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'Teen Titans' Warn of Drug Cycle

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The anti-drug comic book being promoted by the Education Department features "The New Teen Titans," stars of what is currently the best-selling comic book produced by D.C. Comics, the company that also publishes "Superman."

The New Teen Titans feature The Protector (a new hero who replaces an "old" Teen Titan, Robin, and who says he has spent his life fighting "drug-pushing creeps"); Speedy (an expert archer like The Green Arrow, and formerly a drug addict who once stole to support his habit); The Changeling (reminiscent of D.C.'s own Chameleon Boy, he can metamorphose into panthers, apes, elephants, etc.); Cyborg (half robot, half man--when he was growing up on the streets, he lost two friends to drugs); Raven (an "Empath" who feels the "headaches, stomach pains, cramps, anxiety, tremors, panic" of the drug-taking youths she meets in this episode); Starfire (an alien with jet-powered hair who asks, "If drugs are bad, why do kids take them?"); and Wonder Girl (an Amazon).

This story (called "Plague!") also features a group of teen-age "druggies" caught in a cycle of drugs and despair that leads to the death of a friend.

One of them says: "My name's Anna Juarez, and I'm 12 years old. I've taken pot, hash, hash oil, dilaudid, cocaine, downers, and quaaludes. I've been taking them for three years. My brother, Juan, he was the one who started me using drugs. Now look at him--he's dead."

The story is sprinkled with lessons about the reasons for and dangers of drug abuse ("Nobody likes to feel that they're all alone ... so they take drugs not to lose their friends.")

By the end of the story, the Titans have broken up a major drug ring but nevertheless feel a depressing sense of wasted effort. "Hey," Cyborg says, "we can stop a couple of manufacturers, but the problem's bigger'n that."

As one of the "druggies" says and the super-heroes come to realize, the drugs will always be there and the drug problem will be solved only if youths decide to get drugs out of their lives. "We can't decide for kids," says The Protector. "That's something they've got to do for themselves."--ah

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