Retro-Titans

The New Teen Titans: Games: written by Marv Wolfman and George Perez; illustrated by George Perez, Mike Perkins and Al Vey (2011): Announced in 1988 as an original graphic novel starring the then-current iteration of DC superhero group the Teen Titans, Games soon became one of mainstream comicdom’s most famous ‘lost’ books. New Teen Titans penciller extraordinaire George Perez completed roughly 70 pages of art before the project got shelved. After a few false starts and subsequent stops, Games in its 120-page entirety finally sees the light of day 23 years after its announcement.

DC wisely lets the story take place in the time-lost continuity of 1988, making this almost a tribute to the superhero group Marv Wolfman and Perez made so popular at DC in the 1980’s, when the New Teen Titans comic was DC’s biggest challenge to the supremacy of Marvel’s X-Men.

Perez’s almost-obsessively detailed art is a joy throughout — all the characters are distinctively different, Perez’s attention to facial detail being one of his less-heralded strengths. Wolfman and Perez’s story maintained my interest throughout, as the Titans face what appears to be a terrorist with a super-powered team, a terrorist who seems to know their most intimate secrets and how to use those secrets against them. The events come, perhaps, a bit too fast and densely — there are points at which it almost feels like this should have been a story twice its length — but I’ll take compression over decompression in a superhero comic book pretty much any day of the week.

It’s nice to visit with old friends — with Wolfman and Perez on the book they brought to prominence, and with the late 1980’s line-up of Titans. I’d have liked more of (Kid) Flash, Speedy, and Aqualad (there are continuity reasons for why these early 1980’s Titans weren’t a big part of the late 1980’s comic), but Games is so packed with characters and situations that I’m not sure how they’d have played a larger role without a lot more pages. Recommended.

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