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Saturday, August 02, 2008

Teen Titans Spotlight #10 - May 1987

sgComics Weekend Aqualad takes the lead for this week's Comics Weekend selections!

Teen Titans Spotlight was a solid idea for a book, if maybe a little late to the game. During the early and mid-80s, the Teen Titans was DC's hottest property, so like Marvel did with the X-Men, they tried to find a way to generate as much Titans material as they could.

I say this book was a little late to the game, because it started in late 1986, and while the Titans were still popular, they weren't as white-hot as they were just a few years earlier. To that end, Teen Titans Spotlight only lasted 21 issues.

But even in that brief run, Aqualad got to headline in two issues, the second of which we'll be talking about tomorrow (which co-stars a certain King of the Seven Seas).

Anyway, this issue's story is called "Scar Tissue", by John Ostrander, Erik Larsen, and Romeo Tanghal, and opens with Garth as he finds himself in a deep, dark part of the ocean, not being able to remember how he got there!

He sees some dim lights in the distance, and before he knows it, he is suddenly inside an opulent throne room.

He is met by King Thar, his biological father, who is going on and on about how his enemies are everywhere, and they're all coming to kill him. Garth is naturally confused, since his father is long dead! What's going on here?

He then meets his mother, Berra, who is pregnant with...Garth!

Suddenly a door bursts open, and its...Nightwing and Jericho? They've got evil looks on their faces, and then Jericho uses his powers to take control of Garth! He forces Garth to fire a gun right at his father, shooting him in the head!

But then his father changes into
Nightwing and Jericho then try to drag Garth's mother away, and as Garth tries to stop them, he is attacked by...Cyborg!

Aqualad accidentally kills Cyborg (sort of), then wanders outside, and runs into Changeling! Garth finally realizes none of this is real, and refuses to "play this game anymore."

That's all well and good, until he is attacked by foes from his and his former mentor's past:
Things get even weirder, like when Garth runs into the rest of the Titans, dressed like college students, with Wonder Girl as a cheerleader, 'natch.

He grabs Tula, Aquagirl, and tries to save her like he feels like he failed to do during the Crisis.

As Tula's body withers away to a skeleton, he runs into another person from his past, Mera, who blames Garth for Tula's and his mother and father's death. This is too much for him, and he screams in agony.

He then wakes up from this nightmare in a just-as strange place:
Even though he's imprisoned by Mento, Garth, realizing that all that preceded was a dream, uses the "mental channel" Mento had opened between them to turn the tables on his erstwhile captor, and sends Mento in a nightmarish spiral of his own.

Mento finds himself tortured by memories of his former friends the Doom Patrol, and we find that he is also consumed by guilt, in this case the death of his beloved Rita, aka Elasti-Girl!

Both Garth and Mento confront their pain at the same time, which overloads Mento's gizmos, blasting Aqualad out of the tank. Mento, instead of being thankful to Garth for sharing his grief, is furious, uses his mental powers to blast Garth out of his house.

He then puts a mental command in Garth that makes him believe if he comes anywhere near Mento's island again, he will die!

Aqualad, naturally stunned by these events, takes off, pondering what all this means:

Not a bad story, and I like the "smallness" of it. It all takes place within the minds of the two characters, plus the lonely island of Mento's. Its also sort of creepy that Mento sits, all alone, nursing his grudges, waiting to extract revenge that will never happen.

Its also interesting how little--one panel--Aquaman appears in this book. While the two characters have lots of issues between them, we've seen that lots before, so I liked that writer John Ostrander went a different way.


Anonymous said...

The image of the original Titans as students that Garth enounters in this issue are priceless. For those who haven't read the comic, Robin is depicted as a stereotypical nerd, Kid Flash an athlete in letterman's sweater, Speedy a cool-looking greaser, and, as Rob mentioned, Wonder Girl is a cheerleader.

And I love that cover.

Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds like a pretty neat issue! This is a really interesting exploration of some of Garth's emotional baggage, without dragging the story down into a never-ending bout of exposition. Also.....am I the only one who misses Tula? She was awesome, and Aquaman's (and Aqualad's) world is poorer for her absence.