Sunday, November 23, 2008

The New Teen Titans #2 (Dec. 1980)

Overall- Well, this sure arrived quickly. Needless to say, I couldn't wait to read this comic. For the uninitiated, this comic book heralds the first appearance of the one and only(if you don't count Deadpool), Deathstroke the Terminator! So, with that said, what was this comic book all about?

We open with the HIVE, some terrorist organization as I understand it, telling Deathstroke the Terminator they want him to kill the New Teen Titans. Deathstroke tells them the terms of his services which includes getting paid in advance, but the HIVE refuses to pay Deathstroke his rate until he kills the Titans. Deathstroke goes to leave, but the HIVE members open fire on him with machine guns that popped out of the walls. Deathstroke easily takes out the guns, and realizes the HIVE members were just illusions. Deathstroke then leaves, unsure if the HIVE was trying to kill him, or if they attacked him for some other reason. We learn that the HIVE was testing Deathstroke, and wanted to watch him in action. The HIVE members then decide they are going to attempt to create their own Terminator.

The scene shifts to an apartment in Manhattan, where Grant Wilson is having a pretty nasty argument with his girlfriend, Carol. Carol tells Grant she wants to break up with him, and Grant responds by grabbing Carol's arm, and telling her she can't get rid of him that easily. With that, Starfire walks in and blasts Grant away from Carol, spouting something in her native tongue at Grant. Wonder Girl arrives and tells Grant that he shouldn't have put his hands on Carol, and tells him to leave. Grant leaves, but warns the 3 girls that he'll be back, and he'll take care of all 3 of them, thanks to some powerful friends he claims to have.

Later, the whole Titans team, except for Raven, sight some strange characters in pink masks and outfits stealing equipment from a water front warehouse. The Titans handily defeat the pink team, and discover that the pink guys were actually robots. The Titans decide to have Cyborg take one of the robots to STAR Labs to try to discover it's origin. Off in the distance, Deathstroke is seen watching the battle, and scouting the Titans, looking for any potential weaknesses.

Grant Wilson apparently was referring to the HIVE as his powerful friends, and the HIVE begins a process on him that is supposed to not only duplicate Deathstroke's abilities but surpass them. Grant tells the HIVE that he understands the risks, and wants to go through with the procedure, in order to become somebody important.

The Titans meet up at Changling's mansion and have some fun at the pool, while Cyborg takes the robot to his father at STAR Labs. Cyborg's father isn't able to tell Cyborg anything about who sent the robot, or why. As Cyborg leaves the lab complex, he is attacked by the Ravager, who during the battle reveals that he is actually Grant Wilson, and that he was hired to kill the Titans. The two battle to a standstill, until Cyborg is able to stun Ravager with a sonic blast. Before Cyborg can make a move though, Deathstroke arrives and incapacitates Cyborg, before taking Ravager away with him.

Upon awakening, Grant discovers he was rescued by Deathstroke. Deathstroke warns Grant that the procedure he underwent was slowly killing him. In other words, the more Grant uses his new abilities, the closer to death he comes. Grant tells Deathstroke he could care less, and that he was hired to kill the Titans by the HIVE, and no matter what, he was going to fulfill his obligations. With that, Grant takes off.

By this time, Cyborg had recovered, and told the Titan's that Grant was coming after them to kill them. The Titans suit up and are waiting for Grant when he arrives. Robin tells Grant to get lost, and that he is hopelessly outnumbered. With that, Deathstroke arrives, telling Grant he was there to help him. With that, the two sides battle, with Deathstroke and Ravager taking the battle to the Titans. As things begin to look grim for the Titans, Ravager begins to feel dizzy, and collapses. Deathstroke rushes to his side, and Raven teleports to the scene of the battle telling the Titans to stop fighting. Deathstroke takes off Grant's mask to reveal that his face and body had aged rapidly, and that he was dying. Grant asks Deathstroke if he had succeeded in killing the Titans, and before Deathstroke can answer, Raven shows Grant an illusion of the Titans laying dead all around him. Feeling content that he had completed his mission, Grant dies peacefully in Deathstroke's arms.

Deathstroke blames the Titans for Grant's death, but Raven tells Deathstroke that he should blame the people who gave Grant his faulty powers. Deathstroke counters that Grant died because he was fighting the Titans, and that he held them personally responsible for Grant's death. With that, Deathstroke takes Grant's emaciated body and leaves. The comic concludes with Deathstroke and Wintergreen, Deathstroke's friend and confidant, standing at the grave site of Grant Wilson. At this point that it is revealed that Deathstroke was actually Grant's father, and that he was going to take on Grant's contract and kill the Titans for the HIVE.

I liked this story. It was better then I thought it would be. Deathstroke is established as a major bad guy, who could take on the Titans singlehandedly and stand a chance. This comic also gives Deathstroke his motivation for repeatedly trying to kill the Titans, the death of his son. The comic doesn't reveal much about Deathstroke's origin, but this issue really didn't have to, this comic accomplished what it set out to do, which was introduce Deathstroke as a reoccurring enemy for the Titans.

Now for some of the stuff I didn't like... Grant's girlfriend Carol, during their argument, makes reference to Grant's father and brother as being trouble. Looking back, this comment makes no sense, because to my knowledge, the only other brother Grant has is Jericho, who was definitely not a bad guy. Grant also has no idea that Deathstroke is actually his father, so I don't really know what Carol is referring to. Deathstroke is pretty emotionless about the death of his firstborn son at Grant's tombstone, but I guess that can just be chalked up to his demeanor in general... Still, you would think Deathstroke would have been a little broken up about Grant's death, especially considering the fact that Grant died in his arms. Then again, if Deathstroke was sobbing uncontrollably at Grant's grave, he wouldn't seem all that threatening in future comic books, so I can understand Deathstroke's detached attitude.

For a score, I'd go with a 9 out of 10. The story was pretty good, and Deathstroke acted exactly how I would have expected him to. Marv Wolfman(series writer)left himself with a lot of story potential in regards to Deathstroke. I knew before I read this comic that Grant dies and that Deathstroke takes up Grant's contract to kill the Titans, but I never knew that Grant went by the code name of Ravager. I always thought Rose Wilson was the first Ravager. Huh, knowing that Rose took up Grant's old code name is actually pretty cool, and a nice touch. Anyway, for its historic content, this comic is a must read, especially for a fan of Deathstroke or the Titans.

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