A final battle with Brother Blood, the first new origin of Captain Marvel, and the second debut of the Suicide Squad
New Teen Titans #31; Shazam: A New Beginning #2; Suicide Squad #1; Teen Titans Spotlight #10; The Spectre #2
New Teen Titans #31 by Paul Levitz and Eduardo Barreto
As we enter this new era of DC Comics, one of the top titles of the brand was in a state of flux. Honestly, it was a bit of a mess. Marv Wolfman would develop problems with writer’s block in the next few years, but it seems likely he might already have faced it at this point. Though he plotted New Teen Titans #31, Paul Levitz scripted it. He had done so for the previous three issues of the Brother Blood storyline and would continue on to the next two as well. By the time Marv returns full-time, his writing on Adventures of Superman will be close to finished. Of course, he wouldn’t stay on one title very long after that, picking up work on First Comics’ Sable reboot. He was also knee deep in the animated spec script market in 87, writing episodes of G.I. Joe, Transformers, and Jem and the Holograms, as well as less remembered shows like Starcom, Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, and the Fraggle Rock animated series.
As this story kicks off, Brother Blood is in the middle of his masterwork, a plan to feed off the anger of the world in order to become nearly omnipotent. He brainwashed Nightwing into being his servant, took control of Raven to manipulate her power, and recruited Azrael (the winged guy on the cover, not the later Batman character) to literally serve as an angelic helper to him.
Wonder Girl has taken control of the team, recruiting Wally West back to the team, now as the Flash, and bringing in Jason Todd to take Nightwing’s place. The result is a big battle with a lot of soul-searching to finally free Raven. Ultimately, the heroes aren’t truly the ones to save the day. Instead, Mother Mayhem — pregnant with Brother Blood’s child — turns against him for the life of her own son. She turns the device he’s using to power himself against him, weakening him enough for the controls he put over people to fade.
I’ll be honest: I’m not sure of everything that came before this issue, as I didn’t go back and reread the previous arc. I read them many years ago and didn’t care for this era of the Titans much at all. Eduardo Barreto is a superb artist, but Wolfman didn’t seem to know what he wanted to do or where he wanted to take the characters.
That’s proven by the fact that the action in Wolfman’s plot actually ends with a good eight pages left. Levitz basically does a reset on the team, sending Jason Todd and Wally West back out into the world (and an upcoming Flash comic.)
Azrael frees the broken Brother Blood — his memory lost — and leaves him in a monastery. From there, the angelic alien vanishes off into the night, not to appear again until a JLA / Titans crossover well over a decade later. Literally, no one ever missed him. It’s literally mystifying to me that Wolfman kept him alive for years while offing Kole so shortly after her debut.
We will see how long the holding pattern for this title will continue, but let’s all be aware we’re ever so close to the debut of one Danny Chase, perhaps the only New Teen Titan less liked than Azrael.
The best I can say is Eduardo Barreto draws the book well and Romeo Tanghal’s inks sync perfectly with his art. Barreto remains a criminally underrated talent, but even he cannot make a masterpiece out of a script this average. Hopefully, he will get some better plots to work on in the months to come.
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