Introduced in 1991 and mercifully ushered out of existence three years later, the Team Titans were DC’s bungled attempt to duplicate the success of Marvel’s X-Force (also introduced in 1991, and still around today.) They were heroes from the future, sent back in time to kill Donna Troy before she gave birth to the cruel despot (Lord Chaos) who would destroy the world.
Born with a set of wings, Carrie Levine’s parents kept her hidden for most of her youth, avoiding the watchful eye of Chaos, who was systematically hunting down and killing metagene-enhanced human beings. He succeeds in killing her parents and gravely injuring her brother Jon, but in addition to flight, Carrie also possessed a tracking ability (making her a modern-day Dawnstar, it would seem) and she was able to follow Jon’s scent to New York, where she later hooked up with other members of the anti-Chaos movement, the Team Titans. Here’s a glimpse of her tragic backstory:
Before getting their own title, the Team Titans spent about a year bouncing around the pages of New Titans, in which Redwing was usually presented as the heart of the team, similar to (at the time) Ice in Justice League or (in recent years) Halo in Outsiders, Miss Martian in Teen Titans, and Misfit in Birds of Prey. She was the sweet, semi-naive kid that perked up the rest of the team. Here’s Carrie being adorable in Titans Sell-Out Special:
Team Titans got their own series, in which Redwing’s inherent cuteness was muted in favour of turning the entire team into an assembly of nuance-free soldiers. In Team Titans #22, the gang encounters some aggressive, intelligent beasts on the battlefield and it’s implied that Redwing, affected by the encounter, has somehow become one of them:
In the following issue, it’s revealed Carrie has changed, into a deformed, squawking, bird-like figure with talons, a beak, and a giant feathered head. She’s also teeming with hatred for her friends and family:
We then learn that Redwing’s condition wasn’t triggered by an encounter with the monsters outside, nor is her transformation temporary:
So, we are meant to understand, Carrie changed from a girl with wings to a bizarre six-foot-tall anthropomorphic freakshow in a single day because that’s how mutation works. Never mind that she’s already gone through puberty and is an adult. Also ignore the fact that there were zero signs of her oncoming metamorphosis with the exception of this line of dialogue from Team Titans #21:
By all outward appearances, she’s perfectly normal in this panel (minus the wings, of course), so I guess the subtext we can find in Jon’s words is that since his sister’s aerial capabilities have improved, he can sense her body’s about to explode and repulsively propel her a few steps up the evolutionary ladder. Sometimes brothers just know.
Carrie adjusted to her body’s natural, womanly changes and went about business as usual: calling herself Warbird, insulting her friends, and holding guns on people.
Then the 1994 crossover event Zero Hour came along and it was revealed that the Team Titans’ origin story was bunk; they weren’t sent back in time to fight Lord Chaos but were instead gathered from various alternate futures by the supervillian Extant to act as his soldiers in the present-day DCU, which Nightwing deduces immediately prior to Redwing and her teammates (Dagon, Battallion, Prestor Jon, and Killowat) disappearing from continuity forever:
With them went the Team Titans book, which ended with after two messy years, and there was much rejoicing. Still, it seems bizarre that Carrie would make the disturbing physical transformation and 180-degree personality change into Warbird with only two issues left in her series, not to mention Zero Hour killing her off (so to speak) almost immediately afterward.