Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The New Titans #0

The Changing Order

Marv Wolfman Writer
Stephen J.B. Jones Pencils
Collazo/Candelario/Champagne Inks
Dave Bednar Production
John Costanza Letters
Chris Matthys Colors
Keri Kowalski Asst. Edits
Pat Garrahy Edits
Launching a new history for the New Titans originally created by Marv Wolfman and George Perez

This is an all new direction for the New Titans, and what better time to do it than issue #0? They've got a new team, a new logo on their cover, and a new art team. Unfortunately, the art is a bit of a mess in this issue. It's never a good sign when three inkers are required, and I'm not sure exactly what Dave Bednar's role was here, but I imagine it had something to do with the artwork.

But let's get back to that new team, as shown in Tom Raney's cover. Starting in the bottom left is Mirage turning into the current Green Lantern, Kyle Rayner. Mirage's real name is Miri (rather unimaginative) and power, naturally, is to create mirages. Kyle Rayner will eventually join the team, but just not in this issue. I'm not sure how he survived Zero Hour, but I'm not too concerned about it. Moving up clockwise, the green guy above Mirage is Changeling, who has been looking a bit more demonic since his run-in with Raven. Next to him is the leader, Arsenal, who is wearing a much better outfit than what we last saw him in. Next to Arsenal is Terra, which sounds exactly like her real name, Tara. She can control rocks, and has a bit of a crush on Changeling. The really creepy-looking guy on the right side is Damage, who was a major player in Zero Hour with his ability to expend enormous amounts of energy. He normally doesn't look that scary — that's just a result of Raney's poor art. And last, but not least, is our lovable Impulse. That's not the best-looking Impulse we've seen so far, but it's not the worst we'll ever see.

This issue takes place two weeks after Zero Hour, which is a bit unfortunate for me, because I really wanted to see exactly how this team got put together — particularly how Impulse joined. We know he  got a phone message intended for the Flash, but the big crisis happened before we saw him meet up with Arsenal and the gang. And now this issue picks up after this team has been together for a while and had a few practices. We will eventually see how everybody joined in an annual issue, but it'll take a while to get there. So in the meantime, we open this story with Nightwing, the former Titan leader, defending this New Titan team to Sargent Steel.

Earlier that morning, at one of New York's warehouse piers, we see a husband-wife super villain team named Coven and Slagg. They're working for Crimelord and are currently threatening some criminals who work for the Triad. Changeling has arrived on the scene to save the day, but instead of turning into an animal as usual, he changes into a grotesque, monstrous form. He also surprises himself with his own murderous urges. He almost kills the husband, Slagg, but he's ultimately knocked out by Coven.

Meanwhile, in the shopping mall beneath the World Trade Center (yes, this story happened long before 9/11), Damage and Arsenal are battling some more Crimelord goons, who are wearing giant, mechanized suits.  The battle is not going well, and soon Damage is buried under a pile of rubble before Arsenal's backup can arrive. And to make matters worse, Arsenal notices that the goons have sabotaged the subway tracks just as a train approaches.

We check back in with Changeling, who is saved by Terra and Mirage. However, Coven and Slagg escape in the chaos. Changeling quickly revives, and the three Titans rush off to answer Arsenal's distress call.

The train Arsenal was worried about gets closer and closer, and is about to derail, when it says, "Beep beep!" Turns out it was just Impulse holding a lantern and making a Roadrunner joke. (We love the Loony Tunes here!) Impulse explains he saved the train by pulling out its brake lines (which doesn't make any sense to me, but whatever). He then proceeds to beat the snot out of the Crimelord goons because their lasers are too slow to hit him — unlike magbeams, which haven't been invented yet.

Impulse asks Arsenal if there are any more robots to fight, and he directs him upstairs to where Damage is. Luckily, Damage has pulled himself out of the rubble. Unluckily, he has let his anger get the best of him and is about to explode. So, just like they practiced, Impulse uses a gravlift to carry Damage out to the ocean to safely release his excess energy. Impulse runs back to the shore to watch the mushroom-cloud explosion — which is "too cool" — and runs back out to catch Damage before he falls in the water. He brings him back to Arsenal just as the rest of the team arrives.

Now that their mission is complete, the Titans now need to check in with Sargent Steel in New Jersey. As Impulse runs there, he realizes he enjoys his time with the Titans more than his time with Wally West or the virtual reality he grew up in. Bart doesn't care too much for Changeling — who has been a bit of a butt in this issue — but he likes everybody else, especially Damage. Impulse thinks that this team is going to be "real whip." I'm not sure if that was supposed to be 30th century slang or 1994 slang. Either way, it sounds rather weird.

Impulse gets to Steel first and has to wait for the rest of the team to catch up. Once they get there, Steel takes them to their new Earth-based headquarters — a former train station at Liberty State Park. It's fully equipped with state-of-the-art technology and teleporters to their satellite base. But Impulse is primarily concerned with the base's selection of computer games.

Later that evening, at New York City Hall, Senator Perry is holding a press conference. Apparently he and Senator Williams authored an anti-terrorist bill, but then Williams was assassinated by Deathstroke. I'm not sure how an anti-terrorist bill would make terrorism more illegal than it already should be, but Perry assures reporters the president has just signed the bill and the end of terrorism is at hand. As soon as he says this, he is killed by Coven and Slagg, who announce that their demands will be met, without elaborating on what those demands actually are. All this may seem rather out of place, and that's because most of it has to deal exclusively with Deathstroke. But Marv Wolfman was also writing Deathstroke at this time, and we'll get a Titans-Deathstroke crossover soon enough.

Our story then returns to the beginning, with Nightwing assuring Sargent Steel that this new team of Titans will be just fine without him, and he won't even secretly help them from the shadows. He's led the past three teams, and now wants to take a well-deserved vacation. Isn't it funny how so many people feel like they need to justify the word vacation with "well-deserved" in front of it?

Anyway, the last page of the issue takes place out in space, with the Green Lantern catching the attention of the mysterious force that just destroyed the planet Talyn. It looks like a glowing, rainbow double-helix. But it'll soon catch up to poor Kyle Rayner and we'll learn exactly what it is.

So that was Impulse's first adventure with the New Titans, and I quite enjoyed it. Impulse deserves to get out and do something besides being constantly yelled at by the Flash. He fits in with this team personality-wise, and he's already established himself as one of the most powerful members of the team. But that power needs to be focused and organized, and Arsenal seems to have the personality to successfully order Impulse around — unlike Wally. Wolfman didn't have much info on Impulse to work with here — super speed, from the future, likes video games — but I think he captured his personality and power set quite well. He had him goofing off, cracking jokes, always being the first to arrive somewhere, and also being a competent hero. I am quite pleased with how Impulse was handled, although I would have liked a line about where he was when Arsenal called for backup and exactly how Impulse saved that train.

In typical Wolfman fashion, this story seemed simple on the surface, but actually set up a couple of different story lines. We have Changeling dealing with his demonic possession at the hands of Raven, the emerging menace of Crimelord, which also spills into the Deathstroke title, and the mysterious threat in space targeting Green Lantern. And Wolfman manages to balance these stories quite well, which really makes him an entertaining read. Most unfortunately, his interesting story is hampered by the poor quality of art. This stuff may have been average in 1994, but it does not hold up today. A lot of faces looked really weird, some pages depressingly had no backgrounds, and the artists kept forgetting that Impulse has goggles. What a shame.

I don't have any ads or letters this time because I own this issue digitally — it's the only issue of this era of New Titans that's available through Comixology since they have all the #0 issues from the Zero Hour event. So even though the art sucks, I do recommend spending the $1.99 to see Impulse in his first team adventure.

Next time, we'll head into comics with a November 1994 publication date. Impulse appeared in two issues that month — Flash #95 and New Titans #115. I like to save the better issue for the end, so I'll review The New Titans #115 first.

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