It's a few months since I read the New 52 Teen Titans, but this annual closes out the current series and I do like to see how a run ends. I was immediately intrigued by the appearance of creepy insect queen Skitter, who vanished from the series early on and was apparently forgotten.
It seems she came back before this double-sized special, which is a shame as I was hoping to see her sting her team-mates for their lackadaisical attitude towards finding her. Oh well, I can't complain about missing things in a series I gave up on.
Anyway, here she is, back with Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Bunker and newer members Raven and Beast Boy. Kon-El is supposedly dead, while evil Superboy Jon Lane Kent goes entirely unaddressed. Kid Flash and Solstice are the Titans-in-absentia, but we find out what happened to them by issue's end.
One of the big problems with the Titans series has been the Harvest storyline, involving a villain from the future kidnapping teenage meta-humans. This terrible character also infected, and finally killed, the Legion Lost series, put the Superboy comic on a path it's never recovered from and hurt such other launches as Ravagers.
Writer Scott Lobdell, knowing there's a new Titans series coming along, considerately ties up the Harvest business once and for - hopefully - all. The team learns he's back and has started a new training camp for super-kids where, if previous form is anything to go by, he's having them fight to the death.
As it turns out, something else entirely is going on, with dead teenagers revived, only without their powers. As for what's happening to the super-energy that's been removed, well, if you've ever wanted to see superheroes battle a giant meta-DNA helix, this is the comic for you.
It'a all rather stupid, but I found myself liking this issue more than not. The big plus is that Lobdell doesn't have the characters act brain-dead for the sake of the story - it's as annoying as ever that Red Robin feels the need to tell people he's oh-so-smart, but for once he does seem the brightest of the bunch.
What the book also has is humour, with some really nice lines given to the kids; sure, some of them are a little self-conscious, but they pretty much work.
Straight character work is also commendable, especially a scene between the ever-optimistic Bunker and Satan-spawn Raven. And a cracking exchange between Red Robin and Cassie actually lends her some depth.
And there's heart, with such things as Bunker's faith and his reaction to the return of an old Grant Morrison character.
It's not all good stuff, with Lobdell still displaying a weird attitude to right and wrong - he honestly seems to think it's cute that Wonder Girl continues to steal whatever she wants, whether it's a motorcycle, jewels or massive fake boobs (OK, I made that last one up). It rather undermines the good work done with Cassie earlier in the issue - Lobdell seems to be aiming for complex, but she seems simply selfish. And the murderous Harvest wasn't really evil, it's suggested, just misguided.
A series of epilogues show the state of Titans past and present, so we see, for example, that sun girl Solstice and terrorist - sorry, misguided - speedster Kid Flash are escaping a prison; Bunker is being funded by the Green Team to create the intriguingly named Spectacular Internationale; and Kon-El has become ridiculous.
Expect that to be tied up as he reclaims his own title from the vile JLK, please God.
The book is wrapped up in a nice tidy bow. Slyly, while Lobdell's narration acknowledges that the team were often pretty crap, it feels like they've been winners.
Three pencillers work on this issue - RB Silva, Tom Derenick and Kenneth Rocafort, who's the announced artist on the relaunch. They all turn in decent work, but I really want to praise inker Vicente Cifuentes for making it hard to see the joins. There are some really fine portraits of the young heroes (and Wonder Girl) here, and decent action sequences.
Rocafort's cover isn't brilliant, with Solstice tough to make out, and what I initially assumed was a flowing skirt turns out to be Red Robin's mask, incongruously coloured where the rest of the surprint of Tim Drake is a delicate brown.
So, that's that. At least the current book went out on a relative high. Let's hope the new series manages to be consistently good.