We are three issues into Titans, and every issue has left me feeling frustrated. Yet again, I find myself struggling to find the best way to express my opinion with this title because it isn’t terrible, but it is far from great. Whenever a book falls on either side of the quality spectrum, it is easy to pinpoint what did or didn’t work. Unfortunately, everything about this book feels average. The plot is average. The characterization is average. The villain is average – perhaps even less than average. The relationships, the dialogue, the stakes… Average. Average. Average.
I want to like this book, and I want to be motivated to read it, but I’m not. For me, Titans feels like an extension of what plagued the New 52. It feels disconnected from the rest of the universe. Saddly – and I’ve mentioned this before – this title should feel more connected considering it features Wally West, Wally was the catalyst of the DC Universe Rebirth. Hell, Wally is Rebirth. You wouldn’t know it from this book, but he is. Don’t misread me though. Despite my disappointment, Titans isn’t terrible and it isn’t completely secluded. There are some plot threads in this story that could tie directly to Rebirth, but they just it feels like something is missing (get it?).
Wally has returned and reconnected with his former Teen Titans teammates after being misplaced in the time steam. People forgot about Wally, but his return is allowing others to remember him. As soon as the Titans re-establish their relationship with Wally, they join together to track down the person responsible for causing this… Abra Kadabra… Or so he claims. Personally, I don’t buy it, and there are references within the narrative that hint that my assumptions could be correct. Regardless, Kadabra is terrorizing Wally and the Titans because… Wally and the Flash thwarted him from achieving fame countless times… Talk about motivation.
Unfamiliar with this world and these Titans, Kadabra creates younger versions of the heroes to fight them, and learn from them as well. It’s basically a superhero brawl, and while entertaining, it doesn’t serve up much more than that. In fact, that could be said for this entire issue. There’s plenty of action, plenty of dialogue, and even some plot progression, but it doesn’t really serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things. From beginning to end, I don’t feel like much is accomplished in this issue.
Abnett tries to develop the characters, but this too falls flat for me. After setting up a great moment between Roy and Donna, this issue tries to expand on it, but the humor and intrigue of what once was fizzles out rather quickly. The team also tries to bond with Wally, but it results in a self-loathing session of Wally feeling guilty for coming back and putting his friends in danger – something that I find absurd considering the circumstances. It’s almost as if whatever move Abnett and Booth try to make, they fall short. Again, this book isn’t terrible… It’s just meh. It’s almost like Titans is up to bat, and you want it to hit a home run (or more preferably, a grand slam), but instead, it gets walked. On one hand, you’re grateful that it didn’t strike out, but there’s nothing exciting about being walked. If you’re ok with watching a baseball game that’s full players getting walked, then I guess this is the book for you. If not, DC has many other titles that deserve your money at the moment!
The Art: I’ve noticed some people complaining about Brett Booth’s art, but I don’t mind it. Maybe it’s because most of the time I find myself enjoying the art more than I’m enjoying the story, but I’ve never though, “Wow, this looks bad!” There are times that Dalhouse’s colors feel a little too vibrant for me, but that’s more personal taste than poor quality. If I had one complaint about the art, it would be how kooky Kadabra looks. Every time I see him, all I think is “cheesy villain from a child’s program.” That’s not exactly how you want to describe a villain that’s supposed to be an actually threat…
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Beecher-Duncan. Mal and Bumblebee appear in this issue, and one that I rather enjoyed. Their appearance is a mere two pages, but it sets up some interesting dynamics. Mal has moved past the life of a hero, but his wife feels differently with her newly inherited abilities. In fact, she feels like she received her abilities for a reason. Yes, this approach has been done before, many times, but if it plays out well, then there could be some great character moments between these two down the road.
Symbolism. Kadabra ends up getting a blood splatter on his watch, and it’s obvious that there are similarities between this watch and the blood splattered smiley face from Rebirth. I feel that Kadabra is full of it whenever he says he’s responsible for Wally’s disappearance, and I feel as though this moment hints towards that as well. If DC is going to have Titans tie heavily into Rebirth, then they need to get after it asap because this ship is sinking fast. At least this is a sign of hope that might keep people around for a few more months.
Lost Love. The best moment in this issue, is the conversation between Linda and Wally. In fact, this is easily the best plot going for the entire book. Wally remembers everything! His entire pre-Flashpoint existence is something that he lived through, and he shared those moments with Linda. Now, he still has those feelings for her, but she doesn’t even know him. Watching Wally feel so strongly for someone who doesn’t return the same emotion or even understand it is heartbreaking. Wally desperately wants to establish what he knows is there, but forcing it or coming on too strong would lead to a disaster. There is hope though, and these two are able to build a nice foundation in this issue…. Well, you know, until Kadabra shows up and decides to be annoying.
Kadabra. Here’s the thing… Kadabra could be cool. He has that potential, and Abnett could really sell it by having the Titans underestimate him. The problem is, he’s doing the opposite. Kadabra is being hyped as this extremely dangerous villain, and really he’s a guy from the future with technology that’s having a pity party. I thought I mean, seriously, the guy is ticked off because Kid Flash and the Flash thwarted him in kept him from becoming famous in an alternate timeline/ dimension… We really couldn’t have come up with a better villain than this? Kadabra feels lackadaisical.
Donna and Roy. I understand what they’re trying to do here, but it isn’t working for me. The entire sequence, while fun, reads as childish and out of character. If this were the Teen Titans instead of the Titans, then I would probably feel different. But that’s the thing, these guys aren’t kids anymore. They’ve grown up, and this book should reflect that. Titans Hunt started brilliantly because it launched itself on this notion… Titans feels like a regression. I’m all for having fun, but let’s stay true to where characters are. Each of these team members feel like their former selves who are searching to find out who they really are, rather than a team of established heroes who found themselves by working with each other in the past.
Lunch. Are they really discussing super hero biz in a restaurant? And are they really using their first names with each other while discussing super heroics in a public restaurant? Sheesh… This is a fail.
- You’re just happy to have Wally back.
- You’ll read anything with Nightwing.
- You enjoy hokey villains like Kadabra.
Overall: When it comes down to it, I feel as though Titans is suffering from an identity crisis. It doesn’t know who or what it is. There is no sense of direction or understanding. Titans just is… and not in a good way. At times it’s an action book, other times it’s a campy hero fest, and then there are times where it’s a serious drama. It’s fine for a story to encompass all of these elements, but it needs to be one thing, and then contain those other elements. Joss Whedon is a master at doing this… Dan Abnett, not so much. Not here anyway. I’m not giving up on Titans, but it needs to find itself before it ever expects it’s audience to.