman flies up to check on/lecture him.  During the discussion, the subject of the Teen Titans comes up.  Kon ain't feeling it, but Superman urges him to at least consider it... and go back to class.



We shift scenes (we're going to be doing that a lot) to Gotham City, where Robin is fighting Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum... while Batman chats him up about joining this new team of Teen Titans.  Tim's a bit iffy...



Next stop, Keystone City where Jay Garrick and Wally West talk about what to do about their impulsive young speedster.  Jay suggests the Titans invite, but Wally ain't all that keen... after all, he was a founding member of the team, for all that matters.  It seems like Wally wants to keep Impulse out of the Titans, like that can only be part of his history... guess he never read the late-Marv Wolfman run, because... Impulse was already a Titan!



Turns out the Bart overhears the conversation, and decides to pop his head in.  It's here that we learn that young Master Allen has something of a photographic memory... he's able to retain everything he reads (at super-speed, even!).  Not even Wally can say that!  This concept will be very important a couple of issues later.



Let's head over to Gateway City, where Cassie Sandsmark (and her mother) is being reamed out by her Principal.  Ol' lady Griffith doesn't like her Pagan-ish practices... nor her claims of being granted superpowers by Athena Zeus.  Cassie flips out, and smashes a desk... which probably doesn't help her case.



She rushes to the bathroom, where a couple of mean girls call her a Pagan.  As Cassie stares into the mirror... an odd, helmeted face stares back... that'll come back around later.



Anyhoo, moments later she is joined by Starfire... who is there to issue an invite, and talk a little bit about Wonder Girls past and present.  Cassie almost immediately agrees to join up, and before we know it the pair are flying over San Francisco in a bee-yootiful double-page spread.



The pair arrive at the new Titans Tower... and Cassie is almost immediately approached by our old friend Gar Logan... and boy is he a pervert. Still, somehow far less creepy than the Millennial-skeevo he is in post-Rebirth Teen Titans.



We learn that Titans Tower was built by Cyborg with funding from the city of San Francisco... in exchange for "favors" to be named later.  It's been awhile since I've read these early issues, so I couldn't say if/how that rolls out.



While Cassie admires the architecture, a few old friends arrive.  Former Young Justice founders, Superboy, Impulse, and Robin head in... and it's a bit of an icy reunion.  In the months since Donna Troy's death in Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day, it would appear that the YJer's relationship has been strained.



Over the P.A. system, Cyborg welcomes the newcomers... and suggests they get a good night sleep, as they have an early-morning orientation.  That night, neither Robin nor Superboy can get any sleep... and have an uncomfortable/almost contentious late-night chat.



Neither knows why they're there.  Kon suggests it might just be because they miss their friends... which Robin doesn't disagree with.  Suddenly, Robin gets an email... from Snapdragon.  I don't remember who or what "Snapdragon" is... but the email includes Kon's Cadmus Labs file...



... which reveals the name of the human donor of half of Superboy's DNA makeup.  Uh-oh...


Onto our third story (originally covered here March 19, 2017):



We open with a strange prologue involving a family on a film set.  After some chatter, one of the children forcefully calls for a group hug.  Kind of reminds me of that episode of theTwilight Zone where Billy Mumy sent his poor terrified family members to the cornfield... though, I'll concede I might be reaching here.  We immediately shift to the present where Superboy and Robin... or is that Robin and Superboy, are dashing through a jungle infested with robot simulacrums in their likeness.


Two days earlier, we join Jon Kent as he hops on the school bus for his morning ride in.  He notices that his normal bus driver is out today.  During the ride, Jon witnesses a bit of bullying and when he attempts to quell the event, he receives a face-full of spitwads for his troubles.


Upon arrival to the school, the kids decide to take advantage of the snow-covered ground and settle their differences with a snowball fight.  One of Jon's friends gets whacked in the side of his head with a whopper... it seems the other team is packin' their balls with rocks!


Jon considers using his heat-vision to even the odds, however, before he can... a giant snowball falls from above and clobbers the competition.  Jon looks up to see the substitute school bus driver was the culprit of the packed-flurry.  Of course it wasn't really some mild-mannered older fella... it's actually revealed to be Damian Wayne in disguise!


After a bit of witty chatter, we shift scenes to later that evening at the Batcave.  Damian is preparing to head out for the evening with his father... but it's not to be.  Papa Batman calls him on blowing off his studies... and until that's settled, he's staying home.


Next stop the Kent... White... Smith... farm, where the Super-family is playing cards and chatting about their day.  Lois and Clark express pride in their boy for not letting loose with his powers during the snowball fight.  After Lois wins yet another hand, Clark gets called off on some Justice League business.



Jon is sent to bed for the night, however, just as soon as he puts his head down he is interrupted by... Damian!  After some good-natured boyish ribbing, Robin tells Superboy about some hacking occurring at Lexcorp that he'd like for the two of them to look into.


And so, they head out.  It looks like these two might just be in over their heads...


Our fourth and final story... originally covered here April 8, 2018:



We open on a girl named "Ernie" going through her normal morning "getting ready" routine... our titular hero lurks behind her... and gets one heckuva smack.  Our young hero unmasks and proceeds to apologize for "rifting in" on her.  Turns out, this Ernestine is our new pal Derek's good pal, confidant, and costume designer.  They chat a bit... she tries socking him to see how strong he is... then he "rifts out" before Ernie's twin sister Emeline can barge into the bedroom.



We shift scenes over to Derek's house where his folks are watching the news on what went down in Gotham City during the... Dark Knights: Metal event.  We get the distinct impression that Derek was in Gotham when all that stuff happened... and that it affected him in strange ways.  Derek's mom calls up to the lad, and plays that "I'm leaving without you" hokey-pokey that I'd assume many parents have with their teen-age children when they're dragging their feet.



She drops him off at school... and as he walks through the halls, there's this murmuring about him being a "mama's boy".  He mulls it over, but ultimately doesn't appear to be all that affected by it.  He lets his mind wander during Physics class... back to that fateful day in Gotham City.



A mountain erupts from the ground... causing the Earth to split.  Derek just happened to be standing in the exact wrong place at the exact wrong time, and wound up falling through it!



In the present, class lets out.  Everybody appears to be rather dismissive of our Derek... even his teacher who proclaims him to be "someone else's problem" once the bell rings.  Wow... what an a-hole.  Derek heads out... shares a few text with (I'm assuming) Ernie, before rifting to a rooftop to change into his costume.



Now... I know what you're thinking, this is where he goes off and unsuccessfully tries to "fight crime"... this is going to be his "trial by fire"... a true "hero defining moment"... right?  Well, no... this is where he pulls out his smartphone and starts a livestream to show off his powers.  Jeez.  Sometimes I really hate "current year".



Well... this goes kinda sideways for, uh... Sideways.  Seems he needs his full-focus on his powers in order to make'em work right.  Paying more attention to his phone, and doubtless billions of viewers, causes him to "rift" right into the a distant lake.  Whoops.  Upon arrival whereverthehell he is, he hears a booming voice commanding him to "Stop"... and so, he "rifts away" again.



... Only no matter where he goes, he is unable to escape the booming voice.



And we wrap up with Sideways finally running smack dab into its source... some yellow fellow that the DC Wikia calls "Tempus Fuginaut".




--

For long-form discussion pieces on the reprints... I might as well just sendja over to the original posts.  Just click'em the cover, and you will be delivered!




What we've got here... really, it's a heckuva package for $5.

What follows his my "hot-take"... you can take it or leave it, I'm just an idiot online and I'm not portraying myself as anything but.

When these books first hit Walmart shelves, and comics twitter kinda went nuts trying to scoop'em all up... either to flip 'em or... okay, probably to flip 'em... I shook my head.  I'm not into the idea of taking advantage of folks who might want these... but whose local Walmart stores aren't carrying them... or, whose local Walmart stores are carrying them, but the entire stock gets sniped by a "flipper".  I think that's a grimy move... and find it a pretty lousy and shameful thing to do to your fellow fan (or, more importantly... a potentially curious "civilian").

That didn't stop me from seeing folks proudly post pictures of piles of the things online.  And I tell ya what, that sucks.

But... was it unexpected?  DC Comics of late has been pretty vocal on the concept of "flooding" the market.  Not too long ago, Dan Didio mentioned something about being cautious of "market glut"... all the while announcing new pop-up vanity imprints by the week.  I saw these DC Giants as another "glut" moment.

While initially, I was able to kinda just put them aside... and realize that, as I said above, "weren't for me".  Then... I learn that these come with exclusive content... which a completionist or long-seasoned fan... well, we're gonna want it.  So, is this a case of DC eating it's cake and having it too?

Are they sincere in launching this initiative with an eye toward luring the "comics curious"?  Or, is this just another way to fleece a few extra bucks out of the existing marketplace?  I'm sure they'd love to find a new generation to keep the industry afloat for years to come... but, is this the best way to do it?

Let's look at this book at its price point.  $4.99.  For readers like us... man, that's nothin'.  We're used to paying around the same amount for books about a fifth of this size.  For us, this is a killer deal.  To the uninitiated, however... five bucks is a lot of dough to drop on a comic book.  Hell, three or four bucks is likely "too much".

I suppose what it comes down to for me, personally... is the hypocrisy of the endeavor.  These are marketed for the "new" reader... and yet, they include exclusive content to lure in the existing ones as well.  If comics twitter is anything to go by, they're being released in a slipshod manner... which is inflating their perceived value on the secondary market... and creating a strange "demand" for frantic folks who can't track 'em down.

I'm not expecting transparency from DC Comics... but, and this is just my hot-take, I don't think these are meant for "newbies".  I think DC knew what they were doing in plopping 12 pages of "exclusive content" by top-tier creators into these DC Giants.  These are for the existing fan base.  I'd love to hear that some "civilians" did give these a shot... and then did head to the comic shop...

Then again... they'd likely be completely confused as to why they've gotta head to the back-issue bin to continue many of the stories included here... and never, ever go back.

My beef with the hypocrisy often puts me at odds with our corporate overlords... unfortunately for me, though... I'm also an addict.  An addict whose invested countless hours and dollar into their product... and one who likely isn't going away anytime soon.  Annnnnnd, that's how they win.

Again, the above is juuuuuust my hot-take.  Nothing to take to seriously... 

One more thing... I found the included back-ups a bit random.  Though in fairness, I was looking at what reprints come with the other DC Giants, and they're even more baffling.  At least these all include young heroes.  It's not like shoe-horning Green Lantern into the Superman Giant.

Onto the "exclusive" story!

Who are these Teen Titans?  Or, rather... when?  We've got Tim Drake Robin (who, never existed post-Flashpoint... remember, he was Red Robin from the get-go).  A pre-Flashpoint looking Beast Boy... a New-52! era Starfire... and a post-Rebirth Raven.  Is this in continuity?  Am I an idiot for even asking?

I suppose the easy answer is... this is a take on the Teen Titans cartoon (minus Cyborg, for obvious reasons... he'll likely loom large in the Justice League of America Giant).  I suppose I can't fault 'em for going with the familiar... but, I'm still gonna struggle to "place" it.

The art (and coloring) here was pretty fantastic.  I worried that this would feel like an afterthought... and, maybe if we just go by the story, that can be argued... but, the art... man, these are some pretty pages!

The story... I dunno... it's not bad.  It's actually pretty good.  It just feels like the sort of thing you'd send in three Charleston Chew wrappers to get, ya know?  Real "boilerplate" stuff... but a neat enough introduction to the team.  This "exclusive story" which was almost certainly the biggest "draw" for the completionist... was probably the best suited for a new reader.

Overall... I mean, this is over $10 worth of comics for $4.99.  You're gonna know if it's worth it to ya.  If you're buying this just for the exclusive story... I dunno... is 12 pages worth $5 to ya?  Will these ever make it to the cheap-o bins (or any bins, for that matter)?  I'd say it's far more likely that they wind up in Walmart's baler... so, if you want'em... you might have to bite the bullet.

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