The Wildebeest Society was formed as a criminal organization intent on accumulating vast fortunes through whatever illegal method was deemed necessary. To that end, the original Wildebeest, who became the Society’s leader, created the clever strategy of permitting only one member to be seen in public at any one time. This created the belief that there was only one Wildebeest, a menace whose method of operation was so complicated it could not be discerned by police or super-powered adventurer alike, as the approach to each robbery or action bore no resemblance to that of any other Wildebeest attack.
The first time Wildebeest encountered the Titans, he attempted to set up Starfire for murder. Wildebeest used robot likenesses of himself to antagonize Starfire, then switched one robot for a suit with a dead man inside it. Nightwing found the evidence required to clear Starfire.
This Wily Wildebeest frames Starfire for murder in NEW TEEN TITANS (second series) #36 .
Wildebeest’s second attempt to destroy the Titans involved capturing the pregnant Mother Mayhem in hopes of controlling her child. The infant supposedly would become the new Brother Blood. Wildebeest set up an elaborate red herring, grouping second-string villains (Gizmo, the Puppeteer, Trident and the Disrupter) into what people would think was a new super villain group. Wildebeest was thwarted, Mother Mayhem gave birth to a girl, and the case was closed. Wildebeest got away and did not seem upset at his defeat.
Wildebeest’s third attempt gave him control of Cyborg, which would seem to indicate that Wildebeest has connections at S.T.A.R. Labs, where maintenance is performed on Vic Stone’s cybernetic body.
The origin of the Wildebeest Society is revealed in NEW TITANS #82 .
The Jericho Gambit
The Society was soon taken over by Jericho, who was possessed by evil Azarathian entities that wished to take over and inhabit the bodies of Jericho’s super-powered partners. The altered Wildebeest Society began a series of genetic, chemical-organic experiments designed to create the perfect recipient host body for the evil forces to possess. To that end, the Society began with the genetic alteration of humans and animals. All their experiments failed but one. That one, a human/pantha hybrid labeled X-24, escaped and vowed revenge on her captors.
With the genetic experiments failing to yield results, Jericho ordered his Wildebeest agents to abduct current and former Titans to act as vessels for the tainted souls of Azarath. Nightwing and Troia eluded captured, and reconnoitered with new allies Arella, Phantasm, Pantha, Red Star and Deathstroke. This group launched a rescue attempt and eventually located their lost teammates at the Wildebeest’s lair. There, the final conflict with the Wildebeest Society began. During the attempted soul transfer process, the real Jericho resurfaced briefly and begged his father to kill him. To spare his son any more pain and save the remaining Titans, Slade Wilson was forced to drive a sword through Jericho, seemingly killing him.
ABOVE: Joey is revealed as the Wildebeest leader in NEW TITANS #75 .
ABOVE: The original Wildebeest leader relates how Jericho took control
of the Wildebeest Society! It all happened in NEW TITANS #82 .
The end of the Wildebeest’s Titans Hunt also brought about a series of startling changes. In a final effort to end the threat forever, Arella joined forces with telekinetic Danny Chase to attack the Azarathian energy at its source. Their own energies combined to repel Raven and the evil Azarathians – and the combined souls merged to form a mystical new Phantasm in its wake. The society’s experiments also resulted in one surprising survivor – a baby Wildebeest, whom the Titans eventually adopted as a teammate.TT
Powers and Abilities
Wildebeest Society members wore a hairy exosuit that boosts his strength and agility to amazing levels. The Society was originally made up of strategists and tacticians who have studied the Titans very carefully. In order to throw his opponents off balance, The Society never implemented the same idea twice.
A 2004 Wildebeest commission by Tim Seeley.
Titans Hunt: Secrets of the Wildebeest Society
Longtime Titans readers can agree on one thing: “Titans Hunt” was one of the most controversial storylines in the team’s collective history. But many fans still debate the merits of the story itself. Its detractors decry it as a series of cheap stunts, while its supporters applaud the bold changes that reignited the title.
It began with New Titans #71 , in which the Titans were hunted and captured by the Wildebeest Society on the eve of the team’s anniversary celebration. In that same issue’s letter column, editor Jonathan Peterson hinted at the changes in store: “You see, what we all agreed on was the fact that the Titans as a group had become too settled in. Things were far too quiet. So we gleefully decided that it was time to, well how can I say it, “shake things up.” And I mean A LOT. Over the course of the next few months things are not going to be what you expect. I can guarantee it. Over the course of the next few months the Titans Universe will change in ways you never thought we’d dare to change it. You’ll see an entire new evolution in the characters themselves and in the debut of a new team. That’s right–I said a new team. It’s been ten years since the Titans debuted and to celebrate that fact we thought it was time to introduce some all-new team members. Where does that leave us? Well, in the months ahead some Titans will stay…some will go…some will die…some will get marr–oopsl Don’t want to spoil all the surprises.”
And the changes were many. Deathstroke and Steve Dayton galvanized a group of allies to rescue them, revealing Jericho as the mysterious Wildebeest leader. Possessed by evil Azarathian energies, Jericho was slain by his own father in the storyline’s epic finale in New Titans #84. Along the way, some Titans died (Golden Eagle, Danny Chase and Jericho), new Titans joined (Red Star, Pantha, Phantasm, Baby Wildebeest and the time-tossed Team Titans), several Titans were transformed (leather-clad Raven and robotic Cyborg) and an iconic headquarters was destroyed (Titans Tower).
“One of the problems the Titans have had for many years was playing to the status quo,” recalled writer Marv Wolfman, “We weren’t doing anything. I was bored with it. And so were the readers – we just weren’t pushing.” New editor Jonathan Peterson was instrumental in pushing for changes. When Peterson took over the book, Wolfman says artist Tom Grummett, inker Al Vey and outgoing editor Mike Carlin got together for three days to come up with the current storyline that has them all excited again.
The original Titans Hunt ran from New Titans #71-84, but its reverberations continued up until New Titans #100.
All those New Titans! From DC WHO’S WHO in 1993.
An excerpt from “Jonathan Peterson: New Directions For The New Titans”
[originally published in The Titans Companion, 2005]
Change was in the air for the New Titans in 1990. After having become assistant editor on the book the year before, Jonathan Peterson rose to the rank of editor at the start of the decade and incorporated changes into the series that would have Titans fans talking for years. Using the tenth anniversary of the New Teen Titans as a springboard, the book underwent a new line-up, introduced new characters, and said farewell to old ones. Included in the changes were two spin-off series, Deathstroke and Team Titans, designed to broaden the Titans fan base. No longer active in the industry today, the following interview with Peterson was conducted by Bill Walko in two parts: originally on January 15, 2001, and expanded upon on April 15, 2005.
JP: I wanted it to start with an event, and that became “Titans Hunt.” I wanted to start to whittle them all down because there just seemed to be so many Titans and honorary Titans. People like Golden Eagle. I’d flip through the characters and say to Marv, “Who is this? He hasn’t appeared in like thirty issues.” So I said to Marv, “We’ll do the ‘Titans Hunt’ stunt. It will last about a year. It’s gotta be like the old movie serials – something needs to happen every issue.” I felt something was wrong if you couldn’t think of twelve momentous things to happen to them in a year’s time, so we just started rattling things off. Nightwing: gets pissed off at Batman; gets married; has a kid; gets a new costume; quits the group. I encouraged everyone to toss out the most wacked ideas. I remember saying that I didn’t care for Golden Eagle, and that Donna Troy’s husband was a whiner and had to go.
Then on my list, I said “We need a cool look. Going over the past issues, I think these Wildebeest guys had a totally cool look. They were fun and funky. I think we should bring them back.” [laughs] At that early point, I said to Marv, “Actually, what we should do is add a Wildebeest to the group, just so we can use that costume design. That would rule!” Now, as I was going on, Tom and Al joined in. Tom was immediately saying, “Oh yeah! The Wildebeest ruled! I agree! Let’s put one in!” and I was saying, “Yeah, and new costumes! We gotta have those. That’s a foregone rule of any editorial shake-up.” [laughs]
TTC: So was that how the whole idea of “Titans Hunt” came about?
JP: Yeah, it became my idea to have the Wildebeest hunt the Titans down with the end result being that a “Wildebeest” – a real one that is – would join the group. [laughs] Which was purely an accident. In getting ready for the meeting, somehow in scanning the books and making my notes, I had jotted that down wrong. I still remember that. At the meeting I was saying, “Those Wildebeest creatures were cool. We need one of those in the group,” and Marv was saying, “Those were men in costumes,” and I was like “They were? Dang, sorry, Marv. I just reread the whole run in one shot, so some details all blurred.”
So Marv says, “So you mean a guy in a Wildebeest suit joins, like an Iron Man type of guy?” and it was Al Vey who said, “No, Jonathan said it wrong but is right. It should be a real Wildebeest,” and Tom lit up and said, “Yeah! A real one!” Marv said “What does he do?” and I said “Hulk! He’ll be our group’s Hulk. He’ll be our strong guy.” Baby Wildebeest came about in a meeting to follow. We’ll come to that in a minute.
Wildebeest from VS Card Systems
TTC: The “Titans Hunt” storyline featured the deaths of a few members of the team. How did you decide who would be on the hit list?
JP: That was part of our brainstorming. We drew up a list of the type of characters we wanted to bring in, and we turned to Marv to see who we could lose. Let’s really let the blood flow. At one point we had to decide who lives [and] who dies, as you asked. Basically, what we soon realized was “Well, we do like these characters. We hate to see anyone go.” I mean, running down the list, Nightwing had to stay. That was a given. He was the leader; he was the star to me. Plus, in my back pocket
I had plans for Nightwing. Donna Troy [was] another one I wanted to see stay, though I was mad Marv had married her off. I wanted Terry Long to go. Personally, I thought he was a whiner. He needed to be upgraded or tossed out, so he was always on the block. [laughs] Month to month we kept running a vote saying “Should we kill him now? He’s really annoying me this month!”
Victor: well, I wanted Cyborg to stay. Good character, and Tom liked him, but he wanted to redo the costume, which I agreed with. I thought a change was in order there. The good thing about a mechanical guy is he always needs new parts. Perfect reason for a perpetual redesign till you find one you like. [laughs] Then … who am I leaving out? Oh! Well, there was Kory. She had to stay; [she] was part of my top secret Nightwing plan. I still hadn’t told Marv about that one yet – I was still putting the pieces together. [laughs] And then there was Joey.
TTC: Yes, Jericho…
JP: Jericho we decided was sort of expendable. So if Jericho was to die, I think Marv was the one that decided to make it symmetrical. Let’s have Deathstroke be the one to do it; then we have the whole pathos of Deathstroke killing his own son. I mean, it was just too perfect. So by process of elimination, we all agreed he could go. Especially since, much like Terry Long, I thought Jericho was a bit too soft-edged. I mean, I know he has his fans and all, I just wasn’t one of them. [laughs]
Then we thought, “Well, why would he kill him? Let’s bring it back to Raven and Trigon. Let’s have him be possessed,” and someone else tossed out the idea of having a big moment where suddenly he can talk. That will freak people out! [But] we couldn’t just have him show up talking. [Since] we liked the Wildebeests and wanted to bring them back, we decided to make Jericho the leader of the Wildebeests. Then we brainstormed the notion that as part of their experiments, they end up creating an actual Wildebeest! So I get my Wildebeest!
ABOVE: Jericho revealed!
BELOW: The future Baby Wildebeest.
New Teen Titans (second series) #36-37 : Wildebeest frames Starfire for murder. First appearance of Wildebeest in issue #36.
New Teen Titans (second series) #41-42 : Wildebeest attacks S.T.A.R. Labs and captures Mother Mayhem, who is soon to give birth to Brother Blood’s heir; The Titans arrive in time to bring Mother Mayhem to the hospital, where she gives birth to a girl, seemingly ending the Brother Blood curse.
New Titans #57-59 : Cyborg, whose internal circuitry has been tampered with, is captured by Wildebeest – and programmed against the Titans.
New Titans #71-84 [1991-1992]: The Trigon-possessed souls of Azarath take over the Wildebeest Society in an attempt to create bodies to house their energies. Jericho is possessed, takes control of the Society, and kidnaps and nearly destroys the Titans before being killed by his own father, Deathstroke the Terminator. In the ensuing battles, Golden Eagle is slain, Cyborg is nearly destroyed, Titans Tower is demolished, and Phantasm is revealed to be Danny Chase, who is himself slain along with Raven’s mother Arella as the Titans defeat the Wildebeests. Raven is transformed utterly and disappears. This event is catalogued as “Titans Hunt.”
Sources for this entry: DC Who’s Who Binder Series, DC Secret Files, supplemented by titanstower.com