An era long gone
There are some things in life worth waiting for ... even if it means 23 (long) years! Case in point, this week’s feature. Not that the last 20 years have been boring ones, especially with milestone events involving universe-formations (Image and Ultimate), deaths (Superman, Johnny Storm), rebirths (Barry Allen, Bucky and Jason Todd) and the Big Two’s annual main events. Despite all the hullaballoo, the 1980s have always been my favourite decade for comics – and its largely attributed to the creative teams and their groundbreaking works. To me, the 1980s was simply magical.
Spilling over with stories that mixed thought-provoking angles and apocalyptic thrills, this was the era that kickstarted reboots and made the Grim reaper a welcome presence.
From the remodeling of the DC Universe ( Crisis On Infinite Earths) to the reconstruction of heroes ( Watchmen), the stories were unforgettable.
Creative partnerships like Claremont-Byrne-Austin, MillerJanson/Mazzuchelli, Moore-Bissette/ Lloyd/Gibbons and Wolfman-Perez were natural crowd pullers and fan boy favourites. every character or title blessed by their presence would have had a shot at comics immortality.
While each creative team had their own specialty and appeal, if I had to choose a “winner” amongst them – my choice would be Marv Wolfman and George Perez, courtesy of their New Teen Titans and Crisis On Infinite Earths work. While little needs to be said about Crisis, it’s their Titans work that speaks volumes.
From dethroning the JLA as DC’s mightiest team to elevating the sidekicks (robin/Nightwing and Kid Flash) and polishing rough dia- monds (raven, Starfire, Changeling and Cyborg), the New Teen Titans remain a true test case on how great super teams should be moulded.
hence, it was pure joy to have New Teen Titans: Games – a stand alone tale – finally in print. This book is a good super team benchmark or template for the multiple Avengers and X-Men spin-offs offered today.
To appreciate Games, it’s best I fill you in on a little history concerning Wolfman-Perez’s Titans stint.
While both are not the creators of the Teen Titans, they still go down in history for putting the word “New” in the Titans. Their collaboration began via an “insert” in the pages of DC Comics Presents #26 in October 1980, which was followed by a regular series a month later, enroute to 50 issues of non-stop adrenaline-pumping integrated story arcs!
The strength of its story arcs flow from themes such as introductions (Trigon, Deathstroke, Terra and Jericho), (re)establishing links with key teams (JLA and Outsiders) and reinvigorating characters (robin to Nightwing, Kid Flash to Flash, etc).
Another beauty of the Titans is that they contained all the wonderful team elements encapsulated in the best team books.
For instance, the “Johnny-Ben love/hate relationship” is exemplified by Changeling-Cyborg. Additionally the niches are covered (Strategy = robin, Mystic = raven, Brute strength = Cyborg, Gadgets = Cyborg, Wealth = “credit line from Bruce Wayne”, Beauty = Starfire and Donna Troy, Speed = Kid Flash, Alien heritage = Starfire, Telepathy = raven, etc).
While on paper, the Titans have all the right ingredients, the “Chemical X-equivalent” was certainly Perez’s pulsating pencils.
I have lost track of how many “Best Covers” and “Best Artist” accolades the man has garnered during his Titans-stint, and I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if Games grants him a few more.
In Games, we have one of those blast from the past “lost tales” that (surprisingly) did not make the cut (then) but is now worth revisiting. Fortunately, it was not packaged as one of DC’s recent “retroactive” offerings. On its own merit, the 144 pages here deserve the hardcover treatment, especially with Perez in vintage form.
Games is premised on a master strategist creating a “fire sale” scenario to cripple key parts of the United States.
With the US political powers in the shadows, the Titans find themselves caught in the middle of trying to save the world while hav- ing their strings tugged by the menin-suits. To add to the drama, there are casualties, pressuring the team to restrain from crossing the line between heroes and anti-heroes (which is not entirely a bad thing).
King (not royalty but his real name) Faraday, a government agent, assumes the protagonist role here. he is the link between a group of super terrorists and the government. Additionally King is also the go-to-guy between the Titans and bystanders.
Just like your average covert government “spook” , King is one big question mark but he also holds the answers. On the other hand, the Titans are more accustomed to villains (Deathstroke, hIVe, Fearsome Five) who favour direct confronta- tions over mind games, making this a unique challenge.
The precise timeline of this event is unknown ... an educated guess would place this somewhere in the 1990s, factoring Donna Troy’s stillmarried status, raven’s white-look and Chase’s inclusion in the team.
As far as roll call is concerned, it would have been great to have Kid Flash’s inclusion, while Chase’s substantial contribution justifies his inclusion. Notwithstanding that Wally and Terra’s “cameos” are fitting tributes.
While this is not Judas Contract or Trigon Saga equivalents, the fact that we have a classic WolfmanPerez reunion tops everything else.
Wolfman shows no signs of rust as his story plots and pace on Games remain as intriguing as his 1980s work. As for Perez, the man is simply unbelievable in terms of attention to detail and panel magic.
While two-thirds of the content on Games was done two decades ago, the finishing touches certainly did justice in bridging the decades. alongside Gilamon Studios and Pekomik’s finest will be part of the independently organised event. Activities include book signings, meet-the-fans, live sketching and basically, a networking session to get to know the good people in the local comics scene. Loads of merchandise and local/ mainstream comics on sale. For more info, call 03-78048380, email: (email@example.com). earth 638 is located at 2nd Floor, Kelana Mall, Jalan SS6/12, Petaling Jaya, Selangor. Browse: (earth638comics.blogspot.com).