Or – “Perhaps The First Time A Comic Made Me Want To Cry…

Once upon a time, I was as new to the comics game as young Zach is today, picking up John Byrne’s Fantastic Four and the Thomas/Ordway All-Star Squadron issues without realizing how unusual their quality was.  Of course, even those books paled next to the excellence of the Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans series, a book I fell into right as the Judas Contract was kicking off.  By the time this issue came out, I was hooked on the Junior Justice League, and you’re about to see why.  Your Major Spoilers (retro) review awaits!

TeenTitans50CoverTALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #50
Writer: Marv Wolfman (plot; script); George Perez (plot)
Penciler: George Perez
Inker: Mike DeCarlo; Dick Giordano
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: John Costanza
Editor: Marv Wolfman/George Perez
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $1.25
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $4.00

Previously, in Tales Of The Teen Titans:  Though the sidekicks of Batman, The Flash, Green Arrow and Wonder Woman’s imaginary sister first teamed up in the sixties, they went on a hiatus in the mid-1970s, as the doldrums of the comics industry (and DC’s financial difficulties) sidetracked their careers.  When they finally regrouped, they were joined by former Doom Patrol member Beast Boy, as the Changeling, and several new heroes, reviving the Teen Titans name as well as DC’s business solvency.  During the first issues, Donna “Wonder Girl” Troy fell in love with a college professor named Terry Long, but didn’t want to marry him until she knew the truth about her past.  We talked about Robin’s successful search for her past a while back, which allowed Donna to accept Terry’s proposal.  Beast Boy, the adoptive son of multi-millionaire Steve Dayton (once Mento of the Doom Patrol) has agreed to host the nuptials at his dad’s swanky mansion, but things aren’t going well for the green-skinned teen…

TeenTitans501

Though pushed to the limits of his party-planning, Garfield Logan is putting his all in for his beloved Titans family, so much so that when things get rough, he finds support from the most unexpected source of all…  (Be aware that, at this point in the series, Questor the butler has done nothing but bust Changeling’s lime-green chops at every turn.)

TeenTitans502

That wonderful moment is made even better when you realize how much Perez’ depiction looks like Anthony Stewart Head, and you imagine the whole sequence in his silken freeze-dried coffee tones, and the old man’s affection for Gar is pretty touching in itself.  Still, it won’t do to get too hung up on THAT sweet moment in an issue like this, Faithful Spoilerites, as the issue is bound and determined to tweak all your heartstrings.  Case in point, Daddy Dayton…

TeenTitans503

“The incident with Miss Markov” is Questor’s delicate way of mentioning the horrifying suicide of Terra, the Titan who was a plant sent by Deathstroke to destroy the team from within.  What has Dayton promised to do for Gar?  We’ll get to that in a minute, because we have to check in on Raven (freaking out in another dimension), Cyborg (freaking out about going to a wedding with a mostly-metal body), Jericho (too serene to freak out over anything), and Robin, who is checking in on the blushing bride…

TeenTitans504

George Perez’s wife makes a cameo appearance, as she often does in his work, while nearly the entire DC Universe shows up at the wedding proper.  There are literally DOZENS of quiet moments of character throughout the book, from Wonder Woman soothing her “little sister’s” nerves, to Dick and Kory’s loving greeting in the middle of it all.  And once the wedding itself kicks off, Perez really kicks out the james with a series of pages wherein you can almost HEAR the wedding march in the background…

TeenTitans505

I start to get the sniffles as Donna’s recently-discovered Grandmother wishes her well, and can even allow the borderline smarmy wedding vows that the couple have written for themselves, simply because of how well the whole thing is draw by George Perez.  Wolfman doesn’t take a nap either, using the issue to revisit literally DOZENS of lost characters from Titans history and update us on their status.  When Questor discovers the clearly-marked-as-closed pool in use, he discovers one such cameo…

TeenTitans506

As the party gets under way, the creators manage to top even the fun-factor of the wedding with the reception, featuring a certain Daily Planet stalwart as well as my favorite 80s pop star…

TeenTitans508

As the Titans reunions continue, we find that Gnarrk the cave boy apparently died somewhere along the line, while Hornblower and Bumblebee got married.  At this point in history, mind you, it wasn’t really a common thing to see characters allowed to age (given that Superman was entering his fifth decade of being 29) much less grow out of their heroic identities.  Cue founding Teen Titans Wally “Kid Flash” West, Garth “Aqualad” of Atlantis, and Roy “Speedy” Harper…

TeenTitans507

While multiple people have strange premonitions or feelings about a certain upstairs door in Dayton Estates, the wedding party continues with their strange moments.  Cyborg is continually stunned to find nobody batting an eye at him, while Starfire has her own admirers, and Hawk and Dove have some issues with P.R.

TeenTitans510

There’s an in-joke there, related to a previous Retro Review, but I’ll let you figure it out for yourselves…  After a heart-rending moment during which Batman apologizes to Robin for never trying to adopt him (which still makes me all misty, especially given that emotional Batman moments are so few and far between anymore) followed by an appearance of former Titan Joker’s Daughter…

TeenTitans511

…which, by the way, I love.  This four panel sequence is almost certainly the reason why the character kept popping up well into the 2010s, even though her character has been rendered freakishly moot by the myriad revamps and reworkings of Two-Face, Batman, Joker et al.  The creators also break our hearts, with the revelation of how Cyborg has managed to go incognito at the wedding…

Titans22Victor does apologize later in the issue, but it’s heart-rending to see, as both men have valid points, and Changeling truly has his best pal’s feelings at heart.  Also:  Remember the mysterious door?  Wonder Woman shows up out of nowhere, and pulls the happy couple away from their reception to that selfsame door, which opens to reveal another well-wisher… Hippolyte, Queen of the Amazons!

TeenTitans512

And then, the waterworks…  Can’t read that part without getting choked up, even though it’s preceded by a goofy sequence of Jericho, Hornblower and Robin jamming for the party crowd.  (How Mal manages to talk while playing the trumpet is truly a mystery for the ages.)  The team comes together to thank Changeling for his hard work (another nice moment, given his position as team impetuous goofy guy) before Donna and her middle-aged paramour fly off on their honeymoon…

TeenTitans513

It’s really quite sad to read this book in hindsight, thinking about the horrible things to come for all of these characters…  Donna’s multiple retcons, Terry’s horrible death, Speedy’s terrible decline, Changeling’s madness and all the rest.  Some days, it seems like only Nightwing gets out of the Titans unscathed, and even that just makes him the least horrifically mentally scarred of the Bat-family.  Still, just sitting down to read it, with all the cameos (from the creators, their friends, the editorial and production teams, and nearly everyone who had ever been a Titan to date), this book is still a fun experience.  Tales Of The Teen Titans #50 is the beginning of a wonderful trend in comics that went horribly awry in the 90s (but, then, didn’t everything?), giving our favorite characters their own milestones and meaningful moments to remember, and even the three universal retcons since 1985 don’t kill this issue’s 4.5 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s a lovely issue, and one that doesn’t deserve to be forgotten the way it has been…

Rating: ★★★★½

DID YOU READ THIS ISSUE? RATE IT!


Reader Rating

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 4.60 out of 5)

Loading...

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

Previous post

Major Spoilers Question Of The Day: It's Déjà Vu All Over Again Edition

Next post

SNEAK PEEK: Shadowman #7

2 Comments

  1. Oldcomicfan
    May 27, 2013 at 10:41 pm — Reply

    I read the original issue. And things like this remind me of how far comics have really come in the last thirty years. If you take off the rose colored glasses, you’ll see that this was a VERY GOOD comic, but not a GREAT one. It was, to be frank, a little too self-indulgent and self-congradulatory. It suffered all the flaws of most team books – too many characters that dilute the story too much – each character barely gets a cameo. The inclusion of the DC staff, their relations, the cab drivers off the street and their favorite hot dog vendor (okay, I am exaggerating a little) and the inclusion of third string heros like Hawk and Dove and Harlequin only served to dilute the story even more. The fact that this is considered to be a high point of the comics era of the 80s highlights the truth of how dreadful mainstream comics were back then. Teen Titans was one of the few mainstream comics I was still buying in those days. I’d jettisoned most of the others in favor of better written and better drawn independent comics. The Teen Titans were so well written that even the drawback of having the characters explain their powers each and every time they used them, and having to “reset” the universe at the end of each issue couldn’t quit kill the good stories that Wolfman and Perez were attempting to tell. Titans was one of the few books that got away with things like characters being killed for real (Terra) and weddings being permanent, back in the day. This book came out just about the time that the independent comics industry imploded, with Marvel and DC not far behind. I enjoyed this review, and I’m sorry to say I’ve forgotten what Bruce said to Dick in reply to his whining “How come you never adopted me” and I’m sorry you didn’t include that.
    Sadly, within a few months of this book being published, the team of Perez and Wolfman on Titans would be broken up, as what always happens when a writer and artist turn around a property that was once in the toilet. They got assigned to different books, and the Titans were never the same. This comic serves well as the Swan Song of the Teen Titans.

  2. Adam Murray
    May 29, 2013 at 8:12 pm — Reply

    Thank you Matthew,

    This run seems to have a special meaning for both of us. I wish that my “personal continuity” with the Titans had ended here, but I kept reading until the point that Kori married that other guy. As devastated as Dick was over that, it was disturbing to read that he was the Titan who was the least “scathed” by future events. I probably should be grateful that I stopped reading when I did.

    I agree with Oldcomicfan that the large number of characters did give the feeling that each one had little more than a cameo. But I absolutely disagree with the idea that this was a problem.
    Whenever I have attended a big wedding with lots of people that I know, I feel like I only get a small taste of what has happened to them and walk away wishing there was more time. But, c’est la vie…

    By recreating that real-world emotional experience of not having enough time to catch up with old friends, this book does an even better job of telling a wedding story. In fact, I honestly can’t think of anyway that the marriage of Donna and Terry could have been told that would be an improvement on this one.

    Once again, I get to revisit a special part of my childhood due to your efforts Matthew. I really appreciate it.

    Adam

    P. S. Was the old lady Donna’s grandmother? I thought she was the head of the orphanage where Donna was first left…

You know you have something to say, say it in the comment section