Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Tempest in a Teen Spot

So...

Tempest is coming back.

I really don't want to be negative about this; I mean, I have nothing against Tempest personally.

Okay; that's a bald-faced lie. Tempest -- "Garth" -- is a mess and always has been. Before he was Tempest he was Aqualad, a big-headed purple-eye freak, rejected by society, crippled by fear and doubt, and riddled with insecurities. And that was in the days when sidekicks were plucky, adventuresome lads. Those were his best days.

Then he fell under the sexual thrall of Aqua-Chick, becoming the whipped scream atop her hot java of love. Then, after she went to the big fish fry in the sky, he was reduced to being the ninth wheel in Marv Wolfman's superpowered DeGrassi spin-off called "The New Teen Titans". And he was now named "Garth". Garth. Hanging out with "Gar(field)". Wolfman, these are superpowerful heroic beings, not housecats. I should get housecats and name them Garth and Gar Garling. Except I don't like cats, any more than Wolfman seems to have liked either Garth or Gar, the perennial scrubs on a team of BMOCs.

As if naming him "Garth" weren't bad enough, he re-codenamed him "Tempest", probably because (1) it sounds really angsty and (2) Wolfman never got the chance to give Marvel's "Storm" that little brother she always wanted. Your opinion is sought: is it a step UP or DOWN to go from writing the Howard the Duck newspaper strip to writing the adventures of Garth Tempest?

Who, by the way, now had the same powers as, well ... as Zook, the Martian Manhunter's pidgin-paroling pet from the later Silver Age, making him about as scary as the repairman from RJH Heating & Cooling. Oh, but, those powers were... magical. And now Garth has a tatoo. A magical tatoo. "Tempest" seems less like a DC superhero than a collaboration between J.K. Rowling and Satoshi Tajiri.

Then after the New Teen Titans disintegrated -- as squabbling teenagers will do, despite their teary-eyed professions that "You're my real family!"-- Garth became the whimpering whipped boy of another aqua-chick, the Daisy Duke of the Sea, Dolphin, who was one of Aquaman's cast-offs. Icky. Dude; have you not heard that there's lot of good fish in the sea?

When Tad Williams got his hands on the aqua-cast he had the guts to recognize what "Garth" was: a feeb, and he portrayed him as such. A powerless underwater asmatic suffering from stress-related aging? Perfect.

But now "Tempest" is coming back, and he's still wearing his ice-skating costume. Say what you want about Pozner's Aquaman suit (on which Tempest's is based), but at least it was remotely defensible as camouflage. Tempest's outfit is not even remotely defensible as camouflage, except in those few stories set at the ISU Championship or Cirque Du Soleil. ("Surround by water===frozen water! Will Tempest find a way to breathe easy and survive... the Rink of Doom!?")

At least one good thing can be said about his comeback, based on that cover; he appears to have drowned Roy.

17 comments:

Redforce said...

Maybe there's a vocal fanbase clamoring for his return (TEAT- Tempest blahblahblah whatever the Bring Back Hal guys were).

It would also explain a Land of the Lost movie(LLEAT).

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if they give Garth a gun, and maybe some pouches ...

TotalToyz said...

By the way, I must confess I doubted your assertion that Marv Wolfman gave Aqualad the "real" name of Garth, but I wasn't certain so I looked it up. (The only thing I knew for sure was that he had no real name as late as 1978; when the Teen Titans appeared out of costume at Wally West's high school graduation, he was simply referred to as "Aqualad in civilian clothes".) But sure enough, the first use of the name Garth was in Tales of the Teen Titans #45, written by the Wolfman himself. My apologies for doubting you, Scip.

Diamondrock said...

I never understood the appeal of "The New Teen Titans." But I think "Tempest" was always the most unappealing of an unappealing lot. Does anybody actually read Titans?

John said...

Oh, look. Terra's coming back, too. Gosh, that's original.

And Diamondrock, I'm with ya. The Wolfman Titans were boring, and it says a lot about any writer that wants to relive those glory days.

H said...

I was 100% on board until the end when you inadvertently struck gold.

Tempest, hero of Cirque Du Soleil! It's the only way the character has any amusement value at all. There could even be a cross-over with the water-skiing super-heroes of Sea World!

Mr. Fob said...

Did Wolfman name him Tempest too? Didn't Jimenez write the Tempest miniseries? Or did he debut in Peter David's Aquaman? Either way, I'm pretty sure it wasn't Wolfman.

SallyP said...

Is he still afraid of fish?

And, while I prefer a short-haired Aquaman in all of his green and orange-clad glory, I have to blushingly confess, that I rather liked the blue camoflage outfit...it actually made a bit of sense.

Tempest however, never really did much for me.

Scipio said...

You are correct, Mr. Fob; he was renamed "Tempest" in December 1996 (Tempest #2)

K26dp said...

I liked the blue-costumed Aquaman as well.

As for "Garth"... meh.

Spectrum Bear said...

Here's my staggering confession: when I was a wee lad, Aquaman was my favorite hero. I wanted to be Aquaman. I made a special belt with a construction-paper "A" on it.

(Looking back, I might have imagined he was bi or pansexual. You know, like dolphins. Anyway....)

And I admit it: I liked Aqualad too. I was happy when he was added to the Teen Titans.

I happen to like characters with well-defined, limited powers. They're easier to identify with, and they make the writers work for their stories. I never liked all the add-ons to Aquaman: enahanced strength, telepathic powers amped up, and so on.

As for Aqualad, he's one of these strange characters where everything done with him simply makes the character worse. His phobias and insecurities, which are now always played up in flashbacks. His transformation into a magic-based character with vague abilities. The new name, Tempest, which always reminded me of Vanessa Huxtable. And finally his shotgun wedding to his mentor's old girlfriend, which was simultaneously creepy and trailor-trashy. (Ever count up the number of DC superheroes with unplanned kids conceived out of wedlock? Buy some condoms, boys!)

Add to that his ugly albino weak-boy phase in the final issues of Aquaman... What a disaster!

And yet somehow I still like Aqualad. Not an Aqualad who has been written in the last thirty years or so. Maybe some Platonic Aqualad who lives only in my mind.

Maybe we just need a new Aqualad. There must be some superhero-sired illegitimate child out there waiting for the role.

Citizen Scribbler said...

Spectrum Bear, you may have hit on something. What if Aquaman were raising the illegitimate child of one of his villains? Like Black Manta or The Fisherman? You've got a decent kid who's suffered trauma, rejection and abandonment, and Arthur decides to raise the boy to come out of his shell (pun intended) and become a man, when everyone else thought he was just a waste of time. I'd like to read that story...

Especially if it were Black Manta's son, if the murder of Arthur's infant is still in continuity, it would show a great contrast between the two men.

-Citizen Scribbler

Frank Lee Delano said...

I agree with Citizen Scribbler that Spectrum Bear's "Garth as bastard son of a villain" is way better than "I can visibly cry under water Garth." For some reason, I bought the Teen Titans Spotlight issue with Erik Larsen art where Aqualad and Mento whine amidst manifest psychobabble for the entire issue. It still ranks among the most useles comics I ever read before the '90s. Speaking as a reader who cut his teeth on the New Teen Titans and actually bought the Tempest mini-series, I still think Aqualad is the biggest douche in the team's history. Aquaman is one of my favorite super-heroes, but I can't stand him carrying Garth all these years.

Mart said...

I like Tempest. He has purple eyes. Kewl.

Will Emmons said...

This is off topic, but the picture of Beast Boy and zombie Terra kissing really grosses me out.

Ew.

Soneca said...

I, like most non-silver-age-fanboys, really like Wolfman's Titans. They were like the X-Men for teenage republicans or something like that. And Garth is cool, too. These days I'd rather read a C-list hero than your avarage demigod-like Johns-reborned Iconic DC superhero.

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