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The D.E.O. Orphans

Titans Allies
Grace, Zeke, Eli, Scrap, Nikki and Kevin

Related Links:
Epsilon & ThetaDakota Jamison

D.E.O. Orphans Quick Bio: Six meta-human orphans – Grace, Zeke, Eli, Scrap, Nikki and Kevin – fled the Department of Extranormal Operations [D.E.O.] to secure safe haven at Titans Tower headquarters. The plan backfired when Epsilon emerged and destroyed Titans Tower, resulting in the death of D.E.O. orphan, Kevin Tanaka. After that tragedy, Nightwing intervened on their behalf, and the kids returned to a restructured D.E.O. Orphanage.

Titans File Photo:



Wayward Wards

The Department of Extranormal Operations is a federally-mandated organization tasked with the monitoring of meta-humans. One of their initiatives included the retreival and study of super-powered orphans who would otherwise become wards of the state. These potentially powerful youths were kept at a government facility, where the charges viewed their home as little more than a prison.

ABOVE: The D.E.O. kids plan their escape, as recounted in TITANS #32 [2001].
BELOW: Kevin reveals how he possessed Epsilon in Titans #38 [2002].

Six of these orphans – Grace, Zeke, Eli, Scrap, Nikki and Kevin – hatched a plan to flee the orphanage when the former D.E.O. charge Epsilon made the news by teaming up with the heroic Titans. With this report, the kids decided to secure a safe haven at Titans Tower. Kevin, a wheelchair-bound teen who has the ability to project his mind into another body, possessed Epsilon so he could vouch for his friends once they reached the Titans. The five remaining orphans escaped and resourcefully infiltrated Titans Tower, where the Titans agreed to keep a wary eye on them. Unknown to the orphans, the real Epsilon had been contracted to bring the Titans down down from within.

The orphan’s newfound freedom was jeopardized when D.E.O. Special Agent Dakota Jamison located the kids at Titans Tower. The Titans took a stand for the wayward wards, who didn’t want to return to the harsh conditions of the orphanage. The kids trained under the auspices of the Titans and believed they could become super-heroes in their own right. Beast Boy and Flamebird even enlisted their aid in containing a rogue group of Wildebeests, hoping the super-teens might emerge as a new version of Titans West.

ABOVE: Epsilon unmasks in TITANS #27 [2001].
BELOW: The D.E.O. kids meet the Titans in TITANS  #28 [2001].

Adoption Capers

Meanwhile Dakota began to secretly work with Nightwing to build a case against the suspicious and unstable Epsilon. The pair discovered that Epsilon’s nefarious intentions were sidelined when he was possessed by fourteen-year-old D.E.O. charge Kevin Tanaka. Eventually the real psychotic Epsilon burst free, exposing young Kevin’s ruse.  Angry at being used, Epsilon unleashed his full fury and destroyed  Titans Tower.

Epsilon then reunited with his partner-in-crime, Theta, and the two villains resolved to wreck vengeance on the D.E.O. orphans for disrupting their plan. After a pitched battle, Kevin inhabited the body of Argent and delivered a fatal blow against Epsilon. Theta retreated, carrying her lover’s fallen body. It is unknown whether or not Epsilon survived this encounter. Sadly, the battle ultimately claimed the life of young Kevin Tanaka.

After this incident, the Titans agreed the best place for the orphans would be back in the care of the D.E.O., albeit in a restructured and more humane facility. The D.E.O. orphans complied, as Nightwing and Dakota  assured them things would be different from now on.

Later, during a counseling session, former Titan Lilith discovered the secret behind Nikki’s autism. Lilith’s telepathic powers released a law enforcement officer known as Breegan, whose essence had become imprisoned within Nikki.  Many years ago, Breegan was sent to Earth to capture a fugitive from his Chemical World, and his psionic probe trapped him in the body of the hapless D.E.O. orphan. After Breegan was freed, Nikki was able to communicate normally with her friends for the first time.

ABOVE: Grace explains the orphans’ plan in TITANS #38 [2002].
BELOW: Nikki awakens to her friends in TITANS #41 [2002]. 

 Powers & Abilities

Grace is the leader and super-agile athlete of the team. Zeke possesses enhanced strength. Eli can control time and generate energy fields. Scrap has blossoming magnetic powers. Nikki is an autistic girl whose powers mirror her violent emotions; Nikki was later revealed as host to the other-dimensional law enforcement officer named Breegan. Kevin is able to inhabit the body of anyone once establishing physical contact, although it leaves his own body in a comatose state.

 Essential Reading

Titans #26 [2001]: The Titans stop Shockwave’s second assassination attempt on newly elected Mayor James Hall. Plus, a glimpse of a new group of characters destined to forever change the future of the Titans. First appearance [in shadow] of Grace, Eli, Zeke, Scrap and Nikki.
Titans #27-29 [2001]: Titans Tower is visited by a group of mysterious children who want nothing less of the super group…than to move in! The clever young orphans decide the Titans are destined to save them — from what, they won’t say. First full appearance of Grace, Eli, Zeke, Scrap and Nikki in issue #27.
Titans #32 [2001]: The Titans have something the D.E.O. and Dakota Jameson want, and they’re willing to destroy Titans Tower to get to it! When Agent Dakota Jamison discovered the kids at Titans Tower, it is revealed they were wards of the D.E.O. – who now want them back.
Titans #35-36 [2001]: Beast Boy and Flamebird enlist the aid of the D.E.O. kids and confront a group of Wildebeests in Brooklyn, who are led by a mysterious old man. And Beast Boy sets his sights on the D.E.O. kids as a new version of Titans West! They track down the mysteries of the new Wildebeests – and kind their keeper – an older gentleman who trained and domesticated the Wildebeests to help keep his neighborhood safe. Later, Beast Boy is disappointed when the D.E.O. kids reject his offer to become a new Titans West.
The Titans #37 [2002]: The D.E.O. kids adjust to life in a normal school, but would rather join a life of adventuring. And when Beast Boy sends them super-hero costumes – they set off to start their own super-heroic careers. Dakota Jamison enlists the Titans’ aid to help a D.E.O. orphan named Kevin Tanaka, who has the ability to project his mind into another body; Epsilon revealed to be Kevin in an adult body. But Kevin’s fragile state lets the real, vicious Epsilon finally break through. Epsilon unleashes his full fury at the Titans – destroying the Titans Tower in process!
The Titans #38 [2002]: Nightwing reveals he and Dakota Jamison have been secretly building a case against Epsilon since he first arrived at the Tower. The D.E.O. kids finally confess how their friend Kevin Tanaka had been inhabiting the body of Epsilon for months – and the Titans learn the real Epsilon is a former D.E.O. orphan with dangerous psychopathic tendencies and uncataloged meta-human abilities. Epsilon reunites with his lover, Theta, and plans his revenge against Kevin Tanaka. As the Titans stand vigil over Kevin, Argent expresses feeling betrayed and hurt – when she learns she was actually dating 14 year old Kevin, rather than 18 year old Epsilon. After a pitched battle, Kevin inhabits the body of Argent and delivers a fatal blow against Epsilon. Theta carries her lover’s fallen body in her arms and retreats. Later, Kevin Tanaka tries to apologize to Argent, but she bristles at his attempts at reconciliation. And later, when Donna informs Argent that Kevin has died, Argent seems uncharacteristically cold. Meanwhile, Garrett Donovan recruits David, a teen with fire-powers, into his group known as The Favored.
The Titans #39 [2002]: After the devastating events of THE TITANS #38, the D.E.O. kids return home to the Orphanage to take a breather, while the Titans get their first taste of Dark Nemesis! Meanwhile, the D.E.O. orphans reluctantly agree to return to the D.E.O. facilities, as Nightwing assures them things would be different at the orphanage from now on.


 About The D.E.O.

The Department of Extranormal Operations is a federally mandated joint Internal Security Agency, Office of Meta-Human Affairs, Defense Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation operation, tasked with the monitoring and succor of meta-humans. There is a strong reliance on local law enforcement.

The job of monitoring the three-dimensional location of every known meta-human is made possible by a ring of specialized surveillance Inspector Class satellites. This classified mission is generally known to be able to resolve individual chromosomal wavelengths.

The D.E.O. is headquartered in New York City and serves the country with 8 additional major-city offices. The D.E.O. provides every level of meta-human interaction from shock troops to meta-counselors. They also provide discretionary housing and regulate the Meta-Human Protection Program. The mysterious Mr. Bones serves as director of the D.E.O..


 Jay Faerber’s D.E.O. Debrief

Jay Faerber on the D.E.O. Storyline
[from Titans Companion 2, by TwoMorrows Publishing – 2008]

JF: Arsenal, I wanted to do a lot with him that I never got to do. I wanted to give him a day job. I had this idea where he would go to work for Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle. He had Kord Industries, and they made all kinds of stuff, and I was gonna have Arsenal work for his weapon development division. Arsenal was gonna work with weapons just as his day job and then be Arsenal at night, and we never got around to actually doing that.

I wanted to give him a girlfriend, somebody different than Troia. She was originally going to be just a New York City cop named Dakota Jamison who was the opposite of Roy in that Roy was a white kid who had Native American ties and was brought up that way, and she was gonna be the opposite, a Native American by blood who was adopted and raised in Brooklyn.

She morphed into a DEO agent when I finally was able to introduce her, and I wanted to play up the fact that as Dakota and Roy would get closer, Lian would rebel against this new woman in her life and get closer to Troia, which would make Troia be kind of awkward, and not know how to handle that.


The D.E.O. Kids invade Titans Tower in TITANS #28 [2001].

TTC: How did the series change once Eddie stepped down.?

JF: It changed a lot, and probably not for the better, and it’s too bad. I mean, Andy Helfer is a great writer and a great editor. He wrote the Shadow that Kyle Baker drew years ago, and he edited that Giffen/DeMatteis JLA book that was one of my favorites. I was reading that in high school, so when Andy came on, I was totally psyched. I was like, “Wow, this is gonna be great,” and we talked a lot about it. Eddie was a huge Titans nerd, just like I was, so he and I knew the characters inside and out and knew all the history.

Andy was the complete opposite. He literally had never read the book, and kept calling them by their old names: instead of Nightwing he’d call him Robin, and he’d call Tempest Aqualad, and I had to correct him. [But] that lack of information can be a strength, because it brings a totally fresh set of eyes.

He came on right as we were finishing up that Troia story, and he was, “I can’t even understand this. This makes no sense to me.” So he wanted to really make sure that everything was streamlined, and that things made sense. His other big edict was that he said, “I don’t understand why the Titans exist. What is their purpose?” and I [said], “Well, they’re sidekicks, they grew up together. They’re a family,”and he said, “Every team book is a family. It’s a cliché, almost. All team books are big families.”

So we went round and round and round for a couple weeks about what is the book about, and I pitched him all kinds of totally new directions for the book, and nothing really took. Then he had this idea about orphan kids showing up on the Titans doorstep that they ended up taking care of, and I wasn’t crazy about it. He had pitched it as a “for instance,” but then that “for instance” of the kids showing up on the Titans doorstep became the reality, and suddenly we were doing it.

He’d initially suggested they be aliens, but I had the idea of tying them into the DEO just because I like DEO stuff more than alien stuff, and I got him to agree to that. So yeah, that pretty much changed [the book]. He kept thinking that the kids might get popular enough to just take over the book and they could be the Teen Titans, and then the real Titans could fade away, or they’d get a spin-off, or something like that.

I had a real hard time with it, just because I was a Titans fan and I was like, “These characters I want to write, you keep pushing to the back. I want to write Nightwing and Troia and Arsenal, not these kids.”

So it was kind of doomed from the start just because he and I weren’t on the same page. I’m not pointing the finger and saying he’s to blame for that. If he had another writer, somebody that wasn’t so invested in the characters, I’m sure they could have pulled it off and the book would’ve been a lot better than it was when I was writing it, but as it was, I was resistant to what he wanted to do, so we didn’t gel very well. So the book changed dramatically.

Paul Pelletier left and we got a bunch of fill-in artists, and then Barry Kitson came on board, and Barry and I hit if off really well. If you look at the Barry issues, the kids got phased out, and that’s because Barry and Andy were good friends and Barry was a big Titans fan as well, so he would talk to Andy about, “Oh, these kids, they’re not quite working. Let’s do more Titans stuff.”

Around the time Barry came on, I decided I was gonna leave, and as Barry and I started talking, I started to regret deciding I was gonna leave just because Barry got me all excited about the book again. But by that point it was too late, and the book was cancelled not too long after I left. Then Geoff Johns brought it back in a big way.


Epsilon makes the scene in TITANS #27 [2001].

TTC: What was your original intent for Epsilon?

JF: There were two, and the third one just happened with me and Andy. My original idea in my original pitch was Epsilon was going to be a serial killer who travelled through Hypertime, or at least through dimensions, and killed super-heroes. The gist was we would just see him in quick scenes for a few issues attacking a superhero in another world and killing them. Eventually he was going to come and attack Jesse Quick, or maybe Liberty Belle, and then the Titans would fight him.

That kind of morphed, and I decided to make him a mystery character where he showed up and was a hero, but nobody knew who he was. There was gonna be a big twist, and the big twist that I had in mind that I think Eddie was okay with – we never got around to doing it, but I think I had him on board with this – was he was gonna be Danny Chase brought back to life by Slizzath, the big demon that’s Tempest’s uncle. He could reanimate the dead, like he did with Aquagirl in that Tempest mini-series.

I had this storyline in mind where Slizzath was going to reanimate all the dead Titans, and you’d have this army of dead zombie Titans coming back against the real Titans, and he was going to try and sink the island of Manhattan. I forget the details, [but] Epsilon was going to be his advance man that had gotten close to the Titans, and I know everybody hates Danny Chase, but that was my idea, to build up Epsilon into a hero that everybody liked but you didn’t know who he was under the mask, then reveal that it was Danny Chase, just to [show], “See? Even Danny Chase can be cool if you do it he right way!”

When Andy came on the book and I tried to describe that to him, he was like, “No, no, no. We’re not gonna do that.” [laughs] So we ended up going through all kinds of different ideas to try to figure out what to do with Epsilon. Since he was already in the book, we had to wrap it up, so we ended up doing the thing [where we introduced] the new DEO kid who could project his mind into other people’s bodies, and that’s where we ended up with it. But it’s so different from where it started.

TTC: You never did get to say exactly who Epsilon was working for.

JF: I think we ended up finally deciding that he worked for Argent’s dad.

TTC: It was suggested, but it was left ambiguous.

JF: Yeah, I think that’s what we were gonna get at. I think if we had had time and if I didn’t leave the book, we would’ve completely resolved that, but I think that was the gist, that he was working for Argent’s dad as an enforcer in his drug trade.


Sources for this entry: DC Secret files, supplemented by

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