Wally West is back with the Titans, and they’re ready to battle… themselves?
In this week’s Upcoming Comics post, I expressed disappointment with the first issue of Titans. While I loved Rebirth and Titans: Rebirth, the debut issue of Titans left me unmotivated and unsure about the future of this title. To be frank, it just didn’t deliver and that was a shock for me considering how critical Wally’s role is in Rebirth. Thankfully, this issue manages to recover from that, and has rebuilt my trust and intrigue going forward. Does that mean this issue was perfect or even great? No, but “better” is good enough for now!
For those of you that have been sleeping under a rock the past few months, Wally West made his return in Geoff Johns’ amazing Rebirth. Since then, he’s managed to rejoin with his old Teen Titans teammates, Nightwing, Donna Troy, Arsenal, Garth, and Omen. Unfortunately, they didn’t remember him at first. Once he helped jog their memories (yes, that’s a pun), the team set out to track down who was responsible for “eliminating” Wally West. A mission that led them directly to Kadabra!
Wait… No… Sorry… Sorry! Wrong Kadabra! I’ve been playing Pokemon Go a little too much lately! Ah… Here we are!
This is an action-heavy issue, so there isn’t too much I can say without giving away some spoilers. Right away, this issue improves on it’s lead-in by throwing readers directly into the conflict. This story kicks off with Linda Park making her way to a crime scene, where she finds the Titans standing in a circle in the middle of the street. All of them were wearing their old costumes, so I originally assumed it was a flashback, until Linda approached Wally, and referred to their meeting in Rebirth. At this point, I assumed we were seeing the dream of one of the two characters… but then that idea was debunked the moment the present day Titans appeared on the scene!
After a moment of confusion, I connected enough dots to become intrigued with what was taking place. Kadabra creates younger versions of the Titans, and unleashes them on Central City. Most of what follows is a fun, entertaining action, as the Titans are forced to fight themselves. The fight scenes are a lot of fun, and exactly what this book needed to help give the arcing story a jolt of energy. It’s not just a brutal fight, though. In fact, most of the action is rather light, but it’s equally effective. Small moments of plot progression are thrown throughout the action to help move the story along, so it doesn’t feel like a stagnant story by the end of the issue. There’s quite a bit of humor as well, especially from Roy. If there’s one complaint that I have, it’s that this issue is an incredibly fast read due to the action. I found myself becoming invested in what was taking place, but the moment I really settled into the story, I had reached the end of the book. That’s not so much of a bad thing, but it’s going to be critical for the next issue to continue at this quality, or improve, to keep readers interested.
The Art: I’m a huge fan of Brett Booth’s art! I don’t find myself ever thinking, “Wow, this is really unique. He has such a distinct style,” but he’s really good, and really consistent. I typically find myself getting lost in his work because it meshes so well with the story being told. I hope that’s seen as a huge compliment, because as a reader, that’s what I want to experience! I want to get lost in a story. Booth appears to do that with ease. But he doesn’t just tell the story, he enhances it as well. Small details, such as facial expressions and reactions, add immensely to the overall product. This story wouldn’t be the same without those details.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: Titans vs Titans. I really enjoyed seeing the Titans face off against younger versions of themselves. I’m not completely certain if these manifestations are more than what they appear to be, but regardless, it was still an entertaining battle. My first thought concerning the fight was, “Clearly our heroes are going to win. If their counterparts represent younger versions of themselves, then they’re going to be more experienced now.” Roy even expresses the same thought in the narrative, until faux-Donna attacks him. That’s when I realized things would be more interesting than I expected. And to praise Booth a little more, I love the wicked look he gave each of the manifestations. It’s a minor detail, but it accomplishes quite a bit.
The timeline. Kadabra was confused that Wally even knew Linda Park, and mentioned that he shouldn’t have met her yet. I found this really interesting, because it proves that he’s as thrown off by everything that’s taking place as much as Wally and the rest of the Titans. Yes, it weakens his presence, but it also creates an interesting sub-plot, and a slue of possibilities for when the narrative progresses. I know Kadabra was “trapped” and “freed” as well, but I’m curious to see if his circumstances are the same as Wally’s. Is he from the pre-flashpoint timeline as well? If so, did he think that he cast a spell to go back in time rather than a completely separate time? I’m almost under the impression that he doesn’t realize that this is a new world, but I’m not certain. I’m also not sure if this will even be explored further, but I hope it is… Then again, maybe I don’t. The metaphysics involved in time and space/ alternate timelines might make my head hurt once they start explaining it.
The humor. Part of what made this issue work for me, was the humor! The action wasn’t drastic or dire, so that helped give the narrative a fun pace, but throwing in bits of humor made it even more enjoyable. Roy was the main provider of the comedy, and while I loved the joke at Wally’s expense, I especially loved when faux-Donna Troy wrapped her lasso around Roy, and he asked her to stop because he loved her, only for the real Donna Troy to become completely caught off guard by it. They’re minor moments, but they feel natural.
Willing to kill. I wasn’t initially excited with the reveal that Kadabra was the villain behind Wally’s disappearance, but I openly admit this is mostly due to the fact that I’m not familiar with him. I found it hard to take him seriously because he kind of came across as a joke. If you’re able to create ripples or changes in the timeline, as well as manifest evil versions of the Titans, then you should probably be considered a viable threat. I don’t think I fully realized the danger he posed until the last page of this issue when he shot a blast at Garth to kill him. Do I think Garth will die? Not a chance. However, we now know that Kadabra will go that far.
Means to an end. Another thing that I liked about Kadabra, or his approach anyway, is that he’s willing to utilize any means necessary to cause harm to Wally West… That includes going after Linda Park no that he knows Wally loves her. It’s an evil move. And while I’m about 99% positive Linda will be ok when all is said and done, it still makes Kadabra more interesting as a character.
The Bad: Lack of substance. I know it’s early in Titan’s run, but if there’s a lack of substance to really weigh down the story and keep readers invested. Three issues in, and my interest is rather shallow, and was honestly rejuvenated by some solid, flashy action. When that wears off though, there’s going to need to be something else there to carry the weight. And with so many amazing characters, each with their own interesting backgrounds and personalities, it’ll be a shame if Titans fails to pick up and run with those opportunities.
Heavy handed. This is a common issue I have with a lot of comics, but considering the grand platform they’re presented on, it’s expected. There are times when Kadabra comes of as being evil for the sake of being evil. He has some dialogue that comes off as “diabolical,” but in gaudy sort of way, rather than dangerous. It’s part of the reason I viewed him as a joke at first. Thankfully, his actions managed to alter my opinion of him. I just wish writers would become less concerned with making their villains sound less evil, and more concerned with making them act more evil. Same for the heroes. We don’t need all of the heroic speeches (as frequently as we see them anyway), just let them act like heroes. Throw some characters in the gray area, or even shift our heroes and villains into that area when it works, and that’s even better!
- You want to see a Titans vs Titans brawl.
- You’re curious to learn more about Wally West’s disappearance.
- You’ll read anything with some Roy Harper wise-cracks.
Overall: Abnett and Booth deliver an issue full of fun, entertaining action that helps give a much-needed dose of momentum to Titans, but how they follow-up is going to be critical. Most of my excitement and intrigue for this title stems from Geoff Johns’ incredible Rebirth, and I don’t feel as though this creative team is fully taking advantage of that gift… especially since this is the only title that features Wally. Considering Wally played such a critical role in the entire DC Universe “Rebirthing,” Titans feels strangely disconnected… An ironic turn of events considering the catalyst character’s story was intended to do the exact opposite. But thanks to a solid delivery, and an intriguing mystery, I’m back on board (for the moment). I will need some emotional weight and character development added in to help ground this series for me though. The sooner, the better.