Thursday, June 10, 2010

Iron Age Week: New Titans #100

Overall, I have a favorable opinion of the Iron Age. After all, that period of comics is when I started reading and, as such, it formed the basis for how I think comics SHOULD be. It certainly doesn't hurt that there were some real gems during this period. Aside from what has been and what will be mentioned this week, you had stuff like Roger Stern's run on Captain America, James Robinson's Starman, the Giffen/ Dematteis Justice League, John Byrne's She-Hulk, pretty much anything written by Alan Moore, Grant Morrison's work on Animal Man and Doom Patrol, and much more.... Honestly, for much of the criticism leveled at the period, the Iron Age was a almost a second Golden Age, with more variety and quality than had been seen in years. Of course, if you increase the quantity of the good stuff, statistically there is almost definitely going to be some bad.

DC's Teen Titans has always had a special place in my heart. While it wasn't the first comic I ever read, or even the first DC comic I ever read, it was the first DC comic I personally bought. It was Secret Origins Annual #3 and starred, you guessed it, the Teen Titans. The few DC comics I read in the 80's were almost always Teen Titans. When I started getting into DC more in the early '90's, the Titans were a natural starting point. Which brings me to the issue in question.

When it was revealed that issue #100 would feature the wedding of Nightwing and Starfire, I was excited. Of course, this was before the internet became the notorious spoiler/porn factory we know today. If it had existed back then as it does now, I might have been spared such pain.

So, the issue comes out at a whopping $3.50 (in 1993, comics sold for $1-$1.50, if memory serves, and we had to walk five miles to the comic store in the snow, yadda yadda). Something should have made my spider-sense tingle when I looked at the cover....

Hmm. Being a naive, innocent sort, I read through undaunted. The art chores were broken up between two artists- Tom Grummet, who had been the Titans artist in prior issues and this was his final issue, and Bill Jaaska, who was to be the new artist. Grummet did the first half, and Jaaska the second.

The title should've tipped me off. It was the final installment of a 4-issue story called The Darkening, which just sounds so very EDGY and '90s, doesn't it? The title of this particular installment was "Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something... Dead!" which is ridiculously long.

The first half wasn't too bad, as we see Dick and Kory prepare for their nuptials. Of course, there aren't many in the way of guest stars, given the status of characters circa 1993. Superman's dead, Batman's in a wheelchair, and many of the other DC mainstays have become whiny, introspective, and self-absorbed. Only Flash and Aqualad manage to show up aside the regular team. By contrast, Wonder Girl's wedding had a much better attendance, and she married THIS clod....

The guy in the green shirt got to bang Wonder Girl, proving that Marv Wolfman and George Perez WERE capable of terrible things during their New Teen Titans run.

Anyway, the wedding proceeds. However, something bad is about to happen, and the reader knows this because the art got really crappy.

Former Titans member Raven shows up to bless the couple, but there are two catches. First, this isn't the Raven we all knew and love, but Evil Demon Lesbian Stripper Witch Raven, sporting a fake tan that would make Hulk Hogan seem pale. Second, by "bless the couple" I mean "kill a bunch of people and make out with the bride". She starts by killing the priest. What's really awful about this is that she didn't even wait 'till the "If anyone objects, speak now or forever hold your piece" part. It's a cliche', I'll grant you, but it's one that almost always works.

So, Raven makes out with Starfire as this is (somehow) part of some scheme to resurrect Trigon the Demon Lord, while Nightwing battles Deathwing, Nightwing's evil, future-self from a dystopian future. You know he's evil because he's got piercings, a shaved head, and a leather jacket.

Anyway, the Titans send the bad guys packing, but Nightwing and Starfire don't get married. In later issues, Starfire leaves for another planet to deal with the demon spawn in her, and things generally get really stupid for a while.

Basically, this issue was the start of DC kidney-punching Titans fans for over fifteen years. Whereas once Nightwing and Starfire were DC's hottest couple, now even suggesting the two of them get back together makes Devin Grayson say "incest" faster than the folks at an Ozark family reunion. Because the Titans are a FAMILY, see, so that's wrong, though having Nightwing knock boots with Barbara Gordon aka Oracle, who used to be Batgirl AND Dick's babysitter, why that's not incestuous at all!

Marv Wolfman wrote this issue, but apparently much of the suck came from editorial mandate, which is something that's plaguing the Titans and DC as a whole in recent years.

Anyway, this whole issue was essentially a slap in the face. Titans fans would be repeatedly slapped in the face for years to come.

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