I’ll be the first one to admit that Titans is not a title I get excited to read. So far, Abnett has delivered a less-than-stellar story, and it only makes it worse when you compare this title to the Rebirth special that preceded it – and even more so considering Wally is the focus of both. Where Geoff Johns hit a grand slam with his Rebirth special, Abnett has essentially earned a walk… until this issue.
One of my consistent complaints with Titans has been the poor transition from Rebirth to Titans. Here’s the deal, when you launch something on a level and scale as grand as Rebirth, it’s crucial that you follow that story up with something that is equally as gripping. If you don’t, it will only make the new story come across as being worse than it really is. Titans did the latter, and the book is essentially killing itself before it ever gets going. The biggest problem in this arc, is the villain, Abra Kadabra and the stakes. Kadabra comes across as a joke – something that ultimately works in the character’s favor when it’s all said and done – but it doesn’t carry much weight overall. That doesn’t mean that this is a story that shouldn’t be told though, it’s just that the timing doesn’t feel right.
Yes, Kadabra is the person that’s responsible for removing Wally from his time stream (or so he claims), which eventually brought Wally to this timeline. And yes, Kadabra was affected as well, which gives him motivation on top of his ludicrous, “you prevented me from becoming famous” rants. There is a story here that’s worth exploring, but I wish it would have followed a small, more internal and intimate arc. The stakes don’t feel established enough yet for this to really sink in or hit home. Wally knows these people in theory, but he doesn’t really know these people. Where Superman, Action Comics, and Trinity are all getting this debut right with Superman, Abnett isn’t bringing the same formula to Titans and Wally West. But that’s not the real kicker here… The irony of Wally’s story in Titans, is that the feeling that led to Rebirth is the exact feeling that I get every time I read this title. Something is missing.
Everything has happened rather quickly so far, it feels disconnected from the rest of the universe (much like most of the New 52), and I don’t think readers were ever given the opportunity to grasp what is actually taking place. There’s so much to be explored with Wally and his relationships with his friends, that each month I find myself wishing that was the story I was reading. Something based a little more in the relationships between these characters and what they mean to each other, before jumping into the newest mission… and we finally get that to a degree here.
Wally has been the focus ever since Titans debuted, but his entire narrative has been clouded in shallow storytelling, heavy-handed dialogue, and repetition. “Run for Their Lives” continues the repetition, but it also offers some of the most honest dialogue that Abnett has delivered since Titans: Rebirth #1. This issue is easily a Wally West story, and it’s a good one! Had there not have been a need to beat readers over the head with how we got to this point with Kadabra, then it could have possibly been great! Yes, great!
Most of the plot here is Wally racing to save his teammates and friends. It’s nothing new, but it is done well, and that’s already an improvement. Yes, the need for Wally, or any Flash, to be faster than ever is an old go-to, and it might be a little tired, but there’s an emotion here that resembles what Johns touched on in Rebirth, so I openly embraced it. It doesn’t hurt that the final pages are a little heartbreaking, and that you’ll fall in love with Wally West as a character if you hadn’t already. This is easily the best issue of Titans since it’s debut, and I’m hoping that it will serve as a sign of what’s to come.
The Art: I feel the same way about Brett Booth’s art that I’ve always felt. I enjoy it quite a bit. There’s a light-hearted tone to his work that works well with this team, but the details are still strong and allow for a range in presentation. Booth is also consistent, so that should also be praised. I especially liked Booth’s layouts in this issue, just for the sake of the artistic value they added to the narrative. Wally literally runs for the entire issue, so create the illusion of space and speed, many panels are long and narrow. It was a brilliant decision, and really added a nice effect to the story, and I hope readers appreciate what Booth is attempting.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
- You want to read a solid Wally West story.
- You’re invested in Wally’s return.
- You’re concerned for the Titans’ or Linda’s safety following the previous issue.
Overall: This is a vast improvement over what’s come before it, and if I were grading Titans against itself, I’d probably jump the score up to an 8.5/10. That’s the power of honest, unforced story telling that feels natural. Unfortunately, I’m not judging Titans against itself, but everything that’s hitting shelves, and despite great improvements, the score doesn’t jump that high. A win is a win though, and Abnett and Booth should feel very happy with this issue. Now, if they can continue this quality and drop the repetitive exposition, I might grow to become excited to read Titans each month.