WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for the second episode of Titans, “Hawk and Dove,” streaming now on DC Universe.
While the focus of the second episode of DC Universe's Titans is obviously vigilantes Hawk and Dove -- their names are in the title, after all -- the real surprise is the introduction of a team of unlikely DC villains. Although they're never actually named, the family whose Leave It to Beaver-style exterior belies murderous intentions can actually trace their origins to a 1985 comic book.
They're the Nuclear Family, who aren't traditional Titans foes, but instead adversaries of the Outsiders, a team of heroes founded by Batman after a falling-out with the Justice League.
We meet the seemingly wholesome suburban family about halfway through "Hawk and Dove" as children Biff and Sis bicker over Monopoly rules at the breakfast table, until a succession of doorbell chimes agitates Dad -- "Hold your fucking horses!" he barks, breaking the facade before placing money in the swear jar -- and interrupts the Saturday morning ritual. It's not a salesman at the door but, presumably, their handler, activating these sleeper agents to join in the pursuit of Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft).
Debuting in 1985 in The Outsiders #1, the Nuclear Family of the comics were androids designed by ailing scientist Dr. Eric Shanner to resemble his own family, who died as a result of nuclear poisoning. Each member of this robotic family -- Dad, Mom, Biff, Sis, Brat and Dog -- had nuclear-based powers, making them particularly formidable when, at Shanner's bidding, they set out to destroy Los Angeles. They defeated the Outsiders in their first encounter, but were ultimately destroyed.
On Titans, the members of the Nuclear Family (minus Brat and Dog) don't possess nuclear powers but instead are transformed into deadly super-soldiers with the aid of a mysterious injection. Although they may resemble the quintessential 1950s family, straight out of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, that image couldn't be further from the truth, as we see when Biff and Sis attack police detective Amy Rohrbach (Lindsey Gort) in an effort to find the whereabouts of her partner, Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites). They pause the brutal assault, involving scissors and a baseball bat, only long enough for their late-arriving parents to join in.
Apparently acquiring the information they sought, the Nuclear Family tracks Dick and Rachel to the Washington, D.C., apartment of Hawk and Dove, where they make quick work of the three vigilantes -- Dad effortlessly hurls Dawn through a pigeon coop and off the rooftop -- before abducting Rachel. "There you are, dear," Mom says ever-so-sweetly, even as her hand covers the girl's face.
While this is the Nuclear Family's live-action debut, they previously appeared in an episode of the animated Justice League Action, where they were, unsurprisingly, far less brutal.
Now streaming on DC Universe, Titans stars Brenton Thwaites as Robin, Anna Diop as Starfire, Teagan Croft as Raven, Ryan Potter as Beast Boy, Alan Ritchson as Hawk, Minka Kelly as Dove, and Lindsey Gort as Amy Rohrbach. A new episode debuts each Friday.