Tonight on the McLaughlin Group: The Titans' Golden Age

TALES OF THE TEEN TITANS #60, DC Comics, December 1985
Like the Legion of Super-Heroes, the New Teen Titans of the mid-80s were shunted off into a Deluxe series with better printing, slightly more adult subject matter and limited availability in comic book shops, while their old, standard format series continued as "Tales of..." and 16 months later started simply reprinting the Deluxe series for us small town hicks. TOTTT #60 is the first of these reprints, and good place to start examining the myths regarding the 80s Titans. Let me do so McLaughlin Group-style...

Issue One! The Deluxe series had advantages over the standard series!
First, we're told that Deluxe has better colors and more dramatic artwork. Well, George Perez would kick serious ass even if he drew comics on toilet paper, so that's neither here nor there. Now I realize that reprinting Deluxe in standard format is the equivalent of watching HDTV on an old black and white tv, but does it account for the first page's quality?
Thankfully, the rest of the issue doesn't suffer from such an extreme coloring error, and I just can't tell if Perez' rich, lush, detailed artwork clogs up at times because of the cheap paper or because he inks his stuff with mascara. The second reason to go Deluxe is to offer "more adult content", which basically means being blatant about Nightwing and Starfire doing the inter-species dirty.
Oooh, I can't believe the Comics Code Authority approved that panel when reprinted! It's not so much the implied nudity as the notion of Nightwing using sex toys on fellow Titans. "I'll buzz the others..." Brrrr. Ok, and they've got shots of the resident mute member getting his face melted by Raven's demonic dad, Trigon. Unfortunate that it's all an illusion... And speaking of Jericho:

Issue Two!! Jericho isn't gay as gay can be, says Wolfman!
There has always been much speculation about Jericho's sexual orientation, though creator Marv Wolfman never intended him to like the boys. Well, we've got a "sensitive" character that is into art. He wears that puffy shirt and a pink chainmail vest. And a big gemstone on his belt. I won't even comment on the perm/chops combo. And as a last bit of evidence, his power - to enter your body - is triggered by looking deeply into an opponent's eyes...

Now, it's a good thing the DC Universe is a bit more enlightened than the real world about such things (they don't frown on inter-species sex, for example). In the real world, we've got silly little homophobes who are afraid of gays jumping their bones while they're drunk and unable to resist. I guess. It's pretty stupid if you give in any thought. I've known hundreds of straight girls who have somehow managed to resist sexually assaulting me all my life. Anyway, imagine the real world with Jericho in it. He can enter your body and control it as if it were his. And he's gay for your best friend! Now THERE's a reason to be paranoid! End parentheses.

This particular issue doesn't help Jericho's case. In a training session, Perez catches him in this compromising pose with Nightwing (the former Robin if you're looking for another gay connection):
Oooh, bondage! Considering that the comic also features Raven not wanting to be touched by a boy, and that both characters wind up tortured in a hell that can only be described as a religious zealot's wet dream... plus the idea that their leader is called Dick, and Cyborg calls x-rated flicks "borin' garbage" (it IS possible he's missing some crucial body parts), Titans may just have been one of the gayest comics out at the time!

Issue Three!!! The Titans are DC Comics' X-Men!
Not a fair cop, surely! No mutants, nowhere near the same level of angst, a headquarters on the waterfront... Well, it's true that they are teen heroes, and there's a heavy soap opera vibe, and it takes place in a real city, Marvel-style. But other than that...

Truth be told, with the new Deluxe series, Marv Wolfman fully embraced his inner mutant. Man, aside from the slightly more epic nature of the stories, which is just the natural order of things in the DCU, this is very close to an X-Men story. For example, it starts with a training session. No Danger Room for the Titans though, just their back yard basically (did I say it was epic?). Then the rest of the thing is about Raven becoming swayed to the dark side and becoming, in essence, Dark Raven. Nothing like the Dark Phoenix Saga in any way, shape or form. A phoenix isn't even a real bird. A raven is. So there.

Final Thoughts!!!! Yeah, well, despite all that, it's hard to fault a Wolfman/Perez comic. Any book that features this crazy two-page spread just Rocks with a capital "R":
The only thing freakier than "the [4-eyed] unholy visage of Trigon" is his dimension's tendrils of rock and suffering human bodies. Yow!


SinlessTouch said...

AHAHHA..."It's not so much the implied nudity as the notion of Nightwing using sex toys on fellow Titans."

I would like to see a cartoon with a vibrators


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