BatWatch Review: Teen Titans Annual #2 - My Future, My Enemy

My Future, My Enemy

Teen Titans is not anywhere close to being my favorite series, but I have to admit that the Titans journey through time in issue #24 did amuse me. Scott Lobdell's random plot points which seem to manifest and then evaporate into nothing so often felt a little more weighty and significant here. It feels as if Lobdell knows where he is going with this story, and that's a major improvement.

Now, it's time for a Teen Titans Annual. Last year's Annual failed to impress with a boring conclusion to the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. story and a spinoff of The Ravagers which felt extremely forced. Hopefully, this year's Annual will be better.  

Does Teen Titans Annual #2 continue with the one issue trend of better quality story telling or will Teen Titans quickly devolve back into its old ways. 

In this issue, the Teen Titans find themselves in a possible future where someone has killed off the world's superheroes and only a new version of the Teen Titans is left standing as the Earth's protectors. 

Still Finishes in the Middle of the Pack

Teen Titans Annual #2 has a great setup which takes full advantage of the futuristic setting. Since it's impossible for superheroes to visit the future without discovering that the whole world burned to the ground, that is exactly what the Teen Titans discover, and though we've seen this "I am a version of the future you must avoid" scenario play out a dozen times, it's still an invigorating one. It's hard not take a look at the tidbits of information the story gives you and try to piece together an entire story about how the heroes lost the universe. One scene really played up the mystery showcasing dozens of relics from the Earth's greatest heroes and villains, Green Arrow's bow, Deadshot's mask, Wonder Woman's tiara. It's a very nice feel to see the DCU ripped apart as long as we know this universe will never truly be.

It's also nice that we get to focus on just the Teenage Trinity in this issue. Much like the arc that explored Wonder Girl's armor, the focus is almost solely on Red Robin, Superboy and Wonder Girl...though there are other familiar faces in the mix. We get a little more character development here, and props to Lobdell for taking the time for it, but still, I'm not sold on these kids being friends...or even real people. Wonder Girl is this rough and tough chick, yet she is horribly concerned that Tim might see his mentor dead. Tim is so concerned about his secret identity that he will not tell people his real, fake name, yet he doesn't mind identifying Batman as Bruce? It just feels poorly thought out.

Still, the intrigue of a possible future carries the first half of the issue. There are some rough spots, but the vision of the future, teases for things to come, and familiar faces slightly altered make this a fun ride...until Jon Lane Kent arrives.  

The problem with Jon Lane Kent is a problem the DCNU has encountered quite a lot; the universe is poorly tied together. We get no indication of who Jon Lane Kent is beyond the child of Superman and Lois Lane. We don't have any idea why he's killed the world's heroes. We know...nothing about him, and that makes his role in the story, which takes up a third of the pages, hollow. The wonderful editorial boxes that break up the flow of the story did say that it was explained in Superboy, but that doesn't help me or any other readers that have not kept up with Superboy.

Then, you get the actual fight. It takes place largely in the moon's molten core. (yes, the moon has a molten core. I fact checked it. Who knew, right?) This is no doubt an intense place to do battle, but it made for a very lackluster fight visually since all we saw were the two Superboys grappling each other amongst lava. Even when the two were out of the core, the duo both have telekinesis which means they don't even have to lay a finger on each other to do damage, so it makes the fight less than invigorating to see them grappling and imagining that they are doing something with their superpowers as well.  

Then, we get to the conclusion which...well, it all comes down to how much faith you have in Scott Lobdell. If you feel he is a great writer who can make sense of the bizarre ending in a later story, then I guess it's a really cool conclusion, but if you think that a strange ending will never be followed up in this series and just result in another inexplicable anecdote in this random series, then it's kind of a deal breaker for the issue.  

Conclusion 7/10

I'm cynical that the ending will make sense in the long run for people who fail to pick up Superboy, but the setup was really good and the story had some intriguing moments. I would suggest you buy or not buy it based on how much you trust Lobdell's work because the ending really does make or break this adventure, and it's hard to say whether it's inspired or bullcrap at this point.  Either way though, this still beats the crap out of Teen Titans Annual #1

More Recent Reviews

Teen Titans Annual #2 - My Future, My Enemy

 Detective Comics #24 - State of Shock

Teen Titans #24 - Caught Up in Circles 

Detective Comics #23.4 - Man-Bat  

Batman and Robin #23.4 - Killer Croc

Son of Batman #1 - Next of Kin 

NightwingAnnual #1 - Embers

The Dark Knight #24 - Captive Audience

Batman/Superman #4 - Refracted

Arkham War #1 - Batman Death March

Batman #24 - Dark City

Forever Evil #2 - Rats 

Batman #23.4 - Bane

BatWatch Review: Teen Titans #24 - Caught Up in Circles

Caught Up in Circles

Teen Titans has been a rough series which has rarely rewarded the faithful. It feels like a bargain bin, off brand Teen superhero story that might have debuted in the nineties. However, it's not all bad and occasionally does something worth checking out. With the Teen Titans slingshoted across the timestream, this certainly gives Lobdell the opportunity to write something new and interesting.

Does the Teen Titans excellent adventure make the most of this opportunity or squander this moment for creativity to abound?  

In this issue, the Teen Titans are slung through various points of time and space in consequence of their encounter with The Crime Syndicate.  

Controlled Chaos

Time travel stories always offer a peculiar opportunity for writers. Nobody has actually time traveled, and it's not even scientific, so whatever crazy idea you have for portraying time travel is worth considering because nobody can say, "That's not how it really works." Add time travel to a graphic medium, and you really have the opportunity for some cool moments, and that's what we get with this issue of Teen Titans.

Eddy Barrows deserves a lot credit for coming up with a clever way of portraying the Titans journey through the timestream. Seeing little shards of possible reality at every turn really works well and makes you feel disconnected as if you too are floating through the fabric of existence.  

Lobdell also deserves a lot of credit by moving forward several stories at once. Whereas in the past he has often teased many stories and followed up few of them, it really feels as if he has a sense of purpose about where he is taking the Bunker, Teen Titans, Kid Flash and Raven stories as we have some worthwhile development on all four fronts. It's also kind of nice to see random bits of possible reality teased. The Sunturians were delightfully campy, and I'm always glad to see Etrigan the Demon.

Less fun were the dangling bits of unestablished continuity. Superboy and Wonder Girl have already beaten the Sunturians? Etrigan has a beef with Wonder Girl? Raven's powers do what exactly? I can make guesses on all these fronts, but I'd prefer some clarity, and Lobdell's track record has made me skeptical that such clarity will ever manifest. Also, the dialogue was strained at moments.

Conclusion 8/10

This is a much better Teen Titans story than the usual fare. It's not perfect, and it was largely carried by a central and fun conceit, the idea of reality skipping, but Barrows made it look believable, and Lobdell took the opportunity to do mostly useful plot and character development. It's worth checking out if you are a Titans fan, and it essentially works as a one shot, so it would be a good jumping on point for the series.  

More Recent Reviews

Teen Titans #24 - Caught Up in Circles 

Detective Comics #23.4 - Man-Bat  

Batman and Robin #23.4 - Killer Croc

Son of Batman #1 - Next of Kin 

NightwingAnnual #1 - Embers

The Dark Knight #24 - Captive Audience

Batman/Superman #4 - Refracted

Arkham War #1 - Batman Death March

Batman #24 - Dark City

Forever Evil #2 - Rats 

Batman #23.4 - Bane

 

BatWatch Review Teen Titans #23.2 - Deathstroke

Lord of War

Deathstroke is a character who has changed a lot over the years from antihero to downright scum of the Earth, but he is always one of the most deadly men in the world, so if any villain deserves a one shot, it should be him.  

Does Deathstroke land a headshot with this issue or is this one contract he just can not fulfill? 

In this issue, Deathstroke comes to blows with an old friend while trying to complete a contract, and we learn about Slade Wilson's past.  

First Impressions Can Often Be Wrong

I read this issue a week ago, but I have not had time to review it until now. When I first read it, I remember thinking this was a flawed but cool little story which gave a lot of insight into a complex character and provided some good action for the ride.

Looking back at it now, I realize it's really a cluttered mess.

What we have here is a lot of cool scenes that are strung haphazardly together. You don't really see this as you are reading, but if you stop and think about what you just read, it comes into focus. What is the relationship between Deathstroke and Deathblow? They just worked together once? Without development, why should we care if they kill each other now? Why is there a whole army of assassins assembled to take out one guy from a sniper's position? Why is Slade so haunted by killing one innocent girl yet so willing to kill innocents now? What happened to Slade to turn him into a mercenary? What enhancements did he have? Why did he allow his son to go into such a dangerous business? (Spoilers) Who was responsible for betraying the location of Slade and his son? Why is Deathstroke with a different woman at the end of the issue?

It's as if this story wants to tell Deathstroke's origin, but rather than doing it properly, they hit a bunch of high points without tying it together, and it just doesn't work. 

Conclusion 6/10

Diehard Deathstroke fans or people just wanting a little action will probably get some satisfaction from this, but it's not nearly as good as it could have been.  

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Batman and Robin #23.3 - Ra's Al Ghul 

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Teen Titans #23.2 - Deathstroke  

Batman '66 #12 - The Clock King Strikes 

Legends of the Dark Knight #66 - #68 - I...Robot

BatWatch Review: Teen Titans #23.1 - Trigon

Heart of Darkness

I'm not a big fan of Teen Titans. I think the series as a whole has been subpar at best, but a lot of that disdain probably stems from the writing of Scott Lobdell (former writer of Uncanny X-Men and current writer of Teen Titans and Action Comics) who is thankfully absent this issue. Instead, Trigon co-creator Marv Wolfman (former writer of The New Titans, Tales of the Teen Titans, and The New Teen Titans and current writer of Teen Titans)  has taken the writing reigns. Perhaps he can save the day.

Does the classic writer of the New Teen Titans prove that he still has what it takes to write a new Teen Titans story or does the torture of Trigon #1 fill six entire dimensions of Hell? 

In this issue, we witness how Trigon came to power.  

This is easily the most densely packed issue I've read all day. I could probably spend an hour or two theorizing on the tidbits from this issue.  

Essentially, we learn that Trigon came to power by binding with the Heart of Darkness, and we learn how he plans to spread his power across the multiverse.

Like most aspects of this story, neither the Heart of Darkness, nor Tirgon's manipulation of it, nor the Guardians of the Heart of Darkness, nor the extent of Trigon's powers are explained, yet all of them are hinted towards. We learn a little bit about a lot of stuff, and it is both thrilling at it's implications and incredibly frustrating in its lack of clarity.

Since there are so many isolated points of interest in hear, I'm just going to hit a few points of interest.  

Bat Droppings

1. The art and colors by Cafu (former artist of Action Comics and current artist of Teen Titans) and Jason Wright (former colorist of Batgirl, Detective Comics and Young Justice and current colorist for Batwing, Teen Titans and Earth 2) respectively was top notch.  I would love to see this creative team transfer to RHATO.

2. The Divine (or perhaps just the narrator depending on your interpretation of the monologue boxes)  compare the power of evil in the Heart of Darkness to the Emotional Light Spectrum which makes me wonder if evil another section of the emotional spectrum? Will the Green Lanterns eventually encounter a Trigon Corps?

(Spoilers until Conclusion) 

3. I see several problems with Trigon's plan to take over other dimensions. First up, if he cannot pass the barrier to other dimensions but can bring people to his, then how was he able to send his brides back to their home dimensions? Second, how can Trigon be in the same dimensions as his progeny if he cannot travel between dimensions?  Third, how did Wonder Girl's armor get from the dimension Trigon is in to Prime dimension? Fourth, how does Trigon manage to get to Earth if he cannot cross dimensions? Fifth, you could say that Trigon is already in prime reality, and that would explain some of the conflicts, but if so that raises the question of why Trigon would need the daughter from another dimension to conquer Earth.

I don't see how this scenario makes any sense.

4. I wonder if that was Lobo or one of the Czarnians on page 19.

5. I wonder if Arella was talking to someone in the comic or if this was just an example of a character talking to the audience. If she was talking to someone, who? The Teen Titans or possibly someone like the Green Lantern Corps or Justice League Dark? 

Conclusion 8/10

I was on the verge of giving this an even higher score since it is an interesting and beautifully drawn comic, but the whole dimension jumping inconsistency took it down a notch. Still, this is an issue you will probably want to read if you have any interest in Teen Titans or Trigon.

More Reviews:

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Detective Comics #23.2 - Harley Quinn 

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Teen Titans #23.2 - Trigon  

Batman '66 #10 - #11 - The Hatter Takes the Crown  

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BatWatch Review: Teen Titans #23 - Hello, I Must Be Going

Hello, I Must Be Going

I always review comics in order of how well they sell, so it's a sad moment when I get down to Teen Titans. Not only is this series consistently disappointing, but then I have to finish it up with a slog through Catwoman which is downright painful most of time. Still, I will burn an S crest upon my heart and continue to hope that one day Teen Titans will not be so meh. (Catwoman is pretty much a lost cause until it gets a new writer)

Supposedly, we have Teen Titans who will be lost to the whims of space/time in the this issue as Bart gets taken to the future to stand trial for murder. Also, Red Robin and Superboy are supposed to come to blows which seems like a conflict long since overdue. It's not that the series has really set that up for a long time; it's just that I have really wanted to see the DCNU Red Robin die a slow, painful death for a long time, and if Superboy is available to due the happy deed, so be it.  

Does Red Robin finally die choking on his own bloated ego and a lungful of blood or will he live and continue to torture my memories of good old Tim Drake for many days to come?

In this issue, the Teen Titans rescue Bart from his judgment and Bunker gets some good news about his boyfriend.  

Be Careful What You Wish For...

I said I was excited about the prospect of reading a Teen Titans issue actually focusing on the characters rather than the latest threat, but it really was not any better than usual. The problem is that Lobdell (former writer of Uncanny X-Men and current writer of Teen Titans and Action Comics) has gone so long without giving these character much background or interaction that it seems forced when they do start interacting and sharing their information from their past. Bunker has gone twenty issues without mentioning that he has a boyfriend, but in this issue, he opens up and shares this information with the newest member of the team. Why? I guess we are supposed to presume that these characters have become best buds off panel, but I'm not willing to make that concession. These character have scrambled from one giant conflict to the next for forever without letting readers see who they are beyond the flashy suits. The only real way that I see to fix this lack of character development is to have Red Robin realize that he's been trying to build a team without building friendships, and in a group of teenagers, that's not going to work. We need to see these guys hanging out and getting to know each other in a non-combative environment, but though the majority of this issue might be free from super villains, all the characters are still going through emotional crisis and conflicts, and it just seems forced for all the characters to suddenly turn to the others as if they have some preexisting friendships we've never truly seen.

Bat Droppings

1. I was surprised Kid Flash didn't end up in the future. I'm pretty sure next October's solicits have him slated to be in some other time and place. I guess the abductors will make another pass at him.  

2. I find myself wondering about Cassie's armor and weapons even though we had a whole arc on them. Still, the mysteries were not really cleared up. If I remember correctly, we discovered that it's an old suit of mystical armor used to fight Trigon. Can we get some more specifics? Why is it invisible some time and visible at other points. If you touched her head, would you feel skin and hair or a helmet? What's up with her lasso? What can it do and where did it originate? Does it have some tie to the Amazons and Wonder Woman? Does Wonder Girl even relate to Wonder Woman at all? These are the sorts of questions left lingering for two years.  

3. The narrating boxes say that Bunker's grip broke the door frame, but the door frame did not give way but rather cracked, so why did Bunker lose his grip? 

4. The promised conflict between Superboy and Red Robin amounted to nothing more that Superboy smarting off. Lame.  

5. Beast Boy is shown as a dophin wearing a pair of goggles which is cute and funny, but it does make me wonder if he can manifest simple items in addition to shape shifting. I guess he would have to be able to or he would be naked after every shift back to human form.

6. Bunker's boyfriend's revival is obviously a setup.  

(Spoilers until Conclusion)  

7. Superboy hooking up with Wonder Girl is kind of lame. It's a new universe but this is the same old crap. Also, Cassie kind of comes off as slutty. Don't get me wrong, Tim's a slut too. I'm an equal opportunity impugner of sexual immorality.

8. Red Robin talks about how great and noble the members of the Titans are, but as best as I can tell, Bunker and possibly Superboy are the only ones really in it to help. Everybody else just seemed to fall into it because they had nowhere else to go.  

9. I'm glad to see Bunker and Beast Boy head out on their own. Bunker is the only member of the team I actually like and Beast Boy seems to bounce off him pretty well, so I can see some zany road trip style adventures coming from this.  

Conclusion 6/10

I just didn't really care about any of this. I don't find it believable that these characters really know each other when we've never seen them interact socially to a significant degree. Every conflict just feels forced and it's hard to care about most of the characters since they are so poorly fleshed out.

More Reviews:

Batman/Superman #3 - Split Screen 

Batman, Incorporated Special #1 

The Dark Knight #23 - Rampant 

Teen Titans #23 - Hello, I Must Be Going

Catwoman #23 - No Blood No Foul 

Talon #11 - True Strength

 

BatWatch Review: Teen Titans #22

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Dark Titans

Teen Titans is in the midst of drudging up the old plotline of Trigon and recycling it over the past couple months. Quite tellingly, this has actually been one of the better arcs of the series, but really, that is saying very little. Nearly two years into the rebooted Teen Titans, and we've had nary a good arc. We've had some that were okay, and that's the best Mr. Lobdell (former writer of Uncanny X-Men and current writer of Teen Titans, Superman and Action Comics) has managed to provide.

I'm not really in the mood to pick apart the pros and cons of the DCNU Teen Titans. Suffice to say that the bar is low, but thus far, this Trigon arc seems to be clearing that bar. If Lobdell can focus in and bring us a coherent story and Eddy Barrows (former artist for Nightwing and cover artist for Teen Titans and current penciler for Teen Titans and Superman and cover artist for Constantine) can bring his A game with the art, then there is potential here for an issue which is a lot of fun as the demon Trigon unleashes his full power upon the Teen Titans.

Does Teen Titans #22 prove to be a devilish good time or is it time for this series to go straight to Hell? 

In this issue, Red Robin, Beast Boy and Raven take out Trigon.

Ooooooo-kay.

Well this was...odd.  

You know, I usually say that surprise is the way to win my comic loving heart, but this is not the kind of surprise I mean when I say that.  

I knew a great plot was practically out of the question based on Lobdell's previous work on the Titans, so I was hoping for nothing more than a reasonable plot with some well drawn action. To my pleasure, Eddy Barrows delivered a much better looking issue this month than the last. The battle was quite dynamic, and I was enjoying right up until the minute that it ended...unexpecteldy...without much warning. One minute they were fighting and the next minute Trigon got an owie, grabbed his toys and ran home to his hell dimension. That might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but it's not far off, and it just felt...too easy and kind of boring. For a huge battle that has been built up for four issues to end with a blow that clearly did Trigon no serious damage was just disappointing. 

(Spoilers for Rest of Section)

15.PNG

The rest of the issue was even worse. Red Robin's acceptance of this easy win makes little sense as does his instant and sure belief that all is well. Raven went from being absolutely sure that the Titans must be purged of evil to being perfectly okay leaving them alone, and the revelation of her true nature makes her actions all the more curious. The Titans seem awfully cheery after the battle for a group of people who were just possessed by a great evil. The clean up crew that took care of the Trigon threat is yet another subplot which may or may not ever be developed. Tim did nothing to show he had overcome his supposedly Trigon fueled impulses. Both Trigon's plans to corrupt the Titans from within or and his plan to control them seemed to be working perfectly, so why did he need to flee and leave Raven as a mole? Rather than giving the story a chance to rest and relieve some much needed dramatic tension, Lobdell immediately plunged the Teen Titans into yet another crisis. Yawn.

I will give props for the revelation of Raven being evil. I did feel that Trigon left too soon and the Teen Titans accepted her too easily before the reveal, but I was so blinded by old continuity Raven being good that I did not see her betrayal coming even though it actually makes more sense than her defecting to the light side of the Force.  

Bat Droppings

1. Beast Boy was back to his old form in terms of humor and personality this issue which is great...except that he never once acted anything remotely like this in The Ravagers or in his earlier appearances in Teen Titans. I kind of figured Beast Boy would evolve into his old self once he loosened up a little, but to go from zero to sixty in the humor department in under 0.001 seconds is just sloppy.  

2. I didn't realize that Tim's cape was essentially adamantium claws, and I'm not so sure I like the revelation. Seems like you would easily kill people just by brushing up against them for one thing. Also of interest, I've never seen Red Robin without the wing harness. It's a very weird look. Not better or worse but different.

3.  (Spoilers) Raven should never wear pink or show her stomach. It's very, very un-Ravenlike. This should have been our tip that something was up.

Conclusion 6/10

16.PNG

This issue was not bad exactly, but it's more of the same from Scott Lobdell.  Scott doesn't seem to understand or at least be willing to conform to the typical rules of writing comics. Pick a story. Write that story and just that story. After your story is over, give some release to all the tension you just built up. This book is all tension all the time and it goes in a half dozen different directions each issue and never truly ties up the loose ends. Personally, I'm tired of it, but it still has some redeeming value for those less fed up with the series.

Recent Reviews:

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BatWatch Review: Teen Titans #21

Screenshot from 2013-06-28 21:50:42.png

The Brothers Trigon

The last couple issues of Teen Titans have actually been interesting. I hesitate to call them good because I've had some heavy cynicism bored into me due to frequent disappointments from this series, but still, I have to admit I actually enjoyed the series recently. In issue #19 we saw the Titans actually interacting socially with each other a little as opposed to being all about the next battle. Also, Trigon showed up on the scene, made a powerful impression, and caused more division in the team. Teen Titans #20 dealt a little with the immediate aftermath of the battle, but most of the focus was on Trigon himself giving the demon a backstory and some family drama. I'm not super stoked about any of it, but I am moderately invested despite the fact that the story is still cluttered with tons of dangling plot lines. (Bunker's boyfriend, Psimon, Kid Flash's past, Solstice's interaction with Kurt Lance)

Thankfully, it appears that one dangling plot line will finally be addressed. Tim Drake has not been a douche throughout the DCNU, but he's been extra douchey (funny that I've used that word enough that I added it to my work processor's dictionary) of late. Many have speculated that he might be under the influence of some villain like Joker or Trigon though some of Lobdell's (former writer of Uncanny X-Men and current writer of Teen Titans and Superman) comments on the series have given me the impression that Tim's recent mistakes are of a non-paranormal variety. Regardless, the solicit claims that more will be revealed on this front. Personally, I'm hoping this Tim Drake turns out to be a clone, is killed off in a horrible manner, and replaced by the real true douche free Tim I used to know and love.

Does Teen Titans #21 return the glory that was old school Tim Drake or do purist readers simply find another reason to hate the DCNU?

In this issue, the Teen Titans divide the Trigon Brothers and strive to conquer.

Full-Fledged Action

If you are in the mood for a big battle this month, this might scratch your itch. Pretty much the whole issue is one extended fight scene, and overall, it's not bad.

At the very beginning of the battle, Red Robin calls a play, and this is refreshing since he has generally been completely useless as a leader and seems to make things up haphazardly as he goes along. Being able to make smart plays in the field? That's what I want to see from Tim. It also reveals that the Teen Titans have actually been training at some point. However, it is frustrating that we have never seen this training. Seeing the process behind a group of teen heroes learn to come together and harness their powers would be much more interesting than simply witnessing the finished product in motion. Also, it strains believability a tad that the Teen Titans would even be able to have trained since they have had no significant time for it unless you insert a long gap between Teen Titans #8 and Teen Titans #9. Forgoing that, it has pretty much been a non-stop rush since the inception of the team.

Regardless, the Teen Titans use the classic divide and conquer strategy, and despite the missed opportunity to showcase their training for this, it is still satisfying to see the final product as the Titans work together smoothly. On the other side of the battle, the Trigon Brothers all have their own specialties, and even though their combat skills seem rather rusty, it's still a fun ride and we get to see some entertaining moves on both sides especially with Bunker whose creative use of bricks is beginning to remind me of Kyle Rayner, my favorite Lantern.

I originally questioned Red Robin's choice in breaking up the team. He puts Solstice and Kid Flash together and Wonder Girl and Bunker together with both groups targeting one brother, yet he has Superboy, Raven, Beast Boy and himself all in one grouping for the final brother. It seems like team Red Robin is a bit overloaded, but when you consider that Red Robin actually knows very little about either Raven or Beast Boy who could easily betray the Teen Titans, the call actually makes sense. His team might be the strongest or they might be the weakest depending on which side these two parties choose. He's actually putting himself in the greatest risk.

Screenshot from 2013-06-28 21:53:39.png

The only problem with the whole fight scene, and this is a significant one, is that Eddy Barrows (former artist for Nightwing and cover artist for Teen Titans and current penciler for Teen Titans and cover artist for Constantine) artwork doesn't really hold up. I don't understand what happens with him; he seems to be extremely inconsistent. I thought the last two issues looked really good, but then his issue before that featured some truly bizarre facial renderings. In this issue, a lot of the massive battle scenes look a bit undercooked. Some panels look fine, but others, especially those that require a lot of detail, simply do not have the detail they need. Wonder Girl probably fairs the worst in this; she never looks right, but a lot of the images of other characters leaves something to be desired.

Why Do You Betray Me So? (Spoilers)

The big thing that hacked me off was the last page.

First up, how did Trigon show up on scene? I assume his powers are magically based, so I guess we can expect a certain amount of the unexplained, but still, if you are popping up from the road, doesn't that mean you have to be in the road at some point? Did he teleport himself into the middle of the road just so he could pop up and make a cool entrance? Also, what are his powers? The Titans just stomped his boys, but Trigon appears to have won the day by attaching psychic controlling chains to the Titans. If it was that simple, why didn't he start with that tactic? Also, why wouldn't Trigon take out the leader if he were determined to eliminate the Titans as a threat?

Screenshot from 2013-06-28 21:55:36.png

Second, what the crap happened with the supposed revelation about Tim? The solicit says, and I quote, “Something is very wrong with Red Robin...and he's about to prove it! Can the rest of the Titans stop this tragedy? Or is it already too late?” None of this is true. Tim acts better in this issue than he has in the past three issues. The Titans do nothing to prevent a tragedy from befalling Tim. In fact, Tim easily fares better than anyone else in this battle. He barely even waded into the fight.

The mislead of the solicit really ticked me off! I don't have a problem if Lobdell wants to keep the mystery going, but don't tell me there will be a revelation if it is not true. I understand sometimes preapproved plot lines change between the release of the solicit and the release of the issue, (and if that is indeed the case, it might explain Barrows sub par work if he was rushed) but heck, DC, you are not a small company! Don't you have anybody who can change the solicits on your own freakin' website if you know things have changed?

Conclusion 6/10

The scripting for the battle actually had the makings of a really good time, but the art kept the fight from being as exciting as possible. Add to this the broken promise and somewhat inconsistent final page, and most of what positive disposition this issue created in me evaporated. People who have been following this arc will want to continue, but go in with moderate expectations.

More Recent Reviews:

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The Dark Knight #21

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Talon #9

BatWatch Review: Teen Titans #20

Screenshot from 2013-05-22 15:51:47.png

Only Begotten

Today has not been going too well in terms of my Bat enjoyment. I expected both Batman, Incorporated and The Dark Knight to be good, and I ended up disappointed for they were just okay. Perhaps its backwards day, and my usually loathed Teen Titans will turn out to be the cream of the crop. Last issue was actually pretty good; it was certainly the best issue of Teen Titans we've seen in quite some time. Could this be the start of a turnaround for the series?

No, not a chance. I don't believe after eighteen fairly bad issues, Scott Lobdell (former writer of Uncanny X-Men and current writer of Teen Titans, Superman and Action Comics) will suddenly change his writing habits and make this series great. The best we can reasonably hope for is that things will start to get better and the series moves from somewhat bad to somewhat good. That would be a small victory, but if this series is going to continue, then I'll take every victory I can get.

So what's been happening in Teen Titans anyway? Trigon has been making amuck though his motivation is not clear. Tim has been acting douchey which might finally be revealed as demon possession. (sad that I'm rooting for my ex-favorite character to be demon possessed) Raven has shown up and immediately became chummy with the Teen Titans. Beast Boy is in the mix for no apparent reason. Psimon is a nut job who kills people with his brain. I think that's about it.

Does all of this come together and form a great story or is this just a scattered tale of heroic nonsense?

In this issue, the Teen Titans regroup after their fight and we learn more about Raven and Trigon.

Rehashing It Right

If we are going to scrap years of continuity just for the sake of “starting fresh” and telling the same stories over again, then let's do that. I'm rather tired of all the half measures DC has taken in things. For instance, Tim Drake has still been around, but he's not been Robin, and now he acts completely different, but he's the same guy, right?

The DCNU seems full of attempts to try to please everybody by writing a story that tries to keep parts of old continuity while changing large chunks of old continuity. Screw that! It's doesn't work. If you are going to reboot a story, then reboot it completely, tell the story again, and make sure the new version is at least as good as the old one.

I think the retelling of Trigon and Raven's origin is actually pretty good. Now, I'm not super duper familiar with their old origin, and if this screws up a lot of crucial stuff and is vastly inferior to the old version of the story, then somebody drop me a line and know, but this reestablished who Raven and Trigon are, and from my limited experience with Teen Titans series of the past, this seems about right. From what I could tell, there are no crazy new twists, this is just an updated to current continuity rehash, and quite frankly, it's refreshing.

Characters Coming Together

This is the second issue in a row where I actually felt like the Teen Titans felt and sounded like real people. They seem to have finally established a team dynamic where everybody has their own voice.

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I was rather confused as to how and why Raven cozied up to the Teen Titans so quickly at the end of last issue, but that was addressed in this issue. Raven seems more relatable to me in this issue than in the DCU. She seems like a real person who, though reserved, does have an actual presence and personality. With pre-Flashpoint Raven, I would almost forget she was even on the team she kept such a low profile.

Bat Droppings

1. One hole I saw in Raven's origin was that I did not understand why Raven needed the ability to love.

2. If anybody knows the other side of the story from Raven's time with Phantom Stranger, please drop me a line.

3. The unveiling of Trigon and Raven's history takes most of the issue, and though I enjoyed the way the art expressed the scene, I found myself wishing for an older style of comic where there was much more dialogue compressed into every page. Back in those days, almost of this would have been established in a few pages. Again, I enjoyed the origin, but I would have also enjoyed getting further along in the story.

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4. Eddy Barrows (former artist for Nightwing and cover artist for Teen Titans and current penciler for Teen Titans and cover artist for Batgirl) does really well on the art. Every panel looks nice, layouts are interesting and he included a visual nod to Raven's classic costume which I appreciated.

(Spoilers until Conclusion)

5. If Raven has been mentally reaching out to the Teen Titans, perhaps she accidentally passed some of her demon evil to Tim Drake causing his douchiness.

Conclusion 8/10

It is backwards day. I was not in love with this issue, but it was really good. If you enjoy Teen Titans, you'll want to pick this one up.

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BatWatch Review: Teen Titans #19

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Trigon-Ometry

Teen Titans, you make my heart sad. You are everything that is wrong with the DCNU with the way you throw out decades of character growth and replace it with a thin imitation of the original. Characters are updated, but their updates only serve to make them less admirable and more easily despicable. Your stories are meandering, simple, overly long, far fetched and poorly thought out. You should go away.

Last issue set up lots of nonsense for us. Trigon has arrived and is being generically evil. Raven is there too and she is...well, we don't know anything about her, do we? Beast Boy is apparently going to betray the Teen Titans which is odd since he's never really been allied with them in any significant way. Reports say that it was originally going to be Skitter who betrayed the team, but that was changed by editorial staff. I do wonder, however, if we might see Skitter in this issue who has been missing without explanation for numerous arcs now. Oh, and there are apparently brain sucking twin brothers in the mix too. Yay?

Is Teen Titans #19 just another example of how this series should bite the dust or does writer Scott Lobdell prove that he has the writing chops to form sense from this insanity?

In this issue, the Teen Titans interrogate Red Robin before going into battle against Trigon.

Grrr!

This is one of those frustrating issues that contain some things I really love and some things I completely despise.

Screenshot from 2013-04-24 16:39:19.png

In the despise department, Red Robin is still acting like a complete tool, and I wish someone would run him over with a lawn mower. Also, characters often have knowledge of things that they have no apparent reason to know. Superboy, who was only with the team for a brief period before going solo, apparently is the go to guy for information on Cassie. Why would Superboy know more than the team members who have spent every day of the past several months with her? Raven's history with the Titans is also called into question, and I'm unsure how Psimon is supposed to fit into things. This issue was certainly more focused than the last couple, but it still seemed a tad scattered.

On the positive front, it was much more coherent because of the increased focus. Also, Eddy Barrows seems to finally be finding his place with the Teen Titans. I've been very disappointed in his work on the last two issues, but this time around, his art is beautiful. There are no more horribly fake expressions on characters faces, and the image of the giant Trigon fighting the Teen Titans on the city streets is at times breathtaking in scope. Also in the positive front, the team is finally working as a team as long as you overlook their early attempts to throttle Red Robin. Even during the Red Robin interrogation, the Teen Titans were at least interacting in a more fluid way than has previously been seen.

Psimon, Beast Boy and Raven

We have some moderate revelations about all these characters.

Regarding the character who has been nuking people's brains, he is apparently Psimon who is an old Teen Titans villain not seen much in the last decade. It appears his history is significantly changed, but there is still a tie with Trigon and he is still psychic, so he is not a completely new character. My only complaint about him in this issue is that he gets in a battle with a hero at one point, and based on prior demonstrations of his power, he should have been able to kill that hero instantaneously.

Screenshot from 2013-04-24 16:41:40.png

Beast Boy feels pretty irrelevant to the plot right now. (Spoilers for Rest of Section) This story apparently takes place after The Ravagers #12, so we do get the insight that Beast Boy will survive the series and The Ravagers' base will be destroyed by Deathstroke. With The Ravagers base in shambles and the end of their series just around the corner, it's not far fetched to wonder if Beast Boy might be added to the rolls of the Teen Titans. Still, he does not seem to be serving any real purpose in current events.

Raven is by far the most mysterious of all characters in this issue. Her previous appearances made it seem as if she were totally down with Trigon's plans, but here, she shows compassion to Beast Boy and refers to Trigon's dimension as a hell, yet she forces Beast Boy to fight for Trigon all of which creates a very bizarre and contradictory picture of the character. Making things even more odd, the Teen Titans start talking to Raven like they are old friends after Trigon leaves. How do they know her? Raven's costume did grow on me as it grew on her in this issue. One scene shows her mask appearing to grow into place over her head, and that looked awesome, so I'm warming up to her DCNU costume.

Bat Droppings

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1. Why does Cassie know Trigon?

2. Seeing giant Trigon riding a three headed, eighteen eyed horse through the city streets of NYC was awesome.

3. The fight scene was satisfying.

4. Lobdell did a much better job of weaving the subplots into the main story in this issue.

5. Red Robin continues to s

how his douchiness by being concerned about PR rather than the lives lost after the crisis.

Conclusion 7/10

Fans of Lobdell's Teen Titans will no doubt be thrilled. Everybody else will probably want to approach with a little caution. If it looks good to you, pick it up. If it looks bad, pass.

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Review: Teen Titans #18

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To Belle and Back

There was a brief period several months ago, during Teen Titans #13-14 I believe, that I actually thought Teen Titans might be getting good, but that...was quite a long time ago, and it hasn't. I'm tired of Teen Titans. Nothing particularly interesting even happens, the characters are unlikable, and there are about a million and a half subplots, few of which actually concern me. Last issue revealed that Tim Drake was possessed or some such, and I do not really care. With that amazing build up, let's see what this issue actually has to offer.

Does Teen Titans surprise and delight my heart or singe and destroy my brain?

In this issue, Tim mourns the loss of Damian and then gives the Teen Titans a mission, saving teen superheroes before they get hurt.

Requiem for Teen Titans

The question remains the same for every tie in. Is it worth buying? The answer? No.

If you are just wanting to buy this issue to see some mourning over Damian, I cannot recommend it. The problem is not that there is no mourning but that the mourning is insincere.

The relationship between Tim and Damian has always been characterized by jealousy and resentment. Damian hates that Tim, the impostor son of Batman, took what Damian saw as his role as partner of the Bat. That resentment on Damian's part led to a couple brutal attacks which eventually led Tim to absolutely despise the brat.

Now we are in a new universe with a new Tim, so you could reasonably say that this dynamic is less of a barrier in the DCNU, but the problem is that Tim and Damian have had almost no interaction in the DCNU, so the only past we can reference is the past of the DCU. For that reason, seeing the downright gushy banter between Tim and Damian comes off as completely lame. Tim is more deserving than ever of being called a Mary Sue by openly sobbing over his loss of Damian, yet, there is no reason to think they really have that deep a connection. Furthermore, Tim sees Damian in his imagination, and Damian goes from character appropriate antagonism to almost immediate support and approval of Tim. It is all incredibly stupid.

All the Good Stuff

I'll just go ahead and kill the suspense by telling you that this issue is not worth buying even if Requiem is not your draw, but before I talk about all this issue's problems, let me talk about the few good things going on.

First, Tim finally gives the team a purpose. It only took the book a year and a half to give the characters a reason to fight together, but at least it was finally done. They are trying to rescue teen supers in danger which is a fine premise except that it is the exact same premise of The Ravagers which was just canceled, so... Regardless though, at least the team now has some justification for existing.

Second, there was a fight between the Teen Titans and the Suicide Squad which was actually pretty satisfying. The teams were nicely matched, and it is always nice to see some good comic action. Also, Tim actually briefed the team on what they would face, and it is about darn time the man with a plan finally started planning.

Sadly, that's it on the positive front.

Why Isn't This Series Better?

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First up, Barrows' (former artist Teen Titans and current penciler for Nightwing and Teen Titans) art is struggling. For one thing, we have Tim grinning on the cover while holding Damian's costume, but this is not really established anywhere in the comic in any way. Tim is not glad Damian is gone. It might stand to reason that this is the evil possessed Tim we saw at the end of last issue, but that entire plot line just disappears in this issue. The rest of the art is, though not bad, strained in parts. Tim has some really unnatural poses and expressions in this issue, and some of the layouts during the fight scenes felt messy.

Second, in regards to the disappearing plotline, let me just say I am completely done with the zillion and one subplots. They are not tying together neatly, Lobdell. (former writer of Uncanny X-Men and current writer for Red Hood and the Outlaws, Teen Titans, Superboy and Superman Pick a few and tell the story in a nice traditional manner. I am completely sick of stories being introduced and then forgotten. Either you have a master plan which will make sense of this all one day, and I am just too impatient to wait for it, or as is more likely since you admit you do not like to plan, you just write whatever you feel like from month to month and important details I care about get forgotten along the way. By the way, what's happening with Skitter? How did Diesel survive the cave in? What was up with Danny the Street or the weird Dinosaur world?

Third, Kiran and Cassie both remember their experiences with Tim which implies that they were not possessed. I can see Kiran kissing Tim just because it surprised her and she went along with it, but Cassie throwing herself at Tim is way out of character for her.

Fourth, Tim continues to be a jerk in this issue by being gruff with his teammates and lying to them. I wish he had been stabbed through with a sword.

Fifth, the scene with Suicide Squad, though the best in the book, did raise some questions. Where is the rest of the Squad. Aren't there usually about a half dozen members. Is Deadshot given a gun while in his cell. Does anybody like Deadshot's armor?I've tried to get used to it, but I don't like it.

Sixth, everything else in the issue is just kind of random, so what is there to say?

Conclusion 5/10

This issue is not worth buying. There are many, many comics more worth your money.

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Review: Teen Titans #17

A Tale of Light and Dark

There are books I love reviewing every month, and there are books I hate reviewing every month. I never know which Teen Titans is going to be. Teen Titans #15? Meh. Teen Titans #16? Really cool. You just never know.

Batman and Robin, Nightwing, and Red Hood and the Outlaws all set a pretty high bar for what we can expect as fallout following Death of the Family. So far, Batgirl is the only one who just kind of glazed over the otherwise huge event. Nothing really happened to Tim in Death of the Family, so I don't have very high expectations for this issue, but Tim's is looking awfully down on the cover, and Batman, Incorporated's big news is now fair game to discuss, so maybe we will see some fallout from either Death of the Family or Batman, Inc.

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We also have some other big events shaping up for this series. Raven, terrible costume and all, is heading for Teen Titans supposedly to become a new member, and I cannot say that excites me much. We already have too many characters with too little development, and the last thing I want is more added to the mix. Also, based on the silly costume change, I'm going to bet I will not like other new DCNU changes to her character. We've also been promised a Deathstroke crossover, and Teen Titans are guest starring in Firestorm this week. Kurt Lance has been popping up and messing with Solstice periodically, and we have been promised, not for the first time, that Tim will finally have a team meeting and discuss the future of the team which has been sticking together for no particular reason ever since the conclusion of The Culling. Does Lobdell manage to take all these disparate story lines and pull them together to make a coherent story, or is this issue, like this team, held together by the thinnest of threads?

In this issue, Tim has a talk with the team and shows them their new pad, and at least one evil force is growing in power.

I Hate Tim More Every Day

Okay, so there are some things that happen towards the end of this issue which I will leave alone for the moment, and it appears that Tim is not responsible for those actions, but he is clearly responsible for the section where his inner monologue is going, and even there, he is a major dick.

First, Tim has been a total douche all the way back from Gotham because he is embarrassed over what happened with Joker. He claims, “Nobody wants to here that (meaning an apology) from the guy who is leading the team,” but that's a load of crap. If someone screws up, they should apologize. It is only his pride which is getting in the way. Furthermore, Tim really does not have anything to apologize for. He was captured, but so were many of the best minds and combatants on the planet! So what? Sure, the Teen Titans almost died, but they almost die regularly under Tim's leadership, and they understand the risks. Tim does not need to apologize; he needs to thank them for being his friends and looking out for him, but again, his desire to be in control of everything and appear flawless is apparently making him act like a giant phallus.

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Things get worse as Miguel and Kira reach out to Tim trying to connect and break the tension, but though Tim appears to handle the situation correctly on the exterior, his inner monologue reveals that he is full of crap. Tim apologizes for the need to keep his identity secret, but his monologue makes it clear he doesn't really feel all that bad about it. I have no problem with him keeping his secrets because as he mentions in a very pre-Flashpoint Tim sort of way, his secrets are not his own. (someone has read some old school Robin. My money is on Fabian Nicieza, the former writer of Marvel's The New Warriors and Trinity and current writer of Teen Titans and Batwing) However, Tim does not need to lie about his thoughts and feelings. Even worse, Kira really exposes herself emotionally and says that she counts him as a close trusted friend whatever his true name, and Tim responds, “That means more than you realize, Solstice,” but his inner monologue says, “Not really.” What? You are saying that you have no real friendship between yourself and your teammates even though you are espousing just the opposite. What a (censored)!

Screenshot from 2013-02-27 21:05:45.png

Ever since Teen Titans #0 butchered Tim's origin, I've said that if I were writing Tim, I would either insist on changing his origin or make him a villain, and I'm beginning to think the maybe Lobdell (former writer of Uncanny X-Men and current writer of Teen Titans, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Superman) is doing just that. It would be great to see a member of the Bat Clan truly go to the dark side and use their own knowledge and resources for evil, but if Lobdell and Nicieza are truly building towards this, then they should make is a shocking reveal not the only logical conclusion to Tim's despicable actions.

Whoa! Character Interactions in Teen Titans?

This came as a real shocker to me that in this issue. Lobdell actually takes time for the characters to interact. I've been begging for this from issue #1, yet I do not think we have ever seen more than two pages of the characters just chilling and talking through things rather than dealing with some immediate threat. This book desperately needs this, and I was delighted to see that, though 17 issues later than it should be, these Titans are finally getting to know each other on panel.

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That being said, Tim and Cassie are pretty unlikable in the DCNU. I already went on about Tim, so the only other thing that might be relevant to add is that he smiles constantly even though he apparently does not feel all that happy, and I do not like fakery. Beauty queens tick me off for the same reason. Cassie, on the other hand, just seems like an extremely bitter (censored). I gave her the benefit of a doubt for some time that she was just jaded on the outside and would be revealed as beautiful on the inside, but after seeing her origin story and a year and a half of stories featuring her, she is pretty much without excuse.

On the other hand, we have good interactions between all other members of the cast. If you will look closely when Tim shows off the pool, you will see that Bart prepares to push Cassie in the pool, and in the next scene, they are all dripping, so apparently they took some time for a swim which is pretty cool. We've never seen Tim hang with his crew which is another major failing of the series. It's amazing the Titans would even stay loyal to Tim based on his standoffish and holier than thou nature. We get to learn a bit more about KF's past too which is a thread that was dropped around issue five and seemingly forgotten.

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A lot of the interactions in this issue were centered on the Teen Titans' new home which I thought was pretty nice. When Tim took them to the waterfront, I was expecting to see Titans Tower off the coast, but I was delighted instead to see an awesome boat. I think the idea of a boat and Tim's reasoning behind the aqua based home is pretty cool. Though I am a big fan of continuity, I do think having a public base that everyone knows was pretty silly, so I'm glad the tower was not revived. As perhaps a little nod to the T shaped tower though, the boat does have a T symbol semi-hidden at the top of the ship.

Spinning Too Many Plates

Let's review the amount of subplots going on right now. Tim and the Titans are suffering some trauma from Death of the Family, and Tim should be feeling the death of another Bat character pretty soon. Deathstroke is coming to the series. Raven and Trigon are coming to the series. Teen Titans will, though perhaps not in this book, be meeting Firestorm. Skitter took off and disappeared. There are budding romantic feelings between Tim and Cassie and Bart and Solstice. Solstice has ability fluctuations thanks to a phantom Kurt Lance stalker. Tim is supposed to be giving the team a purpose and finding a reason for them to stay together.

There is a lot going on, right? Well, apparently it is not enough because Lobdell ignores most of these potential story lines and piles on nearly half a dozen new plot points! What the heck, man?

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There is some mysterious new figure taking people's powers. Apparently, some people are predicting this to be the evil Dr. Light which makes sense. Tim is being a...jerk to put it nicely. (Spoilers) Bunker's old lover is in some serious trouble. Tim is either evil or being manipulated...probably the latter. Finally, some unknown and unexplained new character can cause people to drop dead.

Seriously, there is way too much going on here. Stop it. Pick a few plot lines and stick with it giving lots of time for character development. Stop the cluttered, rushed nonsense!

Bat Droppings

1. Lobdell said he was going to stay away from old Teen Titan villains like Deathstroke, Dr. Light and Trigon, but now, he appears to be bringing them all back, so I guess that old villain ban is over.

2. This probably is Dr. Light based on the fact that he is called doctor, he is stealing light based powers, and he can already make visual constructs. Also, I think he is solicited to make an appearance in issue #18. He looks like a generic monstrous bad guy now though. I kind of like the old slightly lame costume. Also, the story is called “The War of Light and Dark,” so there is that subtle hint.

3. (Spoiler) It would be nice if it turns out that Tim has been an evil, possessed version of himself this entire time and that his origin story was a load of crap that Trigon made up. One can hope.

4. Eddy Barrows (former penciler for Nightwing and current penciler for Teen Titans and cover artist for Nightwing) takes over for art this week, and other than Tim smiling too much (which might be plot relevant), I enjoyed his work. Good stuff.

Conclusion 7/10

I loved to see the team interact, but I hated Tim, and this whole story board feels cluttered. Based on enjoying the last issue and Fabian's work on this issue, I'm going to give it a benefit of a doubt, but the arc could easily go either way at this point. If you are a big fan of Teen Titans, check it out, but otherwise, I would suggest you pick it up only if this review made it sound good.

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Review: Teen Titans #16

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Gotham Runs Red!

RHATO #16 was a massive disappointment with a story which completely skipped the plot of Red Hood and Red Robin to focus instead on Roy Harper and the Teen Titans. Presumably, Teen Titans will be focused purely on the Reds which would mitigate some of these annoyed feelings of mine. I've already read a preview for this issue, and I am actually a little excited because in the preview, Tim was presented as analyzing the situation in a fashion reminiscent of his pre-52 personality. Could this be the return of a Tim Drake which is not an unholy abomination, or does Lobdell once more make me hate my favorite character?

In this issue, Joker manipulates Red Robin and Red Hood into playing his game by putting their fathers' lives on the line.

Ready? Fight!

I've been so frustrated with the way that Scott Lobdell has changed Red Robin that at times I do not want to give him credit when he does something well, but in all fairness to Mr. Lobdell, I have to admit this issue was really cool. (caveats and exceptions to be provided later)

As I hoped, Red Robin and Red Hood take center stage in this issue, and we get to see these two characters who have never had much interaction play off each other in a really interesting way. Jason acts pretty typical to what we have come to expect through Red Hood and the Outlaws, but Tim actually shines in this issue for the first time since the DCNU began. From page one, Red Robin is analyzing his surroundings while pretending to be unconscious, and throughout the entire issue, he remains cool, calculating, and intelligent. He still had a little bit of an ego that would have been out of place with his DCU incarnation, but for all those Tim Drake fans who have been longing for a return of the classic version, this will satisfy you better than anything else that has been offered. I just want to know how he can be the man with the plan in this issue, yet he seems so incompetent while leading his own team.

Anyway, Joker's setup for this issue is interesting if not particularly original, and it leads to a battle that many have wanted to see for a long time. If you ever engaged in an argument about who would win in a fight between X and X, this will give you plenty of fuel for that fan boy fire.

The dialogue was strong throughout this issue. Joker's lines felt like they would be quite appropriate if voiced by Mark Hamil. The boys have nice, fresh interactions too. There is a lot that can be unpacked in the relationship between these two characters, and I hope we get to see that play out at some point.

The art looks quite nice as can always be said with Brett's work though there is a costume design for Raven in this issue which makes me cringe a little. Ugh, why can't this series have good costumes? Anyway, I think the character design was outside this series' control, so the creative team cannot be pinged for it.

Screenshot from 2013-01-30 21:18:03.png

Caveats and Exceptions

As much as I enjoyed this issue, there were also a lot of objectionable elements.

First, Tim starts off the issue saying that Jason is the closest thing he has ever had to a brother. Ouch! I hope nobody else loved the former brother vibe between Red Robin and Nightwing because apparently that is out the window now. Don't get me wrong, I think the way Tim has tried to include Jason in the family is one of the few admirable things about the character in the DCNU, but I would like to see this new relationship added to the previously existing friendship with Nightwing. I don't want it to overwrite the Tim/Dick relationship.

Second, Tim accepts the idea that Joker found the Reds' parents, “Because he's Joker.” Lame!

Third, the issue takes three pages away from the Reds' story to delve into three separate plot elements which will apparently play a role down the road. None of these pages are bad, but with us getting shafted on the central story last week, I really wanted to just see the Robin's stories. Also, these elements have very little apparent connection to the main story; it basically felt like an in story ad for thing to come. “Next month on Teen Titans...”

(Spoiler) Third, the idea that Red Hood would immediately turn against Tim was a bit too much to swallow. This behavior would be right at home with old DCU Jason, but current Jason seems a bit more stable. Thankfully, it turned out to be a trick, but it still seemed a bit difficult to believe.

(Spoiler) Fourth, Red Robin uses a flash bang out of nowhere. I hate that kind of stuff.

(Spoiler) Fifth, Joker goes “Gud” when he was shot, yet he turns out to be a dummy of some sort. There are possible explanations for this but an explanation should have been provided.

(Spoiler) Sixth, Lobdell promised in interviews that Jason would give Joker a beating...which did not happen. Lame.

The Game Changer

There was a big reveal at the end of the issue which changes the nature of the “What's under the platter” mystery. Read on only if you want it revealed.

(Spoiler) Joker presents Red Robin and Red Hood with two different platters meaning there is not one thing Joker is presenting to all the various members of the Bat Clan. Presumably, there is something unique to each one of them. What that could be, I have no idea, but one this is for sure, Joker has at last two bloody platters.

Conclusion 9/10

This issue had some problems, but they were mostly minor. Altogether, I would say this is one of the strongest single issue tie ins for Death of the Family so far; I just wish the rest of the Teen Titans/RHATO crossover was so solid.

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Review: Teen Titans #15

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Teen Scream

The DCNU Teen Titans has been a disappointment to me overall. The latest arch was better than all that has come previously, but it still did not wow me. The last issue left us with the cliffhanger that Red Robin had been presumably kidnapped by Joker, and apparently, the clown wants the Teen Titans to join in on the fun. It is hard to get too excited about any of this since we have seen so many tie ins to the Death of the Family story, and the DCNU Red Robin is far from my favorite character, but many of the tie ins have been entertaining, and maybe it is time I cut Tim some slack. Does this issue make me a believer in Lobdell's Teen Titans, or is this just another clown that fails to amuse?

In this issue, the Teen Titans get some assistance in finding their lost leader from Batgirl and Red Robin is mocked by Joker.

Booth Is Back!

It's nice to see Brett Booth make a return to the series though my enjoyment is somewhat lessened by the knowledge that he will be leaving after Death of the Family. I understand his style is not everybody's cup of tea, but I've come to really enjoy it. One odd quirk about this issue was that the strap which has been holding on Joker's face was mysteriously missing. In fact, the face was a little underutilized in that you could not even tell there was something wrong with it unless you were looking closely. This is a little disappointing when we have witnessed the slow rotting of Joker's face throughout the rest of the series. Also, Joker's face appears on the moon at one point which did not strike the right chord with me. However, Joker's eyes make up for these mistakes as Booth captured the same sort of menace presented in Batman #15, and all the heroes look very cool in this issue. Personally, I think Booth is the only one to make Bart look good in his current costume. Booth's presence will be missed when he leaves.

Remembering the Titans

I'm very thankful that all the current members of the Teen Titans got a decent slice of the story this issue. In the prior four issues, we have barely seen Bunker, Kid Flash, or Solstice, but all of them have a significant presence this time. At first, I thought the Titans interaction with Batgirl was going to be all filler and posturing between Wonder Girl and Babs, but at the end, Wonder Girl showed some concern that made me rethink her actions. She was being...unpleasant to put it nicely, but I think her attitude stemmed from fear for her friend and her defense mechanism of putting up a tough face. She felt she needed to show no fear as the de facto leader of the team. (personally, I think Bunker should be in charge as the only consistently sensible Titan) Though there are not any great standout moments for the different members, I respect that Lobdell took the time to give every character something to do.

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Joker Taunts and Red Robin Glowers

Though the Teen Titans' interactions were pretty good, the exchange between Red Robin and Joker is one of the worst to stem from Death of the Family so far second only to Catwoman, and honestly, Catwoman's was not much worse. Joker, for his part, was okay I guess. He did nothing remotely creative to Red Robin; Joker put on Tim's winged costume and taunted him. Tim for his part did nothing. Literally, Tim is stuck in a pit with walls about ten to twelve feet high, and he does nothing but talk to Joker. Such a pit would not stop any member of the Bat Clan for long except perhaps Barbara pre-Flashpoint, and even then, I think she would at least try to escape, but no, Tim just stands there like a moron trying to decide what to do while talking to the green haired menace. When Joker comes into arms reach, Red Robin continues to glower at him even though his hands are completely free to attack. What an incompetent boob!

Making this even more painful is that Fabian Nicieza, writer of Red Robin, did the dialogue on this issue. Nicieza did a great job during his time handling Tim Drake pre-Flashpoint, yet he cannot seem to come up with anything that makes me remotely root for him in this issue. At the beginning, Tim talks about how his team is unprepared to face challenges without him. No duh! Why haven't you trained them to do anything, Tim? We are over a year in to your team book, and you haven't taken time to teach them to work as a team! One line from Joker directed to Red Robin also connected with me. “You have always annoyed me with your perfection. That arrogant flaunting of how much better you think you are than everyone else.” Yes! That's absolutely true about the DCNU Tim Drake. It did not apply to pre-Flashpoint Drake at all, but it is so very true about this Red Robin. Please beat him to death with a crowbar now, Joe. I'm begging you.

Bat Droppings

Red Robin mentions the Orpheus murder which is a really odd thing to put back in continuity since it was not a crucial event in many ways. However, it did give me hope that if the death of Orpheus is still in continuity, then perhaps the “death” of Stephanie which occurred in the same arch is also still game. However, Orpheus was killed by Black Mask previously, and it appears as if it was Joker who killed him now, so again, this was a very odd continuity update.

Conclusion 7/10

For me personally, I feel like this is just another nail in the coffin of Tim Drake, but as an independent comic divorced of my personal affection for pre-Flashpoint Tim, this is an okay addition to Teen Titans and Death of the Family.

Review: Teen Titans #14

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The Origin of Wonder Girl

Teen Titans has had a rather inconsistent run starting off horribly but becoming better with the current story arc. Though I despised Lobdell’s earliest issues of Teen Titans, I’ve found myself growing fond of the central three characters as they set off on their own to help Cassie harness and then reclaim her armor. Does this issue expand further on the chemistry between Red Robin, Superboy, and Wonder Girl, or does this trio of Titans fail to please?

In this issue, the titan trinity is attacked by Diesel, Miguel and Bart whine, Kiran meets a mysterious character, and Red Robin and Superboy do battle with armor warriors while Cassie faces her old flame.

Titans Smash!

Most of the chemistry I loved so much from the last issue disappeared in this one. We still get a tiny bit of interaction between Tim, Superboy, and Cassie, but the issue spends a lot of time dealing with Cassie’s conflict with Diesel which was only somewhat interesting and Red Robin and Superboy’s conflict with some plot convenient cannon fodder.

The armor warriors were rather uninspired and boring enemies, and quite frankly, Ale Garza’s art did not really make a good vehicle for the fight. Superboy swoops at bad guys while Red Robin flaps at them with his wings. Yawn.

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I somewhat enjoyed the relationship between Wonder Girl and Diesel in the last issue, (statutory rape withstanding) but the conflict between Cassie and Diesel did not really work for me. It may have come across a little better if I could have seen Diesel’s expression and seen his emotion, but since the silent armor completely covers his face, it was difficult to determine if he was feeling anything at this taught meeting other than greed and overconfidence. Whereas Cassie seems to be pouring her heart out, Diesel is unreadable. As if in effort to make up for this lack of dramatic tension, we are treated with a lot of red squiggles which are apparently representative of some sort of energy field put out by the armor, but it really adds nothing to the scene for me. In fact, it seems to take away the seriousness of the moment in its flamboyance. Furthermore, I have seen no point at which Cassie went from thief to hero, so the whole idea that she is somehow the moral superior over Diesel is somewhat in doubt in my mind. Granted, stealing is not as bad as murder, but it still makes you a bad girl in my book.

The Return of Those Other Guys

It was nice, somewhat, to see the rest of the team reappear since they have been missing for two months. The interaction between Miguel and Bart was entertaining though it also seemed a little pointless. The duoare bored without constant stimulus, and Bart likes Kiran. I think we have already covered that. Nonetheless, I always enjoy seeing Miguel because he seems to be the only character really interested in acting like a friend to other members of the team. Everybody else seems to be treating the other members of the team like people who just happen to live in the same dorm as them. Kiran, for her part, seems to be having some interesting developments. I cannot figure out what Lance is trying to do with her, but I figure we will see a return to this after Death of a Family.

Death of a Drake?

I have to say, I’m about pooped out with all the “Death of a Family” tie ins. At this point, my brain wants to explode every time I see Joker make yet another time consuming, pointless gesture to disturb the Bat Family. The Joker is beginning to seem less like a mastermind and more like an annoying stalker. “You slept with the Bat. Let me float this balloon next to you. You worked with the Bat. Let me make a doll shaped like you.” I’m probably being overly cynical on this point based on the fact that I see a “Death” issue every week and Catwoman still burns in my mind, but the entire last two pages felt like filler…along with many of the other pages of this issue.

Conclusion 7/10

If you are a big fan of Teen Titans or you have been following this arc so far, go ahead and pick up this issue. This is still the strongest arc of this series so far, but that is saying very little. If you are on the fence or considering buying this because of Death of a Family, do not bother.

Review: Teen Titans #13

Transient

The Origin of Wonder Girl

This volume of Teen Titans, as a whole, has sucked, but I have actually enjoyed the latest story arc.Showcasing Wonder Girl’s struggle with her armor, Lobdell has focused in on the series three primary protagonists, Red Robin, Superboy and Wonder Girl, and crafted a story with actual intrigue and good character interactions. The story is still not great, but it is a vast improvement over the drivel that turned into “The Culling.” The series reverted to form in the zero issue as Lobdell took Tim Drake’s origin and raked it over the coals in a move that strikes me as nigh sadistic to pre-Flashpoint fans of the character, but to be fair to Lobdell, he was empowered to create new interpretations of the character, and he has done just that.

Regardless of the damage to the legacy of the various characters, Lobdell has no excuse not to create a story which is good regardless of previous continuity, and he failed in this on the early run of the series, but the current arc has shown surprising promise. Does Lobdell demonstrate through this issue that he has a story to tell, or does he merely serve to destroy another character’s origin to no effect?

In this issue, Cassie reveals her past as a thief and lover as Red Robin and Superboy fly with her to the site where Cassandra became Wonder Girl.

Wonder Girl’s Not So Bloody Origin

This appears to be the month to lie with your cover art since Teen Titans has joined Red Hood and Nightwing in completely misconstruing the contents of the story. Wonder Girl is not revealed to have a bloody past, but it is still a rather interesting history. In the original promos to the DCNU Teen Titans, fans were shocked to learn that Cassie was going to be a thief. In Teen Titans #1, Cassie was seen driving a stolen sports car, but there are several reasonable excuses for that. In this issue, we find that there are no mitigating factors to Cassie’s thievery; she is simply a spoiled girl who likes to take shiny things for the challenge and thrill of the chase.

After one such theft, the presumably underage Cassie is rescued from arrest by the apparently adult Diesel who then uses the minor as his teenage sexpot/personal thief. Though this is certainly a plausible scenario and this relationship clearly goes bad with Diesel becoming a supervillain, I do not much like it when teen girls hooking up with older guys is presented as acceptable/normative behavior. However, Cassie’s description of this relationship did lead to very amusing reactions from Tim and Superboy.

Eventually, Cassie gets her armor which she has to wear because only she has the inner strength to resist the urge to “use it—abuse it.” Glad to know that we can trust someone who hurts others for fun to avoid abusing her massive, evil imbued armor.

Despite all my reservations, I actually quite enjoyed Cassie’s origin. I think it is a better setup for an antihero rather than a member of the Teen Titans, but that is a discussion for a different time. However, I believe Cassie was a rather lily white character pre-DCNU, so I have to imagine that this change really hacks off her fans.

Transient

I Am So Confused!

I did enjoy this issue, but at the same time, I have some serious confusion on many aspects of the story. It is time for the saving grace of those too lazy to organize their thoughts in paragraph format, enumeration:

Things That Concern/Confuse Me

1. Our main characters, (the Teen Trio) consists of Red Robin, who risked his parents life for a chance of becoming a hero, Superboy, who was created to be an assassin and briefly worked to enslave metahumans to work for an evil organization, and Wonder Girl, who steals for fun. I’m not sure this is a team of heroes.

2. Where was Brett Booth for this issue? He has been one of the only consistently good things about this series. Garza was okay, but he is just not on the same level.

3. Why couldn't Superboy carry the trio to their destination with his telekinesis?

4. Why is Tim wearing his mask and why is the team acting like Tim has not revealed his secret identity? I am not sure, but I thought they called him Tim in previous issues. I understand he may not have wanted the pilots to see him without a mask, but it is odd for him to be so cautious now when he was so reckless earlier in the series.

5. When did Superboy get back his pre-Flashpoint costume? I admit, it is refreshing to see.

(Spoiler)

6. How did Diesel fail to get squished? I suppose this is meant to be a mystery, but it seems like the heroes should at least acknowledge this oddity.

7. What is going on with Kurt Lance? He’s alive. He’s dead. He’s alive again. He’s in Birds of Prey. He’s in Team 7. He’s in Teen Titans. Who can keep track?

8. Over half of the Teen Titans did not even make an appearance in this issue.

(Spoiler)

Conclusion 8/10

This issue is rough around the edges still lacking the coherence that I would like to see in the title, but the characters, though drastically altered, are beginning to take shape and actually develop both in terms of personality and history. Furthermore, the plot, though far from excellent, is at least interesting and appears to be going somewhere. The DCNU Teen Titans finally feels like a teen team book, and despite all its flaws, at least it is finally fun.

Review: Teen Titans #0

Red Robin 6/10

I have not been a fan of Lobdell’s work on Teen Titans. Lobdell’s run on this series has been very slipshod, but to his credit, the last two issues have demonstrated a marked improvement. In the exploration of Cassie’s background, Lobdell has actually created a good narrative and demonstrated chemistry between Cassie, Tim, and Superboy. However, this is zero month, so the continuation of that story arc has gone on hiatus in order to explore the origin of the DCNU’s Tim Drake. Does this issue continue Lobdell’s upward trend in writing, or does he again struggle to create a worthwhile story?

In this issue, we follow Batman as he attempts to throw Tim Drake off the trail of discovering his secret identity.

Important note: I am unable to attempt any kind of objectivity on this story since Tim Drake is my favorite character, and this issue drastically changes his origin. In order to try to be fair, I am going to give two ratings for this comic. The first is for new readers or old readers who do not care about continuity. The second is for old readers like me who do care very much about characters’ heritage. The rating at the top is an averaging of the two scores.

Newbie Score: 8/10

Fire Lobdell?

After a thread popped up on Comicvine discussing all the changes to Tim Drake’s origin, I opened the thread only to discover that one of the first comments was something to the effect of, “Maybe now DC will finally fire Lodbell.”

I hate to disagree with somebody who is advocating the ousting of Lodbell, but I’m afraid that this is actually one of the best stories Lodbell has written for the Teen Titans. Unlike most of his earlier entries into the series, this issue actually contains a fairly well written and cohesive story which gives readers a good sense of Tim Drake. Reading this issue, I felt a lot of sympathy for Tim, and I respected him, in many ways, as a character in regards to his dedication and intelligence, and the tense relationship with his family is quite compelling. Batman is well represented in this story, and I think Lodbell accurately captured the moods of the Dark Knight and Alfred in the immediate aftermath of the death of Jason Todd.

Lobdell should be fired for his first ten issues which provided no compelling conflict or character development, but in this issue, he actually did a lot of things right.

On the Flip Side...

Not all was rosy with this issue. Though the story certainly delivered a better story than most of Lodbell’s work, it still had some issues by the end. Specifically, the Drakes ask Batman to take care of their son, and Batman takes Tim in as his ward and protege. Why didn't Tim go with them into witness protection? Why would Batman accept a partner who had just royally screwed up? How is Tim supposed to hide as the son of Gotham’s most prominent citizen? Do the Drakes now know about Batman’s secret identity? Are we supposed to believe that the Penguin cannot find Tim when he is still using the exact same name and living with a prominent socialite in Gotham?

Newbie Conclusion

Lodbell does well with this issue up until the very end where it appears that he simply did not think through his conclusion. It is possible that he might have explanations for these issues, but these are some major plot holes, and Lodbell’s writing thus far has not inclined me to give him the benefit of a doubt. People who have enjoyed Lodbell’s run thus far should check this out, but others should approach with caution.

Old School Score: 4/10

God, I Hate Lobdell!

I started to write a big long article on why this issue was a bad representation of Tim Drake, but really, why bother? I am just going to make some bullet point thoughts instead.

  • Tim's Robin series was strongest when Tim was hiding his Robin activities from his father, so I do not mind Tim's parents being brought back to life.
  • Of course, Tim's parents are still out of the picture, so we can expect no positive character developments from this continuity change.
  • Also, Jack Drake acts nothing like himself and is now rather pathetic.
  • Making Tim an Olympic level acrobat takes away his individuality by making him more like Grayson.
  • Tim has never done anything remotely acrobatic in the DCNU.
  • It is hard to sympathize with Tim when he has encountered no struggle in his life. Supportive parents, the best schools, top of everything. Even when he screws up, he gets rewarded.
  • Tim no longer discovers Bruce's identity which was one of his most defining moments.
  • Tim's parents still might be dead, and nobody seems to have noticed this. Bruce's inner monologue in this issue says, "Had they (the Drakes) died? No. Not that night." The wording is suspicious.
  • Tim either risks his parents' lives through incompetence or hubris. Either way, he should not have become Bruce's partner because of his actions.
  • If it was incompetence, then Tim Drake is nothing more than a bumbling fool who is constantly in over his head.
  • If it was hubris (as I am inclined to believe), then Tim is a villain who is willing to sacrifice his parents just for the chance of becoming Bruce's partner.
  • As I already mentioned, it makes no sense for Tim to hide as the son of the most prominent man in Gotham.
  • One of Tim's best characteristics was his cautiousness. Now, that is out the window.
  • Tim no longer takes the role of Robin to help Bruce, he does it for his own self gain.
  • In this origin, there is no tangible link between Tim, Dick, and Bruce.
  • Making Tim a natural athlete undermines his long struggle to become a good fighter which caused him to rely more on his intelligence.
  • This version of Tim is almost nothing like this DCU counterpart. R.I.P. Tim Drake.

Old School Conclusion

In terms of writing a good story for Tim Drake, this is an abomination. I strongly recommend that everyone who loves old school Tim Drake stop paying for a Teen Titans subscription. The only reason I do it is because I have dedicated myself to writing reviews of all Batman associated books.

Teen Titans #6

The Good:

The characters are starting to get fleshed out a bit. There are still a few individuals such as Skitter and Solstice which we know almost nothing about, but the other characters are beginning to take shape. The dialogue in this issue was clever in most places showcasing the Teen Titans varying personalities, but there were definitely a few missteps where things felt simply a little dated. For instance, the villain of this piece jabbers on about himself in the most typical of supervillain cliches. However, for every misstep, there were a couple of lines that made me grin. The art continues to be solid having moments of brilliance and moments that are simply above par. Lobdell seems intent on filling in the back story on these characters little by little which is not as I would have preferred, but at least the gaps are being slowly filled.

The Bad:

Though this issue is an improvement overall, I still feel like Lobdell cuts too many corners in his writing. The crisis with Kid Flash is filled with meaningless techno babble, and in the end, the problem is resolved too easily. The villain is only foiled because he is a cookie cutter villain in terms of telling the heroes what they need to know to defeat him. Static is demonstrated as a genius through outlandish means that stand out even in the world of comic books. In short, Lobdell's writing feels old school. He still clings to the over-the-top cliches that most comics have phased out over the years.

Conclusion 8/10

Teen Titans 6 is definitely worth the read. It's not perfect, and certain aspects of Lobdell's writing makes me cringe, but the overall story is not bad, and the clever interaction between the characters makes it worth the price of admission. It's the best issue of Teen Titans in the DCNU so far, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.

Teen Titans #12

Armored Up and Out!

The only DCNU book I have followed is the Teen Titans. I do not have any particular love of the series; in fact, I think the series as a whole has been very bad, but it is the only series which regularly features my favorite hero, Tim Drake. I have been very disappointed with Lodbell's handling of the team. Up to this point, the current volume of Teen Titans has been at best pretty good (issue 6) and at worst complete and total crap (issue 10). Lodbell has failed to deliver any character development, and the plots have been downright sloppy all too often. Nevertheless, I always hope for the best. Is this issue another turd, or did Lodbell manage to cobble together a good yarn?

In this issue, Wonder Girl deals with her armor turning against her and corrupting her nature. As most of Titans recover from the wounds dealt by the rouge Wonder Girl last issue, Red Robin and Superboy attempt to help Cassie overcome her darker impulses.

A Good Issue?!!?

This is by far the best issue of Teen Titans so far. I fully expected to hate this issue as I have hated most that preceded it, but Lodbell surprised me.

My biggest complaint about Lodbell’s writing thus far has been that he fails to develop his characters and makes no room for character interaction due to the breakneck pace of the series. Though this issue definitely fits the bill of non-stop action, characters actually talked to each other! It seems funny to mention this as an accomplishment, but it is. Up to this point, almost all character interactions have been about surviving, fighting, or just establishing the most basic surface connections between characters. In contrast, you see genuine care and conversation between Tim, Superboy, and Cassie in this issue. The chemistry between these three characters is good, and their dialogue could have easily fit in a story of the old DC universe. Though little is revealed about Cassie’s background, we do get lots of little tidbits which hint at revelations to come. Through the construction of the story, it would basically impossible for Lodbell not to establish more about her character in the next issue.

The art is also delicious. In general, Brett Booth’s art is a little too streamlined for my taste, but though it still has the streamlined feel this issue, I have to admit the art was beautiful. His designs for Cassie’s armor were excellent, and I especially liked how the spikes of her armor protruded inward to Cassie as well as outward indicating the pain Cassie experiences every time she uses the armor. There were several large panels in this issue, and I gobbled it all up.

Still Not Great

Though the main story is good, it does not really incorporate all the Teen Titans. Other than one page, the story focuses completely on Tim, Superboy, and Cassie. Skitter was not even shown during the issue. Considering Lodbell’s success with Red Hood and the Outlaws, I am beginning to suspect that Lodbell is a talented writer with a small team, but he simply does not know how to write a good story while balancing seven different characters.

Another problem is that the main story is short and takes a break after about a dozen pages to do an epilogue to Kid Flash’s crossover with DC Presents. Kid Flash’s story is not complete trash, but it is uninspired and mediocre.

Conclusion 8/10

If Lodbell fails to deliver some actual answers on Cassie’s background next issue, I’m going to be ticked off at him again, but as a standalone issue, Teen Titans 12 is really good. It is not so good that I have forgotten the disappointment of previous issues, but it is good enough to give me hope for the series.