There's a link to the just-launched Titans series in that the villain from that, Algorithm, puts in an appearance. She's head of security for scumbag billionaire Archimedes Grant, whose abuse of individuals, animals, land and resources attracts the attention of some unfamiliar young heroes.
In a more direct link to the weekly than we've seen in most of the specials, writer Will Pfeifer has most of the new Titans hail from Earth 2. They're refugees from the war between Earths, and ticked off that Grant is using their people as bloody entertainment at his parties.
The heroes who, by the end of the book, have become the new Titans are, beginning with the three Earth 2-ers:
- Klarion the Witch Boy (older than the version we know).
- A female Kid Flash (identity unknown).
- Tempest (an Atlantean reminiscent of a sleeker Lagoon Boy).
- Animal Girl (not Maxine Baker but one Alexia Santos).
- Heretic (name unrevealed, but I'm guessing a Damian Wayne clone)
They're a suitably varied bunch thematically and, thanks to penciller Andy Smith, inker Keith Champagne and colourist Matt Yackey, visually. My immediate favourite is Klarion, dapper in smile and amused of manner - he manages to seem unfazed by circumstance without ever being irritatingly smug.
Pfeifer sketches in enough pieces of personality to intrigue, making me sad there's little immediate prospect of these newbies showing up in the 2014 Titans book.
Then again, we're in a future timeline, once Futures End wraps, they could simply be written in via time travel or reality-changing shenanigans. It's comics, Pfeifer's allowed, and there's plenty of precedent over in Marvel's X-Men line.
Grant is a true stinker, with no regard for anyone but himself - even when he reacts badly to the fate of his supposed girlfriend, I suspect he's mainly annoyed at the loss of a plaything.
Andy Smith's tight, clean lines, expressive people and sharp storytelling techniques are right up my alley. He's great at action shots in particular, which is obviously useful in a superhero book - I especially like his depiction of Kid Flash's speed trail. I'd love to see him given a regular DC assignment - not every comic artist has to choose the super-stylist route. Heck, if I were DC I'd chain Smith to the licensing department.
And I'd treasure Champagne who, of course, deserves some credit for what makes the page. I've not seen this former stalwart's credit in a DC book for awhile; it's good to have him back.
Yackey's colouring is brighter than is fashionable, but suits this story, which is serious, but not gloomy. The only note I'd give, backseat-editor wise, would be to pick out Klarion in the couple of panels before his introduction, rather than leave him in a monotone crowd. Then again, the treatment we get does reward a careful read. Letters come from the ever reliable Rob Leigh.
Karl Kerschl's lenticular cover is one of the most effective treatments I've seen. And of course, it won't scan for toffee, so a shout-out to the excellent Batman Wikia, whose image I've nicked - thank you.
If your budget's tight but you follow the Titans, this title is skippable. Fun, well-done but skippable. But if you've a few spare pennies, give it a shot.