Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Teen Titans (vol.2) #15 (1998)


Teen Titans (vol.2) #15 (Early January, 1998)
"Titans: Then & Now, Part 4 of 4"
Story & Art - Dan Jurgens
Finished Art - George Perez & Larry Stucker
Colorist - Gregory Wright
Enhancement - Digital Chameleon
Letters - Richard Starkings & Comicraft/LA
Associate Editor - Dana Kurtin
Editor - Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $1.95

Let's wrap up "Titans: Then & Now"!

Adding this story arc to our "Collected Editions" Page for ease of reading... or at least, not reading it backwards!



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We pick up where we left off last issue... what I believed was each of the original Titans seeing a different head under the Omen hood was actually... Omen just cycling through a bunch of faces, before finally settling on Lilith.  Yes folks, Lilith has been Omen all along... but, c'mon, you already knew that.  She reveals a couple of things... first, that she absorbs bits and pieces of the people around her... second, that Mr. Jupiter is her father!


The original Titans aren't quite sure what to make of this... Lilith took pieces of them without their knowledge or consent.  Also, the big-bad of this story line, Haze... is her half-brother!  There's also that whole "mind-wipe" thing, but nobody mentions that yet.  Haze is annoyed that, at least for the moment, the spotlight is off of him.  I mean, he even does the "Hel-lo?" thing.


So, he then kicks things up a notch.  Tying his powers with Lilith's, he's able to give his visions "form".  He can tap into the dreams of his foes, and make them "real"... and he starts with Roy, giving him a new costume... which is basically Ollie's Grell-era outfit in red.  Ya see, Roy always dreamed of following in his mentor's footsteps.


Haze then turns his attention to Prysm, and gives her a glimpse of her family... before snapping it away in an instant.  Jupiter implores Lilith to boot Jarrod from her head, however he's too powerful to evict.


Argent arrives on the scene, juuuuuust in the nick of time to be imprisoned in a concrete dome alongside her teammates.  Thanks for comin', Toni!


Turns out these concrete domes are all in their heads, maaaaan.  Just a mindgame from Haze.  He's tickled by Wally's attempt at miming.  In the Newbie-Titan dome, they chat about having a secret weapon.


That secret weapon?  The Atom!  At this moment, Ray is being taunted by his JLA pals... and his ex-wife.  Jean calls him out for running away while their marriage was on the rocks... and, ya know... she ain't wrong.  After reducing in size to be smaller than the individual atoms of Haze's gas, he's able to regain his composure... from here, he grows!


And what he sees?  Well...


A pretty awesome sight of many of the Titans' foes to this point (minus Terra).  The Titans, Then & Now take the fight to the hard-illusion baddies.  Nightwing delivers a whopper of a kick to "Deathstroke", while commenting that Haze isn't quite up to speed on his Titans Lore... Deathstroke's vendetta is long over.  Dick sends Roy off to snag Haze.  Isaiah follows.


We shift over to a tower, where Haze unmasks... revealing his acne-riddled face.  He cries out to his father... wanting to know why he never loved him.  Jupiter hems and haws... before promising to "cure" him.  Lilith tries reasoning with her brother too.  This doesn't go all that well.  Jarrod blows her off the platform.


Roy fires a trick "line" arrow for Lilith to snag on her way down.  In the distraction, Joto cold-cocks Haze... causing the illusions to dissipate.


Haze threatens to "go nuclear"... so Roy, naturally, fires an explosive arrow at him.  That oughta fix everything, right?


Roy hops down and snags his "line".  Lilith has already grabbed Haze's limp body.  Still on the platform, however, is Mr. Jupiter.  Joto fights his way through the flames, and promises to rescue his boss.


On the ground, the Titans (Then & Now) reconnoiter.  Then... from the smoky horizon, a figure emerges.  An apologetic figure... carrying another.


It's Mr. Jupiter!  He drops to his knees, dropping the man he was carrying... Joto.  Joto has been burned beyond recognition... and is just barely conscious.


We wrap up with Joto passing away.  His last words are to the effect that he died... a Titan.


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That was a pretty good ending!  Had some interesting reveals... and suffered a loss (for now, anyway).

Something I'm not sure about is... well, what was this story supposed to be?  Was it intended as a "passing of the torch" from old to new?  If that's the case... I'm not seeing it.  This whole arc, despite being steeped in Titans lore, felt very... I dunno, non-committal?  Perhaps I'm projecting... knowing how weirdly hard-lined DC seemed to be about separating this series from the Titans franchise... while still using the name, and certain trappings.

What we basically have here is... the Newbie Titans being shown as heroic... yet inept.  Not the best look for a team trying to prove itself... or step out of the shadow of its predecessors.  For the founding Titans... it seems like this is just another day.  Even though they fought side-by-side with their successors, it didn't feel like a) they were a team, and b) that this was an endorsement or anointing.

I dunno.

What we do get is, some pretty neat action... and some wonderful art.  It was cool seeing like 99% of the Titans rogues gallery, even if they were just illusions.  Really cool seeing them flex these characters every now and again.

There was also the reveal of Lilith's parentage.  Mr. Jupiter has always been her father... which makes her early appearances feel a little bit weird, I suppose.  It's not like they implied anything salacious between the two... but, it was still kinda weird.  Either way, this paid off a long-lingering Teen Titans mystery... so, it's got that going for it.

Now, I'm a little confused by the final conflict.  Why in the world would Roy fire a heated arrow at a man threatening to "go nuclear"?  Does that make sense?  Did I misread it?  Seems not only like the wrong thing to do... but the most wrong thing to do!

Overall... a pretty satisfying ending, in the sense that it felt like an ending.  We had most of our questions answered... and are left with new worries on the horizon.  The next issue of this series is a "Then & Now Epilogue"... I suppose we could take a look at that one tomorrow, and hopefully tie a bow on this arc.

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