Review: New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 2 hardcover (DC Comics)

Thursday, December 31, 2009

This is part two in our series on the New Teen Titans Archives:

And then there were the Greek gods.

I have a confession to make -- I don't really like DC Comics stories about the Greek gods. Bringing the Greek gods on the scene has always seemed an excuse for writers to use overly flowery language and make esoteric references to myths I've never read -- indeed what kept me out of Wonder Woman for a long time was the incessant use of the gods, and I loved when they got a makeover in Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman run.

Marv Wolfman and George Perez introduce the Greek gods to the New Titans for the first time in volume two of the New Teen Titans Archives. While I enjoyed very much the multi-part story that gives the women of the New Teen Titans a chance to shine on their own, I couldn't help but see "Clash of the Titans" as the launching point for not only a slew of Greek god-focused Titans adventures, but also the launching point for the modern age Greek god stories by Perez, Phil Jimenez, and others in Wonder Woman, which never enticed me as much as, say, watching Deathstroke throw down with the Titans.

To be sure, Wolfman uses aspects of the Greek gods and the Amazon mileu to great ends. The parent/child conflict of the Greek gods is a perfect foil for the Titans' own struggles; Wolfman also offers an excellent page where Raven and Starfire debate which is more like the Amazonian peace-loving warriors, well illustrating the dichotomies inherit in the Wonder Woman mythos.

The second major story in this volume, which teams the Titans with the remnants of the Doom Patrol, might rank as one of my favorite Changeling stories. Nowhere the is the multi-faceted nature of Wolfman and Perez's Titans better present than when Garfield Logan, who for twelve issues has been little more than annoying comic relief, finally gets truly angry and risks his life to try to save his missing stepfather. The writers provide a turn for this character that is both surprising and completely natural, and it demonstrates the strength of the series even more than how well-rounded the main characters always are.

For modern Teen Titans fans, there's an interesting short story at the end of this book where the eventual Tempest and Red Arrow, Aqualad and Speedy, team with the New Teen Titans. The story itself is a rather simplistic "Say No to Drugs" tale, but it's fascinating especially to see Speedy -- not yet his current Cheshire-loving, Huntress-dating self -- in a rather staid role. I should mention here too that fans of the current Wally West will barely recognize his pre-Crisis incarnation throughout these books; he's conservative, reserved, and not at all the outgoing Wally we know now, and I'm learning a lot about the character that I hadn't realized before.

[Contains full covers, introduction by Marv Wolfman, bonus story]

So those are some off-the-cuff thoughts about New Teen Titans Archive volume two. I'm curious to hear from some readers who also read these volumes, or who recall reading the original series, and how these stories struck you now and then. I'll be back soon with thoughts on volume three.
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2 comments:

  1. I second the comment about Wally West's character. As an original reader of these New Teen Titans stories, this was the Wally I grew up with. His parents were supportive and normal, his background Midwestern and normal, his values conservative, his personality self-doubting. His self-declared normality and other traits made him a contrast to Dick Grayson, who seemed to handle superhero life so effortlessly (in Wally's eyes).

    Wally's post-Crisis personality and past are quite different, and the comic-relief Flash from the Justice League TV cartoon has added yet another persona on top of that. I find myself missing the old "terminally normal" Wally, but of course most of what I'm really missing is being fifteen again.

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  2. Undoubtedly one of my top ten comics pet peeves is creators writing the DCU's Wally like the Justice League Unlimited character. Just plain sloppy.

    I've only known the post-Crisis Wally, and so the pre-Crisis character was startling for me; I'm coming at it the opposite way from you. Thanks for the comment; very interesting!

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