New Titans #78 (1991)

New Titans #78 (August, 1991)
“Mind Over Machine”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Pencils – Tom Grummett
Inks – Al Vey, Steve Montano & Bob Lewis
Letters – John Costanza
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Jonathan Peterson
Cover Price: $1.75

Now, I’ve seen some… unfortunate comic book covers in my time… but, eesh, this one… no bueno.

On the other hand, I guess the cat is “totally” out of the bag now… and I can stop being cagey about the reveal on social media!

We open with Jericho playing the piano.  Ya see, he’s really just a peaceful fella.  Worth noting, and it’s a wonderful little detail… the ruins of Titans Island are visible through his window.  His play-time is interrupted by one of the Wildebeests who informs him that he’s needed in the lab.  Once there, we can see that the Hunted-Titans are still there in those tubes.  So… they were never even rocketed off to begin with!  More on that in a bit.

While admiring the captives, Jericho is chatted up by our old friend Wildebeest Number Eight.  He’s a bit dubious about all of the recent changes… ya see, the Beests used to be all about stealing money and whatnot.  He even mentions that in their earliest dust-ups with the Titans… Jericho stood alongside the good guys!  He wants answers… which Joey ain’t keen on givin’.  He just vaporizes him instead.  Fine by me, I always hate a tattletale.

Then… Joe senses something… Donna Troy has returned to New York (from a sorta “second honeymoon” with T-Bag).  He sends out an astral… something or another, to check her out.  On the ride home from the airport, Donna and Terry discuss their trip, which led to an adventure in the pages of Wonder Woman (vol.2).  As they cross the bridge, they can see that Titans Tower is no more!

The cabbie tells them a bit of what went down.  Titan’s Island was attacked… half of the East Side was burned… the people hate the Titans… yadda yadda yadda.  It’s taxing my suspension of disbelief here to really believe that a major attack on New York City wasn’t global news… Donna and Terry really should have known about this.  I mean, people on their plane must’ve been talking about it, right?  Anyhoo… Donna flies over to check out the damage.  She’s pretty certain it’s the work of Deathstroke.

We rejoin the Longs a bit later at the Police Station.  They are approached by Captain Hall, who lays it all out for them.  He also informs them that professional pain-in-the-neck Elizabeth Alderman is petitioning New York City to file suit against the Titans for damages… which, gotta say, isn’t the most jerky thing she’s done.  The subject then changes to… the killings.

But first… back over to the Soviet Science City.  We get to relive the final scene of the last issue in its entirety (and then some).  We learn (again) that Cyborg was repaired by the Soviets… with Soviet technology, and that it left him an emotionless robot.  Dick wants to bring Vic back with them so the folks at S.T.A.R. Labs might take a crack at him… but are told that ain’t gonna happen.  Cyborg then “activates”.  There’s a great expenditure of three pages… that, plus the two extra inkers on this issue makes me wonder if they were pushing up against that Dreaded Deadline Doom here.

Anyhoo, from here we get several pages of fighting… Cyborg is unemotionally just pummeling the team, until Red Star pipes up to call him off.  Leonid then suggests that Cyborg be able to return to the United States… so long as he can accompany him.  After a bit of wheeling and dealing, it looks like we got us a new New Titan!

On the flight home, Nightwing deduces that Vic was the only Titan to actually be rocketed off.  The others were simply “view screen” simulacrums.  He thinks about everything Pantha said about the Beests being big on bio-experiments… which, would make Victor Stone rather useless to them.  The only reason for the subterfuge was to send the good guys on a trip to the U.S.S.R. to keep them out of Jericho’s buttered-popcorn hair.  Deathstroke almost seems (privately) proud that his boy was so shrewd in his planning.

Back in the States we rejoin the Longs.  They’re checking out Vic’s apartment, and comment that it’s been trashed… just like Dick’s and Kory’s (I guess it’s “Kory” with a “Y” this month).  Terry gives Donna the idea to call in the Justice League or Superman… which… okay, suspension of disbelief time (again).  Half of New York City’s East Side has been burninated along with Titans Tower… and the gee-dee Justice League hasn’t checked in yet?!  Ya kiddin’ me?  Oh, also… Jericho’s astral-whateverthehell is observing this exchange.

Donna tries using her Titans Communicator (about damn time) and manages to get a hold of Nightwing.  They’re happy to find out that some of their pals are still alive.  At this point, Jericho’s astral-whateverthehell returns to his body.

Joey reports what he’d found to his Beests… and mentions that Donna looks different than he remembers.  Has he really not seen her since she got the bad haircut?  Anyhoo… he commands the Beests to eliminate as many Titans as possible… except for Nightwing.  Joey needs Dick alive.

Back at Vic’s, Pantha pops her head into the window to… antagonize the Longs.  When Donna reacts in kind, Pantha’s all “hey, hey, hey… we’re on the same side”.  Ya figure if you’re going to approach a “god”, you might wanna lead with that… and not an insult.

They fight for a bit before Nightwing and the rest show up to straighten things out.  Really just feels like another waste of a page.  Donna is shocked to see Slade standing alongside Dick… and after a tearful reunion, Terry Long comes out of the closet.

Dick fills Donna in on their betrayal by Jericho… and is still open to the possibility that Joey’s been possessed.  Before the conversation gets too deep… the Beests attack!  Outside, Steve Dayton and Arella notice the Wildebeest Hover Craft thingie… if only they used their Titans communicator to tip off the rest of the gang.

During the brouhaha, a white light fills the apartment… and Donna gets nyoinked into War of the Gods (poor thing).  Guess we gotta take the “god-level” hero off the table for this story to remain effective.

Then… we’re suddenly back at Wildebeest Headquarters… and Dick has already been taken captive?!  What happened to the rest of the Titans?  Why didn’t we get a fight scene at Vic’s place?  Oh well.  Jericho brings Nightwing over to his teammates and tells him the “transference” is about to begin.

Alrighty… if you made it through the spoilery synopsis above, you’re probably going to have already figured out my main “takeaway” from this issue… Suspension of Disbelief.

Let’s break this down.  A society of costumed terrorists blew up a building in Manhattan which caused a large portion of the East Side to burn.

Still with me?

And yet… the Justice League (who are also in Manhattan) hasn’t thought to check in?  Nobody is talking about the fact that New York City was burning despite it being all over the news?  Maybe I’m just spoiled by our twenty-first century “always-on” internet… and overwhelming amount of information we get bombarded with, but… I mean, this really should be a bigger deal, right?

I get why they portrayed Donna (and Terry) as being “in the dark” about everything… it facilitates tension and emotion.  But, I dunno… this really taxes my suspension of disbelief… almost to the point where I lose track of the story itself.

The scene at the Soviet Science City… was redundant.  I mean, last issue’s cliffhanger was Victor getting ready to attack the Titans… here, we get an extra couple of pages before… Victor gets ready to attack the Titans.  Why?  It’s not like every issue of Titans Hunt is opening with a great-big recap… we’re kinda just expected to follow along.  Not sure why the Vic reveal needed to be retold.

What’s more… those three pages of exposition in the U.S.S.R. might’ve been better served as three pages of fighting in Vic’s apartment toward the end of the issue!  We go from Wildebeest’s attacking… to Nightwing standing next to Jericho.  I’d almost guess we would’ve gotten zero pages of fighting, if it weren’t for the War of the Gods cut-in to whisk Donna away.

At this point we’re eight issues into the Titans Hunt arc… and it’s all becoming rather “piecey” and redundant to me.  I’ve said it before, but it’s been ages since I last read this.  Not really sure how I felt my first (or latest) time through.  I’d say hopefully we’ll be able to bring it back around… but, Marv and Co. are getting ready to take a little break from the arc.  They’re just about to introduce the Team Titans (issue #80)… and pop over to War of the GodzzzZZZzzzzZzzzZz (issue #81).  Seems like really lousy timing.

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