Monday, July 17, 2006

THE NEW TEEN TITANS #19 DC Comics, 1982

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.


Anonymous said...

The Ten Avatars of Vishnu, eh? This sounds like a job for...Mecha-Shiva!

Gordon D said...

You know....getting cock punched by Hawkman can be fatal

Which is why Dr. Light was so afraid.

Daniel said...

So, Wally ran cross-country (and when Wally runs cross-country, he really runs cross-country) in his skivvies, and didn't reach for his costume-ring until he hit the tower staircase?


Anonymous said...

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.

Well that, and having Robin punching Buddha in the nads probably wouldn't sit too well with a number of people.

"Take THAT, Eastern philosophy!"

Anonymous said...

Not only are those vignettes new reader-friendly, long time readers also learn new things, like Robin wears his chain metal underwear while working on his car.

Speaking of chain metal underwear, I betcha Dr. Light wishes he was wearing some.

Anonymous said...

So he'd have a bunch of little rings perma-tattooed/ stuck in his light tower?

Winterteeth said...

I think I have the issue of Booster Gold where Shitface first appeared, any idea how much it is worth?

Anonymous said...

My first comic of the '80s. I remember it fondly. That Perez fellow really knew how to draw rocks, stones and other earthen-textured things.

smokedog said...

In regards to the crazy Hawkman helmet, maybe:

a: It's another weapon in his arsenal, because if you tried to pull the helmet down further over his head he would be able to see perfectly out of the helmet's eyeholes. This would enable Hawkman to deliver the deadliest cock-punch of them all.

or b: He has a sweet-ass perm under the helmet that he doesn't want to mess up.


Unknown said...

Maybe getting whacked in the ding-ding by the boy wonder is what made him rapey in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Umm, if you ask me, it looks like Robin got interrupted 'servicing' someone in the driver's seat.

Bill Reed said...

Yeah, but Light would *pay* Betty White to cockpunch him.

Interesting how Starfire spends her free time. Sleeping. Naked. Because she has no life.

Anonymous said...

Having Starfire sleep naked is key; it tells the new reader that this is the T&A character. That's good, tight scripting.

Dave, did you ever get the rest of this run? With a couple of exceptions (the Terry Long character), they're exactly as you say -- sweet, greasy, crunchy '80s superhero goodness.

This one was a *fill-in* issue. I mean, it didn't plug into the big plot arcs that ran for years -- Trigon, the Brotherhood of Evil, Terra, all that good stuff.

(There are still fanboys who are cranked about Terra. Yay!)

Doug M.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reviewing such a great comic -- you're right, the NTT at this point was DC's hottest book, and it actually deserved to be. Man, I still read those sometimes, good times.

Take it and run.

RuggerVT said...

Cockpunch? This is the Goddamn Hawkman we're talking about!

When a 16 year old kid hits you in the jimmies, it stings.

When the Avatar of Testosterone, Hawkman, hits you in the jimmies, he uses a big-ass mace. THAT is what scares Dr Light.

So what would that be...a cock-mace?

Martin Wisse said...

Yeah right, as if Perez ever refused to make an already detailed script even more detailed.

Remember Crisis on Infinite Earths was supposed to be "a few floating heads" and look at now!

I know a fair few DC fans actually disliked the Titans for being too Marvel...

Anonymous said...

I think Shitface is a Garth Ennis character.

Dweeze said...

I still prefer bumbling Dr. Light to ass-rapy Dr. Light.

Anonymous said...

Ok, ok, ok, I'll clear up the 'ten avatar' confusion. The avatars were arranged in a semi-cricle on the carving and Dr. Light's sun-rays went through the crystals and hit only a few of the avatars. & THAT is why not all of them came to life.

But if you want a really really great story about Hindu avatars, you should read Unclse Scrooge Adventures #51. Don Rosa has the perfect Hindu avatar story in it. Therefore the NTT story comes in 2nd.

Edward Liu said...

So, to sum up what the intro panels say about the characters:

- Wonder Girl thinks nothing of relaxing in costume.
- Robin and Raven also think chilling in costume is cool, though <EDNA MODE> "No capes!"
- Kid Flash does not think costumes are relaxing, and will only put his on in a fight.
- Given a choice, Starfire would rather not be wearing anything at all.

I think Smokedog is getting his Hawkman battle cries mixed up with the Blackhawks' battle cry. If Hawkman has a battle cry, it's probably, "I'm gonna get EGYPTIAN on your m***er f***ing ASS!!!"

Scipio said...

"The New Teen Titans seemed as representative of DC Comics as The X-Men was of Marvel Comics. "

Have to disagree there, David; nothing could be more representative of MARVEL Comics than the New Teen Titans.

In fact, I believe that was the point; get a Marvel writer to create a Marvel style book using some old DC characters and some new ones styled as Marvel characters would be.

Anonymous said...

Is it ever addressed, or even mentioned, that Lion-Avatar's outfit and coloration are so close to Starfire's that he looks like her counterpart from Earth-Furry?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Dr. Light gets made the punk in this issue. Notice in the cock-punching panel that Robin is also finishing off a major dis of Light. In the panel before he's saying, "C'mon, Light, when are you ever going to realize you're a loser?" Called out by Robin and then punched in the dick, all because you're too big of a pussy to take on Hawkman and some living avatars.

It's official: Dr. Light = Bitch

Anonymous said...

I like it when one of the bad guys is a GIANT YELLOW HINDU FISH!!!! Jesus Christ, that's formidable!

Bully said...

They missed a huge opportunity by not turning that giant yellow Hindu fish into a recurring Green Lantern villain.

Marc Burkhardt said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marc Burkhardt said...

Actually, that's Katar Hol, the Hawkman from Thanagar. Therefore, his battle cry would be: "I'm gonna get THANAGARIAN on your m***er f***ing ASS!!!"

New Teen Titans may have had a Marvel flavor, but I always felt the characters and situations (i.e. Starfire and Brother Blood, et al) wouldn't really fit in at Marvel.

I mean look at what happened to the New Warriors, Marvel's Titans analogue. Blown up by a third-rate villain ...

Phillip said...

Mecha-Shiva! Mecha-Shiva! Mecha-Shiva! Mecha-Shiva! Mecha-Shiva! Mecha-Shiva!

Jon said...

Is it ever addressed, or even mentioned, that Lion-Avatar's outfit and coloration are so close to Starfire's that he looks like her counterpart from Earth-Furry?

Is it ever mentioned that Starfire is a furry? She's a freakin' cat-person, no?

Anonymous said...

Having been out of the comics scene for decades now, I just read Identity Crisis because I really, really used to dig Dr. Light. I remember when he trapped Atom in a giant light bulb--yeah, that's how long ago I made the scene. I'm astounded to discover 1) he later became a joke villain and 2) he's a rapist. Is nothing sacred?! Arthur, still love ya! I don't care what these clowns make you do! Dig your black-and-white ensemble, ROWL!!