New Titans #73 (1991)

New Titans #73 (February, 1991)
“Paradise Lost”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Pencils – Tom Grummett
Inks – Al Vey
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Jonathan Peterson
Cover Price: $1.75

Ya know, Titans Hunt was originally going to be my first long-form discussion on this blog.  Indeed, we discussed the first part back on February 10, 2016.  That’s nearly three years ago!  Hell, we didn’t even get to the second chapter until June of this year!

At this rate, we’ll still be discussing this arc in 2027!

Or not… let’s take another bite outta the Titans Hunt.

We open on the blood-soaked scene of a ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming (which I’m surprised to learn is an actual place you can visit… in fact, they’re kinda counting on it!  If you’re a fan of large animals and snow, book your flight today).  Anyhoo, yeah… it’s an absolute massacre… and there looks to be only one survivor, Raven’s mother Arella.  The words “Paradise Lost” (heyyy, that’s the name of the issue!) are scrawled on the wall… probably in blood.

We shift scenes to the Ocean Hospital out in Port Jeff.  Slade and Dayton are rushing Aqualad in for some treatment (after the events of last issue).  Golden Eagle is confirmed dead.  The doctor’s aren’t quite sure how to deal with Garth… but in fairness, Slade nor Dayton thought it might be wise to lead with “oh yeah, he’s an Atlantean.”

The fellas leave Garth in the hands of the Docs (and some incoming S.T.A.R. Labs technicians) and head back to the Tower to follow up on their research from last chapter… remember, Arella was on the top of their list of folks to meet with and warn.  Before heading to Jackson Hole, Dayton calls all of Vic’s friends and loved ones, and warns them to stay outta sight for a bit.

Deathstroke decides to take the T-Jet out to Wyoming himself… and, naturally, he finds himself arriving in a scene out of a horror movie.  He searches the area, until finally coming across Arella.

Meanwhile in Chinatown, a pair of Wildebeests (#’s 8 and 14) are getting ready to return to headquarters.  Just before they can, however, they receive their next mission orders… they’re to visit with… er, eliminate a young man named Danny Chase down in the Washington, D.C. area.  The goons hop a bike and heads south.  Little do they know that they’re being watched by… maybe Catwoman?  No, it’s absolutely not her… I’m sorry for saying anything, please don’t get your hopes up.

Back in Jackson Hole, Arella tells Slade a boring story about Azarath (aren’t they all?).  After that she talks about how her place in Wyoming was meant to be a sanctuary of sorts for troubled people… and blames herself for luring them to a place where Trigon the Terrible might lash out.  Slade assures her that this has nothing to do with Trigon… and none of what happened is her fault.  They leave the scene together.

Next stop a Washington D.C. area mall where Cousin Oliver… er, Bobby Budnick… uh, Danny Chase, who is using his TK powers to neutralize a trio of goofy would be jewelry thieves.  He even forces them to fight one another and bow to the “audience”.

Just then, he’s attacked by… Zeke the Plumber those Wildebeests!  With a snap of his fingers, Danny has them floating through the air.  It looks like he has everything under control… so much so, that our feline follower decides not to intervene.

Just then, one of the ‘Beests breaks into a sporting goods store and uses an automatic pitching machine to pelt Danny with baseballs (I, uh, don’t think they keep them loaded in the store… but we’ll allow it, because… I guess I really like seeing Danny Chase getting pelted with baseballs).

The other ‘Beest lets it slip that the Society has killed the rest of the Titans… which really sets our boy off!  It’s awful-waffle time!  He glows a brilliant white… and just goes ape!

Well, until the Wildebeests return fire… sending Danny crashing through a window.  They follow this up with a grenade… which sends our poor boy a long way from Camp Anawanna.

At that moment, Slade and Arella arrive on the scene.  Worth noting that the latter has changed into a more “comics appropriate” and gaudy get-up.  They beat on the ‘Beests until the shocking arrival (if you didn’t look at the cover) of… Phantasm!  This scares the bejeezus out of the ‘beests and they hot-foot it back to HQ.  Phantasm vanishes just as quickly as it arrives.

Later, we rejoin Arella, Slade and Dayton back at Titans Tower.  They discuss the events of the day… and what a day it was!  Deathstroke isn’t sure what Phantasm is… or even if it’s on their side (though, c’mon… it sure looked like it was).  Also, that not-Catwoman is still lurking… oh, and #’s 8 and 14 are heading back to Wildebeest World Headquarters.

We wrap up… kinda anticlimactically.  The Wildebeests return to HQ, and say they’re going to tell Council what just happened.  Alrighty then.

Another strong chapter of Titans Hunt.

It’s funny, every time I reread this arc, I’m kind of surprised at how it sort of defies “normal” comic story pacing.  It doesn’t really read like a self-contained work, does it?  Coming out of the early 1990’s, this almost feels like a story that should be stretched across a family of titles… think any number of X-Family crossovers.

I say this because… while this was a strong installment, it still kind of feels like we’re not quite getting anywhere.  You follow?  This is the third chapter (and fourth month) of Titans Hunt, and we’re still “assembling the forces”, and it looks like we’re not even done yet.  I mean, it works… and reads well today… but, since I was on the X-Men side of the racks back in ye old 1991, I gotta wonder how this slower (to me) pace was received by folks grabbing this off the racks as it came out.  Hopefully someone out there can drop some knowledge.

So, whatta we got here?  Well, for starters… we’ve got Arella’s ranch turned into an absolute bloodbath!  These Wildebeests, despite looking goofier than hell and having an equally silly name, really mean business.  They aren’t out to just annoy the Titans… they really want to leave their mark on ’em.  They want to make wiping them off the planet as painful an experience as possible.  And folks, we’re just getting started.

The Danny Chase scene was… tolerable!  He’s usually one of them knee-jerk characters (see also: Long, Terrence Arthur), where I just sorta groan when I see him.  Here though?  Not a bad little showing.  What’s more… he dies!

Speaking of Danny Chase dying… Phantasm shows up!  Come to think of it, that did seem to happen at exactly the same time.  Hmm… couldn’t be a connection there… nahhh.  I’m sure one has nothing to do with the other.

We also get the first (shadowy) appearance of… Pantha!  Ooh boy.  We’ll officially meet her soon enough so don’t worry none.  Or, better yet, maybe worry a bit.

Overall, reading this nearing on thirty years later, it’s really quite good!  I can’t help but wonder how readers of the day felt.  This kind of pacing feels out of place in a monthly title… especially back in 1991, where across the street at Marvel it’s likely that these three chapters would have been spread across three different titles and all would’ve come out during the same month.

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