Every other week, Jason Shayer will highlight an issue or a run of issues pulled from the horde of comic book long boxes that occupy more room in his house than his wife can tolerate. Each of these reviews will delve into what made that issue or run significant as well as discuss the creative personalities behind the work. “Long Box” refers to the lengthy, white cardboard boxes most comics find themselves stored within – bagged, alphabetized and numerically ordered.
The New Teen Titans #4
“Against All Friends!”
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Penciler: George Perez
Inker: Romeo Tanghal
This issue was the first issue of the New Teen Titans I picked up as a kid. I vaguely recall having one or two issues of the first series, but it was nothing like this! An artist I had never seen before, by the name of George Perez, was the main reason this series caught my attention. His artwork amazed me with its dynamic shots and classic depictions of our favourite heroes.
While Perez’s work on its own was well worth my two quarters, Marv Wolfman’s story within was what made this a must-buy every time I saw an issue. Wolfman’s Titans genuinely felt like they were growing up and on certain levels were already grown up. He also added a few new characters to the team that added depth and dimension to the teen angst motif: Changeling/Beast Boy, the sidekick from Doom Patrol, Raven a mysterious mystic with a sinister heritage, Starfire, an exiled princess from another world, and Cyborg, half a man struggling to exist with his half robot side.
The cover to The New Teen Titans #4 boldly stated: “Need We Say More?” and they certainly didn’t. That cover is a classic and still stands as one of my favourites. It was definitely what got me to pull it off the spinner rack!
The prologue was great with a stunning splash page featuring the Justice League heading off into the battle. It continued with the Justice League being defeated and has Raven tossed back in time to prevent these event from ever occurring.
Raven’s plea for help led the Titans into a confrontation with the Justice League which in turn led to the battle all Titans fans were looking for: sidekicks versus their mentors! While they didn’t defeat the JLA, the Titans stood their ground and proved that they were in a new league, if you’ll forgive the pun.
Not only did this issue feature a great superhero team vs superhero team battle and then a team-up battle against Trigon’s sorcerers, but it shook up the team dynamic and setup an ongoing plotline that would run through the book for a few years. And it’s classic ending that shockingly disbanded the team despite the immanent threat of Trigon was a great hook!
The New Teen Titans would continue to build on this foundation and evolve into one of the best comic books of the 1980s.
Jason Shayer has recently joined the Biff Bam Pop! writing team. He’s been trying his best not to grow up for that last 30 years and comics books are one of the best ways to keep him young at heart. He’s also known as the Marvel 1980s guy and has probably forgotten more than you’d ever want to know about that wonderfully creative era. Check out his blog at: marvel1980s.blogspot.com.