Titans #5 was the first issue that I actually enjoyed from this title. There have been moments that were nice, but ultimately there were many more moments that I found grating, heavy handed, uninspired, etc. Thankfully, this issue continues where the last chapter left off in terms of quality. In fact, I’d say it manages to even improve!
The focus of Titans has been Wally West. That, in my opinion, is a good thing. Considering the events of DC Universe Rebirth, it would be weird if he wasn’t the central character for the opening arc. What I didn’t enjoy, was the self-doubt and self-loathing that came with him. Issue after issue had Wally questioning why he even came back… Nobody wants to read that! If it only happened once, maybe. But turning to this crutch multiple times each issue, for more than one issue? No.
Then when you discover the villain is Kadabra, the story just gets worse. Since day one, I’ve found Kadabra to be less than engaging as an antagonist. First off, he looks goofy as hell. More importantly, he doesn’t feel like a real threat, and he’s been pushed as the reason Wally was pulled from his previous timeline. I just couldn’t fully jump on board with this book, until this issue. Why? Because it wasn’t until now that Abnett managed to bring everything full circle, and the moment he did that, everything clicked. The plot, the characters, their relationships. For the first time since Titans’ debut, the book itself felt “right.”
Last month I praised Titans because of the characterization that it brought to the table. It was a beautiful Wally West story, but not much more than that. “Out of Time, Out of Mind” improves on everything! If Wally’s love for Linda hit a home run last month, his love for Linda and his friends hits a grand slam this month! Everything that made issue five great can be found in this issue as well, but I would argue that it’s even better because it builds on what came before it.
Wally is gone. Kadabra forced his hand so that he would have to choose to either let his friends die, or sacrifice himself to save them – which is exactly what he did. Kadabra knew that for Wally to succeed, he would have to run so fast that he would become lost in time again, except this time, he wouldn’t have an anchor to bring him back. His story is far from done though.
Meanwhile, it’s up to the Titans to stop Kadabra without Wally’s help. By far, this was the most cohesive Titans has felt. The team itself felt cohesive, which translates to the book. The characters felt on-point, and their encounter with Kadabra is what I’ve been waiting for since their first bout. Finally! Finally I can honestly say I’m enjoying this book!
The Art: I’ve been a fan of Brett Booth’s art since the beginning. Other than Kadabara’s physical appearance, I don’t think there has been anything I’ve disliked. What I do enjoy, is that there is an energy to Booth’s art that is extremely engaging. He tells his story well, even when the narrative itself is underwhelming.
If there’s one aspect of his art that I’m not crazy about, it’s the long, narrow panels that dash across each page. I’m assuming this is an effect to play up Wally’s abilities, as well as Kadabra’s manipulation of time and speed, but that remains to be seen.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Wally and Linda. Now this is good writing! If this doesn’t hit you in the heart, then you have no emotion. No, no. It’s not an argument! You’re heartless. Titans #5 already tugged on my heart a little, but this issue gave it a forceful pull. There’s just something incredibly satisfying about knowing what a character’s ultimate idea of happiness is. We get to see that for Wally. Beyond that, we get to watch him let go of a reflection of it in hopes of creating thebreal thing somewhere in the future. Abnett did a stellar job here, and he should be extremely proud of himself.
Manhattan. Thank God! I’ve been waiting for the reveal that Kadabra really is just a peon, because I was going to lose my mind if he ended up being more than that. The fact that Lilith got into his mind, confirmed that he’s a psychopath, and revealed that he was terrified by something, but all she could get was the word, “Manhattan”…. I’ve been waiting on this moment since DC Universe Rebirth, and we finally got it! Now I hope there’s a (very) slow build to Dr. Manhattan (and potentially the entire Watchmen) reveal for our heroes.
Deathstroke. Whoa! If you want to excite fanboys across the world, bring the most famous villain for this team into the mix! That’s right, Deathstroke is on the final page! If you’ve been reading Deathstroke, then you know that Nightwing already has a history training Rose, and other books have hinted that there’s a long standing feud between Slade and the Titans. Naturally, that excites me! Beyond that, Slade doesn’t know who Wally is, so I can’t wait for this series to dip into all of that! I say bring it on!
Kadabra. I’m so glad this guy is gone! I almost called him a “joker,” but that would be unfitting considering we’re discussing the DC Universe. A bad villain never bodes well for a story, so I’m ready to move on!
The doppelgängers. Throughout the entire arc, Kadabra used recreations of the Titans to fight them… So why didn’t he use them in the final fight? I mean, I understand that he thought he could only be stopped by Wally, but Kadabra quickly learned that was just the most likely outcome in that moment. Once Wally was gone, he realized there were other obstacles in his way, but I didn’t do everything in his power to stop the Titans… It isn’t a major issue, but it bugged me.
- You’re a Wally West fan.
- You’ve been waiting for this to feel like a legit team book.
- The introduction of a classic villain sounds like a good idea.
- You’ve been waiting for Titans to acknowledge the “elephant in the room.”
Overall: I can finally say that I’m a fan of Titans. It took a while, and I didn’t think this day would come, but Titans #5 and #6 have won my favor. The character work, action, and plot finally feel natural and honest, while the set-up for future plots has my incredibly giddy! If you dropped Titans, it might be beneficial to give it a second shot, because I, for one, am glad I was forced to stick with it!