All earthly things–good or bad–must come to an end, and Scott Lobdell’s run on Teen Titans is no exception. In many cases, the end is a good thing: threads are tied up, points are made, and characters find resolution as the looming finish forces a writer to find focus. The Trial of Kid Flash is Lobdell’s final word on the Titans, and for better or for worse, he goes big here at the end.

What’s included

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Included in this volume are the following issues:

  • Teen Titans #24, “Caught Up In Circles”, written by Scott Lobdell, with pencils by Angel Unzueta, inks by Art Thibert, and colors by Pete Pantazis
  • Teen Titans Annual #2, “My Future, My Enemy”, written by Scott Lobdell, with layouts by Barry Kitson and finishes by Art Thibert, Jesus Merino, Scott Hanna, Barry Kitson, and Pete Pantazis
  • Teen Titans #25, “A Good Defense”, written by Scott Lobdell, with breakdowns by Scott McDaniel, pencils by Tyler Kirkham, inks by Art Thibert, and colors by Arif Prianto
  • Teen Titans #26, “You Can’t Go Home Again”, written by Scott Lobdell, with breakdowns by Scott McDaniel, pencils by Tyler Kirkham, inks by Art Thibert and Dan Green, and colors by Arif Prianto and Stellar Labs
  • Teen Titans #27, “State’s Evidence”, written by Scott Lobdell, with breakdowns by Scott McDaniel, pencils by Tyler Kirkham, inks by Art Thibert, and colors by Arif Prianto
  • Teen Titans #28, “Without You”, written by Scott Lobdell, with breakdowns by Scott McDaniel, pencils by Tyler Kirkham and inks by Art Thibert (no color credit)
  • Teen Titans #29, “Sentences”, written by Scott Lobdell, with breakdowns by Scott McDaniel, pencils and inks by Tyler Kirkham, and colors by Arif Prianto
  • Teen Titans Annual #3, “…And Now…The End Is Near”, written by Scott Lobdell, with breakdowns by Scott McDaniel, pencils and inks by Tyler Kirkham, and colors by Arif Prianto; “Home Sweet Home”, written by Scott Lobdell, with art by Scott Kolins and colors by Hi-Fi
  • Teen Titans #30, “Be Careful What You Wish For”, written by Scott Lobdell, with pencils by Kenneth Rocafort, RB Silva, and Tom Derenick, inks by Vicente Cifuentes, and colors by Blond and Hi-Fi

We were Titans

Kid Flash has been taken, and the rest of the Titans are being mysteriously transported through time. Somehow, the Crime Syndicate’s Johnny Quick is to blame. Eventually, the time-jumping ceases long enough for the team to witness the trial from which this book takes its name. The volume closes with some throwaway villains, the return of Harvest, and Lobdell’s attempt at putting a fine point on his run.

Traversing the centuries is a very delicate proposition

I’ve said it before, but Scott Lobdell isn’t short on ideas. Some of his ideas are even good ones. When I started reading this book and discovered that we’d be dealing with time travel, I was optimistic–even through the first few pages. I love seeing heroes taken out of their natural environment, especially when we get glimpses of the related past or the threatening future:

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Although, colorist Pete Pantazis should probably have been fired after this gaff…

Unfortunately, as has been the norm on this title since its New 52 beginning, good ideas are covered over by poor execution and irritating character choices by Lobdell. I know that it’s a thing for Superboy to beat us over the head with mentions of his “tactile telekinesis”, but it doesn’t have to be a thing, especially not as frequently as Lobdell makes use of it. He similarly bludgeons our heads with Raven’s “soul self”.

Bad guys shouldn’t be all bad

There’s a serious villain problem here, too. Whether in flashbacks of Bart’s troubled childhood, or in present conflict with Harvest, The World’s Worst Villain Ever®, the Titans go up against foes that are so purely evil that they aren’t believable. Lobdell goes so far in the other direction with the Titans themselves, where their teenage angst and moral confusion (I’m looking at you, Cassie) is essentially caricatured, so we end up with supposed-to-be epic conflicts between two unbelievable parties, neither of which is particularly likable.

Speaking of the bad guys, the previous volume of this series set up Raven as a double agent—appearing in public to aid the Titans in the struggle against her father Trigon, while secretly working for him. After seeing no mention in the rest of this present volume, this plot line is hastily—and cheaply—tied up in the final part. To be fair, the series was ending, and Lobdell wouldn’t have more time to play with the idea. On the flip side, there was no good reason why he had to reconcile, poorly, all of the ideas he introduced earlier in his run. It’s okay to let things wait for another writer, after all. Concluding the Trigon plot, bringing back characters from the first arc, and the would-be-triumphant “We were Titans” splash at the end give the impression that Lobdell is stubbornly proud of a run that is broadly reviled among serious fans of the Titans.

But how does it look?

The artists in Teen Titans vol. 5 are numerous, and two of the installments therein are annuals, so those individual parts are visually inconsistent. The strongest portion is the middle, with layouts by Scott McDaniel and finishes by Tyler Kirkham, but even these pages suffer from the way Kirkham’s quality drops considerably as the perspective moves further away from a panel’s subjects. That said, when he’s close up, he’s really good, and McDaniel delivers solid layouts.

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The remaining artists do a decent job, with a number of noteworthy spreads throughout. Even Scott Kolins, whose work I generally despise, does a serviceable job near the end; sadly, however, a serviceable job is not enough to overcome the manifold flaws in Lobdell’s scripts.

Bonus material

Teen Titans vol. 5 contains the fairly standard variant cover gallery that has been a New 52 staple.

Value: Dirt Cheap

Amazon wants $15 for a new copy of this, which is only available in paperback. The quality of the content might be worth $5, and even at that price, I can’t imagine rereading it.

Overall

While Scott Lobdell brings some interesting ideas into this final volume of Teen Titans, he also carries over the flaws that have marked his entire run. Complicating matters, the impending end of his run spurs him toward hasty resolutions and unearned happy endings. To be fair, this volume is better than the last, but it is still an overall troubled end to what has been a disappointing take on the Titans—one that overstayed its welcome a long time ago.

SCORE: 4/10

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