Dan Abnett has reminded us over the course of the previous few issues why we should care about certain core members of the Titans (while a few less-important characters have been left by the wayside). Now their time for wallowing is over; it’s time for action!

If you love the Titans but somehow hate their mentors, this could be the issue for you. As I predicted last month, a contrived situation has developed in which the Justice League are helpless and the Titans will surely need to save the day. Rather than act like a detective and root out the cause of the disasters the team are facing, Batman is attempting to solve the problem by throwing a League member at each situation. The only person with any idea what might be happening is Donna and everyone is brusquely ignoring or berating her. Has anything really been achieved by i̶m̶p̶r̶i̶s̶o̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ housing her on the Watchtower? If I were Donna, I’d feel more inclined to become Troia after the way the world’s greatest superheroes have treated me than I did before they took me on-board (strangely, Donna is actually very respectful and contrite, unlike the young heroes in other books like Tynion’s current run on Detective Comics, who seem to think they have the right to put the dark knight down at every opportunity. The way she calls Batman ‘sir’ grates a little as he’s nothing but unkind to her. Isn’t there a middle-ground between being rude and total appeasement?). Even Diana uncharacteristically tells Donna she has ‘no time’ to speak to her (and sounds even weirder later, saying ‘I can confirm the Flash’s appraisal,’ a sentence no-one would say whilst under attack). I know the Justice League aren’t meant to be perfect but it does feel as though Abnett has been unnecessarily harsh in his depiction of them; unlike issue #21 in which the story was dictated by the organic decisions of the characters, issue #22 makes some of them act like assholes for the convenience of the plot.

The Brain and Mallah are rather more consistently written but unfortunately, we’ve seen so much of them over the last couple of issues that I got kind of bored of them, especially as the chief characteristics of each (maniacal and whiny, respectively) have been dialled up in this issue. Still, we’ve seen plenty of overconfident supervillains over the years and very few of these are accompanied by a boyfriend who is genuinely concerned about their aspirations and wellbeing…And is an ape. It’s nice to see a different dynamic at work.

Spoiler

A few questions I had whilst reading Titans #22:

  • The Brain specifically targets the Justice League, presumably so there is no-one left to oppose him. Why doesn’t he also attack the Titans, the Teen Titans, the JLA, Supergirl, Green Arrow, etc.?
  • Why is Batman trying to stop Donna from leaving the Watchtower when he should be busy trying to save the world?
  • How did Roy lose a fight to a bunch of henchmen, then beat them up with apparent ease moments later?

Mangual is given plenty to do in his capacity as letterer this issue. If you like comics to have as much onomatopoeia as the 1960s Batman TV show, you’re in luck. Though there’s a lot of it, it’s not distractingly large and I rather liked imagining a laser going ‘vam vam vam’ and the impact of a shield on a face causing a ‘whtanng’ sound.

Pelletier’s art is a mixed bag. There’s some impressive linework on the first page that gives the effect of lens flare but the addition of a load of circles – which are presumably meant to emphasise this effect – only serve to confuse the viewer, who is left wondering whether or not the Mysterons have returned. Sometimes the artwork is blurry due to the thick lines I mentioned last month (as in the faces of Donna and Batman in several frames in which they are far away) while at others it is richly detailed (as in Roy’s stubble and Mallah’s anxious eyes). The action isn’t as flowing and satisfying as in previous issues but it was cool to see Roy getting increasingly bruised and bloodied throughout this instalment’s fight scenes. With a Titans shake-up on the horizon, the brutality of this issue had me fearing for Roy’s life. Realistic cause and effect didn’t feature as heavily elsewhere; Donna and Cheshire’s hair remains perfect in heavy rain and the Flash appears on a live feed of events happening on Earth which is being viewed on the Watchtower by Batman, Wonder Woman and…the Flash?!

As you can see above, Pelletier seizes the opportunity to draw a few members of the League in action this issue but the results are varied. Jessica, Simon and Rome look great in this frame but some of the Brain’s substrates lack detail and the laser effects are far too simplistic. The Brain is egotistical so it’s no surprise that he slaps his face on every one of his soldiers but it does seem a bit of a waste of energy when he’s trying to create a global crisis. Also, where did he get them from?

Recommended if:

  • You like high stakes and a lot of destruction.
  • You don’t mind a few characters acting strangely as long as it serves the plot.
  • You’ve been waiting for Donna to break free of the overbearing Justice League.

Overall: Issue #22 is almost entirely action so I definitely feel it will read better as part of a collected trade, especially as this issue forms the first part of a battle which will be concluded in a fortnight in Titans Annual #2. As the characters have become puppets of the plot, this instalment isn’t as good as it’s predecessor but it’s still a fun read if you’ve been on board for the arc so far. The Titans June reboot issue is being written and illustrated by the same team so this story may end with some lasting consequences.

SCORE: 6/10