The Titans #26-50
March 25, 2013
March of the Titans concludes with one stupid idea after another!
(Open on a black screen)
Linkara (v/o): Previously on Atop the Fourth Wall...
(Dramatic music plays in the background)
Linkara: Let's dig into "The Titans #1" through "25".
(Cut to a short-haired woman in a white dress)
Woman: Well, go ahead, Linkara. Shoot me. With maximum power.
Linkara: (aiming his magic gun at the woman) I want to shoot you... but something is keeping me from doing so!
Woman: (laughs) That's because I have main character shields.
(Cut to the Nostalgia Critic)
NC: My God! An alien force is arriving off-screen, and I'm pregnant with The Nostalgia Chick's baby!
Linkara: (seated again) Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait! Hold it, hold it! Cut the music, cut the music! (the dramatic music stops abruptly) The hell are you doing here?!
NC: I'm... doing the "previously on" segment thing.
Linkara: I thought you were dead.
NC: I was! Sort of.
Linkara: (confused) What the hell happened?
NC: (sighs) I kinda got stuck in limbo, where I was a Muppet, a Ghost of Christmas, an ex-child star who remade movies, and now I'm back to review films again. (becomes confused) What? What?!
Linkara: You can't do that! Dead people can't come back!
NC: Says the comic book reviewer.
Linkara: (pointing at NC) Hey, don't try to make this about me. We buried your body!
NC: (even more confused) You didn't have a body to bury.
Linkara: Well, we definitely buried someone who looked like you. We had a memorial service and everything.
NC: The Nostalgia Chick said you held a big Coke party.
Linkara: It was a memorial service and a party. (holds up hands, flustered) Look, look, the point is, we can't just have dead people walking around again. Next thing you know, you'll say The Last Angry Geek is alive again.
NC: He's been alive for months.
Linkara: (facepalms himself) Oh, for the love of...!
NC: Wait, is this about you wanting to take over the website?
Linkara: The Nostalgia Chick and I were engaged in a very tense conflict, (points to himself, gritting teeth) and I was winning! We were gonna change the logo so it was my face instead of yours!
NC: (sarcastically) Oh, yeah, your beautiful face would have brought so many more people to the site.
Linkara: Well, look, we just can't have this right now! Uh, I need you to pretend to be dead for the next few months, and then we'll make a movie or something out of your return. It'll be awesome!
NC: No! I'm back, and that's that!
Linkara: There's no way you can get out of this, Critic! The only way you could foil this plan is if we, I don't know, suddenly cut to my theme song. But I can assure that this is not going to ha–
(He is cut off, however, as the AT4W title sequence plays. The title card has "We Could Still Be Together" by Lisa Loeb playing in the background)
Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And here's where it all falls down.
(A shot of the cover of a "Titans: Secret Files and Origins" book is shown)
Linkara (v/o): So outside of the main "Titans" books, there were three other things we should briefly go over. First is "Titans: Secret Files and Origins #2", which had some more short stories and hints about storylines to come... that never came about; I'll get to that in a bit. But most prominent of all was a story about a new Titans West forming called "Titans L.A.". It never really got off the ground, just like the other Titans West, which is odd, since reading behind the scenes, it seems like there was actually quite a bit of enthusiasm to make it happen.
(The second "Titans" book is shown, involving Young Justice)
Linkara (v/o): Next up, the Titans had a brief special related to a crossover event centered around Young Justice called "Sins of Youth", where the character Clarion the Witch Boy creates a spell that basically reverses everyone's ages; all the adults become teenagers, and all the teenagers become adults. The original Titans weren't affected because of some magic that had occurred in a previous story, but the other members got their ages switched out, with Damage in particular becoming a very serious-minded superhero in his own right and showed potential for greatness. What did happen, though, was that the group came across a new Wildebeest society, the only difference being these Wildebeests were actually animalistic creatures instead of people in suits. I don't think we ever really got resolution on where the hell they came from, though I believe that there were hints about it years and years later in both the 2003 "Titans" series as well as the Cyborg miniseries.
(The third "Titans" book is shown)
Linkara (v/o): The final thing of note was "Titans Annual #1", wherein the team rejoins Beast Boy and Flamebird in Japan to face off against a demon while teaming up with a new hero named Bushido. It was part of the theme of the Annuals that year of introducing new, international heroes, and Bushido even moved to join up with Titans L.A. Aaaand then Geoff Johns killed him "Infinite Crisis".
Linkara: Although, to be fair, he did create Bushido, so okay, although that doesn't make up for him killing Pantha in "Infinite Crisis", too, because he thought (sarcastically giving a double thumbs-up) killing her would develop Red Star's character! (sotto voce) Hey, Geoff Johns? There's this thing called "women in refrigerators" that one of your peers wrote about and said was a bad thing. (becomes angry) Perhaps you should read it sometime!
Linkara (v/o): But enough about Geoff Johns and his work with the Titans; let's go back to my favorite team and the dark times it faced in its second half. So, Jay Faerber wrote a number of issues with Devin Grayson, and when he was given the book, he had a big overview and plans for how the series was going to progress, like any good writer has.
Linkara: Aaaand most of it never ended up seeing the light of day. Behold the true villain of the Titans! Not Deathstroke, not Brother Blood, not Trigon. Oh, no, no, no. (scowls) Andrew Helfer!
Linkara (v/o): Unlike the previous editor, Eddie Braganza, who was a huge fan of the Titans and knew their history inside and out, Andrew Helfer knew absolutely nothing about the Titans and in fact kept referring to them in his conversations with Jay Faerber by their previous names; i.e., Nightwing as Robin, Tempest as Aqualad, etc.
Linkara: Now, I don't expect non-comics readers to know stuff like that, since TV and movies still tend to have Dick Grayson as Robin, for example. But if you're an editor in this company, Dick Grayson hasn't been Robin for over fifteen frickin' years by this point, so get your damn head in the game!
Linkara (v/o): Basically, most of the stories, for good or for ill, that Faerber had planned got tossed aside for what Andrew Helfer wanted to do. Helfer's big problem was that he didn't get why the Titans needed to exist; what their mission statement was.
Linkara: Why the hell do they need one? It's a superhero book with a long history behind it, with rich character histories upon which to draw on for new stories! No one picks up "Justice League" and says (mockingly while pretending to shake a comic around) "Why does this need to exist?" (scowls)
Linkara (v/o): But no, Helfer and Faerber threw out various ideas, and one of them, which wasn't even really taken seriously at the time, ended up becoming a big focus of the book for quite a while. We'll talk some more about that in a little bit, but I guess we should actually start discussing the comics themselves.
Linkara: So let's dig into "The Titans #26" through "50" and watch my favorite series fall apart.
Linkara (v/o): Issue 26 is a lot more down-to-Earth superhero stuff after the time-traveling, inter-dimensional antics with Donna in the three-part before it. The plot, believe it or not, actually revolves around Titans Tower's lease.
Linkara: (holding up fist dramatically) Titans together! We will defeat subprime mortgages!
Linkara (v/o): Basically, a group of business investors kidnap a supervillain's children to force him into assassinating the mayor of New York. Said mayor was a minor character in "The New Titans", former New York police chief Jim Hall. He had been a big supporter of the Titans and, now that he's mayor, wants to keep up friendly relations with them. The lease for Titans Tower is up and the mayor is naturally going to renew it for them, but the business investors want him dead and out of the way so they can buy up the property. The subplot revolves around Jesse Quick and her mom's fiance. We finally meet the guy, and he's, like, 30 and planning to marry a woman twice his age. The subplot will get more development later on – in the worst possible way. We'll get to that. Otherwise, issue 26 is just an enjoyable done-in-one.
(Cut to the 27th issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 27 is where things actually where things start on the road to the book's doom. You'll recall a guy I mentioned last week named Epsilon. Cheshire, having escaped from custody in issue 21, goes to look in on Lian while she's playing with Rose. A bunch of Quraci ninjas attack – because it's superhero comics; of course they have those – and Epsion arrives, helps defeat the ninjas, and then takes her back into custody. However, mech suits piloted by the Department of Extranormal Operations, or D.E.O. – think of them as a low-rent DC version of S.H.I.E.L.D. – arrive to take him into custody. Since they won't explain themselves to the Titans, the heroes take them on and defend him, even inviting him back to the Tower. Naturally, they're smart enough to remember that, well, every other time they've brought in stray superheroes, said superheroes end up betraying them.
Linkara: (sotto voce) Spoilers: The same thing happens here.
Linkara (v/o): Except, the details are a little different here, and they ask him to unmask. He seems to nervously stumble after that, but acquiesces, his personality changing. Argent is taken with him, and that begins a subplot of her attempts to romance him. And again, he's actually evil... sort of. Seriously, the Titans seem to have an uncanny knack for its members following in love with evil people: Beast Boy fell in love with Terra; Starfire fell for a guy who turned out to be a H.I.V.E. agent; Arsenal and Cheshire; Raven had a brief fling with an emotional vampire; Mirage was in love with an evil alternate future Nightwing...
(A shot of a comic featuring said alternate future Nightwing is shown, where he is named Deathwing. Editor's note: "Yes, really - 'Deathwing.'")
Linkara (v/o): ...who, ironically enough, when Epsilon debuted, his costume made me think he was said alternate future Nightwing...
(Cut back to the Titans series)
Linkara (v/o): ...Kid Flash was with a woman who mental stability issues named Magenta; and now Argent for Epsilon. I also like Epsilon's look, by the way. The best costumes are always the simple ones, with that jacket and helmet.
Linkara: And before we get into what Epsilon's actual deal is, I want to talk about the original ideas for him. You know, before Andrew Helfer screwed them up.
Linkara (v/o): Epsilon appeared and fought alongside Troia when Dark Angel erased the world's memories of her. Except, he actually recognized her, but feigned that he didn't afterwards. Why? Well, the first idea that they went with for him was that Epsilon was actually a dimension-hopping serial killer, going to different realities in hypertime and murdering heroes; hence, why he could recognize Donna when the rest of the world didn't. That apparently got the kibosh put on it, probably by higher-ups in DC Editorial, since they were also the Negative Nancies who didn't want the "Kingdom Come" Titans to admit they were the future children of the group. So, Jay Faerber had a second idea for him that was even more awesome! Get this: Epsilom was actually going to be a reborn Danny Chase! Oh, yeah! You can imagine how exciting that would have been for me! The idea was that a Tempest villain named Slizzath, who was a sorcerer who he had fought in his own miniseries, had resurrected him as the advancement for the longer scheme and that eventually, all the dead Titans would get resurrected. Since Danny Chase was so hated, Faerber would prove that any character can be good if written the right way. Hell, in that second "Secret Files and Origins" issue, they even state that Slizzath was going to be coming back soon! This was well in the works!
Linkara: But then Helfer came on board and tossed that awesome idea in the garbage. Want to know what we got instead? (gnashes teeth)
Linkara (v/o): Well, for that, I need to introduce you to the new stars of the Titans! Yes, seriously! Behold these five children. (takes a deep breath) These five frickin' children! These five kids end up on the island, and they refuse to explain how they got there. The five all have superpowers – that I will not get into because I refuse to dignify this stupid idea – and we learn in a later issue that they are also on the run from the D.E.O., leaving an orphanage because... I have no idea. We never get an actual reason why they didn't like being with the D.E.O., if they were abused or anything, just that they decided that going to the Titans and asking them to take care of them would be best. Andrew Helfer thought that the kids would get popular enough that they might even get their own miniseries. Or in fact, a greater goal being that they would eventually supplant the ACTUAL Titans and become the Titans, and the real team would just kinda fade away or get a spinoff – a spinoff from THEIR OWN FRICKING BOOK!!
Linkara: Hey, pop quiz: name any story where the cast gets replaced by new characters overnight, and those characters end up being more loved than the original! (becomes angry) Time's up, because THAT NEVER HAPPENS!!!
Linkara (v/o): And don't bother pointing out examples where something like that happens, because I'll just find some way of pointing out how it's different from this. This is ridiculous! Some asshole with no understanding or respect for the actual characters of the book comes on, decides "Yeah, I don't know anything about these characters, so we're gonna use these new characters instead," and expects people to embrace it with open arms?!
Linkara: You know, when Harv Bennett was brought on as Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, he had never seen a single episode of the original series. So you know what he did? He watched every episode of the original series! Couldn't Andrew Helfer be bothered to actually read some of their history since he was going to be editing their book?!
Linkara (v/o): And as for them getting more popular than the actual stars of the book... yeah, this was around the time I actually became involved with online fandoms concerning comic books, and I can assure you that, at best, these kids were tolerated. I admit, there's not much to hate about them from a character standpoint. There's nothing unlikeable about them, nothing that makes you want to punch them or anything like that. It's just that their presence was a distraction from the guys we actually wanted to read about! And so many damn issues got devoted to them in their shenanigans with the D.E.O. that it was just unbearable and we kept wanting them to GO AWAY, BUT THEY NEVER DID!! Ugh! Anyway, issues 28 and 29 focus around the kids and trying to figure out who they are, while also starting a subplot about Tempest's marital problems, since he spends so much time away from his wife and son. Ultimately, Dolphin decides to move into the Tower to spend more time with him, which disappointed me when I initially read it, not because there isn't drama there, but rather I thought it was the Slizzath plot finally coming to fruition. An abandoned plan was going to be that Dolphin was going to be a more active member of the Titans, while Tempest became a stay-at-home dad, which I wouldn't have minded. It's good for the supporting cast to be more active in the book, especially if it's someone like her who already has extra abilities she could take into battle. We also begin another subplot about Argent taking some kind of vitamin drug called Apex. What the hell it actually does is unclear, but it seems to either enhance metahuman abilities or possibly grant them to people without any negative side effects. And yes, this isn't some kind of twist or something; this drug does not have any negative side effects. I'm serious. Anyway, they let the kids stay, and in issue 30, we finally get resolution on the trial of Cheshire – eight issues after the "Trial" two-parter. Despite the fact that Cheshire is found guilty by the United Nations for crimes against humanity, she isn't sentenced to death, just life imprisonment. During a prison riot, Cheshire has a chance to escape, but Arsenal finally decides to let go of her and not help her anymore. And then Brad Meltzer kinda screwed that over a few years later, but that's neither here nor there.
(Cut to the 31st issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 31 advances the Epsilon plot... sort of. Epsilon finds a note in his jacket when Argent wants to take him out for shopping and seems confused by it. They arrive at a penthouse suite of a hotel that the note told them about, and we meet this lady, Theta. I'm pretty sure Theta was not in the original plans for Epsilon, and frankly, she doesn't make that much sense with the explanation they do go with. During a battle with her, his mind seems to flip back and forth between two personalities and he asks Argent to just drop it afterwards. And Argent does for a while... even though she should be smarter than this.
Linkara: Isn't it fun when things that were stupid to begin with end up making even less sense as they progress?
Linkara (v/o): Issue 32 has the D.E.O. revealing who the kids are, and the Titans keep them anyway, with Nightwing blackmailing the head of the D.E.O.: a skeleton guy named Mr. Bones. Yes, seriously.
Linkara: Comic books!
Linkara (v/o): Also, the good Mr. Bones says that he has a plan that will make the kids want to come back. (laughs) Yeah, that never actually happens. He has no plan. We'll get to that.
(Cut to the 33rd issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 33 continues the Epsilon-and-Theta thing. It starts with Epsilon making out with Argent, much to his surprise, since she's still crushing on him. And hoo, boy, I can't wait to tell you what his deal is, because it makes all of this really, really squicky. But anyway, while the Titans are off dealing with a rather lame crossover event at the time called "Our Worlds at War", Argent is left to watch over the stupid D.E.O. kids and writing a letter to her mother since she hasn't really talked with her much since the whole "getting her father arrested for drug trafficking" thing. However, she still wants to figure out what the deal is with Theta, so she goes to the only other person still around: Rose Wilson, who is being badass and exercising. Rose is helpful, intelligent and completely stable, and even seems a bit older, closer to 18 or 19. I bring this up because in the 2003 "Teen Titans" series, suddenly, she has regressed a few years, gets drugged by her father, cuts out her own eye, and then becomes a cliched "I am snarky team member who is also constantly pissed off, so I have to talk every single second, even when it's annoying and inappropriate" character.
Linkara: Because why would we want nice, stable people around, hmm? No, no, no, better to have characters moving backwards instead of forwards. It's DC's usual policy. Why do you think they reboot everything every few years?
(Cut to Pollo standing in front of the bookshelf)
Pollo: We'll be right back in a moment. Maybe. We'll see.
(Pollo leaves as the AT4W logo appears in the corner and we got to a commercial break. Upon return, Pollo returns)
Pollo: And we're back. Good times.
(Pollo leaves as the AT4W logo appears in the corner; cut back to the "Titans" comics as the review resumes)
Linkara (v/o): Theta tells Argent that her father hired her and Epsilon to infiltrate the Titans and destroy them from within. Argent confronts her father about it, but he denies it, and we never really find out if it's the truth or not, though it seems to be implied that it is. Argent has Lilith do a telepathic scan of Epsilon to see if that's the truth, and while his "psychic wavelengths" are a bit weird, she confirms his intentions are altruistic, and there is a reason for that.
(Cut to the 34th issue)
Linkara (v/o): Oh, and speaking of crossover events, Issue 34 is a tie-in to the Batman one at the time: "Joker: Last Laugh". The Joker was told that he was dying on cancer – he wasn't really – and thus, he planned his final crime spree of using the toxin that turned him into the Joker on as many supervillains as he could find. This is nonsensical for a number of reasons, but the point is, Issue 34 is about a Joker-ized Cheshire to attack Lian and Joker-ize her, too. They, of course, stop her and cure both Cheshire and Lian. It was an okay issue, even if most of the action involved the D.E.O. kids fighting Cheshire. Yaaay...
(Cut to the 35th issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issues 35 and 36 are a two-parter, and a pretty terrible one, unfortunately. The good part of it is the return of Beast Boy and Flamebird. Buuut the reason they're in town is to recruit the D.E.O. kids into becoming Titans West.
Linkara: Yes! Yes, Beast Boy, take them! Take them to the other side of the country! We don't want them!
Linkara (v/o): But no, they decide to stick around. Goody-goody gumdrops. The subplot is basically them fighting off some remnants of the Wildebeest creatures from the Young Justice event, and that's it. The main plot is the really frustrating one. Unfortunately, this was a story that Faerber wanted to do, and while I have nothing but respect for him as a writer, since he is a talented guy – I recommend the series he made called "Dynamo 5", for instance – this was just a bad, bad idea. Remember that younger guy who Jesse Quick's mom was engaged to? Well, he turns up murdered in his bed. There's suspicion on Jesse's mother having killed him, since they learn that the guy was cheating on her. When they eventually find Jesse's mom, Jesse reveals that she was the one who he was sleeping with. Yyyyeah. Jesse Quick was sleeping with her mother's young fiance. She claims it was only for recreation, but a flashback shows she was really swept up by the asshole, and yeah, if the cheating wasn't enough, he was really only marrying her mother for money. And she says the reason why she didn't tell her mother about it was basically because she was a crappy mother and "didn't know how these things work."
(Cut to a clip of an episode of Scrubs)
Dr. Cox: (to a fellow doctor) Yeah, tough there, Barbie. That was one potent combination of verbal diarrhea and stunned silence. (gives a thumbs-up)
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara: WHAT... A... LOAD. Jesse has been shown to be intelligent, thoughtful, and KNEW THE FREAKING DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RIGHT AND WRONG!! If I really have anything to criticize about Faerber's run that was his fault, it's that I don't think he really "got" Jesse Quick. I've been getting most of the behind-the-scenes info from the Titans Companion Books, and he paints Jesse as being the outsider of the group, who didn't have the same kind of relationship to the others that Nightwing did. That's all well and good, but the way he portrayed it in the series was, well, as kind of a real jackass. She was abrasive, impatient, angry, and just unlikeable. Her lamer costume didn't help. And if you're wondering who really murdered the guy, it was a Golden Age hero. (deadpan) Hooray, a hero turning villain, that's what we needed.
(Cut to the 37th issue)
Linkara (v/o): The beginning of the end for the team started with issues 37 and 38, where we finally get an explanation about Epsilon – mostly. Okay, there was another kid who was with the D.E.O. kids in the orphanage, but he couldn't come with them because he was wheelchair-bound. However, he's apparently a young Professor X or something, he actually has incredible psychic power, enough to take over Epsilon's body. He has been the one who was in the driving seat most of the time... which means that Argent has basically been making out with a thirteen-year-old boy. Now, they never state Argent's age at the time of this, but they do reveal that she's under 21 in any event, so chances are it's still squicky. What's more, his ability to possess is shaking, due to being out of his body for so long, and Epsilon's real personality breaks through and he violent attacks and destroys Titans Tower. Epsilon was also at the orphanage with the D.E.O. kids for a while, but when he was of age, he left. Also, it turns out that Nightwing has known all about Epsilon actually being psychotic for a while now and in fact knew his backstory, but didn't tell the other Titans because he wanted to sure his suspicions were correct before telling them. (sarcastically) Gee, it's not like they've ever had trouble with evil team members or Nightwing keeping secrets– OH, WAIT!
(Cut to a clip of a Cyberman in Doctor Who)
Cyberman: There is... logic... in what he says.
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Well, this all makes perfect sense, then. Except, if Epsilon was always psychotic, how did he meet up with Theta? Why did they go with the Greek numbers...
(Editor's note: "LETTERS, I misspoke.")
Linkara (v/o): ...theme for their costumes and powers? Why does Theta own a regular suburban house? Did she live with Epsilon? If Psychic Kid was able to discern that Epsilon was actually evil and psychotic, does that mean he had access to Epsilon's knowledge, thoughts and feelings? If so, why did he always seem so surprised whenever he switched out bodies with him and in turn surprised by the stuff going on with Theta? Why didn't he warn the other D.E.O. kids about how dangerous Epsilon was? If he had this power of possession, why didn't he just get the guards to let him out along with the other D.E.O. kids and they could carry him to the island the same way they got there? What happened when Epsilon needed to sleep? Why did Epsilon keep freezing up during fights? If the D.E.O. were raising Epsilon, why didn't they catch his psychotic tendencies earlier? The D.E.O. have been established as highly observant assholes. Why wouldn't they have been spying on him and keeping tabs when he left the orphanage? Why were they pursuing Epsilon to begin with? And why didn't they just tell the Titans that Epsilon was a criminal? They had multiple opportunities to tell the Titans this. Why did Epsilon recognize Troia when no one else did during the Dark Angel stuff? Was Epsilon aware that he was being possessed? He seemed pretty confused any time he got control again. And if that's the case, then why did he suddenly know that he was possessed in the end storyline for this? Why was Nightwing being a complete dumbass in not telling the other Titans about how dangerous he was if he had been coordinating with the D.E.O.? He seemed to not know about the psychic kid possessing him, so he must have thought it was Epsilon hanging out with the D.E.O. kids as himself. Wouldn't he warn the kids away to protect them? If he thought he was dangerous, why the hell did they let Epsilon pretty much move into the Tower with them? Where the hell was Epsilon sleeping this whole time anyway?! Did he ever sleep with Argent? Because if they did, then that is wrong on so many levels, I don't even know where to start!
(Linkara has asked a lot of questions, so we naturally cut to the obligatory Batman Forever clip)
Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer): It just raises too many questions.
(Cut back to the comic)
Linkara (v/o): The psychic kid dies in the ensuing fight, and Argent, still pissed off about the whole thing, actually seems kind of happy he's dead. The parade of likability just keeps on going. And we never see Epsilon and Theta ever again. The D.E.O. kids are taken back by the D.E.O. since the Titans' headquarters is trash and they can't live there anymore.
Linkara: (elated) And thus, Bones' plan to get back the kids was a complete success! My favorite part of his plan was how he... (stops abruptly and sits in silence briefly, then shrugs)
Linkara (v/o): So, what convinced them to finally lose the D.E.O. kids? Well, we can thank Barry Kitson the artist for that. He was also a big Titans fan while also being a friend of Andrew Helfer and basically told him the D.E.O. kids thing was stupid. However, by that point, the damage was done.
(Cut to the 39th issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issue 39 did not improve things. A lot of former Titans and the JSA show up and offer to help rebuild their headquarters, which is really good. Buuut Nightwing acts like a dick to Beast Boy and gets him to leave before telling all the heroes that he appreciates the offer...
Nightwing: But before we rebuild, we need to refocus on who we are, what we stand for, and how we operate.
Linkara (v/o): That's fricking stupid, Nightwing! That is REMARKABLY stupid! "Refocus on who you are"?! Oh, yeah, let's find our focus on the rubble and burnt-out cinders that were our headquarters instead of having these wonderful people who took time out of their lives to stop by help rebuild your place free of charge! WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU, DUMBASS?! LET THEM BUILD YOU A NEW HEADQUARTERS!! YOU HAVE THREE PEOPLE WITH SUPER SPEED HERE! YOU'LL HAVE A NEW HEADQUARTERS IN AN HOUR!! GAH! Tempest, being smarter than Nightwing, does start making sketches on a new headquarters, and Dolphin even says that she understands how important his work is, and she'd follow him anywhere.
Linkara: (sarcastically) Gee, I wonder if that will be a complete contradiction of what happens a few issues later when there's a different writer on the book. (slaps his head in frustration)
Linkara (v/o): So, time to work on that plot with Apex, and that's the focus of Issues 39 through 44. Yeah, six issues, and it's confusing, irritating, and dumb. So it turns out the guy who's been selling the Apex drug, named Donovan, is actually from another dimension. He's selling the drug to help assemble an army of meta-humans to return to his dimension and help free his world, which is controlled by "The Pharmacracy", basically a pharmaceutical corporation that keeps the population under control with drugs. One of the agents of the Pharmacracy got to Earth and ended accidentally getting trapped inside one of the D.E.O. kids – just roll with it – who has displayed telekinetic powers, and they kept describing her as autistic, but since I don't know anything about autism, it's possible that they were actually being horribly offensive, and I just don't know. And frankly, I don't care, since when they get the guy out of her head, he wants the Titans to come back to his dimension to stop Donovan, not mentioning the whole "working for the umbrella corporation" or anything. But in the other dimension, they're drugged and taken control of, Tempest gets hit by some nasty drugs while still on Earth, and S.T.A.R. Labs manages to save his life. But when he expresses concern for the Titans, Dolphin is pissed off about it and runs off.
Linkara: If this whole situation wasn't bad enough, Jay Faerber left the series halfway into the storyline, and new writer Tom Payer had to finish up everything. (sarcastically) Because changing writers in the middle of a storyline was exactly what this book needed. (grins, then gnashes his teeth in frustration while throwing his head around)
Linkara (v/o): Nightwing continues to act like a dick during this – huh, accidental pun – keeping secrets, making Tempest hold a portal open while he digs around in the ruins of their headquarters for supplies... Hey, you know what would have been a really great idea, Nightwing? LETTING THE HEROES BUILD YOU A NEW HEADQUARTERS! ...and generally just being a jerk. They find Donovan, who claims that his followers came of their own free will and he can free everyone of their addiction was some gas compound he made. But then he gets assassinated, and all the followers say that they were actually under mind control, and Arsenal decides to free everyone of addiction anyway because of his own drug problems in the past, and then everyone goes home and they never mention it again. And if it seems like the storyline is kind of confusing and frustrating, it's only because it is.
(Cut to the 45th issue)
Linkara (v/o): Issues 45 and 46 are mostly about the Titans working clearing up the Tower, while Jesse Quick goes to help out Damage. There have been ghost sightings in the desert near the reservation, and Damage wanted some help investigating. The rest of the Titans join up later, meeting some kind of group of spiritual creatures called the Phantasmoria. We never really learn what their deal is, especially since the ending page reveals they've got thousands of glass capsules with dead people inside of them. Oh, hey, there, Hitler. How's that working out for ya?
Linkara: Barry Kitson said he had to write the two-parter because of deadlines and Tom Payer was behind on writing. With the reboot, it's unlikely we'll ever figure out just what the hell was going on these issues.
Linkara (v/o): And thus, we come to the final four issues. The Titans are trying to fix the tower BY THEMSELVES, and eventually, Donna gets sick of their constant failure, and they decide to just have Tempest buy them a new one. Remember, he was the one who financed the headquarters, thanks to undersea treasure. Unfortunately, Dolphin has completely turned around and states that he has to leave the team, which he does, so they're out of luck on him financing the new headquarters. To make matters worse, a military general stops by to inform that Starfire has apparently gone nuts and started attack satellites, military targets, and broadcast towers around the globe. And she's wearing tinfoil on her head. Yyyeah. As it turns out, an alien force called the Consensus... Did I also mention that Tom Payer had been told the book was being canceled when he was writing this storyline? ...is trying to take over the world with hypnotic suggestion and subliminal messages and the tinfoil really does protect you from their mind control powers. Basically, it's the plot of They Live, but without Roddy Piper and kind of lamer. They beat the Consensus, which turns out to be the Zerg from StarCraft, aaaaand... that's the end of the series. (smacks lips) Yep, a four-part, kinda boring alien invasion storyline. That, is how my favorite book ended and didn't have any actual resolution in it.
Linkara: No, no, no. We had resolution in the three-part miniseries, "Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day", which killed both Lilith and Donna Troy, then formed the 2003 Teen Titans and the Outsiders. (frowns) It was... a truly awful comic, and I will be reviewing it one of these days. (scowls)
Linkara (v/o): But yeah, that's "The Titans", for good and for ill, all 50 issues. Even though I complained a lot in this episode, I still enjoyed reading all of this stuff and enjoyed seeing all of this again, even the half that wasn't as good as the first. So, what was the point of all of this? In 2011, the DC Universe rebooted once again, more or less. However, as reprints of those early issues came out, especially in trade paperbacks, there was a clear focus on eliminating that the Titans had existed before said reboot, that all of these things that happened had ever really happened. Two hundred and fifty-plus comics, spread out over forty years of stories, were effectively considered as not having happened. All of those events, for good and for bad, were considered not worth saving, not worth preserving, not worth reminding people that they had ever happened at all. And of course, these stories are still available to find, be it through illegal means, like torrents, or legitimate ways, like back issues or trade paperbacks or ComiXology. But at the same time, the attitude of any reboot seems to be "Sorry if you liked these things that happened before, but now they never happened. Doesn't matter if you were emotionally invested; it never happened. Now, we're gonna tell the same stories, but not as good or possibly even worse than before."
Linkara: It's the equivalent of your beloved pet dying and then your parents or whatever telling you, "That's okay, we'll get you a new one." They don't understand that it's about having a dog or whatever; it's about having this particular thing and the uniqueness of it.
Linkara (v/o): These were my Titans. And don't take this to mean that I can't accept change or that I have a Superboy-Prime attitude of (as Superboy-Prime) "Everything was better with my Titans!" I accept that I'll never see this group again the way I loved it and grew up with it. But I also know that the stories can be good again. I know that you can celebrate that history while telling new stories that are just as good. Just because it's new doesn't mean that everything that came before it should be thrown out. You know what taught me that? A little comic called "The Titans".
Linkara: The March of the Titans has ended, but the stories will live on. (holds up fist) Titans together!
(End credits roll)
Oh, and the whole "killing Pantha to develop Red Star's character" thing? The guy wasn't on any books, didn't join any books, and just mentioned how they were dead in the two times they saw him afterwards. Thanks for that "character development."
Another Titans thing that happened was a crossover mini-series with the Legion of Super Heroes. I didn't mention it because... well... I honestly forgot that it existed. I don't think I ever owned it and I'm still not sure what actually happened in it.
Cue the bajillion people asking why I never used the animated series theme song at any point in this retrospective.
(Stinger: Linkara is reading what looks like a script)
Linkara: (reading) "The good part is the return of Beast Boy and Flame Boy." (looks up) Beast Boy and Flame Boy? I don't think that's it. (laughs)