Have you caught the latest episode of DC Universe’s ‘Titans’ yet? An extended flashback shed some light on the group’s past, while raising some questions about their tense relationship with Deathstroke. There was a lot of comic book references to unpack, so let’s break down the Easter eggs from “Aqualad.”
The series has alluded to Aqualad in the past, but this week was the first time viewers got to meet the Titans aqua ally. We previously detailed Garth’s history in another article, but we’ll give you the highlights in case you missed them. Aqualad was an abandoned Atlantean child found by Aquaman in ‘Adventure Comics’ #269 (written by Robert Bernstein and penciled by Ramona Fradon). He served as Aquaman’s kid sidekick and a founding member of the Teen Titans. Curiously, he had no name other than Aqualad until 1984’s ‘Tales of the Teen Titans’ #45 (story and art by Marv Wolfman and George Perez) gave him the name Garth, which this episode used multiple times. In addition to possessing the abilities most Atlanteans have, Garth gained new telekinetic and water manipulation abilities in 1996’s ‘Aquaman’ #20 (written by Peter David, penciled by Marty Egeland and Alan Caldwell), which we saw him display in this episode. Unfortunately all those powers did little to stop a stray bullet from Deathstroke.
The Wilson Family
Aqualad wasn’t the only new friend viewers met this week. Before Slade embarked on his mission, he drove past the house of his ex-wife Adeline, and son Jericho. In the comics Slade’s son was named Joseph, while Jericho was just his superhero name, but as of now it appears that Jericho is his birth name. Adeline was Slade’s commanding officer during his time in the military, and they eventually fell in love and married. The marriage produced two sons, Joseph and Grant. Slade’s mercenary lifestyle caused a rift in his marriage, and Adeline divorced him after a hostage situation caused Joseph’s vocal cords to become irrevocably damaged. Slade first alluded to his ex-wife in 1983’s ‘New Teen Titans’ #34 (story and art by Marv Wolfman and George Perez), while Joseph was first seen in a photograph in 1984’s ‘New Teen Titans’ #39. The two finally appeared in person, ready to help the Teen Titans against Slade, in ‘Tales of the Teen Titans’ #42.
Kiss of the Titans
When you put a bunch of young attractive people in closed quarters under stressful situations, sparks are bound to fly! In addition to fighting evil in the streets of San Francisco, Aqualad and Wonder Girl are also fighting their attraction for one another – a battle they both wind up losing. While there was no romance between Garth and Donna during the original 1960’s ‘Teen Titans’ title, there was some playful innocent flirting and pet names. Since Wonder Girl was the only female on the original team (until Lilith came along), there was some tension over who got her attention, but Garth mostly stayed out of it. In 1976’s ‘Teen Titans’ #44 (written by Paul Levitz and Bob Rozakis, penciled by Pablo Marcos) Kid Flash and Speedy’s rivalry over Wonder Girl was almost enough to cause the team to break up before they had finished reforming. Later letter writers would make fun of this era, chiding the team members for arguing over who got to date Wonder Girl. What can we say – teenagers can be a bit dramatic when romance is on the table!
During this week’s episode, Arthur Light captured and tortured Jacob Finlay, a name very important to him in the comics. Dr. Jacob Finlay was Arthur’s former partner, introduced in 1989’s ‘Secret Origins’ #37 (written by Craig Boldman and penciled by Ty Templeton). Finally was the one who developed the Dr. Light super suit and used it to become a superhero. His heroic career wasn’t very successful, and Arthur accidentally killed his partner. Arthur then took up his former partner’s mantle, and believed the suit should be used for crime. Amusingly, Finlay haunted Arthur as a ghost and tried to convince him to be more heroic, with varying success. By the way, if you pay attention to the magazine cover from the episode, you’ll see that Finlay’s profile was written by someone named James Usas. In addition to being an article writer in the Titansverse, James Usas is also the set designer for the series in real life. He keeps himself pretty busy!