Titans #4 review

titans-4

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Kadabra’s got Linda! After working up the nerve to approach his soulmate for the second time since his return, Wally West could only watch as the vain magician snatched her from his grasp. With Linda’s life on the line, will the fastest man alive be fast enough?

Like a summer popcorn flick

The rest of the Titans converge on Wally to console and strategize, while Kadabra enhances his faux-Titans and dispatches them to engage with their legitimate opposites. The (real) team takes the bait, but their doppelgängers seem to be holding back, and the villain forces Wally into a scenario that may just send him packing for good.

That sounds like an entertaining story to me, and Titans #4 delivers on that simple promise. Abnett’s larger cogs are well-designed and spin along as they should. Booth renders the various fight sequences skillfully, making for some engaging, nicely-staged, nicely-posed action. Kadabra is a silly villain, but I’m actually okay with that. You can be both ridiculous and ridiculously dangerous, and such a characterization seems to be Abnett’s intent, as best I can tell.

imageThat mustache, though. Could he be anything but evil?

The drawback is that this issue never goes a whole lot deeper. Even with the various relational threads—Wally and Linda, Wally and his friends, Roy and Donna—the book fails to resonate, and I think the dialogue bears most of the blame. It’s not just Kadabra, whose mustache-twirling speeches would get a pass in a different context. It’s that the Titans themselves don’t read like a group of close-knit friends. Their interactions are too syrupy-sweet and positive, lacking the friction that infiltrates all interpersonal relationships from Moment One. Their forced camaraderie is therefore too foreign, and I am left more an observer than an investor.

Confusing faces

I’m not a huge fan of Brett Booth’s character aesthetics, or the shine that they typically receive at the hand of Andrew Dalhouse. Personal preference aside, the pair—along with Rapmund—are a largely successful storytelling team so far. Booth’s layouts aren’t as crowded as they’ve been at times in the past, and as I mentioned above, the action sequences are quite good. Dalhouse seems to go shiny a bit less than usual, too, so the finish is—at least for me—much nicer to look at than I’m used to.

Unfortunately, Booth’s attention to facial detail could use some work. There are a number of occasions where he gives a character an expression that does not harmonize with his or her words, and others still where he seems to have given very little thought to the expression at all. As with the dialogue, I find this sort of thing distracting, and another significant barrier to my investment as a reader.

Still worth reading

After all of those complaints, and though this issue (and this series) falls far short of greatness, I still recommend reading it. It is entertaining, if nothing else; and though our modern expectations for them have ascended beyond the clouds, comic books are still a great form of escapist fun, and Titans #4 succeeds at this simple mandate. I wouldn’t advise you to boot anything else off of your pull list if money’s tight, but it’s worth picking up if you can swing it.

Recommended if…

  • You’ve been enjoying Titans so far and want to keep following along.
  • You don’t mind comics with modest aspirations.
  • You’re following the larger DC Rebirth mystery.

Overall

It’s not great, but Titans #4 is good enough to deserve some of your time. Its significance in the larger continuity certainly helps, but it has its own entertaining plot that will entertain you in the short term. There are some distracting artistic elements, but Booth, Rapmund, and Dalhouse please me more than they don’t, especially when crafting dynamic action sequences. All-in-all, Titans #4 is a fun read with some significant ties to the larger DC universe. Nothing more, nothing less.

SCORE: 6/10

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