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Thursday, 13 April 2017

Teen Titans 25 - Lilith debuts

Robert Kanigher joins Nick Cardy as some big changes take place in Teen Titans 25 (Jan/Feb. 70). The story seems to fit into the general pattern of the backlash against super-heroes at the time, a result of the Batman tv show, but one winds up feeling really sorry for the Teen Titans, who are treated abysmally by the Justice League, and forced to take responsibility for actions beyond their control.

The story opens with Robin, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Kid Flash, Hawk & Dove all gathered around a dying man, tormented over his situation. As he passes, he insists that the Titans not blame themselves for his death. He seems to be the only person in the tale that feels this way.

As they leave the hospital, the group run into Lilith. She openly blames them for the man's death, and indicates that they had ignored her warnings, which is how this all came about. But is that the case? The story then jumps backwards to explain how this all came about.

Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl and Speedy go out to a disco in the civilian identities, and are approached by Lilith, a gogo dancer in the club. She informs them that she wants to join the Teen Titans. They try to insist that they are not the Titans, but she knows their secret identities, and explains that she is a psychic. They still do not entirely believe her, and she warns them that they will "open the door for death." You gotta admit, that's a fairly vague warning.

Leaving the club, the group pass by a peace rally where a noted activist is speaking. Hank and Don Hall are in attendance, but arguing between themselves about supporting the man and his beliefs. There are a number of others who, like Hank Hall, disagree with the guy, and the rally turns into a riot. Hank and Don run outside to change into Hawk and Dove, and the Titans are also getting into costume, so they see the brothers transform.

Though all of the heroes do their best to bring an end to the riot, there is a guy with a gun who is determined to kill the speaker. The Titans do their best to stop him, but the activist winds up getting shot. One can see why the Titans themselves might feel guilty, but it's really not fair to say it is their fault in any way.

That's not how the Justice League see it. Superman, Batman, Aquaman, Flash, Green Arrow and Green Lantern show up to bitch at the kids, and essentially demand that they retire and disband the team.

Lilith then shows up again, and brings the despondent teens to Mr. Jupiter. He is a millionaire who is working with the government on a secret training team for teens, which sounds about as sketchy as one could get. Robin decides he cannot give up university and his Robin career, but all the others agree to forego their lives and identities, and join Mr. Jupiter's program.

Mr. Jupiter takes away the costumes of the group, and gives them all identical jumpsuits. Because that makes it sooo easy to tell them apart. As the issue ends, they begin their first training mission.

Hawk and Dove had not been seen in a couple of months, since their own book was cancelled, so at least joining the Titans keeps them around. But the fact that their costumes only manifest when they are in danger is completely ignored in this story, and their outfits are treated like normal clothing.

The story continues in the next issue.

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