Thursday, November 15, 2018

New Titans #85 (1992)


New Titans #85 (April, 1992)
"Dirge"
Writer - Marv Wolfman
Pencils - Tom Grummett
Inks - Al Vey
Letters - John Costanza
Colors - Adrienne Roy
Editor - Jonathan Peterson
Cover Price: $1.75

Ya know... I was planning on just leaving Titans Hunt behind.  However, the more I thought about it... the more annoyed I became that the final part didn't give us a single bit of closure.

I mean, let's be honest... that ending was less "cliffhanger" and more "entrapment".  After investing so much time and money into an arc... having it end so flatly and without resolution... what Titans fan wasn't going to come back for #85?

Let's look at this... New Titans #71 (Part One) shipped September 18, 1990.  New Titans #84 (Part the Final) shipped January 21, 1992.  That's a whole lot of time and energy to expect a fan to dedicate to a story without giving them an ounce of closure.

Whatta greedy arc.

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We open at the Titans Graveyard, where services are being held for Jericho (and maybe Golden Eagle too, there are two coffins).  We join our solemn Titans as they discuss the finer points of whether or not Joe's spirit still existed inside his Azarathian-possessed body at the end.  I think that was made crystal clear a couple of issues back, but what do I know?  In the distance, Slade Wilson... the man who was forced to kill Joey (to save him from further corruption and/or corrupting) watches the proceedings... alone.  He approaches the casket after everyone leaves.  I always thought the casket went into the ground after everyone left... again, what do I know?


The next stop for the Titans is S.T.A.R. Labs to check on Vic.  Garfield is especially anxious to see his pal.  He is, of course, pretty shaken when he finds him.  Vic is being worked on by S.T.A.R. staff, led by his sorta-kinda squeeze Dr. Sarah Charles.  Logan looks into Vic's dead eyes, and kinda loses it for a bit!


He flips out, yelling at his fellow Titans for not believing him when he accused Jericho (the son of the Terminator, of course) of being a traitor.  Donna responds by reminding him of just how many times the Titans have been turned on by one of their own... either via wicked deception, or mind-control.  It's sobering... and one of those things that sounds absolutely ridiculous when you stop and think about it!  Gar apologizes for lashing out, though... if you ask me, the real crime is his mullet.  We also get a run-down on the Titans Hunt casualties:  

        • Joey-Dead
        • Golden Eagle-Dead
        • Aqualad-Coma
        • Raven-Missing/Presumed Dead
        • Danny Chase-Missing/Presumed Dead
        • Arella-Missing/Presumed Dead 
        • ...and of course, Vic.


Dr. Charles informs the Titans that there has been advances in Aqualad's treatment.  She guides them (sans Gar) into another area of the Labs, to show them what she means.  Looks like Garth is on-ice... sorta.  It's a super-cold liquid cryogenic thingie... to hold him over for now.  Just then, Aquaman shows up... annnnnnd, really doesn't seem all that bothered seeing his sidekick in such a state.  He also figures that Atlantis ain't gonna help him, at least at the moment.  Thanks for comin', Artie.


Back at Dick's apartment, he and Kory are watching soap operas... Kory can't stand them because the people in them are "far too unreal"... nyuk nyuk, ya get it?  Anyhoo, the program cuts away to a special news report, featuring our least-favorite "thorn in the side" Elizabeth Alderman.  She's ticked at the Titans and all that jazz.


Just then... a weird... object appears at the ruins of the Wildebeest Warehouse (where Alderman is being interviewed).  It looks... I dunno, kind of like an electrified clump of dryer lint?  It begins spinning out of control... and actually draws the Titans to it!


From it springs forth... Phantasm!  And he's holding that weird canister he picked up last issue.  He tries to make it clear from the get-go, that he is no longer "the boy"... which is to say, he ain't Danny Chase no mo.  This, naturally, doesn't stop everyone from referring to him as such.


Elsewhere, the Team Titans (who, for the moment are being called the "Teen Titans") are also watching this all go down via the news.  Upon seeing Troia, they figure this might be a great opportunity to take 'er out.


Back on the street, Phantasm starts spillin' the beans.  Danny's gone, Arella's gone... and in the best news ever, Azarath is gone!  Whoo-hoo!  Haven't felt this relieved since reading "The Last Morlock Story" in Uncanny X-Men #291(ish)!  I'd hope Azarath would stay gone at least as long as the Morlocks did... but, we all know better than that.


While the Teamsters look on (Mirage drooling over Di.. err, Nightwing), the Titans are approached by Elizabeth Alderman.  She's blibbuh blabberin' about her lawsuit, and her injunctions against them using their powers within the city limits.  Yadda yadda yadda.  Phantasm tires of her bellyaching, and ports the team away so they might continue their chat.  This of course, only makes them look guilty as hell, right?


Upon arriving... elsewhere, Dick tells the team about how everything came together.  The Wildebeest who attacked him... died, and so, Dick took his costume.  Later, Danny was attacked... and Dick-the-Beest tossed him a Nightwing Tracer as a "calling card".  This was, apparently "hidden in plain sight" during that issue... which, uh, congrats?  You got me... by dropping a hint in a scene I couldn't care less about... you slid one past the goalie, Marv!


After a little more chatter, Phantasm gets weary of dealing with the team... and so, he leaves.  However... he doesn't take that canister with him... and, just then... it opens!  Deep breaths, everybody... it's time to meet: Baby Wildebeest!


--

Well, we actually do get a bit more closure here.  It's funny, today Titans Hunt would have been an event miniseries unto itself... and this would probably be issue #12.1 or some such nonsense.

It was nice to have the opportunity to see the Titans walk that tightrope of licking their wounds and reflecting while at the same time, attempting to move forward.  It's probably an understatement to suggest that this is a very different team compared to the one that was about to celebrate their anniversary a year and a half back (in real time).

Some have changed physically... others emotionally.  Some ain't there anymore... and we have a few newbies to boot.  Even if I didn't enjoy Titans Hunt in full... there was still a good story worth being told hidden betwixt all of the exposition, tie-ins, and flashbacks.  There was definitely a plan here to upend and update the franchise... and, at the end of the day... that's exactly what they did.

I feel like this sort of thing is missing from comics these days.  I'm not talking about over-stretched arcs, because we've got those in spades.  I'm talking about actually sitting down and writing a story to facilitate and explain changes.  Nowaways, we'd just get a new #1... with an all-new team, and hopes that maybe, somewhere down the line, we'd get an explanation of how we got here.  

Let's take a look at the lettercol... it's funny, I was just chatting with my pal Tom Panarese (name drop!) about the delays Titans Hunt experienced... and he mentioned that it was so out of wack that the climax was spoiled in another book.  Sure enough, one of the letters mentions just that very thing!  Here, take a look (As always, full Lettercol below, including the cop-out response from the Editor):


Overall... I gotta say, if you read through Titans Hunt... you're going to want to read this too.  It might not rock your socks, but it does help to put a "cap" on the event.

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Letters Page:


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2 comments:

  1. I've never read Titans Hunt, but I did cover this and the next few issues on my podcast earlier this year. During this transition period between TH and Total Chaos, I thought these were, um, bad. Very bad.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Not gonna like I was stunned that I missed the Nightwing tracer in that earlier issue, it really was right there, but of course it had been year by then who'd have remembered ?

    ReplyDelete

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