Don’t be fooled by the cover, Wally West barely has any relevance in this issue. No, no… Not that Wally West. He’s dead again, remember? The other Wally West (DC’s/ Abnett’s choice of words, not mine).
Titans is an interesting topic of conversation for me. I enjoy the book. Honestly, I do. That being said, I also find it incredibly grating at times. The characterization is great. The story arcs/ character arcs are solid. Brett Booth’s art is on point… The arcs just move at a snail’s pace (while, subsequently, the issues themselves move at the speed of light by telling stand-alone stories that simply touch on arcs for the focal character of that issue). And don’t get me wrong, I’m fine with slow pacing if the story is strong, but Abnett’s approach has been more like a reveal, then consistent teasing of said reveals for six to eight months without ever really exploring them. If I were sleep-deprived or drunk, I’d probably beg DC to make Titans a double-ship because it’s one book that could benefit from it, but only if I knew the quality of the book wouldn’t diminish.
Shifting focus to this issue in particular, a lot happens, without there actually being much that happens. Confusing, right? Yeah, that’s what I’m here for. But seriously, there are a number of reveals or shifts in the plot that only build excitement for future issues. For instance, in this chapter we learn Psimon’s plan, are introduced to other villains, learn who betrays the team, and deal with Karen to a degree… But it’s just that. Other than fight scenes, that’s all we get in this issue.
Now you’re probably thinking, “What do you mean, ‘that’s all?’ That’s a ton of progression!” And yes, I agree with you, but the progression is paper thin. There’s not much substance found in any of these moments, nor is there more to them than the simple reveal. I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy, I want to experience these moments. Coming out of last month, I felt that the three major focuses for this issue should have been Psimon, his control over Mal and Gnark, and – most importantly – the fact that Wally is dead. Instead, Wally is essentially left to just left on the ground while a number of new focuses are introduced.
To be fair, I know my connotation towards this issue sounds negative, but I promise you, I enjoyed the book. This chapter contains a lot of great moments, I just found myself wanting more texture. So much takes place within these twenty pages, that we don’t get to completely enjoy any of the moments, nor do we get to explore or enjoy the moments that lead to this issue. While I’m happy overall, I sincerely believe that some of the moments from issues #15 and #16 could have occurred sooner to allow for better pacing, depth, and focus. Looking to the future, I just hope that the results of the next few issues feel like an adequate payoff for the months of teasing.
The Art: Brett Booth will be leaving Titans soon to head on over to the world of Superman, and I’m sad to see him go! Aside from the wide, narrow panels, I love his approach to Titans. He manages to capture a good balance of seriousness and light-heartedness that fits these characters perfectly. His pencils are also consistently good, and I almost never get the sense of, “Wow that looks rushed/ rough.” They’re all minor aspects that add up to creating a great finished product, and I don’t want to lose that sense of reliability in the coming months. If you’re a fan of Booth’s work on Titans, enjoy it while you can!
Breakdowns for this issue can be found in the spoiler tag.
Key and Twister. I consider the Key and Twister’s appearance a good thing. For one, it makes the situation more dire. A sense of hope, or a fleeting sense of hope, is always a good thing in my opinion – this reveal creates the latter. Beyond that though, these are two characters we’re familiar with from recent stories, and they help shed some light in terms of the direction of this arc – an aspect that has been severely needed for the past few months. Even if they’re just a means to an end (and it appears as though that’s the case), they create a unanimous purpose for our heroes.
Bumblebee. Thank God! Karen gets her memories back! For months Titans has taken us on a wild goose chase to get Karen her memories back, with each attempt leading nowhere. Like a number of other plots currently running within the book, it was becoming quite redundant. Beyond that, when a character has no personality or defining traits, it’s hard to care about, or become interested, in them. Her situation was tragic, yes, but now we can actually move forward and get to know her.
Donna Troy (Dark Angel?). If you’ve read future solicitations, then you knew this was coming… Granted, I didn’t expect to see this revealed until next month! Ultimately, I’ve been waiting for this story to come to fruiting since Titans Annual #1, and now that future/alternate earth, evil Donna is revealed, we don’t have to beat around the bush next month before diving into the story. As excited as this makes me, I will admit that I didn’t think this was who Key was trying to bring to earth. Either way, I’m ready for the numerous, open-ended plot points to focus in on this reveal so the team can have a single target.
The cover. I haven’t ranted about covers in a while, but this issue will do it for me. I hate misdirection in covers. I believe the cover of a book should accurately represent the story you’re about to read, and this cover fails to do that. Other than having the Titans acknowledge Wally is dead, then Wally acknowledge Wally is dead, this cover is a complete misdirection. And considering each of the moment I mentioned take up a page each (if that), something else should have been done to serve as a better representation of this chapter.
Wally West. This focus is a two-for! First off, the fact that Wally West is “dead” is stupid. Seriously, considering we just brought him back, “lost” him again in the first arc with Kadabra, and now again… It’s redundant. I’m not saying I expect better from Abnett… Actually, I am. I expect better from Abnett. He’s a great writer, and this feels lazy.
As for the “other Wally West,” why is he even in this issue? He plays no purpose at all! I get that he’ll have a larger role to play in future issues, but if you’re not going to do anything with him, then don’t include him. He literally shows up, sees everyone fighting, then stands by… What the hell! At least have him throw a punch, or make it appear as if he’s the factor that turns the tide against Psimon, Twister, and the Key before evil Donna shows up. But no… Nothing of the sort. But with how things are in the issue, I feel they either should have ended the issue with Kid Flash hearing his name called so he could take off, or they should have just cut him from this issue entirely so more of a focus could have been spent on the actual plot of this chapter.
- You’ve been waiting for a follow-up to Titans Annuals #1.
- You’ve been desperately wanting to learn who will betray to Titans (for real this time).
- Kid Flash!… Does absolutely nothing.
Overall: Titans #16 makes a ton of headway concerning plot progression, but there are so many reveals/ “resolves” that it doesn’t have a chance to properly deal with any of them. You’re ultimately left with these reveals and not much else. For some, this will be more than enough to satisfy you, and – like me – will have you eagerly awaiting next month’s issue! For others, you might reach the last page, wish you’d gotten more, and move on to your next book. Either way, the future looks bright for Titans (the book itself, not necessarily the team) if Abnett can maintain a central focus!