The past few months, I’ve been asking for a core plot to focus the characters’ individual character arcs… Well, ask and ye shall receive!
Titans has an incredibly strong aspect going for it… Good characters and relationships. Dan Abnett has crafted some great character arcs over the past few months and has put a spotlight on each character with each issue. Run through the roster, and you’ll easily identify a gripping storyline for each of our heroes. Wally, Donna, and Roy are in a bit of a love triangle. In addition to this, Wally suffers from a heart condition following the events of “The Lazarus Contract,” and Donna recently discovered her entire history is fabricated. Nightwing is dealing with trust issues with the team after they learned he struck up a deal with Deathstroke in the past. Meanwhile, Lilith is hiding the full extent of her psychic abilities, and Garth recently revealed his ties to magic. Then, on a separate front, there’s Mal and Karen who are essentially ships passing in the night as the each embarks on their own journey to solve the same problem.
With each issue, Abnett teases how each of these stories could directly impact the team in the future, which creates suspense. I appreciate the approach and believe individual character arcs are critical in telling a successful story, but Titans has lacked a core, central plot to help drive the narrative and give the book momentum. Yes, we have the current mystery of there being a potential traitor – which we discovered is Nightwing in the previous issue – but the book needs more than that.
In this chapter, it quickly becomes clear that Nightwing won’t be targeted in this chapter, so I find myself thinking, yet again, “Where is all of this going? These plots have been getting teased for six months now, let’s get to it!” And thankfully, to a degree, we do.
For one, Nightwing’s alliance with H.I.V.E. is explored, and although I don’t find the explanation earth shattering, it is satisfying. We also make additional headway concerning Lilith and the psychic vision she pulled from Psimon. Each reveal helps provide a little more momentum to the arc, and allows the team something to focus on as a unit. This comradery alone does wonders for Titans and corrects some of the shortcomings of the last two chapters. We also get some great progress with Mal and Gnarrk, that has me incredibly excited to see what will happen in the next issue.
The real winner here though is a letter that Wally writes. The letter serves as a form of narration for the issue and hits so many good notes that it will easily be one of the best moments of the week. Seriously, this letter is incredible. Abnet should feel proud.
The Art: I’m a fan of Brett Booth and feel he’s a great partner for Abnett in telling this story. His characters always look great, and the guy is incredibly consistent with his work. I’ve seen some people complain about his faces from time-to-time (especially with reactions), but it honestly doesn’t bother me. I’d much rather have an over-exaggerated face than an emotionless face. The only thing I really take issue with concerning Booth’s art, is the long, narrow panels. I get that it’s a stylistic choice, but it also makes reading awkward at times as panels can often feel cramped.
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
The Letter. If you need a simple summarization of why Titans works so well as a book under Abnet’s pen, then all you need to do is read Wally’s letter to Dick. Surrounding the issue as a type of narration, the letter beautifully captures Dick and Wally’s relationship, as well as the team’s relationship in general. It really is a great moment and mirrors the emotions that closed out the first arc.
Nightwing: Agent of Spyral H.I.V.E. As it turns out, Dick is the traitor, but only in respect to who sold the Titans out to H.I.V.E… But it wasn’t intentional. During the team’s run-in with the Fearsome Five, H.I.V.E. implanted nanites on Nightwing, and have been spying on the team using them. Dick discovered this after performing the detection and used H.I.V.E.’s own trackers to turn the coup back on them, to track their base of operations.
Clay. Omen gains more information about the vision of the future that she managed to pull from Psimon, and is more convinced now that she is the threat he saw betraying the team. The thing is… She thinks this because the thought she pulled was, “The girl clay will unleash destruction on the world and only H.I.V.E. can save it.” She believes the threat to be her because her last name is “Clay.” The thing is, this omen could easily refer to Donna Troy as well. We also shouldn’t disregard the idea that Psimon could be leading all of them on…
Waiting in the wings. We finally have a threat to go after, unfortunately, we have no idea who it is! Whoever it is, they now have control of Mal, Gnarrk, and Psimon, and that doesn’t bode well for the Titans. This is exactly what the Titans needed: a jolt of energy and a single target.
The Twists. Twists can be a good thing, and to a degree, they are with Titans, but they’re also serving as one of the hindrances that are preventing the story from catching momentum. The moment the plot begins heading one direction, a reveal about another character sends the plot in a separate direction.
Wally’s Death. Look, we just got Wally back roughly a year ago, and this is already the second time during that span that he’s been teased to be leaving us… Let’s find a new story to tell.
- You like stories that explore the relationships of their characters.
- You’re a fan of Wally West.
- You’re interested to learn Nightwing’s ties to H.I.V.E.
Overall: Titans #15 makes a lot of positive progress, and hits many good notes concerning the longevity of the arc. Abnet abandons some of the CW level drama that’s plagued the past few issues and works to pull the team together to face a common mission. Titans is on the right track, and I can’t wait to see where it leads us.