In Titans #28, Dan Abnett delivered a script packed with character progression, logical plotting, plausible decisions, mischievous humour, and an uplifting message about persevering in the face of adversity. In Titans #29, he’s thrown all of this out the Boom Room window.
If you were enjoying the long festival of misery that was Titans then you probably didn’t enjoy issue #28, but don’t worry- in this issue, every member of the group gets a turn narrating their stream of consciousness and they all have something negative to say about themselves and the team! Even Donna, who was inspired by Garth to be the determined backbone the team needs, is inconsistently wallowing in self-pity again. Her voice is the most realistic one in the team, and post-Troia she has been very changeable but these are poor excuses for this sudden backwards step. Maybe DC have been looking at the sales figures for the recent angsty Batman run and have decided that the readership only wants heroes that can barely bring themselves to do anything heroic because they’re constantly overwhelmed by their own emotions. Just when it seemed our patience had finally paid off, the team are emotionally back where they were again.
Titans readers have also been stoically waiting for the plot to move in a comprehensive direction. Some titles are plotted to make headlines, some are born of genuine creative excitement and others roll on out of sheer habit. Titans doesn’t fit into any of these categories right now; it’s not by-the-book dull but it is freewheeling in any direction the other titles send it. Mother Mayhem, Seneschal Prince Travesty and the Source Wall (remember them?) remain problems for the team to surmount and they direly need a triumph to get them back on track. Instead, Abnett sends the Boom Room off to a far-flung planet to play out the remainder of the existing sub-plots concerning Beast Boy and Miss Martian. These inner demons have been knocking around since Titans Special, way back in June; I think we could have waited longer for them to emerge amid a larger, more interesting storyline (Batman doesn’t have a monster inside him but he’s been under the weather a few times and it’s fed the plot -see ‘Knightfall,’ ‘Blades,’ or ‘Heart of Ice’- there’s never been an arc devoted entirely to the dark knight sleeping off a flu). Plus, is there any real threat in this storyline? If the team get lost, they’ll find their way home. If they lose the Boom Room, Nat will fix it. There’s no-one expendable on the deserted planet so no-one will perish (Tom King is DC’s resident hero executioner at the moment; if Abnett joins in, there will be no DC characters left before long). Miss Martian gets hurt three times this issue (which is odd, given her famed invulnerability) but the most interesting thing that can happen to her at the moment is losing the trust of the team.
The similarities between Beast Boy and the incredible Hulk hit a new high
Minkyu Jung takes over on pencils this week. Since the new direction properly got going in issue #23, we’ve seen six artists on Titans. Despite having quite different styles, I feel like effort has been made to ensure the transition from one artist to the next isn’t jarring; they must be very committed to the latest style guide.
Issue #29 takes place entirely on an alien planet, which I think is a missed opportunity for Jung. There are plenty of shots of multi-hued skies filled with stars and gas giants (digitally inserted behind the traditional artwork) but apart from that, some slightly weird trees and an iguana sporting antennae, there’s nothing to distinguish this world from Earth.
Nonetheless, I enjoyed Jung’s work in Titans #29. His characters have great expressions (despite all having tiny pupils; maybe they’re all frightened?), particularly Donna and Nat having a heart-to-heart in this issue. There’s plenty of detail on the characters’ hair, and their long, lithe limbs make them an appealing sight (if that’s your thing). Steel summoning her hammer in the midst of battle (à la Thor) is very cool and there’s a great bit of storytelling in which Jung shows us the team from a low angle, fruitlessly searching around for Beast Boy while we can see him jumping high in the air in the distance. The next page (the best in the issue) is a full page spread of Gar crashing down in the middle of them. The blur, light, motion lines and sound effects work together to effectively convey the tremendous impact.
- You read this series for schadenfreude.
- You’ve been waiting for the Boom Room to travel off-world.
- You like gorgeous variant covers! Check out Yasmine Putri’s amazing work below.
Overall: Titans takes a random trip and stalls again. New readers jumping on for the beginning of the ‘Marooned’ arc will be confused, while dedicated fans of the series will find their patience stretched to breaking point.