The Titans #1-25
March 18, 2013
March of the Titans finally reaches the Titans! Immortals, Nazis, and gorillas: AKA superhero comics.
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. But if you've been following "March of the Titans" so far, you would know that we're not looking at bad comics this month, but a series featuring my favorite superhero team, the Teen Titans.
(Cut to a closeup of a random "Teen Titans" comic, which is actually just "Titans")
Linkara (v/o): However, for the next two weeks, the "Teen" part of that title. This was the first Titans book that was mostly about the adult heroes, though there were still some younger heroes, as I'll get into. Before we do, though, there are some bits of backstory we need to talk about.
(Cut then to the origin of one of the members of the team, Donna Troy, AKA Wonder Girl)
Linkara (v/o): First up is the issue of Donna Troy. As I've brought up before, her backstory kept getting rewritten or she kept losing her powers on whatever whim the writers brought up, and we've got another one of those. Okay, get this: remember Wonder Woman's mother, Queen Hippolyta? Well, she's got her own fair share of people who want to screw with her. In yet another unnecessary revised origin for Donna, she was actually a mirror duplicate of Wonder Woman as a little girl meant to be a playmate since there were no other kids on Paradise Island. One of Hippolyta's enemies, named Dark Angel...
Linkara: Oh, and by the way, (makes "finger quotes") "Dark Angel"? Really? Really. Really? Really,
Linkara (v/o): Dark Angel kidnapped Donna, thinking she was Wonder Woman and decided that the best revenge was to make her live lifetime after lifetime that always ended in tragedy. Each time she died, everything would reset and the world would forget her. However, then the whole "being rescued by the Titans of Myth" thing happened. So her having a life that ended in tragedy got the kibosh put on it. However, Dark Angel is a pissy sort and went and erase the world's memory of her and, well, erased her from existence. With the assistance of Wonder Woman, Queen Hippolyta and The Flash, however, they managed to restore her to life. The one caveat, though, was that they restored her using The Flash's memories of her.
Linkara: And it's certainly a good thing that Wally was present at every single moment of her life, isn't it? (gives a double thumbs-up before shaking head)
(Cut to another Titans book: "Kingdom Come")
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, as you might imagine, this is something that plays into this book. The next thing we need to discuss is an Elseworlds story called "Kingdom Come" and its sequel "The Kingdom". Why? Well, because they have an impact later in this series as well. DC has this weird relationship with its "dark future" stories, like they always want to see things head towards them, even if the entire idea behind them was that they were a possible future. They did this with "The Dark Knight Returns" when that was extremely popular. Suddenly, elements from that book needed to play a part, like hinting that Green Arrow would lose his arm because of Superman. "Kingdom Come" was the same way. It told a story where Superman had retired after it became clear that the public accepted and exonerated murderous antiheroes, openly approving of their methods over his. However, when those same antiheroes then screw up big time and end up accidentally nuking Kansas, Superman comes out of retirement aaand... unfortunately, overreacts. He and his group end up going too far the other way, to the point where they start becoming more oppressive. And thanks to the machinations of Luthor, things come a head with a lot of people dying. Superman resolves to change his ways and be better.
(Cut to "Kingdom Come"'s sequel, "The Kingdom")
Linkara (v/o): The sequel, "The Kingdom", is not as good, but it had different goals in mind. It's a very complicated story, so I'm only going to talk to you guys about one thing that was introduced in that story: hypertime.
Linkara: Yes, you've all heard me reference hypertime before, especially in regards to certain wrestlers in comics they've made.
(Cut to a clip of The Ultimate Warrior)
Ultimate Warrior: LOAD THE SPACESHIP WITH THE ROCKET FUEL, LOADED WITH THE WORST...
Linkara: But what the hell is hypertime, anyway?
(Cut back to "The Kingdom")
Linkara (v/o): Well, in a nutshell, hypertime was DC's way of introducing the multiverse without really introducing the multiverse. You'll recall that the 1985 story "Crisis on Infinite Earths" was supposed to shut the door on parallel universes altogether. "The Kingdom" introduced a new concept behind the multiverse to make it work, while still keeping to that. Hypertime is the vast interconnected web of parallel universes and timelines. It flows like a river, with a central line, that being the main DC Universe, while branching off into tributaries like alternate timelines and Elseworlds stories. And on top of that, those tributaries can come back again and flow into the main universe and appear in different ways, like a new costume for a character or perhaps someone just thinking of a loved one or a friend they hadn't thought about in years. It was a pretty clever way of handling it, I thought. Unfortunately, the majority of writers and fans just didn't really take to it, hence why in "Infinite Crisis" and "52", the more traditional multiverse was restored, with parallel universes just vibrating at different frequencies or whatever and a space caterpillar eating parts of their history. Because that's much more sane and logical!
Linkara: And with all that out of the way, let's dig into "The Titans #1" through "25".
(AT4W title sequence plays; title card has "Polka Power" by Weird Al Yankovic playing in the background. Cut to "The Titans: Secret Files and Origins")
Linkara (v/o): At the same time as Issue 1 launched, there was also a "Secret Files and Origins" comic published for the Titans that was full of dossiers on team members, villains and a few short stories. One of them actually gave an explanation for what happened with Arsenal's group of government-funded Titans. It's not really all that important, but essentially, Arsenal deliberately sabotaged the group's public image so they'd all be fire by the government. Nothing overly malicious that would screw them all over, but he could see the team wasn't jelling as a family, and all its members were going to be going their separate ways anyway. It's something to remember about the guy and why "Rise of Arsenal" is even more frustrating: HE'S HONESTLY NOT THAT STUPID. People underestimate him and don't realize he has a good head on his shoulders. Sure, he's never gonna be Nightwing-level smart, but that's the difference between being raised by Batman versus being raised by Green Arrow, whose reaction upon finding out that teenager Roy Harper was doing heroin was to throw him out on his ass.
(Cut to the first issue of "Titans")
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, like with the "Countdown" review or the "Team History" segment, this is gonna be a lot of summarizing. Sorry, but that's what happens when I stupidly decide to take a look at 25 comics at a time. The series itself begins with our heroes under attack by the H.I.V.E. You remember them, right? Of course you don't, because I barely mentioned them in the "Team History" segment. See, the problem with The H.I.V.E. as villains is that they're not very interesting bad guys. It's basically just a big, well-organized terrorist group in the Cobra tradition, where they can afford to equip everybody with armor and have logos painted on everything and stuff. The H.I.V.E. themselves are not that great. It's everything else that they've set in motion that's interesting, like the original contract with Deathstroke. Subsequently, Issue 1 focused not on them battling The H.I.V.E., but rather seeing the original five Titans deciding to get the band back together while at a Red Lobster.
Linkara: (dramatically) The Titans: action, intrigue, drama, fish sticks!
Linkara (v/o): Flash is the first one who suggests it, but Nightwing is adamantly against the idea.
Nightwing: Don't you remember why we broke up in the first place? Everything gets so... personal.
Linkara: Not really. All the previous times we saw you guys break up, you either had already left the team or because it was you wanted to go back to school. Or were you guys sharing a dorm room together, too?
Linkara (v/o): Flash convinces Nightwing it's for the best for him because, well, he's starting to become more and more like Batman. Batman during this phase was very much the dark loner, despite his huge network of former sidekicks, to the point where it was policy that Batman was an urban legend in Gotham, with only so many people believing he actually existed.
Linkara: (as Batman) I'm Batman, and no one knows that I'm real. (as bystander) But the police still turn on the bat signal. (as Batman) I am of the shadows! No one can see me! (as bystander) Robin still wears bright colors, and there are police records and hospital records for the people you beat up. (as Batman; hums a tune dramatically)
Linkara (v/o): Meanwhile, we see the H.I.V.E. reforming under the mysterious new H.I.V.E. mistress, but assisted by a man named Damien Dahrk. Silly name, yes, but he was actually conceived to be a break away from traditional villainy. Anyone out there familiar with the "evil overlord" list? Basically, it's kind of a gag list of stuff like "My evil minions will wear clear, transparent helmets so heroes can't disguise themselves as a minion" or "Among my advisors will be a five-year-old child. If they can spot a problem with my plan, I will not go with that plan." And thus, Damien Dahrk is a late '90s business type, constantly on his cell phone...
(Cut to a clip of George Lucas Strikes Back)
Businessman: (talking on his cellphone) I'm a businessman ON MY CELL PHONE!!
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): ...negotiating his evil plans. Hell, check it out. He even has a utility belt of gadgets. That's awesome. Back with the Titans, Nightwing and Flash make a ten-dollar bet that Flash will stick around longer than Nightwing will. It's a losing bet, to be sure, considering Flash is on two teams. Anyway, Nightwing agrees to form the team, with the goal of training the future generation of heroes. After all, the five of them had the advantage of working alongside the greatest heroes ever, but sidekicks are a dying art. Thus, younger heroes need better training. Albeit, that just makes the next bit kind of confusing, since all five volunteer a hero to be recruited, and among them are Starfire and Cyborg, who are both veterans. Well, okay, they say it's because they need people to supplement the team, since some of them are really damn busy. Troy then nominates Argent from the 1996 team, who does fit the bill for a young hero needing direction, especially since we saw in the "Team History" that she is serious about heroing. Flash nominates Jesse Quick, who at the time was both kind of new, but also a veteran. Jesse Quick is the daughter of two Golden Age heroes, Johnny Quick and Liberty Belle. She's able to access super-speed through the use of a mathematical formula that taps into an other-dimensional realm called the Speed Force, where the modern-day Flashes tend to get their powers from. And by the way, I love Jesse's costume. I can't exactly pin down why, since it's not like the outfit reflects her speed or anything. It just looks good on her, probably thanks to the artist of "The Titans", Mark Buckingham. Buckingham was the penciler on "The Titans" for the first sixteen issues, and he has a style that's hard to describe: a bit cartoony, but he's excellent at expressive faces.
Linkara: And sometimes, you don't realize just how important it is to have expressive faces until you've read three dozen comics where all the characters are going like this, (grits his teeth and speaks through them) regardless of their mood.
Linkara (v/o): Next up is Damage. I only briefly mentioned Damage from his tenure in the New Titans under Arsenal's command, mostly because he's probably the team member I have the least amount of feelings about. He's young and emotional, but has a lot of potential for greatness, helped by his power to expel incredible bursts of concussive energy... sometimes outside of his control. He's the son of the Golden Age Atom, and we later learn in the series that his childhood was not a happy one. We'll get to that. So, yeah, ten team members. Admittedly, a bit large for a team book, but I think they managed to make it work, with some members off doing their own thing sometimes, and big dangerous missions could have everybody on board. The unofficial eleventh member in my mind was Arsenal's daughter, Lian Harper, the most adorable ball of adorable ever.
Linkara: Yeah, I know real little kids are terrors and annoying and screeching and not always cute, but up yours! Lian rocked! (beat) And then the zombie ghost thing happened. Yyyyyeah...
Linkara (v/o): Anyway, they also get to work on building a new headquarters, only they decide that it'd be kind of stupid to have a giant T building, considering the last two times they did, it got blown up. As such, Titans Tower in this case is actually a hologram, while the base itself is underground. All of this is financed by Tempest, who of course lives under the sea and thus has access to tons of sunken treasure. The "Secret Files and Origins" comics show the five recruiting the other members, but in the meantime, we see them working with the Buzz Construction Company. Arsenal points out how tiring it is to see all the "busy bees" working.
(Cut to the inevitable shot of Batman in "Amazons Attack")
Batman: Bees. My God.
Linkara: Dear Lord! Nightwing is becoming like Batman!
Linkara (v/o): And yeah, turns out the new H.I.V.E. is the actual construction company, leading to the beginning of the comic. The H.I.V.E. foot soldiers in this case we saw being recruited before by Damien Dahrk, basically a group of college-aged nihilist criminals who were trying to rob a bank.
(Cut to the second issue of the series)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 2 has Superman showing up as part of a storyline going on the Superman books of the time. He was basically showing up in several other books as well, offering assistance while acting as Superman 24/7 without a break, trying to avert tragedy wherever possible. In this case, he offers assistance against the H.I.V.E., who have just been defeated by the team from the previous issue. Said H.I.V.E. members also try to form a gigantic mech suit.
(Cut again to Batman in "Amazons Attack")
Batman: A deadly bee weapon...
(Cut back to the Titans comic)
Linkara (v/o): Okay, okay, I know I just did the Batman "Amazons Attack" thing, but give me a break here. When was the last time I got to reference that? After Superman easily dispatches it, they go with him to a base where they were operating out of, and we get character development, setting up character plots while also having Nightwing pointing out that Superman's presence makes it nigh impossible for them to work as a team, since any time they start coming together to face a threat, Superman just, you know, does it himself. Nightwing finally tells him that he appreciates the help, but to clear off so they can do their job. Jesse Quick's fast thinking makes her the second-in-command of the team, and she is a natural leader, helped by the fact that in her civilian life, she's the CEO of a company. I have no idea what the hell her company did, but hey, rich people fighting crime; it's a thing.
(Cut to the third and fourth issues)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 3 and 4 are a two-parter, detailing a new villain named Goth. He's a horror movie star who spends all of his time supposedly in makeup, but in reality is a demon. Continuing on with that nihilism thing, Goth actually does care about his teenage fans and thinks the best way to help them is to bring them all into a Hell City limbo state, wherein they never have to worry about anything ever again. Goth basically became something of a non-villain, which is kind of disappointing since he does have an interesting thing going for him, but they set up a possible return for him and didn't really follow up on it, aside from a cameo in the lead-up to "Infinite Crisis". However, the larger concern that arises from this is the matter of Donna's identity. Arsenal mentions to her offhandedly that Flash doesn't "remember the good times", and that gets Donna questioning how much of herself is really there, since, again, she's been reconstructed from his memories.
Linkara: And it was kind of embarrassing when they had to reteach her how to use the bathroom.
Linkara (v/o): This leads to a bit of an incident when the four women on the team go to a nightclub and a guy tries to hit on Donna by saying he "feels like he already knows her". Aaaand after a page cut, we see she has clearly flung him into a wall and is yelling at him while also in tears. And all thanks to what Arsenal said to her!
Linkara: Roy Harper: making everybody else's life so much better!
Linkara (v/o): What's more, when Goth tries to touch Donna, he gets a big ol' shock of some kind. When Goth brings the kids to Hell, using a book that he had all his fans sign, everyone is able to follow except for Donna. Oh, and speaking of their trip to Hell, I don't care if the anatomy is off on Argent; this is an absolutely badass group shot.
(Cut to the fifth issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 5 is a Tempest story, where he takes Damage and Argent to a seaside town where people are deathly afraid of water, thanks to a mermaid named, of course, Siren, who is using her song to hypnotize them. They defeat her, but at the end, she's rescued from police custody by longtime DC Universe villain Vandal Savage. Vandal Savage is immortal, having been struck by a strange meteor during caveman times that also endowed him with enhanced intelligence and strength.
(Cut to the sixth issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 6 formally begins a relationship between Donna and Roy. Donna embraces him mostly, it seems, to create an identity for herself. Now, it is a bit sexist that she needs a man to form her own identity, but for her, it's about figuring out if she's really herself or if she's just Wally's pure perfect version of her. The relationship with Roy makes sense from a continuity standpoint as well. The two were always flirting with each other during the '60 series, and Roy even admitted it once during "The New Teen Titans" that he thought for a time that he was in love with her. The two fight a Nazi supervillain called the Red Panzer, because we always like to Nazis beaten up, but then Red Panzer gets teleported away by Vandal Savage, who we see has also joined forces with Flash villain Gorilla Grodd.
Linkara: Nazis and gorillas. I freakin' love superhero comics.
Linkara (v/o): However, a subplot in the story has to do with ball of adorable Lian. Her babysitter Chanda is talking with her and brings up that her grandparents were from the fictional nation called Qurac. Qurac got nuked once... by Cheshire, Lian's mother. And in case you missed the "Rise of Arsenal" review, yes, I know it's technically pronounced "Che-SHUR". I've always pronounced it as "Che-SHIRE". Moving on. After Lian reveals who her mother is, the two disappear, leading into Issue 7 and 8. Chanda didn't take her, but it actually was her roommate, who's a drug addict desperate for money for our new fictional drug of choice "Velocity 10". Velocity 10 grants the user super speed, but of course burns them out pretty quickly when they come down from it. The drug addiction part is pretty stock for them; just having to track down the dealer and put a stop to it. But the two issues actually are great for advancing a number of subplots. One of them is that Tempest, who's married to another Aquaman supporting character named, well, Dolphin, is going to be a father. In addition, we learn that the one who's financing the drug is Argent's father [Anthony Monetti]. It had been heavily hinted that her father was in the drug trade back in the 1996 team, but this has more resolution on it, since she has to admit that the Titans are her real family now. Vandal Savage recruits two more villains: a Nightwing recurring villain named Lady Vic and, of course, Cheshire, who volunteers to join up. And what is Vandal Savage calling his team of villains? Tartarus.
Linkara: Subtlety, thy name is "Titans".
Linkara (v/o): Although, it makes even goofier sense later on, I can assure you. However, it's here where we start having that dreaded bug of being part of a shared superhero universe again. See, over in the Flash book, Wally West supposedly died in an alternate reality of hypertime. That reality's Flash, a darker, older version of Wally, who went by Wallace West, went back to the main DC Universe to take Wally's place in honor of his sacrifice. For reasons that were hopefully explained in the Flash book, he didn't want people to know who he was, but did reveal his identity to a few people, Donna Troy included. And thus she vouched for him on the team, but it ended up working out for the book, as I'll get to.
(Cut to the ninth issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 9 is a tie-in to the event going on at the time called "Day of Judgment", which featured an invasion of Earth by Hell... which makes the opening scene of this issue all the more hilarious: Roy and Donna are trying to have sex! It's not that they're having sex that's hilarious, but rather that in the actual "Day of Judgment" book, we actually do see at least Damage and Argent fighting off demons. So, while the newer, younger heroes are fighting the good fight, these seasoned veterans are trying to bone each other! Also, the opening page featuring the two is... yeah, those faces. (...which are of Roy and Donna, looking confused, their lips askew)
Linkara: (imitating their expressions) This is the face you make when you're having sex and an old friend stops by, right?
(Cut to Lewis dressed as an Aussie)
Aussie guy: The ball ain't movin', lads! (looks to camera) Oh, we'll be right back. (walks off as AT4W logo appears) Bloody 'ell!
(We got to commercial; upon return, the Aussie guy returns)
Aussie guy: We're back now, mates. (draws a bow and arrow and runs off-screen) That pyro is a spy. (the sound of a raging flame is heard while the AT4W logo appears) OH, GOD, NO, HE ISN'T!
(The review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): However, being just a tie-in, it's really not all that important in the grand scheme of things, other than advancing subplots some more. In this case, when Donna tries to get into Heaven – long story; it has to do with "Day of Judgment" – she gets expelled, much like how she was unable to get into Hell. The H.I.V.E. mistress finally comes back into things and demands action on her quest to eliminate the world of superheroes. But the good Mr. Dahrk – oh, and it's spelled "dahrk", with an H...
BECAUSE POOR LITERACY... IS HIP AND MODERN!
Linkara (v/o): ...demands some payment before he continues, and the H.I.V.E. mistress holds out her arm. Deathstroke gets attacked by Tartarus and he just barely manages to reach Titans Island... although, considering he stumbles over after arriving, that makes me wonder if he swam to the island after first being in a jungle, but whatever.
(Cut to the next issue)
Linkara (v/o): This leads into the three-parter that concludes the first year of the team: "The Immortal Coil". We get Deathstroke to narrate his life story for us and even give us some details that didn't happen in the Titans book; in this case that he actually died once, but Cheshire brought him back to life by mutating his blood and effectively making him immortal, which he passed on to his estranged wife, Adeline. Remember her? She just disappeared from "The New Titans" after Jericho's death and a blood transfusion that subsequently made her immortal, too. Also, for some reason, Beast Boy is now here. Yeah, I don't get it either. I thought it would be explained in that Beast Boy miniseries I mentioned before, but nope! That one ends with him and Flamebird walking into the sunset in Los Angeles. He's just there now for this three-parter and the next issue without any explanation.
Linkara: I guess it was just a matter of Nightwing calling him up and saying, (makes a phone shape with his hand) "Hey, uh, dude? That villain who we have a complicated relationship with stopped by. Can you come over? Thanks. Oh, and bring pizza."
Linkara (v/o): Since this was before Deathstroke once again became mega-villain in "Identity Crisis", he's still on relatively good terms with the team and is asking for their help in tracking down Tartarus. Nightwing even gives him one of his old costumes to replace the crappy '90s one that had hubcaps as shoulder pads.
Deathstroke: You think I can't hear the tracer on this thing humming, kid?
Linkara (v/o): Nightwing's response is great...
Nightwing: You think I'd let you shanghai my team without insurance? Nobody trusts you that much, Deathstroke... Get used to it.
Linkara: (as Nightwing) I mean, sometimes you help us, sometimes you betray us, and sometimes, you inexplicably are able to defeat the entire Justice League singlehandedly, except for Green Arrow, who sticks a broken arrow in your eye socket. (beat) You know, I just realized our lives are very weird.
Linkara (v/o): Some other subplots move along, too, I haven't been talking about it, but Cyborg has been feeling really uncomfortable in the Omegadrome as a body. He feels even less human now than he was back in the old days, with technology sticking out of him, and now he has a body that lets him stretch out and grab a pencil in another room. So, here's the plot of the three-parter: the H.I.V.E. and Tartarus are operating out of a country called Zandia, which has appeared before in "The Titans" as basically being a nation that's a haven for international criminals and terrorists. The H.I.V.E.'s plan is to create a massive crisis in Zandia: bomb waterways and power plants and lots of disasters, and force as many superheroes as possible to come to the country to assist the civilian population. Once the majority of superheroes are there, they'll nuke the place and kill almost all superheroes in the world. Tartarus is there to capture the H.I.V.E. mistress, deploying killer robots to that effect. We discover that the H.I.V.E. mistress is in fact Adeline Wilson, Deathstroke's ex-wife and Jericho's mother.
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Robot Chicken)
M. Night Shyamalan: What a twist!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Tartarus wants her because the blood transfusion I mentioned before made her immortal, too, except her blood type is O, which makes her a universal donor. Vandal Savage wants to synthesize her blood into a universal serum that can be sold as an immortality elixir. However, to store the blood, he needs the assistance of Cyborg's Omegadrome body. As such, he lures Cyborg away with the promise of giving him a full human body, which sadly he's tempted by. The Titans, disorganized by all the recent events and double loyalties, are unable to keep things under control, especially after Grodd slits Adeline's throat to try to force Cyborg to make a choice. With Adeline suffering terribly as she dies, begging for Deathstroke to just let her die, Starfire incinerates her as a mercy killing, much to the shock of everyone else. Cheshire is also wounded badly and Arsenal has to try to get her medical attention. And during all of this, the bomb is finally dropped, and we get to see Nightwing at his most badass! He dives down and RIDES THE NUKE IN AN ATTEMPT TO DISARM IT IN MID-AIR!
Linkara: (smiling) Okay, we already did this last week, but something that awesome deserves Nightwish again.
(He raises his finger in the air and a snippet of "Over the Hills and Far Away" plays)
Nightwish: (singing) Over the hills and far away, / For ten long years he'll count the days.
Linkara (v/o): However, Cyborg pushes him away, since his body can probably disarm it faster, but also contain the blast if he fails... which he does, albeit, he survives and needs to hitch a ride into space later to dispose of the radiation. Because it's the Titans; of course they can regularly go into space. Tartarus gets away and Damien Dahrk is stabbed, but was given the immortality transfusion by Adeline earlier, so he's still alive, too, and taken into custody. As far as I know, we never see him again. So much for the new, modern villain. Dark Flash even offers to help Arsenal take Cheshire to the hospital in a moment of true humanity from the guy, but he gets forgotten when Argent makes the same offer. Needless to say, things are not ending on the first year with a happy note, especially for poor Deathstroke, who has now lost everyone in his family. Well, except for his daughter, who goes nuts and cuts out her own eye in the 2003 series. Yaaay...
(Cut to the thirteenth issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 13 is the fallout of all of this; everyone is exhausted and the team is severely fractured. Tempset wants to get back to his wife; Nightwing and Starfire are ready to come to blows; Dark Flash is finally kicked off the team by Nightwing, since he refuses to reveal who he is and thus can't be trusted; Arsenal just wants to go see Cheshire in the hospital; and Cyborg gets pissed off at Beast Boy and thinks everybody is always looking at him like he's gonna try to steal the moon again and decides to quit. Unfortunately, Nightwing says he can't quit, since he promised the JLA that if he was on the Titans, they could keep an eye on him. Cyborg seems to take this well, as he... grabs Nightwing and almost tries to kill him.
Linkara: Although, this doesn't really jell with what we saw in Issue 1. It was Tempest who suggested that he join the team, not Nightwing.
Linkara (v/o): Nightwing asks the team to think about if they're truly all willing to be dedicated to said team, and half of them leave to go do their own things and get some time to think. Things aren't made any better for Donna, too, since all of the team keeps trying to go to her for advice and to talk, and she snaps at everyone that she isn't their guidance counselor and she's been having a sucky time, too. Jesse quits the team as well. As I brought up in the team history video, the group is incestuous and very reactionary, and all these little problems built up to the point where they weren't ready to handle them. Made worse is that Nightwing keeps his identity a close secret and hasn't shared it with her. And to be fair, after what happened with Terra, wouldn't you be a little more protective of your secrets? However, most of the team comes back together at the Red Lobster or whatever that they've first formed the team at and recognize that they're having problems, but things do seem to be getting better.
(Cut to the fourteenth issue)
Linkara (v/o): However, before we can get back to that drama, it's time for a rescue mission! See, it turns out that a throwaway line made by Damien Dahrk to Vandal Savage in Issue 12 turned out to be true.
(Cut to the panel showing the line in question...)
Damien: I mean, what'd you do? Kidnap some former Titan member and ask them to help you pick candidates for your team?
Linkara: And... yeah! That's exactly what Vandal Savage did. He kidnapped Omen and forced her to use her psychic abilities to put together a team to fight the Titans. Just remember, (gives a thumbs-up while grinning) Vandal Savage has enhanced intelligence!
Linkara (v/o): Tempest, receiving a psychic distress call from her, leaves what's left of the group to rescue her. While being an awesome issue that focuses on Tempest's leadership abilities, it's also packed with lots of great humor, including a bit where Nightwing is talking to Batman and asking for advice because his life is so chaotic. Batman doesn't actually say anything, as Dick just rants and rambles about everything going on, and just finally says...
Batman: Dick. I trust you'll make the right choice...
Linkara (v/o): And that just confuses Dick even more. What's great about this is that Batman clearly is listening to him, and it seems that he just knows that he needed to get all that off his chest. They get Lilith out, and it turns out that she deliberately had Vandal Savage pick out team members who would be at each other's throats. And it works, since Tartarus basically destroys itself when they start fighting each other.
(Cut to the next two issues of the series)
Linkara (v/o): Issues 15 and 16 are my favorite issues of the entire run. The original five Titans go off together, per Donna's order, on a camping trip for the weekend to try to force them back together... Oh, and Wally had returned as The Flash by this point. ...and rekindle their friendship. None of them are really on board with it, and all the tension between them comes to a boiling point: Flash disappearing for a bit and being replaced; Arsenal and Tempest, and how Tempest keeps getting joked on for being a water-breather; Flash and Donna over who she really is; you get the picture. All of them are ready to come to blows, and things aren't made any better when a monsoon hits them. Probably should've checked the weather reports for that. Tempest accidentally freezes the jet, meaning they can't escape the island, and Nightwing's continued attempts to make to survive in are foiled, and they all just keep reminding him of being trained by Batman and calling him "Batboy" and saying, "Batman would have had this solved already." Nightwing finally locates a cave, and it looks like he's leading them to it, but in what is probably my favorite moment of the entire book, plants a bomb on the entrance to the cave when he's inside and gleefully proclaims...
Nightwing: Would Batman do-- THIS?
Linkara (v/o): ...and blows it up, sealing himself inside away from the others. However, inside the cave is revealed their true enemy: the Gargoyle. Yep, remember him? He's still out for revenge on the Titans, and with his powers, he was able to exacerbate their conflicts with one another. Sure, they are angry at each other, but they're family; they'd normally be fine and figure this stuff out. He just nudged them into the right direction and then sends them into a limbo state. Roy is the one who is able to break through the limbo state more than the others, and Dick gets them all to apologize to one another and try to settle their differences, since the Gargoyle admits that they've been in such a limbo state for the last few months that it didn't take much to push them. However, what does finally break them free is Roy punching Dick.
Linkara: What? Don't you remember "Rise of Arsenal"? Hitting your friends is the greatest sign of friendship.
Linkara (v/o): Well, okay, it's more about the nature of limbo. It's stagnation and status quo. They weren't getting out of it because they were doing what they always did: kiss and make up. By Roy punching Dick and breaking the cycle and letting out everything that was bugging him, it allowed them to escape.
(Cut to a shot of the seventeenth issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issues 17, 18 and 19 are a three-parter that has team members permanently leaving. They receive a distress call from Starfire's brother, who needs the Titans' help in securing another home world for the Tamaranians. Oh, yeah, that new home world that they established at the end of "The New Titans"? That got blown up, too!
Linkara: What the hell is it with Starfire and her home planet blowing up?! Does she get a free coupon or something after her home world is destroyed a certain number of times?!
Linkara (v/o): Damage goes on a trip with Arsenal and Lian to the Indian reservation where Arsenal grew up and we discover that Damage was actually physically and sexually abused as a child. He leaves to stay with the tribe and hopefully work out his problems, while we discover that Starfire and her group are actually invading the world of the Gordanians, the ones who originally enslaved Starfire. Thanks to Tempest, they actually negotiate to allow the Tamaranians to stay on their world, but Starfire has to remain there as a peace envoy. Using a weak connection, Starfire and Nightwing say goodbye to each other and admit that they love each other... buuuut it's unclear if either hears it.
Linakra: Reboot or no reboot, I still hold out hope that those two crazy kids will someday make it work.
Offscreen voice: What about Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon?
Linkara: What about Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon?
Linkara (v/o): Nightwing also helps convince Jesse to rejoin the team as we lead into Issue 20, where Flash and Cyborg leave. Why is Cyborg leaving? Well, Nightwing, with Jesse's assistance, manages to get the Russians who rebuilt Cyborg in "The New Titans" to cough up the samples of Vic's DNA that they had. With Red Star's help, they clone a human body for him and, thanks to the Omegadrome, can transfer him into it. He still has the Omegadrome, but he looks human, which is what he really wanted to begin with. He becomes a supporting cast member on Flash's book until magic or something turns him back into his old Cyborg body. Because screw you, character development!
(Cut to the twenty-first issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issues 21 and 22 are "The Trial of Cheshire", who's still in police custody after what happened in "The Immortal Coil". Of course, even though it's called "The Trial of Cheshire", she is not actually on trial in the issues. It's more about advancing Roy's relationship with her. I should note that this is the first issue where Jay Faerber is the solo writer of the book. Devin Grayson left because she was getting more and more work on her plate and was burning out, so she had to let go of the book. We'll get more into Faerber's run next time and the problems that plagued it... most of which are not his fault. Anyway, after a failed attempt to kidnap Lian by some of Cheshire's enemies, Cheshire is attacked by Deathstroke, who was hired by a group of Quracis, who are still naturally pissed off about the whole "her nuking their country" thing. Arsenal manages to fight him off, just barely, but sustains heavy injuries as a result, and Cheshire escapes. However, during this, we also get the hint of a new villain emerging: Epsilon. Again, something will get into next time. Speaking of subplots started, Jesse Quick's mother, the former Liberty Belle, stops by to inform her daughter that she's getting married. More stuff to get into next time. Next time is gonna be a big thing, isn't it? Anyway, the fight with Deathstroke is actually a real highlight, and it's clear that Roy is out of his league against him, but he manages to hold his own really damn well, even getting a few hits in.
Linkara: Is this a thing now? Roy Harper actually doing incredibly well against bad guys who otherwise take out entire groups of heroes? Prometheus? Deathstroke? Dude's gonna take on Darkseid on his own one of these days.
Linkara (v/o): Nightwing discovers that Chanda gave Cheshire's location to the Quracis, but they can't really deal with that right away, since we lead into the three-parter that ends the first half of the series: "Who is Troia?" Everyone's memories of Donna are erased, along with any records that would indicate who the hell she is, and naturally, the Titans are suspicious of her. She runs off to try to figure things out on her own, while Chanda quits to try to protect Lian from harm. Who's responsible for this? Dark Angel, of course! Seriously, Dark Angel? Really with that name! Dark Angel attacks, but fortunately, Donna does have backup: the Titans from the Kingdom Come universe. It seems Dark Angel has been moving from one reality to the next, erasing Donna Troy's existence from each one. The Teen Titans from the Kingdom Come universe were recruited by Zeus to fix this, not only because Donna Troy is special to him, but also because this disruption in hypertime could cause all the different realities to collapse in on each other. Apparently, even the knowledge of hypertime's existence can be disastrous, so they can't reveal who they are to the Titans, instead claiming to be a team of government agents. (low voice) Actually, it was editorial mandate, but whatever. (normal again) These Titans are pretty much the children of the group, including Donna Troy's still-living son; the daughter of Starfire and Nightwing; a grown-up Lian...
Linkara: And I just remembered that this future will never happen because of "Cry for Justice"! So I hope whoever made that decision gets salt poured into their eyes!
Linkara (v/o): (clears throat) Er... a daughter for Tempest – although, in this reality, he has a son; and Kid Flash, the daughter of Wally West and his wife, Linda. Speaking of The Flash, though, he does remember Donna because of the events of the last time Dark Angel attacked and thus sets out to help the others. As hypertime continues to destabilize, Dark Angel and different incarnations of her from other realities go back through time to try to kill Donna at various points of her life.
Linkara: Basically, the story was meant to bring final resolution to Donna Troy's history, and it doesn't really succeed in that regard. It's a bit of a mess, but a very enjoyable mess, with a lot of guest artists and writers to celebrate.
Linkara (v/o): After Dark Angel is defeated, everyone's memories of the future Titans gets erased, and of course, party time, with Wonder Woman even describing Donna's powers. No mention is made of the whole "ability to repel evil" from the beginning of the series, but I would guess that it's just an extension of her command over truth or something. Like Wonder Woman, Donna Troy has that same ability as the spirit of it, but she just doesn't have a lasso that allows her to channel that power. Roy Harper recruits Rose Wilson to become the new nanny for Lian, and Donna and Roy officially break up. Aaaand that's pretty much it for the first half of "The Titans". There are problems with it, sure; there are problems in any book. But what I really loved about this series was the strong character dynamics and the ability of the characters to, yes, argue with each other, but they came out stronger as a result of it. I felt that the characters were actually advancing and getting better, that they were changing as a result of their experiences. And even in spite of that, there was still drama and lots of stories ahead of them to tell. It was just a really damn good book, and for me, being the first comic book I was ever regularly picking up and reading, it was special to me.
Linkara: Buuut for those who have been upset that this trip down memory lane hasn't contained enough of my rage, well, come back next week, as "March of the Titans" concludes with the last 25 issues. And expect more than a little yelling.
TO BE CONTINUED
(End credits roll)
If you're wondering why slitting Adeline's throat would kill her if she's supposed to be immortal, just remember that the immortality comes from the blood. If you're bleeding out and losing all of the blood, chances are you won't be THAT immortal.
Slim Pickens has got NOTHING on Nightwing.
(Stinger: The panel showing Cyborg's "human" form is shown again.)
Linkara (v/o): So Cyborg got himself a whole new human body, and thus he was able to get beyond Omegadrome.
(Editor's note: "Thunderdome Jokes: 3")