Superb artwork, Tim Drake in his old costume, and there are even a few laughs to be had but there is no story progression from where we left off in Red Hood & the Outlaws #15 and for that I was disappointed.
I know the book is called “Teen Titans” and not “Red Robin” but come on, we’re all here for the Death of the Family tie-in and Tim Drake was hardly featured in this issue at all. Sure, he narrates the story with his own inner monologue that’s all guesswork (that’s totally spot on, mind you) as to what his team is up to at that exact moment but Tim only says 10 words aloud this entire comic. He stands, is confused, tries to get angry with Joker and is told to hush up and…that’s it. Red Hood doesn’t even make an appearance so really if you were here to continue the RHATO story you can skip this and just wait for issue #16 of that series.
Oddly enough, the Bat-family member who gets the most attention in this issue isn’t Tim Drake or Jason Todd, it’s Batgirl. I can’t quite put my finger on what Barbara’s schedule is like this night. She was at her home, a skate rink, a church, the batcave, swinging around rooftops with Nightwing, and now she’s apparently helping out the Teen Titans. Scott Lobdell only plotted this issue and it is Batwing writer Fabian Nicieza who handles the dialogue and I gotta say that Barbara definitely came off as kind of stuck-up here. She’s always talking down to the Teen Titans, which would be understandable from just about any other older crimefighter but Barbara is what, 20? 21? Who is she to call these 17 and 18 year olds “kids”? Hell, Bruce Wayne, if you do the math, is only 29 years old in the New 52. Do we even have anymore heroes in this universe that are far more mature than the rest of the crowd? Does anyone really have that much seniority? Anyway, the point I’ll get back to is that while every other character here sounded fine, especially Tim, Barbara’s voice seems far different from what we see in her own series and that stuck out to me. Her whole appearance here stuck out, really. I came to see Tim and maybe a little bit of Jason, but what I got was Batgirl being condescending toward the Teen Titans for a few pages followed by their attempt to find and free Tim Drake. Was that terrible? Oddly enough, no.
This was a surprisingly fun issue, more fun than I had reading the Teen Titans TPB that’s for sure. My problem with the comic is that it wasn’t what I paid to see! Joker wants to bring down Batman’s closest allies to make Batman stronger, I get that. Lord knows I get that because I hear the same speech in every DoTF comic. So why is he wasting his time with Tim Drake, who we’ve hardly even seen in the New 52 and better yet, why waste any time at all on the Teen Titans? I get it, you want to hurt Tim before killing him, but don’t you have enough on your plate right now, Joker? Hell, where does it end? Should he go after Superman too? He’s helped Batman a lot more than Tim Drake has over the past year. You could take the medieval analogy further and say that Superman is the kindly king from a neighboring kingdom who offers aid when, blah, blah, blah. And speaking of going too far with the tie-ins, what’s with this editor’s note in the middle of a fight scene: “Check out Birds of Prey #15 for what’s happening!” — f*** you. I will not. Just right smack dab in the middle of a two page spread are two panels in which a telepath guy is thinking real hard and Black Canary is screaming accompanied only by that editor’s note. Are you serious?
So let’s see here… Things I didn’t like: Overabundance of people who are not Tim Drake or Jason Todd, weird requirement of needing to read Birds of Prey #15, and no plot progression from Red Hood #15. I also could’ve gone without the line “I don’t dream, I scheme.”
Things I did like: Terrific pencils and coloring, funny dialogue, and a somewhat clever plan by the Joker to attack the Titans…although I thought these Flash characters wore something to stop friction or something…you’ll know what I’m talking about when your read it.
Overall it’s a fun comic, but not a necessary tie-in. It’s great to see Tim in a suit that doesn’t look ridiculous, and Booth’s pencils are really terrific to see, but I would’ve liked this issue to feel more important. Tim narrating as the Teen Titans wander around rooftops not knowing what the heck they are supposed to do without him isn’t exactly what I had in mind when I picked up this tie-in. I guess I’d give it a 6.5 or 7ish. Passable, but not something I’d re-read.