The first few pages of Titans #25 had me feeling a little deflated. I rolled my eyes when I saw yet another mindless leviathan on the first page, and felt that pages were being wasted when the whole team reiterated their latest Source Wall theories a few times, checked in and took their instructions via mind-link (this kind of stuff is best left in caption boxes or off the page altogether). Our first encounter with Miss Martian this issue sees her nagging Nightwing again; where in the past she’s been a popular addition to teams like this one, she’s been much less endearing in the current series so far. We also discover that negative emotions can trigger new powers (like in X-Men) and can create supernatural creatures (like in Ghostbusters II). As I’ve mentioned before, the Source Wall is really an excuse for several writers at DC to add whatever element they like to a story (this particular issue finds Dan Abnett in the mood for a Megazord/Transformer-style mechanical monster). The problem with this is that fictional universes are always built on consistent in-world rules that lend credence to events. In Titans #25, even the characters themselves point out that the rules keep changing.
Despite this disappointing start, I went on to enjoy the issue overall. Every member of the team is given a clear purpose as Abnett serves up a satisfying blend of action, investigation and fun. You heard me right; this week, I read a 2018 superhero comic that didn’t take itself too seriously. Dick and M’gann find themselves sucked inside a television programme; it may be a well-worn trope but it offers so many goofy genre laughs that I couldn’t stop smiling. In fact, I’d gladly read a whole arc about the adventures of Nightwing and Miss Martian in TV Land. Not only was this an entertaining and unpredictable turn of events, the ordeal also injected some much-needed development into the heroes’ relationship. The other plotlines running through Titans #25 are less imaginative but we do get some story progression, plenty of robot-smashing and a better explanation for Raven being both in the real world and simultaneously trapped in Unearth.
A few more observations:
• The solicitation for this issue erroneously promised us Miss Martian’s terrible secret.
• I know it’s part of the whole Source Wall subplot, but I miss Garfield’s ability to change into animals. I can’t see the point of a Beast Boy that can only turn into the Hulk.
• It’s revealed this issue that Dick has trust issues and an inferiority complex? I thought he was the well-balanced one!
• I mentioned last month that M’gann has been the team’s saviour throughout the arc so far; it was rewarding to see Donna save the day instead in issue #25.
• It’s been established that the team can teleport to wherever they need to be, which means stories can now be set anywhere in the multiverse. This leads me to wonder why source wall anomalies have only been happening in the USA so far?
• A member of the Blood Cult declares Donna dead without checking his facts. Hasn’t he ever seen a James Bond movie before?
Three different artists feature in this week’s issue but because they each tackle different story threads (and in Guillem March’s case, a different reality altogether), there’s no loss of coherence. Peterson, March and Medri all grace us with cleaner, more detailed work than Peeples did last month. Although I wasn’t delighted with the opening page in terms of story, the perspective work is impressive and really puts us in the shoes of the hapless bystanders. The T-shaped table at the team’s new HQ is a sweet touch and the Hall of Justice backdrop isn’t just bland grey walls; you can spot the team’s motorcycles and the boom room parked in the background. We get another striking layout from Peterson as Steel stands her ground against the mechanical monster; there’s plenty of dynamic movement in the spread and the beast Natasha is facing is cleverly reflected in the windows behind her. It’s not all perfect of course; both March and Medri resort to using silhouettes instead of filling in the details but they only do it very rarely. Overall, I think I appreciated March’s work the most this issue because his shading and exaggerated expressions add character, and because I have a penchant for the more analogue-looking artwork.
- You have an appetite for anarchy rivalling the Joker’s.
- You enjoyed the The Simpsons‘ ‘Terror of Tiny Toon,’ or the episode of The Flash where the heroes got trapped in a musical (‘Duet’).
- You want to see Donna getting out of her post-Troia funk and being a hero again.
Overall: With new emergent threats cropping up in every issue, we haven’t yet had a chance to get to know the characters or for them to relate much to each other but issue #25 takes a step in the right direction by finally bringing the dispute between Dick and M’gann to a head. Many readers could probably compile a whole shopping list of complaints about this book’s logic and reliance on generic monsters. Nonetheless, the fantasy aspects of last issue and the televisual traverse in Titans #25 prove that Abnett’s imagination is firing on all cylinders and it’s undeniably entertaining stuff.