New Titans #76 (1991)

New Titans #76 (June, 1991)
“Tower of the Damned!”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Pencils – Tom Grummett
Inks – Al Vey
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Jonathan Peterson
Cover Price: $1.75

As we can see from the cover… today, the walls come tumblin’ down.  Hmm… Walls… of Jericho?!

Picking up right where we left off… a Titan-carrying rocket just exploded… and our newly-revealed “big bad” Jericho has taken control over Pantha’s body.  A fight is on… and Pantha-Jericho lunges right for the odd variable he wasn’t planning on… the appearance of the Phantasm!  He swats the mask of Phanto’s face, revealing… nothing!  Hey, whodathunkit… the limbless, floating sheet-man doesn’t have a face!

Slade tries to talk his son off the homicidal precipice… which, doesn’t go all that well.  Jericho lashes out at his father, and insists that he became a killer, just like Deathstroke!  He really starts letting loose with these energy powers… which I can’t recall if he’d ever exhibited before.

As the Wildebeest Compound starts coming down around them, Phantasm protects the “good guys” in a clear bubble.  A few moments later, Jericho vanishes from sight.

The “Titans” (I guess we can call them the Titans… for now) rush out of the joint, with Phantasm swooping in to save Pantha from falling debris on at least one occasion.  They bail out just in the nick of time.

Once the dust settles, Phantasm takes his leave.  He assures the Titans that he’ll be back when he’s needed.  Elsewhere, Jericho is addressed by our old friend (and tattletale), Wildebeest Number Eight.  Joey’s only real concern seems to be that X-24 escaped with Titans… because, she knows too much.

We shift scenes over to the U.S.S.R.  I had to check to make sure there still was a U.S.S.R. back in 1991… turns out, there was!  Anyhoo, there are choppers in the sky… approaching some fallen debris.  Looks like this is where that rocket went down.  A man in shadows addresses a pilot.  Hey, don’t the Titans have an associate from out this way?  Hmm…

Back at Titans Tower… the good guys argue.  Like, a lot.  Pantha is still pulling the “I work alone” gimmick… and, gotta say folks, it’s getting a bit old.  She uses her claws to cut a hole in a window, and attempts to escape.  Nightwing stops her with a convenient lasso.  Nearby, Phantasm looms.

After pulling her back inside, Deathstroke proceeds to swing her over his head by her tail.  Yeesh.  He then pins her down and tells her if she don’t quit squirmin’, that he’ll break her back.  This (and some sleep powder?) gets her to settle her tea kettle.  Dick asks Slade if he’d really have snapped her like a twig.  C’mon Dick, Deathstroke don’t play.

When Pantha comes to, she finds herself bound to a wall.  I didn’t even realize Titans Tower came equipped with such kinky apparatus?  At this point, Pantha stops droning on about “working alone” and instead threatens to kill everybody.  Fair enough.

Moments pass… and suddenly, Titans Tower is under attack!  Wildebeests are being lowered onto the roof via some strange flying craft.  Upon hearing the stomping above, the good guys start heading down to the sub-basement to escape in the T-Sub.  Dick lives up to his name by… leaving Pantha behind?  Yikes.

Lucky for her, Phantasm lives up to his word… he’ll always be where he’s needed.  He frees her from her shackles… after which, she threatens to kill him.  Same as it ever was.

The Wildebeests gain entry to the Tower with ease.  Ya see, they just used Jericho’s old passcode… it’s not like the Titans would, I dunno, change it or anything.  They’re each equipped with a few wonky looking glass orbs… and they spread out to scatter ’em.  Oh, they’re totally explosives, by the way… just want to make that clear.

It’s not long before a fight is on!  Oddly, when the Titans appear to have the upper-hand, the Wildebeests… disintegrate!

We briefly shift scenes over to Jericho… where it’s revealed that this raid on Titans Tower is little more than a suicide mission.  Joey ain’t planning on any of these Beests ever making it out alive.

When the Titans realize what’s going on… they make a mad dash to the T-Jet.  But… did they make it in time?!

Alright, we’re just chuggin’ along here!  Another very strong chapter of Titans Hunt.

I’ve talked a time or two about this story’s pacing.  I suggested that perhaps it was moving too slow to follow in its original “monthly” format.  I’ve had a handful of folks who were in the “Titans trenches” back in 1991, and they assure me that there was no problem with the pacing.

Looking at this issue… and realizing that it came out two months after the previous one… I really don’t know how I would have received this.  This isn’t even the first Titans Hunt delay!  They missed a month after the first chapter as well.  Jumping ahead a few issues, we already know that New Titans #80 interrupts the flow of the Hunt with an issue dedicated to introducing the Team Titans.  So, there are three hiccups (plus: I wanna say there’s a War of the Gods tie-in smushed in at some point too).  I’m willing to take folks word that this didn’t really hurt the story… but, I’m not convinced I’d’ve felt the same way back in the long ago.

Then again… I’m currently reading Doomsday Clock as it comes out, so what do I know?!

Okay okay… with that out of the way, how was the issue?  Well… it was good!  A creative way of getting us from A to B… both the Beests and the Titans lose their headquarters here, which really ups the stakes on the Hunt.

Jericho is depicted as even more psychotic than his dear old dad… sending his loyal followers on a suicide mission without as much as a second thought, just to carry out his plan.  Pretty wild stuff, and kind of a crossing of the Rubicon for him.  It’d be really tough to walk this one back.

It’s really too bad.  I’ll concede that I had trouble “getting” Jericho when I read this through as a younger fella.  I think I was probably thrown off by his horrid costume and overall look.  He’s just not pleasant to look at.  However, in getting to know him better via subsequent re-reads, I’ve come to appreciate him… and feel like he not only belongs with the Titans, but… in a way, he kind of became the heart of the team.

Overall… this story becomes more heartbreaking with each chapter.  This really is “must-reading” for any fans of the Titans.

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