New Teen Titans #37 (December, 1983)
“Light’s Out, Everyone!”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Layouts – George Perez
Embellisher – Romeo Tanghal
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Letters – John Costanza
Co-Plotter – Mike W. Barr
Cover Price: $0.75
I can’t believe it’s been over two-years since our “Life and Times of Tara Markov” series. Feels like… well, a while ago, sure… but, two years plus?! Dang.
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Back in 2016, I’d left this Titans/Outsiders crossover out of that… as it didn’t seem to be as Terra-centric as the other issues I’d chosen to cover. Though, it is important for her, and the revelation that she and Geo-Force are family… I just didn’t think it was Terra-as-Judas focused as the others.
We’re going to begin rectifying that… right now!
We open with a shot of Fearsome Five member, Gizmo zipping over to Tri-State Penitentiary, where some of his teammates are currently being held. Inside, Shimmer is being attended to by a prison guard. She is being bombarded by a stasis beam which keeps her from using her transmutation powers and escaping… that is, of course, until Gizmo tinkers with security system. From here, we hop to the men’s side of the clink, and find Shimmer’s brother, Mammoth punchin’ through a wall. Easy peasy.
As he goes to leave, he runs into the leader (soon to be former leader) of the Fearsome Five… Dr. Light! Artie begs to be let out, and after being made an offer he couldn’t refuse, Mammoth decides to set him free.
Outside, the guards and officers stand by, stiff as statues… how can this be? Well, enter: Psimon. Dr. Light tries to pull rank, referring to himself as the leader of the Fearsome Five… and gets put in his place rather quickly. It’s like I always say, if you constantly have to remind people you’re the one in charge, you’re probably not.
The Five head over to their New Jersey digs, and get cleaned up. Shimmer flips through the newspaper, and happens across a photo of Dr. Jace, who she recognizes from her (and Mammoth’s) childhood in Australia. Ya see, Jace’s studies have to do with infusing super-powers into ordinary folks (like we’d seen with the Markovs). Psimon suggests that if Jace were to strengthen the Fearsome Five’s already present powers, they’d be unstoppable! Gotta say, probably not the worst plan I’d ever heard.
From here, Marv reminds us that the book we’re reading isn’t called “The New Fearsome Five”, and shifts the story over to Titans Tower. New member, Terra has been given the “thumbs up”, and for the most part, everyone seems to dig having her around. She begins pressuring the team to give up their secrets, which… isn’t the smoothest way to convince people you’re trustworthy. Donna hems and haws, and then… Terra’s wrist-communicator thingie starts to go off. She chooses not to fill the Titans in on what this means.
We gentle readers, however, will soon learn that beeping is her Dr. Jace alarm. No kidding. She runs off, fearful that Jace could spill the beans about how she came to have her powers to the Titans… which would somehow make them realize she’s a double-agent. That’s quite the leap of logic, but as a paranoid goofball myself, I’ll allow it.
And so, Terra heads in the direction of her wrist-alarm… which leads her right into battle with the Outsiders!
Lucky for her, the Titans decided to follow along… which quickly evens up the odds. I’d have sworn the Titans were a known entity by this point, and the Outsiders might recognize them and perhaps not be all that keen on fighting them… but, whattayagonnado, it’s comics.
The skirmish continues for a little while, until the arrival of… Geo-Force. It’s revealed here that Brion and Tara are brother and sister… and that Tara received her Earthy powers a year before Brion did.
With all the confusion now behind us, we find out that the Outsiders and Terra have the same goal… finding Dr. Jace. They enter a nearby building, which Jace had been working out of… and see that her laboratory door has been transmuted into lead. Hmm…
Donna suggests they all settle their tea kettles until they meet with their respective team-leaders. Speaking of whom… we pop over to stately Wayne Manor, where Bruce and Dick are having a rather contentious conversation. Dick suggests they end their professional relationship, as their concepts of justice have diverged quite far apart at this point. Bruce… seems hurt by this, and worries that Dick might want to end their friendship as well. Worth noting, Jason Todd (pre-Crisis, redhead) asks if he can be the next Robin here.
We rejoin the Fearsome (don’t call ’em Fatal) Five… and, whattaya know, they’ve got Dr. Jace in their clutches. Psimon mentally tortures her because he wants to know the “results of her investigations”… I thought he just wanted her to amp up his powers? Oh well. She doesn’t wanna help… but, eventually comes around. That just goes to show… you can never trust a Manhunter.
We shift next to Titans Tower, where the Titans and Outsiders plan their strategy. It’s… interesting, Batman keeps trying to needle Robin about his methods… seems the big guy might be a bit distracted (and maybe just a bit butt-hurt) here.
The discussion is interrupted by a video-call from Captain Hall. Batman immediately waves him off, however, Robin asks him to speak. It’s going to be like this the whole time, innit? Anyhoo, Hall tells of a break in at Bio-Tron Labs, where all of the steel doors had been transmuted into paper… which is kinda Shimmer’s thing. Also, mud-men… which is kinda Jace’s Earthy thing.
The heroes head over to take a closer look at the mud-men. Raven takes the lead and attempts to empathically “link” to one of them. She is able to see (and project) the Fearsome Five and Dr. Jace in the mud-man’s memories. Worth noting, Jace does appear to be an unwilling accomplice. Also worth noting, Terra doesn’t seem to recognize her… but plays along like she does.
Raven then leads the heroes downtown to a dilapidated Bar at the Bowery. Inside they meet an Archie Bunker lookalike who tells them about a strange man who came in… and took all of the patrons when he left. Batman and Robin do a bit of Tec work, and find a trace of Tetryl… Dick links it to Psimon, who had been a physicist before having a window for a head.
Kory recalls reading that Psimon (as a civvie) had worked in a lab on a tiny island off Gotham City… and so, that’s our next stop. Wouldn’tcha know it, she was right! The Fearsome Five have collected a new bunch of geeks for Dr. Jace to “enhance”. Just as the normies enter the change-chamber, the Titans and Outsiders burst through a nearby wall! Man, if I had a dime for every wall the Titans have ever burst through…!
Naturally, a fight breaks out. Raven heads off to procure Dr. Jace… leaving the heroes to fight the Five, and a new gaggle of mud-men. When all hope looks to be gone for the baddies, Psimon flips a switch… and sinks the tiny island into Gotham Bay!
I know I’m like a broken record sometimes… a lot of the times… all of the times (bound to happen doing this every day), but man… they did not skimp on story back in the 80’s! Had this crossover happened today, it would occupy at least six issues.
Now for me… the strongest part of this issue was that half-page discussion between Bruce and Dick. You know me though, I’m a big-time sucker for Bat-Family dysfunction. Thought that scene was very telling… we can see that Bruce and Dick have very different views on their partnership/relationship.
Dick seems like he can view his feelings for Bruce on both a professional and personal level. Removing one does not necessarily negate the other. They can still be pals in the “real world”, they’re just not going to go on patrols anymore. Bruce doesn’t seem to have this ability, and takes this suggested separation personally. His initial reply has to do with dissolving their friendship!
Just thought that was interesting/telling. Later scenes depicting Batman trying to undercut/question Robin’s authority really illustrates how close to heart he’s taking this professional “divorce”. Taking a step back, I thought Jason Todd suggesting he become the next Robin cool to see… I’m not sure I noticed/paid much mind to that during earlier reads.
Terra gets a bit of a spotlight here… but, certainly isn’t the focus. She’s still digging for information from the Titans… and is pretty obvious about it at this point. You’d almost figure the Titans for fools… but, they’re just being played up as naive for believing only the best of people.
Terra reuniting with her brother Geo-Force was cool. I’d like to think this would only cement people’s thoughts that she’d eventually “come around” and become a hero. Though Geo-Force wasn’t exactly a tenured character at this point, it still links her to another super-team.
The Fearsome Five… ehh… I’ve never really been all that big on them, though I will say this was a pretty good showing for them. Dr. Jace is another character that always bored me… plus, every time I type her name I get the Wheeled Warriors theme playing in my head.
Overall… this was a good time. Great Bat-Family dysfunction, which, if you ask me… is worth the price of admission all on its own. Luckily, everything else is quite well done as well. Perez/Tanghal’s take on the Outsiders was super! This issue/crossover has been collected six ways to Sunday… it is also available digitally.