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.
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