Like most of the titles I’m reviewing this week, Titans is in a short transition phase as it leaves one arc to begin another. Honestly, anything is better than a self-loathing Wally and Abra Kadabra though!
Following the Abra Kadabra arc, and the incredible one-shot with Wally and Superman, Abnett decides to follow up by… putting the Titans on the back burner. What!?! Actually, that’s an alternative fact. The Titans are very much part of this issue, but the focus, for the first time since Rebirth, is on Mal and Karen Duncan. These two had a substantial plot in Titans Hunt, and have basically served as nothing more than a cameo for the past eight issues, so I welcome the change.
If you read Titans Hunt, then you know that Karen discovered she had meta-human abilities during that arc. Now, roughly a year later, we are finally dealing with that plot. Mal remembered he had abilities back when the rest of the Titans remembered their history together, but he’s ultimately moved on. Since having his memory wiped, Mal created a new, good life with Karen. He has a successful career now, and a successful relationship. He doesn’t want to jeopardize that. To show just how strongly he feels about his current life, he ends up taking some pretty big – perhaps questionable – steps as a sign of love for his wife. The potential problem… Karen might have other ideas in mind for her future.
The Duncan’s personal story essentially sets up the current arc, and also introduces the antagonists for this arc. This might leave you wondering where the rest of the Titans fit in for this issue. While, Dick, Wally and crew are prominently featured in this chapter, their focus is on their relationships with one another. Everything that Abnett hinted at or built between these characters, he develops further.
Wally is slowly working his way into Linda’s life, but like most Flashes, he’s a little impatient with it – not to say that he isn’t understanding. This allows Abnett to utilize Dick as the support for Wally (something Nightwing tends to do for the people around him), and further solidifies their friendship. Abnett also continues to explore the budding relationship between Roy and Donna, and introduces a fun dynamic between Garth and Lillith.
The key theme here is definitely found in relationships, and the actions people take for those that they care about. No, this isn’t as good of an issue as the past few chapters, but I still enjoyed Titans #8 quite a bit because I’ve become invested in these characters. Prior to this chapter, I would have said that I felt Mal and Karen were a little boring because they’re too “perfect” in some ways, but this issue gives both characters a better foundation to stand on independently, while also creating an interesting dynamic for their relationship. This issue isn’t earth shattering, but it is solid, and serves as a nice prologue for what’s to come.
The Art: Brett Booth returns to his regular art duties, and does a respectable job. I’ve praise Booth’s work before, and I still enjoy it, but it does feel like a small step down following Lee Week’s work last month. There’s a lightness to Booth’s art though, and I welcome it back with open arms. If I could have him change one thing though, it would be his layouts. The long narrow panels, while better than they were during the Abra Kadabra arc, aren’t my favorite. That’s my biggest complaint though. The layouts. At the end of the day, it’s nothing to be disappointed with.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Good: Mal and Karen. These two quickly moved from, “I’m ok that we’re forgetting about these two” to “Oh… wow… This just got really interesting!” Mal has PTSD because of his memories from being a Titan, as well as his encounter with Twister in Titans Hunt. He wants nothing more than to leave that life in the past, and to do so, he gets rid of his powers.
Karen, however, is intrigued and excited by her new-found abilities, and appears to want the opposite. She wants to embrace who she’s becoming. This dynamic should be incredibly engaging, and to quote Batgirl: Year One, I expect “great triumph, and great tragedy.”
Roy and Donna. How can you not root for these two? I mean, I think we all know that they’ll never fully make it work – or Roy could surprise us all – but the exploration of their relationship should be a lot of fun! I expect it to grow and become more serious over time, and if it does there will also be some drama between the two. I’m ok with that, as long as it doesn’t become too melodramatic. But for now, I’m going to enjoy Roy and Donna’s awkwardness in sharing how they feel.
Dick and Wally. Another relationship I greatly enjoy is Dick and Wally. They both have such a strong moral compass that their personalities click so well. You can feel their friendship, and it reminds me of so many friends that are here in Texas. When I moved back, there were friends that I hadn’t seen in roughly ten years, and we picked up where we left off as if no time had passed. That type of friendship is magical and inspiring. I’m glad to see that type of friendship represented so well here. Kudos Abnett. Kudos.
The Bad: Other than the fact the plot barely moves, there aren’t any complaints to find here. I personally wouldn’t even consider this a negative, but I know some will. I say to-may-toe. I say to-mah-toe.
- You prefer stories with a nostalgic feel.
- Your cherish your close friends (look at me getting all sentimental)
- You’ve been waiting for Mal and Karen’s story to develop.
Overall: This is another strong chapter from Dan Abnett and Brett Booth, albeit, the finer moments are subtle ones. My opinion is that there needs to be peaks and valleys, as well as a change in tempo and pace to create a successful story overall. That’s what this chapter does. Abnett is on a roll at the moment, and the momentum is easily in his favor! I’m hoping he continues that trend for many, many months!
SCORE: 7.5/ 10