Zero Hour Strikes! Titanic Zeroes

It's The Beginning of Tomorrow for three more titles as Bass and Siskoid cover Deathstroke the Hunted, Flash, and The New Titans all at #0! It's a Marv Wolfman sandwich!

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34 responses to “Zero Hour Strikes! Titanic Zeroes

  1. Real talk: Deathstroke sucks.

    No matter how you slice it, he’s a hard-edged mercenary warrior expert in all types of guns and weapons and allegedly tactically brilliant… and he chose to be the archenemy of a group a kids, and then perpetually failed to kill them. Also, yeah… rapist. Also also, his look is dumb. It’s no secret that George Perez was pretty bad at designing costumes (though some people are in denial about this). Deathstroke’s isn’t his worst, but it’s still pretty bad, and it’s a worse version of the lackluster Taskmaster design, which survives thanks to the skull mask, mostly; Deathstroke doesn’t even have that, just a dumber mask. Everything people claim to like about Deathstroke is the most obvious, tedious, superficial junk that it’s no surprise at all that he was going to be the primary antagonist for Batman if Zach Snyder had remained the creative director of the DC movie verse.

    Deathstroke sucks. And I have to add, even though I’m no fan of either Deadpool or Rob Liefeld, that Deadpool is better than Deathstroke in every possible way. Yes, he is a ripoff, but he is a vastly improved ripoff. His costume design is better; the red and black pops more than that navy blue scales and orange pirate boots. Deadpool’s mask is much better with the big black poke-dots over his eyes compared to Deathstroke’s weird asymmetrical eyeless-on-one-side two-face thingy. Credit Liefeld for those improvements. Then later writers like Joe Kelly and Gail Simone for giving Deadpool a unique personality that vaulted him onto the big screen several times. Even the name Wade Wilson is better than Slade Wilson. I know that’s a minor thing, but it’s true. I have never heaped this much praise on Deadpool before, and I’m sure I never will again, but then I’ve never had to compare him to Deathstroke, who sucks.

  2. Flash #0 was where I started buying the book full time, which I would do for the better part of a decade. Waid’s writing grabbed me and suddenly I was a fan enough to start buying the back issues. This sort of “I was the person that inspired me in the past” sort of thing rarely does much for me, but it works here.

    And I would disagree with Bass that Wally’s costume just changed from a Flash clone to the yellow and red for no reason. It was presented as a big deal in Flash #135 where, in true Silver Age fashion, Barry was messing with a machine that apparently gave him mind over matter powers, which allowed him to change Wally’s costume, which he had been thinking about redesigning. Yeah, it’s silly, but then again most of the Flash stories from that era are silly. To be fair, I think the redesign worked better because then you didn’t have Kid Flash being the mini-me to Barry and allowed him to be his own character or as much of his own character as the Silver and Bronze Age would allow.

  3. Question for my absent friend Siskoid – does this version of the Titans now redefine it for you? No longer the sidekicks club! This issue is TERRIBLE. Just awful.

    Deathstroke – never understood the appeal of this character. ANd like Siskoid (I think it was him who said this), he’s preferable in other media.

    The Flash – yet another highlight in a series of highlights from the first Waid run! Such a damn good comic!

      1. I get that. But the TT becomes less about sidekicking and more about teens. It’s more LSH than JLA jr.

        1. And that’s also fine – we can say all young heroes are walking in the footsteps (or reacting to) older ones – but where they lose the plot is when they aren’t teens anymore and just “Titans”. Then they become just another superteam like the Outsiders.

          1. I don’t care for teams without a good core concept. Many line-ups of the Titans have been like the Outsiders really (and sometimes, members have crossed over like when Nightwing was an Outsider). Titans and Outsiders, especially in the 90s and 2000s have often seemed like exercises in keeping an IP alive. I often put Infinity Inc in the same boat as the Outsiders too but at least they had a tangible core concept.

          2. Trying not to beat a dead horse here – but am interested in what you see as Titan’s core concept. And does it break it once it graduates outside of the “teen” part?

          3. It’s like copying a tape cassette then copying that copy. There’s quick degeneration. While I think the core concept is young legacy heroes (so Infinity Inc. members could have been Titans), as soon as those legacy heroes come of age, it becomes an adult group. And an adult group can invite non-legacy adults to join, and then you have the Outsiders. Or if it’s Jurgens’s Teen Titans, where there are no legacies, it’s just a generic super team (I could say the same of Team Titans). So youth and legacy are the two key ingredients, in my opinion. And I realize Young Justice is a better Titans team than Wolfman’s New Teen Titans according to my criteria.

  4. I don’t own these comics, but it sounds like I dodged two bullets and a gem. In ’94, the terrorist diversion was probably a reference to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing — Al Qaeda’s first attempt. It killed “only” seven, so I guess that made it a small enough tragedy to ape in a comic the year after.

    Bass’s comment about why every version of Dock Grayson works was insightful and valid. This was an opportunity to develop Roy into as well-defined a character as Dick, but I imagine that would’ve been difficult in a team book. I recommend the Batman + Arsenal one-shot from the same era, though. That was character-driven AND a good adventure.

  5. I think I had a vague awareness of who The Terminator was before I’d read any stories about him. He was in a choice panel of the first DC Sampler. His debut in NTT #2 was a hot book that would appear occasionally in mail order ads or on shop walls for inflated prices. I may have had a copy myself at some point, but probably sold it off or lost it with a bunch of my Titans books after the shop closed. Certainly “The Judas Contract” cast a long shadow as DC’s answer to “The Dark Phoenix Saga,” but I didn’t read it until at least 1989, but I think more likely 1991-1992. It’s not a fair comparison, although both stories do pay off on longstanding subplots and are detrimental to the health of young women suffering homicidal heel turns. “Judas” was fine, but its canonization says more about the state of DC in the early ’80s than it does the industry overall. Falling closer to Phylemon than Siskoid, I kinda liked my limited exposure to Jericho in Tales of the Teen Titans, so I pulled some of the post-Judas Sad Slade issues out of the discount bin. They were okay, but Slade didn’t score a lot of points from letting Beast Boy bang him about out of masochistic guilt. To this day, I’m mildly amazed that they more or less left The Terminator alone for nearly half a decade.

    An article in Comic Shop News used the Deathstroke Who’s Who entry to illustrate an article announcing his new solo ongoing series. To this day, I wonder if I missed the debut issue because it was the only time ever that I was on the lookout for Steve Erwin art instead of Mike Zeck. By that point, I hadn’t read any Titans material in a few years, so I was just down for the cool ’90s anti-hero. However, that was the same month as New Titans #78, my first “Titans Hunt” issue. Even though he didn’t figure prominently in that issue, it was still Grummett & Vey drawing the mask tassels and billowy buccaneer boots. That had to whet my appetite. I had to make do with Deathstroke the Terminator #2, very much a poor man’s Punisher at a rich man’s cover price of $1.75. I still don’t pay $1.75 for most back issues, but that’s mostly down to my obscuro interests and the continuing existence of dollar boxes. Will Blyburg is a swell inker, but Steve Erwin was too perfect a match for his frequent collaborator Paul Kupperberg in sucking all the vitality out of a given comic book story to be salvaged. The official comic book adaptation of stereo instructions. My brother bought issues off & on, up through the Batman arc where Slade handed the Dark Knight his Bat-ass, but then I moved out of state. That’s when, driven by my growing interest in “Titans Hunt,” I started filling in back issues with a preference for those earlier, better Terminator tales. It was clear that The Terminator was a far better adversary than anti-hero, but I dug him too much in The New Titans to let him go from that title.

    Because the crossover “Total Chaos” and the launch on Team Titans was imminent, I committed to Deathstroke the Terminator around #12. It was #13 that started a fire, though. Taking a shot at the debt Rob Liefeld owed to him, Marv Wolfman brought in proxies for X-Force and had Deathstroke kicked their tails, plus rack Green Lantern Hal Jordan in the nuts and blind/batter Aquaman. I liked how the story acknowledged that Slade was out of his league, but he used strategy and dirty tricks to evade capture and deal some hurt while punching upward. I think it definitely scratched the itch between the long gaps waiting for Marshal Law content. I think it was #16 where he gunned down a slew of henchmen with dual machine guns while screaming “I’M A GODDAMN KILLING MACHINE” before dying from a heart attack. I didn’t think you could say “G.D.” in a mainstream comic book. I was enthused. That led to the arc where Slade cosplaying as Nick Fury and several members of the Brotherhood of Evil inadvertently allowed Cheshire to nuke Quarac, which is way worse than anything Joker ever did, but it was a brown people country. Nobody cared, and the title had peaked. Cue a run of guest creators and a lackluster extended world tour arc by the returning team. There was also a Showcase ’93 serial with Slade and other heroes going up against Kobra that gobbled gooch on a sweaty day. I also got suckered into a few issues of Chain Gang War on account of guest appearances and a foil-embossed cover, but that at least had a pre-fame Dave Johnson on art.

    Punisher at least has missions. He’s punishing bad people for doing worse things, and our own righteous indignation fills in the holes. Plus, he was perpetually be-cloaked in a trench by that point, so realism. Deathstroke is a mercenary going on missions for money. Why? He’s already rich enough to have a mansion, army buddy / manservant, and the kids are grown (but also dead.) Is it down to alimony, because I’m not saying Adeline Kane is a gold-digger; I’m just saying she took half his eyeballs wit’er. Yes, Deadpool ripped him off, but at the end of the day, the Terminator is just Mirror Universe Captain America. All the red is flattened to orange, keep the blue chain mail and the origin, but represent the actual “greed is good” U.S. mentality instead of a patriotic fantasy. Without an ideology or mortal enemies or super-teams to beat up on, what do you do with Captain of Fortune? The series felt like a throwback to pulpy men’s adventure novel series, but they wouldn’t be caught dead reading this corny costumed clown in undersexed, bloodless, bland episodes. In New Titans, the suit fit in and there was an inherent conflict between this Han/Lando and the idealistic true believers. On his own, sloggy-been-doggy.

    Deathstroke the Hunted was a much needed shake-up. Sergio Cariello isn’t anybody’s favorite John Buscema knock-off, and I think he became a bible-thumper, but at least he didn’t look it like Erwin. Going round robin against other DC anti-heroes gave Slade more substantial foils, but the ploy of overemphasizing his healing factor by killing him repeatedly just made him a neutered Wolverine. One the initial jolt passed, it remained dull, and I finally quit with #50, at least thirty issues a total waste of my time and money. The book quit itself at #60, after pulling the old “what if we make him twentysomething” scam that never failed to fail around that time. #TeenTony By the way, most of those supporting characters had made prior appearances, but none really stuck, which is why they were handy cannon fodder.

    Like Lady Shiva, Deathstroke became one of those yardstick characters useful in versus threads. Nightwing can’t do anything against him, and Batman can’t beat him under normal circumstances. The first Messner-Loebs Wonder Woman Special established him as at best a nuisance, while that Superman crossover demonstrated Slade sucks against the Man of Steel. “If Connor Hawke is a top 5 martial artist and he’s appearing with Deathstroke in a Birds of Prey two-parter, I have to buy them in case they fight to keep up with their standings. I never liked Scott McDaniel’s work, but when he switched from his pathetic basic style on Daredevil to a slapdash Miller Sin City lift bereft of its essential crime fiction milieu and cartoony manga excesses? Chef’s fart. Swirl your fingers around your buttcheeks to gather the beefy bouquet of aerosolized excrement and take a big huff. Also a bible thumper, bee-tee-dubs. That’s why Dick Grayson suddenly had an affinity for Christian rock. Gag. So while my tolerance for Chuck Dixon and Dollar Tree Tim Sale assuring Nightwing would never progress past being the Mike Murdock of the DCU (was Bloodwynd originally from Blüdhaven *snort*?) I still had to buy the Deathstroke guest appearances. Rick Leonardi’s one of the few artists I dislike even more than McDaniel, so when he was finally replaced by Phil Hester and I could read the back end of the Devin Grayson run, I was greeted to Slade in an ongoing role.

    The game changer was Identity Crisis. For once, Deathstroke the Terminator was overrated, going from a Green Arrow foil (what a fall from grace) to beating up a fair Justice League line-up on his own. Suddenly, everybody wanted to use Zack Snyder’s Deadpool. I was still rooting for him back then, in spite of the well documented and oft-snickered at ephebophiliac relationship. In the ’00s, I was still of the lad mag mentality on such things, where the moral grayness was a feature rather than a bug. The deal breaker was Geoff Johns’ post-One Year Later Teen Titans arc, where we learned that he had drugged Terra and Cassandra Caine into his service. It was already beyond problematic that this 50+ dude had been “seduced” by a sociopathic 14-year-old, but once mind control enters the equation we go from Roy Moore to Bill Cosby + Roman Polanski. When I was a teenager myself, I sort of signed-off on that sordid business, but confronted with it again as an adult, and especially with that full-on roofie rape aspect, I cancelled Slade Wilson. That was 2007. I was already disturbed by his usage in the cartoon a few years earlier (ditto Dr. Light,) but I’ve been thoroughly appalled by his continued usage in comics and outside media, including multiple solo ongoings. At least he’s typically a full-on villain now, but for me, I can’t tolerate a child rapist appearing on the regular, often as a protagonist. Deadpool is the better version, and I now root for his continued pop culture dominance.

    1. Frank, Slade Wilson also dropped Chemo on Bludhaven as a chemical weapon that largely destroyed the city. He’s a character that, while derivative, could have been much more than he is for DC if they hadn’t poisoned him early on in the Judas Contract — and then kept doing it again to prove how edgy and amoral he is.

        1. Was that Deathstroke? What even was the point of that? Didio had such a boner for messing over Titans and JLIers that it just seemed natural to turn an American city into a chemical stew? How are you supposed to get off on the kewl adventures of a soldier of fortune with his own moral code when he only has enough game to score with middle school girls and almost certainly murdered some (along with victims of all ages) when he Chernobyled Blüdhaven?

    2. I did a reread of the Deathstroke series from the ’90s a few years ago and felt that it worked pretty well … at least in the way of disposable syndicated action shows from the 1990s worked pretty well. I never thought that “Renegade” was going to be Emmy-award-winning prestige television, but if I came across it, I was entertained for an hour.

      Granted, I subscribed to Deathstroke having been with the Titans Hunt since issue 71, so there’s that.

  6. Great episode.
    The Zero issues were a great jumping on point for me. But I had my limits. Deathstroke never did it for me so I avoided this.

    As for Titans, I was a fan of Damage (crazy to say that!) so I jumped here to see him on a team. I always thought he was a sort of prototype ‘I’m a teen who has powers and doesn’t know how to control them’ character so seeing him on team was a good idea. But I didn’t stay.

    The Flash is one of those characters who I had jumped on and off for a while. I had collected the first 2 years or so of the title but jumped off. I had heard good stuff about Waid/Wieringo but never picked up the book until Flash #0. Once I read that I knew I was missing something so bought it moving forward and grabbed as many back issues as I could find. Great issue. Great message. Great jumping on point.

  7. Frank covered Deathstroke pretty well, but I can speak to some of what was going on in the Titans at the time, especially what brought about this Coy and Vance era of the team.

    While Marv Wolfman is not entirely blameless–after all, he decided to remain on the book despite the circumstances–much of the blame here goes to DC editorial and specifically new editor Pat Garrahy. Garrahy was new to editorial and had been brought onto the book at the end of another downturn in quality (and I imagine sales) after the debacle that was New Titans #100 and the artwork of the late Bill Jaaska. Wolfman was, as one of you guys guessed, given the team lineup, a number of which were either new characters or characters he didn’t exactly care for. In interviews, Wolfman is very bitter about this era, saying he can’t even remember writing Impulse and that he didn’t really care for a number of others, including Terra II, a character who was much less of a lovesick puppy in the Jensen/Jimenez Team Titans and had actual character development in the direction of being the team’s more intellectual core (ymmv on how much this worked).

    What made matters worse here, btw, is that Garrahy was dictatorial as editor, giving Wolfman whole plots and then changing dialogue after the issue had been scripted. This book lasted 15 more issues before being canceled in early 1996. The last few issues flirt with decency, as DC kicked Garrahy off the book (at Wolfman’s request) and allowed Wolfman to finish things out with some semblance of a return to status quo before Dan Jurgens’ Teen Titans would be launched. Even then, the stories of that final year or so of New Titans are the among the lowest points of any Teen Titans I’ve read, right down there with Jay Faerber’s “DEO Kids” storyline in the early 2000s.

    Funny enough, I liked the art in this issue when I read it in 1994, probably because it wasn’t by Bill Jaaska. Looking back, it wasn’t particularly good. Will Rosado would take over the book later on and that would be a solid improvement. I had the opportunity to meet him a couple of years ago at a convention and he graciously talked to me about penciling the book and what he liked and did not like about it–he hated drawing Donna Troy’s costume , for instance.

    Speaking of Donna Troy, I have a letter in this issue. It’s the last letter I’d ever have printed in a comic. My friend and I had started a “campaign” to get Donna killed off sometime around the Titans Hunt and decided to “officially” call it off. Honestly, we had come up with the idea of “let’s keep requesting they kill someone as a running gag so that maybe they’ll find it funny and print our letters.” We were freaking morons … but I did get a couple of cool preview comics out of it, so there’s that.

    Really enjoyed this episode!

    1. When you mentioned Pat Garrahy, I wondered what the hell else that guy had done for me to know his name without firm context. Lots, but mostly as a colorist. As editor, it looks like it was down to killing off the Titans franchise, plus the first Nightwing mini-series and Black Lighting. No wonder he was quietly dismissed. Given how Jonathan Peterson seemed to more or less be plotting Titans during his editorship (before becoming the Jason Patric to Kevin Maguire’s Julia Roberts), maybe the problem was less Garrahy being a dictator and more Wolfman having become a script-monkey.

      1. Depending on the interview, Wolfman either admits he stayed on the title way too long or he lays all the blame on editorial. Garrahy gets most of his ire, as he refuses to even mention the guy’s name in interviews. I think Rob Simpson, who preceded Garrahy, also shares some of the blame here, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen an interview with the guy, so all I can say is that he was Peterson 2.0.

        I’m doing a complete reread of my Titans books and I’m just at the beginning of the Baxter series. It’s going to be tough to get through the next several years’ worth of books because there’s a lot more miss than hit.

  8. May have to give up the game on The Flash. See, with “First Strike!” I’d talk up my experiences with a property going into 1988, which with DC usually meant multimedia and a small spate of comics. The “Zero Hour” portion was intended to bridge the gap between 1988-1994, where I’d done substantially more reading. Now with the “Zero Month,” I’m basically rolling out with whatever I had left ahead of my disenfranchisement in the Didio era. I meandered and mostly did all my Flash material on the front end. Looking at #0, I wonder how autobiographical it was for Waid. Remember the gentle ribbing Gail Simone would give in her “You’ll All Be Sorry” fan/columnist days about “I’m Mark Waid… The Fastest Man Alive.” Maybe getting to write comics was the closest to the Wally’s dream that Waid could get? Anyway, ‘Ringo’s art got better, but this was all to saccharine and trite for ’90s me. And I haven’t changed all that much.

    The edginess and novelty of Geoff Johns’ early run caught my attention, and when I alerted m’boy Fixit to his Moore-iness, it became one of his few DC subscriptions. I liked that Johns reevaluated the Rogues, instead of hiding them in the attic like a disfigured incest baby in the deep south. Sure, it also meant Mirror Master doing lines of coke off a compact, but that was still progress over becoming fodder for an Ambush Bug special. I wasn’t a big Scott Kolins guy, but when Howard Porter took over art chores, I gave it a run from #207-2019. That’s over a year and a crossover with Wonder Woman. It clearly wasn’t going to happen. though all the Identity Crisis tie-ins couldn’t have helped. I really feel that if Johns wanted to alter the formula so radically as to give Linda & Wally twins, he should have stuck around to write that crap instead of passing a poisoned chalice to whoever followed. Fast-growing the kids and turning the book into The Incredibles was an angle, I suppose.

    Okay, that’s the Post-Crisis volume. Can I stop writing about The Flash now? The Humberto Ramos run in Impulse looked cute, but not my humor. Peter David seemed to utilize him well in Young Justice. Johns probably shouldn’t have matured him into Kid Flash, but the yellow costume is the best of all Flash suits. Aging Bart to adulthood reeked of desperation, matched only by promptly killing him in a stunt. Didio constantly sat on his own testicles. Wow, Wally never came back from the consequences of those kids, huh? Barry Allen was always a better character with a stronger story engine. That Francis Manapul stuff was really inventive looking.

    Look, I can’t anymore. Runs-Fast-Man is so boring. Wally West is the most boring of all. I think I’d like to never speak of him again, and I just did 1700+ words on Pedostroke. I don’t care. Go do Flashness. I’m tapping out.

  9. Regarding the Wolfman-verse: I took a comics hiatus from the late seventies until after the crisis, so I missed the big Titans hoopla, but I did get the impression the functioned in a separate reality from all the other titles I was reading. Even characters from that universe, such as Wally, would only tangentially relate to that. And I also got no notion of Deathstroke or Vigilante (Wolfman version) at that, although both were sold as hot properties. They always felt like they wanted to spoonfeed how cool they were. If you have to tell me they are cool, maybe they aren’t.
    This made me very prejudiced towards the characters and titles, but bought Deathstroke #0 anyway… an boy, were my prejudices confirmed.
    As for titans, I’m in the camp that kind of enjoyed the Titans Hunt and fallover comics, and Titans # was…. not good. Not good at all. One of the most jarring things is that it looks and fills like a fill-in issue, when it should be a brand new jumping on point. In my case, jump-off.

  10. I’ve stated many times that DC’s biggest problem is that it’s never going to be Marvel, and won’t figure out how to be the best DC that it can be. But mostly that it won’t stop trying to be Marvel. For instance, the comparatively tight and ground floor continuity of Marvel (aided by the same half-dozen creatives doing all the books under one editor for about a decade) means that team books are a natural occurrence. When you’ve got so many characters constantly crossing paths, it’s less a group than a social circle. DC was doggedly Superman & Batman comics with side hustles until JLA finally made them realize “maybe if we consistently support Flash and Green Lantern, we’ll have five evergreen properties instead of twoish?” But like the epiphany delivered by Ambush Bug’s drunkard guardian angel in that one story, “TEAM BOOKS SELL!” In general, obviously, not DC’s. If there’s an actual novel concept, DC can’t sell it properly, so it always comes down to IP spaghetti against the wall. New Teen Titans worked because Marv reverse-engineered the Len Wein X-Men (with Len’s help) just as the real thing was entering a fallow period. And George Perez, of course. The Outsiders was Mike Barr thinking that he could do what Marv did, but ended up with something closer to The New Defenders (which in the end Marvel couldn’t even sell.) Infinity Inc was The New Teen Society, and somehow under-performed Outsiders. No need to belabor but Justice League Detroit punchlines. Couldn’t have helped that most of these titles was direct market only at an upscale price, disassociating them from the newsstand in pursuit of a cheap year late reprint edition that couldn’t interact with mainstream crossovers. Setting aside quality, the Titans concept is the most successful because “the sidekicks hang out together” is a valid concept, even when the Titans themselves aren’t the ones using it. It’s also why strong semi-stand alone concepts like Suicide Squad have been the most appealing for adaptation. There’s actually something to the team besides being a team for a team project.

    The Platonic ideal would be a perpetually 12-year-old Dick Grayson, but that just wasn’t in the Bronze Age Teen Wonder cards. I was perfectly fine with the 18-21 young adult sidekicks moving on to being the just plain “Titans,” while Young Justice could emphasize keeping the kids as kids. Peter David held that line pretty well for half a dozen years. Then Geoff Johns made them Teen Titans, and Superboy’s boffing Supergirl. I’m fond of alliteration, but it seems like the “teen” is the problem within the equation. So just have the Titans been the post-teens. Once Jason Todd is also an adult and Tim Drake gets brushed aside and Damian Wayne becomes Robin, you’re making Batman a grandpa. The Titans are the JLA’s Super Squad, the Big Brothers & Sisters of American Justice. They hold the line at a pre-teen Franklin Richards. The alternative is to retire the classic JLA to the JSA glue factory and replace them with Titans. That’s happened. Nobody was into it.

    Wait– was there not a New Titans tie-in to Zero Hour? Man, I’ve stanned for “Titans Hunt” across so many comment boards, including Who’s Who, that there’s no way anyone wants me to go there again. Short version? The New Teen Titans was alright but overrated with painfully bad Romeo Tanghal inks. Things started to pick up as Perez tightened his pencils, the villains got better, and the arcs more involved. They hit a sweet spot from the 30s-40s before starting to peter out. The second volume had one good Trigon arc with stunning Perez art before collapsing immediately upon his departure. Completely disposable for 50 (FIFTY!) issues. Things pick up with brief Perez return and his replacement by peak Tom Grummett, especially under Al Vey inks. Good-to-great for much of the next forty issues, until everyone but Marv leaves and the while thing immediately collapses. Briefly the worst book on the stands in 1994, which is really saying something. Shows modest signs of recovery before it all falls apart again.

    I personally kinda liked the purple Arsenal costume, but the problem was Speedy’s costume was already sweet, and there was no good reason to not at least keep the red/yellow color scheme. If Marv Wolfman wanted a Nighwing proxy in purple, he should have dug up The Protector instead of thinking he could just write Roy as Dick. To this day, Arsenal’s never recovered from becoming a generic Chromium Age action dude. Who’s bright idea was it to discard the entire cast twice in three years? I’d come in for the likes of Pantha and Phantasm and Wildebeest. They made me buy a three issue Red Star solo series-within-a-series and I was mostly cool with that. Funnily enough, I was reading Damage, Teen Titans, and Impulse in Flash, so none of the rookies were unfamiliar or necessarily unattractive. It’s just that there was already a team there, and they just sent them to limbo and cycled in an all new cast of unproven outsiders. I was happy that my favorite Team Titan, Mirage, had transferred, but continuing the mess that was Terra’s revival was ill-considered (and never amounted to anything. Agreed that Green Lanterns never feel right in teen books, because “space cop” feels like a grown up activity. Maybe Arisia? The handful of issues drawn by J.B. Jones were tolerable, but the new team simply had no internal chemistry or reason for coming together. As the Trigon/Raven crud dragged on, Will Rosado took over art, and he wasn’t yet as good as he would be when I could barely stand him on Green Arrow. Marv simply had no more New Titans tales in him, with characters unsuited to that role, with collaborators that only marred the reputation of the property. I tapped out at #121, only returning for the final issue nine months later.

    The Dan Jurgens Titans isn’t worth talking about. I had such high hopes for the Devin Grayson relaunch, only to discover that she couldn’t write a team book (and her art team left a lot to be desired.) I thought having Nightwing lead a new Outsiders line-up including other former Titans was inspired, but the writer insured that it was a waste of time and talent. I continued to dabble until the New 52, which completed Dan Didio’s urge to invalidate the existence of the Titans’ generation of heroes. Now, I haven’t even watched the Young Justice or Titans TV shows. I’m so divorced from the Titans today that I can’t imagine ever going back. What do you say to your best friend from sixth grade when you haven’t spoken in forty years and he’s wearing a MAGA hat? Probably duck out and hope he didn’t see you, too.

    1. The Titans Zero Hour issue would have “formally” been Damage #6 because they guest star. “Informally”, it’s New Titans #114, which is a team breakup issue that comes right before #0. While Zero Hour isn’t mentioned, you could probably slot it in right before the beginning of the event. The art in that is solid–Rick Mays doing his best Adam Hughes impersonation.

      The sad thing is that with the Team Titans’ role in Zero Hour, there was a potential for a two-part crossover between New/Team Titans that fleshed out the battle with the Extant-possessed Teamers, but that didn’t happen.

  11. Late to the game, but I had to mention that Mark Waid stated in Keith Dallas’ Flash Companion, that Wally’s interaction with his younger self was based on a trip he took back to his hometown shortly before this. He stood outside of his old house, and wished he could go around back and tell 10 year old Mark that one day all his dreams would come true, and he’d be writing his favorite comics, like the Flash. Waid said much of his Flash run is somewhat autobiographical, as he WAS Wally, and when he felt they had moved apart from one another, that’s when he was no longer jibing with the series.

    This is my favorite single Zero issue…outside of Starman #0, of course!

    As for Deathstroke…yeah, I don’t think Wolfman meant Slade to be more reprehensible than any other bad guy. I do think his sleeping with Tara was meant to be shocking, and show “whoa, this guy, and this girl, are both BAD.” But I don’t think he meant to paint Slade as particularly pervy, and maybe that’s even more disturbing, in a modern context. Things were different in the 80s. Brooke Shields would appear topless in jeans ads, and she was underage. That’s not quite the same, but there was a permissive air about such things that would never fly today. Examined through a modern lens, and a middle-aged man sleeping with a 16 year old girl (whether she’s an evil sociopath or not) is an act that would become a defining aspect of any character, but back in the 80s, it was just another shock element to say “Yep, both of these people are morally bankrupt”.

    And I agree, better to stick with the Slade version from the Animated Titans.

    As for this version of the Titans…meh. This book reeked of “It was once our biggest selling book, we can’t just cancel it”. Titans Hunt was fun but went off the rails when Peterson left, and Wolfman lost the last collaborator who invigorated him on the title. It’s the poor old dog that needs to be put down, but no one has the guts to do it.


    1. Terry Long also bothers people. I’ll allow for the era, but that’s why it annoys me that DC/Marv never retconned it out when they got the chance, and even doubled down on it later.

      1. Terry is tricky. Donna was 19, but portrayed as being much older. Wolfman clearly wanted the Titans (aside from Changeling and Terra) to be in their early 20s, but was stuck with the “Teen” moniker. But still, Terry was a mid-30s professor, messing around with a woman half his age. So it is a bit skeevy, if not illegal.

        I always felt like Terry was a combo of Wolfman and editor/pal Len Wein (Terry even LOOKED like Len Wein), and their wish fulfillment to date a hot, young super heroine. If they did that in Wonder Woman, no problem. But in Titans with Wonder Girl…eh…maybe not.


        1. As someone who worked in a university setting for the better part of two decades, the “college professor dating a student(age) girl” trope/reality needs to die.

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