Titans Special #1 review


The Source Wall is broken. The Titans are broken. Why not bring the two problems together and see what happens? That’s the concept for the latest relaunch of the senior Titans team, set up in this extra-sized special before it’s rolled out into the regular series. The Source Wall energy is causing new metahumans to appear at a rate of knots and Nightwing’s New Titans are taking on the responsibility of finding and helping - or stopping - them. 

The book opens with Titans lifer Nightwing chasing a young woman on a subway train. She’s not a villain, but her powers are out of control and Dick Grayson is afraid she’ll hurt someone. It turns out that she’s so panicked by being chased by Nightwing that she jumped out of the train and into the path of another. Good job, Dick. 

Nevertheless, when Nightwing presents himself to the Justice League to tell them he’s setting up a new team of Titans to track down the ‘Emergents’, they say they’ve total faith in him. It turns out they’d already decided he’d head a Justice League sub-team doing just that. There’s a coincidence... or Martian Manhunter mind control. 

OK, probably not, but the J’onn Jonzz presented here certainly seems a tad more dickish than, well, ever. 


Nightwing spurns the wall of suggested members the League has helpfully prepared, he has his own list. 

There’s Raven, who’s just off Damian Wayne’s Teen Titans. 


Beast Boy, who’s been unable to control his powers since the No Justice event. 


Donna Troy, who’s turned to drink after learning her latest origin, and being confronted by an eeeeevil future version of herself. 


Natasha Irons, the female Steel, who needs something to distract her from her break-up with street sorceress Traci 13. 


And Miss Martian, who’s there because, well...


Which makes no sense. Every hero Dick has approached has a longer history of fighting evil than Miss Martian. Didn’t I tell you J’onn was being weird?

But DC is currently asking us to accept that the most recent Titans team was a pack of loose cannons who couldn’t be trusted, who needed some kind of Justice League supervision, so here’s Miss Martian with her membership of the League reaching back to, oh, never, turning up as supervisor. Heck, she’s barely appeared with J’onn, never mind been his protege. Suddenly I dislike a character I’ve always enjoyed, since her days in Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans, a period apparently wiped out by Flashpoint. And that new costume, gosh, it’s a downgrade from her cute white outfit. 

So, I’m not a fan of the Titans becoming ‘an official response team of the Justice League’. I don’t like the angst of Donna Troy, Natasha Irons and Gar Logan (even without the new angle, I’m utterly sick of Beast Boy). Teams being set up with firm motivations rarely work (X-Factor, Extreme Justice, the New 52 Legion Lost...). Donna’s apparent acceptance of the League line that the friendship of the original Teen Titans became a negative is just bizarre. And the surprise villain who looks like he’ll be around a while is a real loser. 

This new direction seems ill-conceived in so many ways that I can’t see the revamped book becoming an instant favourite. But Dan Abnett is a fine writer, if he can subvert the (I have no doubt) imposed-from-high direction Titans could be a good read. There are certainly moments in this special I enjoyed, such as Dick’s faith in Donna, a superb scene showing Raven tackling an emergent and the respect given Natasha Irons. 


Plus, the art, by a murderers’ row of talent, is eye-catching and the sheer number of contributors doesn’t detract from the story - gathering the team issues allow for a mix of visuals. The Donna and Dick vignette by, I think, Nicola Scott is stunning for what’s basically pages of two people talking. And the editorial team of Paul Kaminski and Rob Levin under Marie Javins suggests quality. So I’ll give this run a shot - this issue’s excellent cover artist, Brandon Peterson, and Ryan Sook are apparently drawing the revamped series - and hope for the best. And if it doesn’t work out, the Titans will almost certainly (remember when we were never without at least one Legion of Super-Heroes series?) get another crack at stardom. 

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Titans Special #1, Dan Abnett, Nicola Scott, Sergio Davila, Vicente Sifuentes, Brian Ching, Max Raynor, Ben Oliver, Matt Santorelli, Brent Peeples, Brandon Peterson 

Comments

  1. This one left me cold, too -- although I'm always happy to see Nicola Scott art. I like Gar more than you do, and, in fact, I like most of the characters on the team, in one iteration or other. (Hearing Raven called "Rachel" is still really odd to me, even though that's probably been her status quo for a decade or more.)

    And yet it never quite gelled. I didn't buy the reasoning that a group of friends is a bad thing, and I didn't undertand why Dick Grayson, of all people, was being treated with such suspicion and lack of respect. I might go back to read the last arc of Titans the next time it's on sale on Comixology just to figure out what that was all about. (Also, I'm a sucker for Paul Pelletier art.)

    And does anyone know why Gar thinks he "disgusts" Raven? I've no idea what's going on there.

    Anyway, with all the new comics I want to try, it's almost a relief to read one and know I can pass it up. Good characters, decent creators, but there's just no there there.

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    1. My reply to you is down below... blame the cruel sea!

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  2. It's like every time, EVERY TIME, the Fab Five get a title again it inevitably leads to their disbanding because of in-fighting or someone died or turned evil. Ugh.

    I still refuse to accept that this is the real Donna Troy, on the grounds she was born during the 10 years Doctor Manhattan messed with opposed to how the original Donna had a childhood before those ten years. This one's just a bastardized knock-off Manhattan created in an attempt to do Donna "Better," like he did with Superboy, Kid Flash, Wally West, and Tim Drake.

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    1. Donna is indeed a bigger mess than ever. They should stop trying to explain her. Young Amazon, there you go.

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    2. The one thing they should've gotten rid of was her New 52 backstory. That whole thing about her killing all the Amazon sons and starting off as a villain was gross and unnecessary. I hate that Greg Rucka didn't include Donna in his Rebirth WW arc, and I especially loathe how Abnett's vilified the name "Troia."

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    3. Yep, so many bad decisions for Donna. I wish DC would just put a moratorium on discussing her beginnings and focus on letting her do stuff.

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  3. Yeah, the Rachel thing is still very odd. I can’t remember where that came from. The Johns Titans?

    Presumably Gar felt she was looking at him in an odd way, when she’d be the last character to withhold empathy.

    Pelletier is great but an explanation? Sadly not.

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    1. Yeah...

      I'm excited to see that he's turning up on Batgirl. I'll have to go back to buying that book!

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  4. If you ask me, we, the readers, have been transported to another universe where DC is a hot mess.

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    1. Could be. We’re part of the Multiversity.

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  5. Methinks J'onn Dick and his team may come to blows

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  6. Yes it was very pretty looking. But I’m out. I thought initially that Abnett got Donna but every issue since the end of Titans Hunt shows that his vision of Donna is not one I find enjoyable.
    Also, she still has no codename. And I find the use of last names incredibly grating. These guys never talked this way before and it throws me out of the story every time I hear “Troy” or “Harper” or “Grayson”.

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