Tales of the Teen Titans #59 (November, 1985)
“Where Nightmares Begin!”
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Pencils – George Perez & Carmine Infantino
Inks – Dick Giordano & Romeo Tanghal
Letters – Ben Oda
Colors – Adrienne Roy
Editor – Len Wein
Cover Price: $0.75
Hey Gang! Welcome to this most special day… for today, we are celebrating our Three Year Bloggiversary!!! (with three exclamation points). That’s right… three full years of Daily Discussions and Reviews (including a Leap Year!).
I wracked my brain thinking about a book that would “fit” for today’s milestone entry… and my mind wandered back to the very start. I had mentioned way back in the long ago (and more recently during an episode of the Chris-Show), that I had this sorta ritual/routine (whichever word sounds less demented) wherein every New Year’s Day I would attempt to start a new blog.
Every year it would be a different comics theme… and I’d come out the gates full of P&V… until losing complete and total interest by around midday. Well, the year we started this journey (2016), that “theme” was going to be the New Teen Titans.
So, I sez ta myself… self; what better book to act as our last regular Discussion and Review here (more on that below), than the one that (if the bloggy-stars aligned differently) would have been the first!
We open with Robin stood before S.T.A.R. Labs being filled in by a couple of police officers about a terrorist stand-off going on inside. They’re threatening to detonate a bomb if their demands aren’t met… and so, Robin goes to rush on inside… only, he’s overcome with a most strange sensation. He suddenly finds himself stirred back to “reality” by Wonder Girl… and he’s now stood before the… never before seen – Titans Tower! He doesn’t have a clue what’s going on… and I’d wager most of the folks reading this at the time felt the same way!
They head inside, where Dick is reunited with Beast Boy (now going by Changeling) and introduced to a couple of brand-new faces: Starfire and Cyborg! Dick hasn’t ever seen these people before… but they definitely know him.
Wally speeds on to the scene a moment later, and Robin’s just happy to see another familiar face. Everybody looks at Dick like he’s got three-heads… because he really shouldn’t be this confused. After all, they’re teammates!
Finally, Raven arrives. This is another brand-new face to both Dick and the original readers of DC Comics Presents #26 (where this story first appeared as a “Bonus Book”).
She comes with the dire news that a certain scientist managed to open a portal into another universe. Now, if you think that sounds like a really bad idea… you’re right. From this portal oozes a gelatinous beast that overcomes the scientist.
The Titans (?) decide to hop-to and see if they can’t topple this terror. Gar attempts to rally the troops by doing a little Titans-Rah-Rah. The best he can come up with is… “Titans–Let ‘er Rip!”, which I’m sad didn’t catch on.
The team heads out, and finds the Flan-Beast atop a high-rise building. Raven sends her soul-self into the monster… and finds herself immediately separated from it. Even in her first appearance, Raven was so over-powered that she had to be kayoed within the first couple of beats of battle! Worth noting that Wally is particularly protective of Raven… which is neat, considering their upcoming arc.
The rest of the Titans try and take the fight to the Pudding-Horror, however, all of their offense proves to be ineffective. Then… Robin “wakes up”. He’s back outside S.T.A.R. Labs, where one of the Police Officers informs him that he had to shove him down out of the way of a terrorist bullet!
Robin shakes off the weirdness, and decides to attempt to infiltrate S.T.A.R. Labs via his “rocket grappler”. No sooner does he scale the building than he is thrown back into that other reality… where he’s battling the Custard-Critter!
The Titans fight the monster for a bit longer… not gaining much in the way of ground. Then… after Cyborg is able to wound it using some heavy-duty decibels the thing finally attempts to flee. At this point, Robin has an idea. He’s certain that the Wobbly-Wicket is heading back to its “point of origin”, and he has a sneaking suspicion that place is somewhere inside S.T.A.R. Labs. Upon arrival, Cyborg is none too pleased to head inside.
Robin rushes inside and chats up that scientist that called the thing here in the first place. He informs him that there’s no way they can beat this baddie… and their only hope is to send it back from whence it came. Since this things primary attack is converting Oxygen to Methane… they realize they’re going to have to get this Whopper into an air-tight room. Starfire volunteers to act as a lure, since she doesn’t need to breathe Oxygen anyway.
Then, they do the thing… and everything’s hunky-dory.
As the dust settles, Cyborg has words with the scientist… who we learn is actually his father, Silas Stone… also, the man who created Cyborg’s mechanical body (though, if we’re being technical, he also created his organic one). It’s clear that there’s no love lost between the Stone men.
Suddenly… Robin “wakes up” again. The Officers thank him for ending the terrorist stand-off without a single loss of life. He hasn’t the foggiest idea what any of them are talking about. Then, he’s approached by a most grateful Dr. Silas Stone… which ups the confusion all the more!
We wrap up with Robin heading off, questioning just about everything that just went down. He ultimately writes it off as a dream/nightmare and decides to just sleep it off. Raven is nearby, however, to inform him (and us) that this was no dream… the New Titans are his (and our) future!
Our second story begins with an unconscious Speedy being dumped into a lake. Thankfully, Aqualad is nearby… and he scoops him out before he can drown.
We jump over to Titans Tower, where there’s a knock at the door. Starfire goes all lunatic-warrior-alien, and lunges toward the door as though she’s about to wreck whoever dared knock. Donna lassos her up before she can do any damage… and it’s a good thing too, because their guests are… Aqualad and Speedy! How ’bout that?
After Roy comes to, he shares his tale of woe. Ya see, he was investigating a group of drug dealers. He watched them from, of all places, up in a tree. Which… I mean, if you’re going to wear a bright yellow and red outfit… maybe hiding in trees isn’t the best idea? Maybe if it was Fall we could give that a pass… but, this is just dumb. Anyhoo… one of the drug-runners just happened to be a machete expert. I tell ya, this dude is so good at throwing machetes that they turn around in mid-air! From here, Speedy got dumped in the lake.
After giving Starfire the quick ‘n dirty on just what drugs are, the Titans decide to take care of bidness. Robin takes point, and sends Wonder Girl and Starfire off to follow the druggies’ helicopter to Miami (I guess that’s the location of the Druglord’s “Corporate Offices”), while the fellas are going to attempt to topple the local chapter.
And… well, that’s exactly what happens! Really not much more to say. In the matter of two pages, the Titans win the war on drugs. The story wraps up with Roy and Garth being invited to stay on as full-time Titans… but they’re both too busy to commit. Annnnnd, that’s that!
Now, that was a nutty couple of stories, wasn’t it?
I feel like reading our lead story without the proper context does it a grand disservice. Unfortunately, it’s pretty damned difficult to just “forget” everything that happens after this… and treat it like the (in some cases “literal”) brand-new thing that it was when it appeared as a “Bonus Book” in DC Comics Presents #26 (October, 1980).
I’d love to be able and go back to experience this one the way it was meant to be experienced. It’s just such a strange way to introduce, not only brand-new characters, but a whole new concept for an existing property. I wonder if there were people who were annoyed by this… if there were any readers who felt this besmirched the “sanctity” of the Teen Titans. If only I could find USENET posts going back all the way to 1980 (the earliest ones I’ve found are around 1984)!
The story we get here… uh, I guess you could say it’s a bit difficult to follow, perhaps hindered more by our current-day familiarity with the Titans. Robin not knowing any of the newbies puts us in this strange “is it a dream/nightmare/twilight zone?” mindset which is kind of difficult to shake off, ya know? That’s probably why I usually skip this issue anytime I did a New Teen Titans “re-read project”.
I never felt like it added all that much… though, if we can squint enough to view it as a sorta-kinda “flash-forward”, there are things to dig here. We get (some of) the skinny on the tension between Cyborg/Silas. It’s made pretty clear here that Wally and Raven have some sort of connection. Beast Boy now goes by Changeling. All things that we will know to be true sooner than later.
The backup story (which first appeared in The Best of DC (Digest) #18 (November, 1981)… was… ehhhh. It kind of feels like a(n extremely) dry-run for the Anti-Drug PSAs that would come in 1983… only without the Protector. Super-quick superheroics… with some rather unpleasant Carmine Infantino art. Not much more to say about this one. It filled the pages… it did that much.
So yeah… that’s that! Three full years of “Random DC Comics Discussions and Reviews” in the can. This is usually where I’d get all gushy and do the “Oscar Speech” thing… but, we’ll forgo that this time around… just know that if you’ve ever visited the blog, reached out, said hi, left a comment… you’ve made my day. I’ve loved doing this… and I love y’all for stopping by.
So, here’s the thing…
In a scant handful of weeks, I will be heading off to Grad School in order to procure my Ed.S. and State Certification to become a School Psychologist… this is most certainly going to put a crimp in my “free time”.
Now, this little blog may not look like much, but I do put two-to-three (sometimes four) hours of work into it each and every day. That’s upwards of thirty hours a week… could be over a hundred a month. That’s a lot of time.
Between the blog and the “Chris and Reggie Network of” show(s)… I knew something was going to have to “give”. There’s no way I could continue both and still have time for school, work, and family. And so, after more sleepless nights than I’m comfortable admitting to (though, I suppose I sorta just did), I decided that with this Anniversary post, I was going to “put a pin” in the site.
I decided that around New Year’s… so, like a month ago.
Then, I found myself going through the classic Kübler-Ross stages of grief. Ya see, as if this isn’t abundantly clear, I have sort of an addictive personality… and a hard time letting go of things. I mean, this blog, as unspectacular as it may appear, has become sort of my “digital home”, ya know? It’s also like the second-longest “relationship” I’ve ever had.
And so, I eventually hit stage three on the Kübler-Ross Scale: Bargaining. How could I somehow continue this blog… while returning to school, and maintaining the Podcasts (and ya know, all that “real life” stuff too)?
As I was pre-hearsing my final sign-off for this blog… that’s a normal thing people do, right? Like write bits and pieces of their blog while in the shower or doing the dishes or something. That’s not obsessive behavior, is it? Well, anyhoo… while mentally pre-writing what I assumed would be my final “send-off” and farewell… well, I think I might’ve found a way to keep on truckin’… it’s going to be kind of different, though somewhat familiar.
And at this point in my writing, I’m chuckling to myself because really… nobody cares about “my process”. Barely anybody knows or cares that this blog exists in the first place. Ah well, in for a paragraph… in for an essay.
One of the books I’ve wanted to discuss long-form, almost from the get-go is… Action Comics Weekly. I’ve wanted to go through and cover every story in the anthology… but always considered it too daunting a task. I mean, there’s a lot of pages in those books… and not all of ’em look fun. Action Comics Weekly is also a subject Reggie and I want to cover the entirety of in future episodes of the Cosmic Treadmill (we’ve already done four-episodes on the Green Lantern chapters alone!).
So, here’s the plan… for now. We’re going to cover a single-chapter from Action Comics Weekly a day. ACW has six chapters per issue… so, each issue will take a week (on the seventh day, I’ll compile the chapters into one great big “normal” post). We’ll call this project:
Now, this isn’t to say that we won’t deviate from Action Comics Weekly, should I get the urge to write about something else… because, that’s going to happen. It’s also not to say that this whole thing won’t blow up in my face, and peter out in no-time flat. I can say for certain that it’ll likely be a bit wonky at first while I iron out any wrinkles and get situated.
I’m generally a pretty rigid dude when it comes to how I format my stuff… so, this will likely be quite the learning experience for me. We’ll play with it… because, I mean… it’s not like there are any rules here to break… only the ones I’ve imposed on myself!
So, I hope you’ll join me for our adventure into Action Comics Weekly… and for anything else I’m able to fit in. Thanks so much for stopping by… especially if you managed to read through all my mutterings to this point.
(Not the) Letters Page: