Posted - December 1, 2010 | Updated : March 6, 2011 | January 30 & 31, 2012 | February 1 & 2, 2012 | February 9-12, 2012 | June 22, 2013 | August 20, 2015
The New Teen Titans
I once had a George Perez art book. It had a photo of George Perez lying in his couch, head on one of the armrests, left leg up on the couch seat, right leg crossed on top of left to support a wooden board on top of which was paper used by comics illustrators. George was drawing. This first splash page from The New Teen Titans made me recall the image of Mr. Perez hard at work.
Wonderful layout isn't it? I particularly like the illustration of Raven in the middle with that smoke effect and the moon in the background. Another thing are the buildings in the background of this panel. See how detailed it all is? All the little lines and the different window styles and all that? George Perez drew each line, taking care to portray each background building as unique. It is meticullous detail work, it is that. But more than that, it is a sign that the artist is giving great importance to his work. Always a good sign for comics lovers like us don't you think?
The next big panel from an artistic point-of-view features Starfire's escape from her alien captors.
Princess Koriand'r a.k.a. Starfire is in the small, pink "space slider" at the bottom of the panel. In order to make good her escape she hits warp drive.
I love the creative way Perez rendered the "warping" effect.
The story moves on on to Dick Grayson a.k.a. Robin. Dick has just dropped out of college, much to the chagrin of his mentor, Bruce Wayne. Robin has been feeling a distinct kind of pressure lately.
Personally, if Robin doesn't want to be treated as a kid he can start by first, getting rid of the green jockey briefs. And the red bike from Toys R Us' isn't helping either.
The first appearance of Wonder Girl in "The New Teen Titans" is a stunner.
She's had a number of costume changes since then but this red one is still the best.
Soon enough, the partial team meets up and we have another wonderful example of how Perez can effectively squeeze in several figures in a small space while keeping the layout interesting.
Next, we meet Cyborg who is struggling with something we are all familiar with.
No, I don't mean we all have cybernetic parts. What Cyborg is really struggling with happens to all of us. The big 'C' - change. Vic Stone a.k.a. Cyborg has devoted his every waking moment to a life as an athlete. A life that no longer exists. He's stronger, he's faster, really better than any athlete but it is a change he is not ready for. He doesn't know what to do with it. He hates it. He is in the place where we all are when the big life changes happen to us - that terrible place where we've lost our bearings and don't know what to do. That said, we finally see Cyborg.
I loved this character design so much that, during drafting class in high school, Cyborg was the only superhero character I recreated in pen and ink using my drafting tools.
When the aliens get around to attacking the United Nations building in New York, Perez has another wonderful one-page panel followed by multiple smaller stunners. Here's the big panel.
Here's a two panel sequence showing Wonder Girl's incredible strength.
During the course of the battle, Raven reveals her key weakness.
Starfire is exhausted from her escape and has been found by Grant Wilson who will soon become the super-villain known as Ravager - son of the uber-famous Terminator. Writer Marv Wolfman clues us in to just what kind of person Grant Wilson is with this panel.
The possessive stalker type - the kind of nightmare boyfriend who simply will not let go.
In a scene where the alien's threaten the Titans with a deadly space warp, Cyborg demonstrates his robotic body's Machine Man -like ability to stretch
If Wolfman wanted to portray these aliens as being ruthlessly evil, he succeeds wonderfully with these panels.
Brings to mind horrible bosses these panels do. I hate those people who think that rank gives them the right to treat others like dirt. I have some stories, but I digress . . .
Beautiful, beautiful shot of Kid Flash in action.
The speed plus that powerful-looking punch looks really effective. Kid Flash doesn't really have super-strength though, so I'm translating this as Kid Flash launching millions of punches in the time it takes to land just one.
So how did the New Teen Titans come together? Raven. Raven gathered the Titans to form a team for some as yet unknown reason.
We see the Deathstroke the Terminator for the first time wearing the costume with the design that is so good it's still the one he's wearing now that he has his own series ("now" being before the New 52 reboot). He's shown in negotiation with a villainous organization known as H.I.V.E. The talks were never meant to go well, it was meant for the Terminator to show his skills so the H.I.V.E. can study them and create its own Terminator. By far, the most impressive move from Slade Wilson a.k.a. Deathstroke the Terminator is this one.
Kicking down a steel door to make good his escape.
We have another panel showing how much of a slimeball Grant Wilson is.
George Perez's skill with the smaller, narrower panels is something else. Look at this bird's eye view of Donna and Kory flying over New York.
How strong is Cyborg? This little action scene with a truck should give us a clue.
So how can a guy with robotic limbs throw a truck right? I mean you need an exoskeleton to get that kind of leverage right? It turns out that Cyborg's 'modifications' are more extensive than his surface appearance lets on. Vic Stone's entire skeletal structure has been sheathed in molebdenum steel. Which explains how he can undertake feats of strength like the ones above. Cyborg is definitely this team's strongman.
Whoops! I spoke too soon. As Wonder Girl shows with this panel.
Robin jumps at Starfire while Kid Flash looks on.
Just stunning layout from George Perez. The action,the explosive blast and the 'Kirby dots' just make for one dynamic panel.
Cyborg has a lot of different arm attachments for his arm. Here's a winch attachment.
And here's the back rub attachment.
These bikini shots are nice don't you think?
But surprisingly this panel showing Donna with her back to us is even sexier.
These panel sequence shows just how poisoned Vic's relationship with his long-suffering Dad has become.
Now here's the Ravager a.k.a. Grant Wilson
The outfit is clearly inspired by the Terminator's own costume but Ravager's outfit just does not work out. Those mid-thigh boots in particular are associated in my mind with the opposite sex.
Now here we have the famous Cyborg 'white sound' weapon.
I am showing the next panel just because of the insane detail work Perez did in the background of such a small panel.
So Cyborg tracks the others to the Hamptons and he has this comment.
Panels showing the Terminator's first action against the Titans.
In the pages of Identity Crisis, we have the Terminator successfully taking on the JLA without the Big Three (Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman). I'm still impressed when Terminator shows he is able to be effective against speedsters like Kid Flash.
The logic here is that because Terminator can utilize 90% of his brain he gets 'predictive' capability and is able to know where Kid Flash will be and therefore set up some kind of ambush.
The Ravager is superior to the Terminator because he can utilize 100% of his brain power, but he is a flawed creation because he destroys himself while using his enhanced capabilities - it is a fatal flaw which sends Grant Wilson to the grave. His tombstone shows just when this early Teen Titans comics were published.
What's a superhero team without a supervillain team to come up against them? Against the New Teen Titans we have the Fearsome Five.
Mammoth is the first one.
He's the classic strongman with superhuman strength and toughness. Wonderful costume design. His sister is Shimmer.
Potentially extremely powerful, Shimmer is the female version of the Legion of Super-Heroes' Element Lad, able to transmute one element to another.
Dr.Light is the leader of the group.
This is Gizmo.
He's a gifted inventor in the fine tradition of Forge from the X-Men albeit with a serious mean streak.
The last member of the Fearsome Five is the weak point of the group and a serious membership mistake. This is Psimon.
Psimon is a telekinetic/telepath. These formidable powers combined with Psimon's sadistic and anti-social attitude makes him a wrong choice for this group as later situations will bring home.
Mammoth demonstrates how tough he is by taking on three cannons at point blank range.
The mission of the Fearsome Five is to destroy the New Teen Titans, maybe to satisfy Dr. Light's need to get back on the Justice League. Can't blame him for not wanting to take on Superman and company so he's venting on the junior team instead. This ego-centric intention is out of step with his teammates, though, who are more intent on conducting activities for money rather than ego or revenge. Another thing that makes we wonder is how Dr. Light knows about the New Teen Titans - this team is newly formed. Anyway . . .
Back to the Titans, we have this little panel.
This is basically Wally West punching Robin who was simply asking Raven to give the team more information about herself. To say that this is uncalled for is an understatement. This panel is just out of place.
This is a wonderfully rendered panel of the Titans on the attack against the Fearsome Five before the Fearsome Five attacks them.
This attack is made possible by Raven being able to sense oncoming danger. I think this is great, that the Titans are proactive rather than reactive. Let's see how they do agains the Fearsome Five . . .
Gizmo gets taken out by Changeling in the traditional manner.
Then Changeling launches into action against the hulking Mammoth by changing into the powerful form of a gorilla.
No go. Mammoth is just too strong.
Psimon is absolutely dangerous. Just take a look at these panels of his battle with Kid Flash.
Dr. Light takes on Starfire after successfully taking on Wonder Girl.
In the end it is the powerful Shimmer who takes out the Titans by changing the air into ether and rendering the Titans unconscious.
Now the cracks among the Fearsome Five's alliance are starting to show, and unsurprisingly, the source is Psimon. Instead of letting the team finish off the Titans, Psimon uses mind control to steer the Fearsome Five away for some mysterious reason. Nonetheless, it cannot be denied that on their first outing against a rival team the New Teen Titans lose!
Now, introducing : Titans Tower.
So out of nowhere the Titans have a ten story high-tech headquarters with sub-basements and expensive gadgets like sky bikes and stuff. Does this make sense? No. Do I mind that it doesn't make sense? No. I love it when crazy/wonderful things like this happens - it's why I read comics.
I mentioned the cracks in the Fearsome Five alliance didn't I? Well, forget about that. The whole Fearsome Five thing just went down the drain because of Psimon.
So with the change of leadership its time for round two: New Teen Titans vs. Fearsome Five!
First move, Mammoths impressive attack is successfully countered by Cyborg.
Deposed he may be but Dr. Light shows he's still a big gun.
Gizmo shows his stuff
Psimon captures Wonder Girl
Robin gets taken out by Mammoth.
Here's more evidence of Mammoth's toughness.
Changeling, who was very effective during the first round, remains impressive in round two as he takes out Gizmo and Dr. Light.
In spite of Changeling's efforts, the Titans still lose. That's 2-0 Fearsome Five.
The scene shifts abruptly, taking us to a wonderful Perez panel showing the Justice League of America in battle against some eldritch wizards
It's all very confusing with Raven arriving on the scene on the side of the wizards warning the JLA that they are fighting on the wrong side.
Adding further to the confusion, Raven is shown back on Earth with the Titans - as if the previous battle with the Fearsome Five never happened.
In the midst of all this, Raven reveals her reason for forming the New Teen Titans. The group is meant to go against the demon Trigon - her father.
Remember the panel about Dr. Light telling the Fearsome Five that their mission was to take down the New Teen Titans, a group that pretty much no one knows about? That was crazy right. Well, that was nothing to this panel.
How likely is it for Robin to say something like this? Not very likely in my opinion. But here it is. These early issues of the Titans are a bit 'clunky' on the writing side. Nonetheless these are the early issues of one of the best comic book runs of the eighties. Things will get much, much better.
What we have next is the Justice League vs. the Teen Titans so I guess we can throw all my complaints out the window and look in on the action.
Kid Flash takes the JLA by surprise
Okay, that can happen.
Robin takes out Green Lantern!
Wow. Yeah, I believe it - this is still amazing though.
Batman handles Robin.
Bet you've never seen this before. The Atom gets into Wonder Girl's head (literally!) and, ah, he does something.
Now that we've all had our sites and sounds, writer Marv Wolfman sweeps all of that under the rug using Raven as a deus ex machina. We're back to just having the Titans about to deal with the 'Trigon' situation and boy, does Perez have a great panel about that.
Haven't had enough of the JLA? That's great because here they come again! Green Lantern encases the Titans in a 'barrel' of green energy but the sorcerers set them free. Here's a great panel of the Titans busting out.
So just like the encounter with the Fearsome Five, the League and the Titans get to have a round two! These are the panels I found most entertaining.
Changeling vs. Batman
And . . and . . . nothing. Uh oh, our round two has been cut short by an interruption from Trigon himself.
With that the JLA and the Titans part ways in peace.
As we go into the main Trigon story arc, artist Curt Swan takes over - temporarily - from George Perez. I'm familiar with Curt Swan because, for the longest time, he was the artist of Action Comics. Action Comics is a major DC book so if you are the artist for Action Comics then you are a major artist. I'm not overly fond of Swan's art but I don't hate it either. It has a curious quality though, when I look at Swan art he makes it look so easy; even the most intricate character poses, when Swan does it seems I can do it too - it's an illusion though.
So the Titans find out that, as part of her recruitment drive, Raven has been messing with their emotions. That's almost as bad as mind control, so they all pretty much abandon Raven just at the moment when Trigon is about to attack.
Without the Titans by her side Raven is attacked by Trigon's strongest demon, a being called Goronn. Thankfully, through her soul self, Raven can be in two places at once - so she dispatches her soul self to make one final appeal to her ex-teammates.
Meanwhile, looking into the erswhile Titans we find Wally Wood is still not in his best behavior.
Look at that, he's very far from the Flash that he will one day become.
Everybody listens to Raven's appeal and goes to help her. Everybody except Wally West and Vic Stone. But Vic has only stayed behind because he decides to pull some reverse psychology on Wally. The following panels show the depth of character that Marv Wolfman is starting to give Cyborg.
With the subtleties aside, its time to look into the fight against Goronn. It's a bit of a struggle but in the end the Titans manage to tame the beast.
Now its time for the main event. Trigon is here!
Just look at that character design. It's a scary look to come across in the dark. Its cruel, and evil and easy to hate. In other words, the character design of Trigon is excellent. The four eyes are just, I mean, they just complete the look.
So Trigon begins laying waste to New York City and the Titans go against him. What he does to Kid Flash particularly horrifying.
That's tantamount to burying Kid Flash alive. Kid Flash explains - much later - how he got out of that.
Here's an excellent Curt Swan rendition of the Titans' all out attack on Trigon.
Fantastic isn't it? Enjoy it while it lasts because the Titans will lose. Lets see the scorecard so far. Against Starfire's alien captors : win. Against Ravager and the Terminator : draw. Both times against the Fearsome Five : lose. Against the JLA : draw. Against Goronn : win. Both times against Trigon (now in a different dimension and before in New York) : lose. So given a win-loss-draw card, the New Teen Titans score is 2-4-2. Well, they're new, I say that's not a bad score for a rookie team.
With the loss against Trigon, Raven is forced to sacrifice herself for the Earth's survival.
She's crying, understandably, she formed the team for a purpose, a purpose they failed to fulfill, plus they gave her a lot of grief along the way.
George Perez returns as the Trigon story arc continues. Nothing illustrates Trigon's evil more than this panel here.
Trigon kills a child in front of her mother. This kind of brutality is pretty hardcore. Forget the Titans, somebody tell Darkseid somebody's trying to muscle in to his act.
George Perez gives us a gorgeous splash page of the Titans sans Raven.
Of course the Titans go after their teammate. Here's the path between worlds as illustrated by the incomparable George Perez.
This is pretty much the result of Trigon vs. the New Teen Titans round 3.
You might not notice them, the Titans are sprawled all over the floor. The Titans get beaten up A LOT during their early days.
You know who finally contains Trigon? Arella, Raven's sorceress mother. She has a powerful shield
She has a powerful spell.
And she sacrifices herself to contain Trigon in another dimension.
I've been looking at the Titans during their fights and the best fighter among them is the happy-go-lucky Changeling. No different here. This is Gar changing into a Triceratops to go up against Trigon's Hellhound.
Once again we have the Fearsome Five, and a good thing too because, so far, the Titans have not bean able to defeat this team.
Before getting into the action, Perez and Wolfman give us this wonderful panel.
Great street level detail of New York City and Gar and Vic ordering hotdog is a nice touch.
Oh yeah, Kid Flash - who has been torn about membership since the beginning - decides to take some time off.
Now he shakes hands with Robin. Maybe Dick should've punched him just once before he ran off just to give this lunatic a taste of his own medicine.
Alright, let's rejoin the Fearsome Five. In the interim, fate has been kind to Doctor Light since his main rival, Psimon, has been atomized by Trigon and is not part of the team anymore. Happy days. You think? I think so too. Here's Psimon begging his old teammates to save him.
Of course they shouldn't save him, that guy was dangerous. End of story. Nope. Not quite. Here is where Doctor Light proves to me that he is totally deranged, not to mention stupid.
Light is going to let this psionic psychotic back into the team!
Here is a great shot of the Doctor building a light bridge to transport his team.
Beautiful and nostalgic, what with the World Trade Center in the background.
Once again, a spectacular display of power from Mammoth - ripping open the steel door to Titans Tower.
Doctor Light shows his versaility as he unleashes his version of radar : sensor light.
The Titans go into action against the Fearsome Five.
Not a lot of superhero teams have a healer among them.
Just think how advantageous this is. With Raven around the Titans can recover when other teams can't. Considering their batting average so far, they need this kind of recovery advantage.
Robin is about to get taken out by Shimmer but looks who saves the day.
Changeling! He is proving to be the absolute best fighter among the Titans.
Mammoth reminds me of the Juggernaut as he withstands Starfire's star bolts and Wonder Girl's super-strength.
Gizmo takes out both Changeling and Robin.
This is round three for both super teams and its not looking good for the Titans is it?
Psimon hits all the Titans all at once.
Now this is it. This is when it happens. This is when the Teen Titans - all but defeated at this point - begin to show some potency as a fighting force, not just a whining force (yes, I'm looking at you Wally West, absent though you may be). First, a sudden, surprise move by Wonder Girl against Doctor Light.
Robin sees the opportunity and orders Starfire to take out the most dangerous of the Fearsome Five.
Robin literally swings into action
Cyborg sneak attack vs. Shimmer
Changeling/Wonder Girl combination against Mammoth.
And just like that, round three belongs to the Titans.
The story ends with the first, but not the last, 'Day in the Life' type storylines. Let's look in at the more interesting bits . . .
We have Starfire flying around New York City. I love this pane when she goes through a clothesline.
Somebody just lost a shirt!
Look at Dick with a new toy from Titan's Tower.
Beautiful panel layout of Raven subduing some terrorists.
This is also the issue when Raven conguers the five minute limitation she has in maintaining her soul self - from now on there are no limits.
If you are Gar Logan and your car is about to get hijacked what do you do? You turn into a rhino and chase the would-be carjackers that's what.
Of course it would not be the New Teen Titans if we didn't have Wally West whining his head off.
Here are some more just gorgeous panels of Starfire flying.
What a great way to end the story.