Annual #2 is the last issue in the current run of Titans before the team join in with the events of No Justice and then get a semi-reboot in Titans Special #1 in June. As Dan Abnett was given 36 pages to tie things up, I expected quite a lot to be packed into this issue…But I was wrong. I’d like to kick off with a list of things you probably expected to happen in this issue but which don’t. Even the absence of an event counts as a spoiler though, so I’ll hide the list in the tag below.
• All the Titans appearing in the issue. Only four of them feature.
• Cheshire showing up, since she is on the cover.
• Roy and Donna getting together.
• The Justice League acknowledging the Titans saved their butts.
• A farewell to the Titans that won’t be part of Dick’s new team in June. Hopefully this will be explained in No Justice instead.
• Information pertaining to the mystery behind ‘Rebirth’. Ages ago, Abra Kadabra dropped a hint about ‘Manhattan’ which led the team to establish their new headquarters in New York but we haven’t heard anything else since then. Okay, maybe this one was less of an expectation and more like wishful thinking.
So how does Abnett fill the pages instead? With a few splash pages and lots of recapping. I observed a couple of weeks ago when reviewing issue #22 that Mallah and the Brain are likeable bad guys but that we’ve seen too much of them in this arc. As usual, there’s plenty of bickering between them but this time there are breaks for Mallah to inexplicably tell the reader information we already know; at the beginning of the book, he tells us what stage the Brain’s plan is currently at, complete with images of the Justice League fighting back around the world (very similar to shots of them we saw last issue) and towards the end of the book he tells us about the creation of Bliss again. Not only that, but during his second explanation, there’s a race against time going on which he should be devoting his attention to instead.
I’m sorry to say that the titular superheroes don’t fare much better in terms of dialogue. Abnett gets this team and through speech, thought captions and body language, we’re always made aware of the emotional state of each character (usually with characteristic speech patterns and behaviour thrown in, e.g. Wally being all heart and mischief). However, for some reason, the dialogue is super cheesy this issue. There’s a lot of ‘Titans Together!’ and your feelings for this issue as a whole will probably hinge on how much quipping you can handle.
For all it’s faults, it’s still a good read. The resolution of the story is satisfying, the threat is suitably large scale for a series finale and two characters that have been having a rough time lately each get their own badass moment.
Art duties are shared this issue between Tom Grummett and Tom Derenick. When I opened the issue, I was pleased to see Grummett’s clean lines and how polished and detailed the substrates looked after their less substantial treatment at the hands of Pelletier in issue #22. I’m not crazy about how cartoonish he draws Batman and Mallah (whose eyes have doubled in size between issues) but the rest of the cast, particularly Donna and Roy, look fantastic (though I’m not sure how Roy healed so quickly after the beatdown he received last issue). I didn’t read the credits on my first skim through so when Derenick takes over halfway through, I was pretty shocked. His second page is a group shot of the Titans and their proportions are totally different! The pictures of Donna above demonstrate the jarring change of artist at the halfway point. Derenick’s art picks up from there though, especially in closer shots of the team and he excels when staging a fight between acrobats Dick and Mallah.
• You want to know whether the Brain succeeds in taking over and/or destroying the world.
• You love these guys even when they’re being really cheesy.
• You don’t mind a resolution to the arc in place of a resolution to the series.
Overall: Though its a fully functioning and occasionally emotional ending to the storyline, Titans Annual #2 doesn’t quite live up to the build-up and, despite the extra pages, fails to give us any inkling of where the team are headed in the future.