I came late to Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s New Teen Titans, which was a certified 80’s comic book phenomenon on par with The Uncanny X-Men – or so they tell me. On a whim I picked up a back issue of their run, and I was hooked.
The New Teen Titans seemed as representative of DC Comics as The X-Men was of Marvel Comics. They were a shiny, colorful crazy quilt of characters that could only exist in the DC universe. Right, I know, because you couldn’t have Robin in the Marvel universe because that wouldn’t make sense and Marvel doesn’t own Robin, etc. Smart ass. I’m being hypothetical here. My point is that New Teen Titans feels uniquely like a DC comic book.
As was the norm for the series, New Teen Titans #19 was a dense read. Perez drew twice as many panels per page as most artists, and Wolfman managed to squeeze in like, twenty soap opera subplots as well as an epic battle against Hindu monsters. Plus: special guest Hawkman! You really got your money’s worth with New Teen Titans. This book is literally packed full of super hero goodness.
The story: The bumbling, non-rapist version of Dr. Light escapes from prison and decides to jack an artifact called the Ten Avatars of Vishnu. You see, Vishnu was the god of light, and back in the day DC villains were bound by a code that required them to only commit thematically appropriately crimes, i.e., Catwoman stole Egyptian cat statues, The Penguin robbed priceless songbirds, Shitface hijacked septic tank trucks, etc.
Wait a second, there was no Shitface. I’m thinking Clayface, or maybe my Uncle Jerry.
Anyway, Dr. Light attempts to steal the artifacts at the New York Museum, but is confronted by the winged wonder himself, Hawkman! Of the thousand different versions of Hawkman, this is the version I like to think of as Stupid Helmet Hawkman. More on that later. During the fight with Hawkman, Dr. Light accidentally blasts the Vishnu statue with a light ray. Dumbshit.
Of course, the Ten Avatars of Vishnu statue transforms into four giant Vishnu avatars which try to kill Dr. Light. I have no idea why they don’t transform into ten giant Vishnu avatars – presumably that would have been too much to draw, even for Perez. He’d be like, “Woah, time out, Marv. Too many avatars. Let’s dial the Vishnu thing back a little.” George Perez talks like Jeff Spicoli, I guess.
The cowardly villain ditches Hawkman and hauls ass towards Titans Tower, the giant T-shaped headquarters of the Teen Titans, in the hopes that he will save his ass. He busts into the tower, triggering the alarms and alerting the youthful superhero squad. We get a great sequence where the Titans leisure time is interrupted by the call of duty. I love these little vignettes – they’re so new reader friendly and corny-in-a-good-way.
Of course, the avatars follow Dr. Light, and thus begins a wicked cool super brawl on snowy Titans Island. Instead of the unsatisfying “wide screen” splash page of our heroes that one might find in a contemporary team comic, we get a detailed and protracted account of the fight, complete with daring rescues, reversals of fortune, and clever uses of super powers. Again, you’re getting a lot of comic for your money here.
The Titans get hip to Dr. Light’s involvement in this crazy Vishnu mess, and Robin punches him in the groin. Hard.
Check it out:
That would smart: getting punched in the cock by Robin. Hell, getting punched in the cock by The Golden Girls' Betty White would hurt.
After smacking Dr. Light in the bathing suit area, they figure out that Dr. Light used solar power – sun rays – to create the giant Vishnu monsters. Does that mean if you took the Vishnu statue outside on a sunny day it would hatch giant monsters? You think that might have happened once or twice before. The curvy alien princess Starfire blasts the avatars with her solar-powered “starbolts” and they melt.
The crisis is over, but Hawkman is mega-pissed at Dr. Light. Here’s Hawkman reading Dr. Light the riot act:
Dr. Light is so scared of Hawkman in the panel above because he thinks he’s going to get another cock-punch. Or maybe he’s just scared of Hawkman’s strange and impractical helmet. What the hell is with that thing, anyway?
Don’t get me wrong, I grew up with this version of the character - Stupid Helmet Hawkman. To me, he is the classic version of the character. But for the life of me I can’t figure out how he could see a thing wearing that goofy helmet. Look at it. The bird eyes are way up on his forehead, and he’s got this big beak right in his line of sight.
My theory is that Hawkman got really drunk on Thanagarian ale one night while he was waxing his chest and he decided to try to shape his eyebrows. He fucked up and ended up giving himself creepy thin Joan Crawford eyebrows, and had to wear this helmet to cover them up. Can you imagine all the crap Green Arrow would give Hawkman if he had girly eyebrows?
It’s just a theory.