Published: January 31st, 1984 – June 30th, 1984
Written by: George Perez, Marv Wolfman
Art by: George Perez, Romeo Tanghal
DC Comics, 192 Pages
This is one of the biggest stories in Teen Titans history. Many say that this is the biggest and best tale. I haven’t read this since around 1990 or so but I loved it back then. But does it measure up for me now, decades later, and no longer having an elementary school level brain?
In fact, I enjoyed this now much more than I did as a kid where some of the emotional weight of the plot didn’t have as much context. I also don’t think that I was mature enough to really understand this very human tragedy and the significance of the characters’ relationships and trials.
The only down side of this collected edition was the inclusion of the Brother Blood story. I know that it is tied in to the bigger picture and is also sandwiched by Robin and Kid Flash leaving the Titans and then the actual four-part Judas Contract storyline but it just feels like filler wedged in. But it isn’t a complete waste of time as it helps to develop Terra and also adds more depth to Dick Grayson’s transformation from Robin into Nightwing.
And yes, this story is the first appearance of Nightwing, which makes it even cooler, as Nightwing is one of my all-time favorite characters, even if his earliest outfit was a bit goofy.
The biggest theme in this story is betrayal and it manifests nicely, which is due to the skill of writers George Perez and Marv Wolfman. In a lot of ways, it feels like this story was a major influence on Marvel’s New Mutants stories several years later, especially when the team started to grow into adults and started to question their place in the world.
The absolute highlight for me is Deathstroke. Here, he was still mostly referred to as the Terminator. The name sort of got phased out after the success of the unrelated Terminator film series that kicked off just after this story arc.
Deathstroke was still a complete and total villain when this tale was written. It introduces members of his family though and if you are reading the current Deathstroke comic series, a lot of these characters are relevant again and this story arc is good for adding more context to Deathstroke’s current run.
This may be a comic book about a bunch of teens but it is more adult than most of the adult heroes’ books from the same era. Honestly, I forgot about how hard of an edge the old school Teen Titans stories had.
If you are a fan of any of the characters in this book, this is definitely a must read.
Pairs well with: The most current run of Deathstroke, as they share a lot of the same characters and plot threads related to Deathstroke’s personal life and family.