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Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 73: The New Titans Annual #7

Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from The New Titans Annual #7, which was published by DC and is cover dated 1991. Enjoy!

Trippy!

The DC Annuals of 1991 were, of course, concerned with “Armageddon 2001″ (remember back in ’01 when Monarch took over the world?) and I bought every one of them. This was back when that was possible – they were $3.50 for 55 pages of story, and they didn’t break your bank account if you tried to get them all. But such reminiscences don’t belong here! Let’s check out this insta-classic, starring Dick Grayson’s thigh-high boots and pony tail!

What we have here, of course, is an old-school splash page, but Marv Wolfman doesn’t just recap what’s happening, he adds some intriguing (he hopes) narration: Waverider (the yellow dude) begins by thinking “I have time, but it also has me.” This has a double meaning, as he has plenty of time to get things done, but it also gives “time” some kind of agency, and with the next caption box, Wolfman makes it more specific by referencing the ouroboros – fancy mythical references aren’t just for Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman, you know! Finally, Waverider narrates that he’s moving through the past to save the future. The reader still has no idea what’s going on (unless he’s read the other issues of this annual-wide event), but at least Wolfman gives us a bit of a foundation – Waverider is moving through time in some kind of loop, and he’s hoping to change the past because the future sucks. Alles klar? Gut!

Tom Grindberg draws this annual, as you can see from the credits, and he does a pretty good job with this splash page (whether you like his style or not is irrelevant). In the upper left, we see Monarch, and while we might not know his name, we can figure out that he’s the bad guy, because this is old-school superhero comics, and no good guy would cover his face in such a sinister mask. Plus, he’s grabbing something, and we all know that bad guys grab things because they’re greedy. Our eye can drift downward, where it’s blocked a bit by the credits (no one wants to read credits!), so it moves right, where we see the giant hand of Monarch enclosing … what? Who knows – it looks like a rainbow exploded, but all we know is that the hand, despite being far too big for that head, belongs to the evil dude in the blue mask. It has to, right?

From the epicenter of the explosion, our eyes move to the second caption box, and then downward and back to the left, following Waverider as he, um, rides waves. The bottom two-thirds of the page form a coherent whole, as we can’t really separate the drawing of Waverider from the superheroes coming out of his wake. But our eyes first go to the final caption box, then Waverider, then, following the superheroes, to the next page. We don’t need to know who any of those superheroes are (Green Lantern, Superman, Batman, Mr. Miracle, Flash, Guy Gardner, Nightwing, Starfire, and Starman, in case you’re keen to know), because all they’re doing is acting as guides to the next page. It’s not a badly designed page at all by Mr. Grindberg. He and Wolfman do all they can to get you to turn the page.

Adrienne Roy is the other real star of the page. She uses the basic blue and yellow for Monarch’s head, surrounding it with gray so it stands out even more, and then goes nuts with Waverider’s effect. Her colors make him both part of the wave (note the way his feet seem to blend with the waves) and separate from it (his arms don’t line up perfectly), which implies his true nature as a time traveler. Roy also uses a nice neutral yellow behind the heroes, making their colorful costumes pop a bit. Someone – either Grindberg, the inker (Blyberg, Akin, and Vey are all inkers on this book, and I don’t know who did this page), or Roy – added a nice touch of Kirby Krackle to Waverider’s hair, making him just that much more cosmic.

New Titans Annual #7 isn’t all that good a comic – Wolfman’s story is kind of dull and Grindberg’s art always seems like it should be better than it is – but that’s not a bad first page. It’s intriguing and it lures you right in. Plus, computer colors don’t look as cool as these colors do. That’s just SCIENCE!

You have a couple more days to suggest three writers you’d like to see in April. I know I keep threatening that the time is short, but one day I’ll really mean it!

Next: Man, those crazy European comics. Can we learn anything from them? You can certainly learn something from the archives!

12 Comments

“remember back in ’01 when Monarch took over the world?”

Nope, but I remember when he kicked Dr. Venture in the nuts and took his money.

Dare I make the “Alles klar, Herr Kommissar” Falco reference? Too late!

As for the writers, I’d vote for Garth Ennis, Ed Brubaker and Warren Ellis.

Pedro: Feel free!

None of those line-wide Annual crossovers were any good, were they?

[...] Frantic as a cardiograph scratching out the lines, Day 73: The New Titans Annual #7- comicbookresources.com Every day this year, I will be examining the first pages of random comics. Today’s page is from The New Titans Annual #7, which was published by DC and is cover dated 1991. Enjoy! The DC Annuals of 1991 were, of course, concerned with “Armageddon 2001″ (remember back in ’01 when Monarch took over the [… [...]

How about something from Elfquest?

Hm…John Ostrander for the writers. (Which could get you some fairly obscure Elfquest in there, along with the usual suspects). And I’ll wrap my suggestions up with Matt Wagner and Keith Giffen

“None of those line-wide Annual crossovers were any good, were they?”

I’ll defend Armageddon 2001 to a point. Out of the annuals done, 2 of the Superman related ones (the first one and the Action Comics Superman as President annual) and the JLA, Batman, and Flash annuals were solid; the Flash annual was probably the best of the bunch and features a first and only appearance of a villain that seemed like it would be a neat concept that Waid just never used again for whatever reason (Paradox). The JLE annual was ok. The rest were hit or miss.

Of course, Waverider never gets around to Hal Jordan…who 3 years later tried to destroy the universe. He has a great track record…

I also liked Eclipso as a concept. The problem with the annuals is that, for the most part, it was obvious where the endings had to go for each. Then again, that storyline had a ton in common conceptually with Blackest Night (not zombies, but demonically possessed heroes corrupted by diamonds that can only be cleansed with white light…some of the scenes are even eerily similar).

Jeez, the placement of Starman’s head and neck makes him look like he has a back like a turtle shell. Batman’s pose looks a little like that but still anatomically plausible. Starman, not so much.

Pete Woodhouse

March 14, 2012 at 4:49 am

Grindberg (highly influenced by Adams as I remember him doing a Ras al Ghul story) seems to be channelling many artists here: bits of Aparo (Waverider’s face), Kirby (Krackle), Simonson (explosions), I guess Perez cos it’s Titans, etc.

This was also one of the few A2001 annuals that actually had ramifications in the title because at the end of the story, the Team TItans were sent back in time … in fact, the future version of Dick Grayson would also make an appearance in the Titans books about a year or so later.

I reread this one recently and it wasn’t half bad, and I agree with Smokescreen: A2001 and Eclipso weren’t half bad.

Bloodlines on the other hand? Ugh.

It reads better if you were following “Titans Hunt”, ‘cuz this annual picked up right where NEW TITANS #79 left off… the reveal of the Team Titans stalking Donna Troy for reasons unknown (including Terra, back from the grave… or was she?)

So, of all the Armageddon 2001 Annuals, this one wasn’t just a “What If?” future tale, as many were. It introduced characters that were super-important to Titans-lore…. well, for two or three years anyway.

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