Comics Ate My Brain

August 22, 2004

Teen Titans "Aftershock Part 2"

Filed under: animated, tv — Tom Bondurant @ 7:15 pm
Well, “Aftershock” was no “Judas Contract,” but there was no way it could have been. It’s fitting that “Teen Titans”‘ take on what is probably the most famous New Teen Titans story arc is a perfect example of how the show is different from the comic. The show has to be different because the medium demands it.

“Aftershock” gave Terra a pretty final fate while not crossing any lines inappropriate for younger viewers. (I was very surprised that it also seemed to say goodbye to Slade in a pretty definite way — although I think that will be reversed before too long.) I found the end touching, perhaps because it is a more palatable way to deal with Terra than the comics did.

The comics had more time to set up Terra, and thus more material from which to draw pathos and tragedy. Terra’s story began in New Teen Titans #28 (1982) and lasted about 16-17 issues. Because that Terra wasn’t manipulated, abused, or misunderstood, her story turned out seedier and more disturbing. At the end of “The Judas Contract” (the 4-parter which wrapped up the arc), the Titans were reeling not just because they’d lost a friend and teammate, but also because they felt violated by the whole series of events. It was therefore fitting, and perhaps a way of healing for both characters and creators, that Wonder Girl’s wedding in Titans #50 — probably the happiest moment in Titans history — took place six months after the end of “Judas.”

Since such long-term arcs wouldn’t have worked for a half-hour cartoon, I’m impressed that “Aftershock” packed as much emotional impact as it did. The animated Terra was more rebellious than dangerous, and her journey to the “dark side” was less voluntary than her counterpart’s. As a teen hero on a show which glorifies teen heroes, she couldn’t be completely evil (which made the comics’ Terra even more daring, especially 20 years ago). The cartoon Titans don’t deal in subplotted angst like their print ancestors, nor should they. For what it accomplished, “Aftershock” honored “Judas Contract” as well as it could.

Besides, before too long the cartoon will take on the saga of Raven’s father Trigon, and we’ll see how it deals with another Titan’s literal dark side….

August 9, 2004

"Teen Titans": How a fluffy show can create nitpicky thoughts

Filed under: animated — Tom Bondurant @ 3:03 pm

Saturday’s episode of “Teen Titans” was notable in at least one respect: it spelled out that the Titans’ Robin was Dick Grayson, originator of the role.

In one way this goes against the show’s unspoken rules: no origins, no backstories, and no connections to the other DC animated series. As far as the show is concerned, Robin’s real name is unimportant (or it’s just “Robin” — but I can’t remember if the show ever alluded to him wanting to protect a secret identity).

Still, in another way it’s in keeping with that credo: for many people, the only Robin is Dick Grayson. Flashing “Tim Drake” on the screen could create questions the Titans producers don’t want to answer; like who’s Tim Drake and how’d he become Robin? (Tim’s origin was told in an episode of the Batman animated series, just as Dick’s exit from the Robin role got its own episode.)

An earlier episode did postulate that Robin would “grow up” to be Nightwing, just as Dick did; but to me that wasn’t conclusive. It could have been Tim following in Dick’s footsteps. It merely reinforced that Robin is a kid’s role, and Nightwing is an adult’s. (Robin : Menudo :: Nightwing : Ricky Martin?)

No, this is significant because if you’re going to connect Teen Titans with the other DC shows, it means TT takes place in the past. In fact, when the Batman animated series started in 1992, Dick was already in college. Therefore, these would be Dick’s adventures on his “weekends off” from working with Batman.

Anyway, my point with all of this is just that one little detail, probably designed to quell debate, has instead sparked a whole chain of continuity-minded thinking in my little nerd brain. Part of me is glad to know, because Dick was the Robin involved with these other characters in the comics; but part wishes they’d just left the whole thing alone.

Never mind how they live in a skyscraper without adult supervision, and they might not even be eligible to vote yet….

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