New Teen Titans #20 (June, 1982)
“Dear Mom and Dad”
“A Titanic Tale of Titans’ Tomfoolery!”
Writer/Co-Creator – Marv Wolfman
Artist/Co-Creator – George Perez
Embellisher – Romeo Tanghal
Letterer – Ben Oda & John Costanza
Colorist – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.60
I’m not sure we ever discussed this here… what’s everyone’s stance on Marv and George being listed as “co-creators” here? I mean, I get that they put this team together (and created three of the members from scratch), but… I dunno. Does that mean that anyone who takes over a title… and creates a few new characters should be listed as the “creator”?
As I write this, Adam Glass is writing Teen Titans (vol.6)… and has added a handful of newbies to the roster. Should he then be listed as “creator”? I dunno… I don’t really have strong feelings either way, just one of those things that stuck out at me this morning.
Let’s get into it… and see what Kid Flash’s got cookin’ with his… personalized No. 2 pencils!
This entire issue is framed as a letter Wally is writing to his folks back in Blue Valley. This was, of course, pre-Crisis… so, he still had his loving and supportive parents… whatta concept, right? Anyhoo, after muddling over what it means to have a “normal life”, he begins with a story about Cyborg and Gar in the sewer tracking down a new baddie (and an old friend of the blog), the Disruptor! The villain seems a bit uncomfortable about having to “take out” the Titans… but does anyway.
After hearing the screams of the “disrupted” Gar, Vic rushes over and bursts through a wall to confront the ‘Ruptor. Unfortunately for him, he is easy pickin’s for disruption himself.
With Gar and Vic on the ground, the Disruptor blasts a rusted water pipe and floods the sewer… hoping to drown the two Titans. His big mistake, however, is leaving before the deed is done. Gar manages to get to his feet… shape-shifts into a lobster, and fishes Vic out of the drink.
Wally’s story shifts to discuss another recent event in Titan-town… Vic Stone’s nineteenth birthday. It’s quite the scene… though, the only non-Titan to show up is… Terry Long. Whoopy! Oh, of note… we find out that he is (allegedly) 29 years old. Donna jokes about him being “middle-aged”. Welllllll, I’m afraid we from the future have some bad news. Wally writes a bit about his feelings for Raven.
Robin is too busy fretting over the Disruptor to truly celebrate… Donna is too busy fretting over not knowing when her birthday even is, to actually celebrate. Definitely a hallmark of this era, dropping little breadcrumbs like this… Donna’s worries would eventually be paid off a year and a half later! Love it!
Later that night Wally heads to the roof to get some air. Through a pair of binoculars, he watches Donna fly in the distance… when suddenly… disrupted! She plummets into the drink below, while the Disruptor performs the fabled double-fist pump!
Wally speeds off to save his teammate… and whips up a tornado to throw at the baddie. Well, Wally gets disrupted too… he winds up blasted by his own whirlwind! Convinced he’s killed two more Titans, the Disruptor heads off to a Rolls-Royce.
Inside the car, we meet the Disruptor’s daddy… Don Rickles! Wait, no… it’s actually “Brains” Beldon, a goofball who only appeared once prior to this… some twenty years before, when he tangled with Batman. He’s dismissive of his son’s “accomplishments”, because even this jackass can tell ya, they ain’t dead til you see the body! Heck, these days… even then!
While the Beldons chat, Wally is able to pull Donna to safety. He gets a good look at the Rolls, and decides to follow it to its destination… all the way out to the Hamptons! Wally lurks outside a window of the Beldon estate, and listens in. Turns out, “Brains” is trying to earn his way into the H.I.V.E.’s “seventh seat”. In order to make this happen, he’s tasked his son with killing the Teen Titans. Hell, if he could succeed where freaking Deathstroke failed… Brains should just be given the keys to the H.I.V.E.!
Wally’s heard enough, and bursts through a wall to confront the Beldons. He kayos a bodyguard, however, gets “disrupted” by an incredulous Disruptor… after all, he would’a swore that Kid Flash was already dead! Next thing we know, Wally’s all tied up.
While he’s technically “disrupted”, that (somehow) doesn’t mean he can’t perform some super-speed feats. And so, he twiddles his fingers to send his emergency “sonic boom” toward Titans Tower. Yeah, okay. It reaches it’s destination… and boy howdy, it’s a blast!
It doesn’t take long for the Titans to react. Using Vic’s in-body computer sensor, they’re able to track the boom’s trajectory all the way into the Hamptons. You’ll never guess how they make their entrance… yup, bursting through a wall! Sure happens a lot, don’t it? The Disruptor is beside himself… after all, he “killed” at least three of these colorful home invaders!
Turns out, the Titans are no match for the Disruptor’s disruptions… and they’re taken out with relative ease. Then… well, if you’re familiar with the New Teen Titans, you probably know what’s coming next… yeah, the Disruptor gets “Ravened”.
While she’s “inside” she learns that they’re not all that different in some regards. They both certainly have “daddy issues”. Anyhoo, when she’s through with him, he’s left a blubbering mess. “Brains” knows the his H.I.V.E. aspirations just went up in Azarian smoke.
Next we come to the inspiration for Wally’s missive to his folks. After the dust settled, Michael “Disruptor” Beldon took the fall for his father. So, yeah… “Brains” remained a free man, despite being the, uh “brains” of the operation. We see a prison visit between the Beldons, where Brains calls his son a failure and embarrassment for squashing his hopes of joining the H.I.V.E. Michael says all he’s ever wanted was his father’s love.
Wally reflects on just how important it is for him to have parents who love him. Well, Wally… enjoy it while it lasts, my friend… cuz I’m ‘fraid we’ve got some bad news for you too. We wrap up with Wally deciding not to post the letter… but deliver it in person.
That’s the end of the story, but… we’re not done yet! What follows is… a bizarre little story. We meet Igor Igorigorigorivich… a mad scientist who is looking for a world to conquer. Using his super-computer, he is able to peek into Earth-Prime (that is, our Earth… sorta), where there are no superheroes to thwart his plans. All of the heroes of Earth-1 are just comic book characters there.
Meanwhile, on Earth-Prime… Marv Wolfman and George Perez are running late on their latest issue of New Teen Titans (maybe that’s why this issue came up a couple of pages short…). Anyhoo, they check in with editor, Len Wein for some ideas… however, while Len is, uh, hugging a stuffed panda… Marv and George are zapped outta sight.
They wind up on Earth-1, inside Igor’s lab. George is happy that he doesn’t have to draw something this elaborate… nyuk nyuk. The Mad Scientist asks them for information about how to beat the Teen Titans… and Marv is super-quick to spill the beans.
Before he can, however… the actual Teen Titans… burst through the wall! Marv is instantly apologetic for agreeing to sell them out. Sadly, Donna doesn’t squint in his direction and say, “Terry…?” What a missed opportunity.
Igor sics a bunch of robot stooges (literally… their names are Mo, Lar-E and Kur-Le) on the Titans. Things look dire until Marv and George discover a great big button on the wall, with the sole purpose of “roasting” the Mad Scientist.
After the Titans and the creative team “meet”, Marv and George are returned to Earth-Prime… and now, they have a story to tell!
Man, Marv and George sure didn’t mess around when it came to giving you content for your cash! This is one of those “quieter” issues, and man alive… they did not skimp on story. This would fill, at the very least, four “current year” issues.
For all that we get… is it any good? Sure was! Really enjoyed this revisit. Not only because it depicts Wally’s “real” family life, but because of just how fun and family-like the Titans team was during this time.
The Disruptor was well handled in his introduction here. Dig the idea of him targeting the Titans in order to gain his father’s approval… and even better, how tragic it is that it never comes. Heck, even after taking the fall for the old man, he’s still referred to as an embarrassment! I guess ol’ Michael Beldon will get the last laugh though, considering it’s because of him the “New Titans” era draws to a close. Gotta say, I dug the juxtaposition between Wally’s relationship with his folks and Michael’s with “Brains”, which I suppose was the entire point of the issue.
The “Who is Donna Troy?” breadcrumb was well appreciated. I really miss this method of storytelling… just little subplots bubbling in the background, waiting for the right time to boil to the surface. It makes the pay-off all the more satisfying, and it’s something that is sorely lacking nowadays.
The lead-off story… pretty great stuff. My only misgiving is, same as it ever was, the Raven-riffic climax. I feel like they go to this well a bit too often. Have the Titans “on the ropes”, only for Raven to do her empathic hoo-doo, and save the day. Ehhhh.
The back-up, was arrrrright. Silly fun, which ya need sometimes. I kinda dig that even as a silly throwaway, we can still make a case for it being canon… at least in the pre-Crisis DCU anyway. Not the only time we’ve covered DC playing around with the concept of Earth-Prime “characters” winding up in the comics… decently fun stuff.
Overall, a great soapy issue of New Teen Titans… and one well worth your time. It’s been collected a bunch, and is available digitally.