New Teen Titans (vol.2) #21 (1986)

New Teen Titans (vol.2) #21 (June, 1986)
“On Top of the World”
Writer/Editor – Marv Wolfman
Pencils – Eduardo Barreto
Inks – Romeo Tanghal & Pablo Marcos
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Cover Price: $1.50

Now, this is the issue I wanted to discuss yesterday… but realized we really needed to “set the table” before tackling it.  A few big things happen in this issue… the Titans’ reputation takes a hit, Roy meets his daughter, and perhaps most tragically… Terry Long gets fired!

Let’s get right to it!

We pick up right where we left off yesterday… Cheshire is both threatening to kill Roy, and informing him that he’s the father of her baby.  Before she can pull the trigger, Robin swoops in for the distraction.  There’s a brief tussle, which Cheshire gets the better of… however, she realizes that she just can’t go through with killing Speedy.  She tells him that she spared his life… so, he may as well git while the gittin’ is good.  If they cross paths again, things will be different.

Meanwhile, on the Matterhorn, the Titans are fighting with Cheshire’s goons.  Wonder Girl looks on in horror as Hawk just throws one of the baddies off the mountain!  She thinks to herself that he’s a “cold-blooded murderer” as she leaps after the falling man.  Dunno… can you really call someone who is in the middle of a battle to the death, a “cold-blooded murderer”?  I mean, Cheshire’s goons probably wouldn’t have any problem if a Titan just happened to die in the skirmish, right?

By now, Cheshire has made it outside, and is stood before the, uh… cabin… where the peace talks are currently underway.  Roy, it turns out, did not heed her earlier warning… and is hot on her tail.  She reiterates… informing him that he is “forcing her to kill him”.  Meanwhile, Wonder Girl is still falling… remember, she cannot fly, only glide on air currents.  She manages to nab the fallin’ fella, and use her lasso to momentarily halt their fall.

Back up top, Cheshire pleads with Roy to take a step back.  She warns that nothing he sees is really what it seems, as she tosses a grenade inside the Peace Summit Cabin.  Roy fires an arrow into her right shoulder, and she responds with a swipe of her venomous claws.

She makes a hasty retreat just as Hawk makes his way over.  Seeing the shape his teammate is in, he does not pursue the departing assassin.  Inside the cabin, Garth grabbed the grenade and gave it one helluva toss.  Roy ain’t worried though… everything is starting to make sense to him.  He realizes that the grenade likely isn’t “live” and also that the venom Cheshire used on his face probably won’t kill him.  This… was a set-up!

As Donna and the goon safely make their way down the mountain, the “boss man”, King Faraday, finally pipes up to the boys.  Ya see, this wasn’t exactly a government mission.  Faraday and the SIA took it upon themselves to get involved.  Part of the peace talk “deal” was that neither side (U.S.A./U.S.S.R.) would bring “back-up”… just the Ambassadors and their translators were to be present.  This would be a way to build trust between the superpowers.  With the Titans showing up… well, that isn’t really a good look for the United States, now is it?  Cheshire’s “assassination attempt” was just a ruse to discredit the Teen Titans.

Down below, Wally has decided to leave the hotel and join his fellow Titans.  Along the way, he passes Cheshire… who is still trying to yank that arrow out of her shoulder.  Wally refuses to give her a hand, and is then attacked by… the Church of Brother Blood?!

With Flash kayoed, the Bloodites help Cheshire with her wound and thank her for her aid before they all leave together.  Moments later, the Titans reconnoiter… and it looks as though the damage is already done.  We see various news reports placing the blame for the peace talks falling through squarely at the feet of the Titans.  Whoops.

As the Titans head home, with their heads hung low… we pop over to Zandia… where the Church of Brother Blood is doing their thing.  We see Lilith’s old squeeze Azrael (not that Azrael) as he is being prepared to resurrect the dead.  We move in deeper to find Raven and her mother held captive in the dungeon.

We next see the arrival of several converts to the Church… including an incognito Dick Grayson!  He’s gone so far as to wear a fake beard and a “heart-dampener” to change the rhythm of his heart… buuuut, the Bloodites see through it anyway.  He’s allowed entry… seems like they might just want him there.

Back at Titans Tower, the team licks their wounds.  The Island is surrounded by an anti-Titans mob, waving signs and what-not.  Jeez, you extend the Cold War just one time… Anyhoo, Donna tries calling Terry at a Certain New York University… but doesn’t get an answer.  This is because… he’s currently in the Dean’s office… gettin’ canned!

In order for Terry to keep his position, he had to be published.  Despite several extensions on his deadline… he’s still got bupkis!  So, he’s given the boot.  As he walks off campus, he’s cat-called by several young co-eds… which tells me this might be a college for the blind?  Anyhoo, he thinks to himself that this is all Donna’s fault… after all, she was supposed to help him write his papers.  Donna arrives as a Certain New York University just as Terry leaves.

Terry’s (now former) secretary fills Donna in on what just went down… and she freaks out… and, get this, blames herself!  Silliness.  Anyhoo, she rushes home to comfort her man… only to find the apartment empty!  Terry Long has flown the coop!

Speaking of flying… Roy Harper wings it to Hong Kong for a visit with Cheshire.  After a bit of awkwardness, she allows him to meet his daughter, Lian.

Back in Zandia, Dick Grayson fights his way to the dungeons of Brother Blood.  Seems like it’s going almost too easily… and there’s a reason for that.  He finds Raven… and is shocked by how she currently looks.  We don’t get a good look at her, though.  Mother Mayhem is pleased that things are going according to plan… and asks that nitwit TV Reporter Bethany Snow be updated.

Three days later, we rejoin Donna.  Terry Long is still missing in action… or missing in inaction, I suppose.  Well, not no more.  He’s returned home and he’s full of apologies.  He says he went up to Cape Cod to clear his head, and came to the conclusion that his termination is his own damned fault.

We wrap up with Terry taking full responsibility for his inaction, and asking for Donna’s forgiveness… which she gives.  I dunno, I’d probably be asking a question or two about his stay in Cape Cod… I doubt he was searchin’ for his lost shaker of salt.

Boy-o-boy, you sure got a lotta bang for your buck (fiddy) back in the day, didn’tcha?  I mean, this is like three completely different issues in one!  We get the Matterhorn stuff, the Brother Blood bits, and the Terry tragedy.  Really interesting, and well-done, package!

I’m not even sure where to start!

Okay, I always know where to start… Terry Long.  When I reflect on the Titans, and Terry’s “affiliation” with them, I usually conflate him losing his job with the souring of his relationship with Donna.  For whatever reason, I remember his blaming her to be a much longer-lived issue.  It was sort of surprising that, now that I’m “paying attention”, it didn’t even last half an issue!  I wanna say it comes up again from time to time, but that might just be my confirmation bias speaking.

Now, I tell ya what… if I lost my job, and then took a three day vacation to reflect without telling the wife… I’m guessing she’d be more likely to let me have it for skipping town than losing the gig.  I don’t think she’d be overjoyed upon my return… and, really… I wouldn’t blame her!  Terry losing his job is one thing… that just happens!  Sometimes you’re to blame, other times, you’re not.  It’s just part of life.  But to take off to Cape Cod for three days?  That’s just ridiculous.

Over to Roy… it was pretty neat getting to witness his first meeting with his daughter.  I really appreciated Jade’s struggle as well.  She blames Roy for using her while undercover… taking advantage of her, and never really having “true” feelings for her.  Of course, that’s not entirely true.  She wants him dead… and honestly, had him at her mercy more than once in Switzerland… but, just couldn’t do it.  Just couldn’t deprive Lian of her father.  Good stuff!

The Brother Blood stuff… ya know, once we’re “inside” the compound… they do very little for me.  The church isn’t as boring as the H.I.V.E., but still, I can’t get all that excited for them.  What I did love was how they discredited the Titans.  I thought that was pretty fantastic.  What better way to weaken an enemy than by affecting how they are perceived by the public?  Hell, maybe Mother Mayhem ought to consider running for public office, she’s got all the right tools for it!

Overall… really good (and super dense) issue.  I wouldn’t recommend starting with this one… but, if you’re already strapped in for a New Teen Titans read-through, I’d bet that you’ll really enjoy this chapter!

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