Last month, I described Titans: Burning Rage as a “bottom of the barrel” comic book title. Most of this description was due to the generic and juvenile sense the book contained, and the reality that it simply isn’t written well. This issue, however, delivers some solid improvements. While it still isn’t worth jumping out of my seat for, I will eat crow and consider this a fine comic – especially for younger audiences.

The Story

For those of you that haven’t been tuning in, Titans: Burning Rage features a lineup of Robin (Tim Drake), Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy, and has pit them against H.I.V.E. Overall, the tone of the book has been rather hokey and generic. In fact, many aspects of the book reminded me of comics from the 60’s.  Despite my less-than-stellar opinions of the title, there have been moments here and there that have stood out. If I’m being honest though, these moments weren’t enough to make me excited for this issue. In fact, I even toyed with the idea of not reading this book, much less write a review for it. But then my guilt set in, and I figured that I should just go ahead and do it since I committed to it… And I’m honestly happy that I did.

When we last left the Titans, H.I.V.E. had recruited the Fearsome Five to help them carry out their assault on San Francisco. The stakes of the situation pushed Raven’s dark side to take over, and with the odds stacked against our heroes, it appeared that victory was a fleeting concept. Raven’s current state is enough to pull the attention of the villains, but she’s also on the verge of taking a life. Aware of this, Gar takes action to stop her – giving H.I.V.E. the chance to escape after revealing that the attack on San Francisco was just a distraction… And it’s at this point that the book starts to get rather intriguing.

Dan Jurgens subverts expectations, but in a rather respectable way. Rather than shoot for shock value, Jurgens merely elevates the script and plot by adding some complexity to the narrative. Our heroes now need to regroup and reassess their approach to stopping H.I.V.E., but with a small time-window and hardly any details of H.I.V.E.’s location or plan, things look rather grim.

There’s also the factor of the Fearsome Five. After learning they were hired by Hive to be nothing more than a sacrifice, they too have stakes in this battle now, but their moral compass isn’t in line with the Titans, nor are their loyalties. Immediately, multiple dynamics and possibilities come into play as the three factions all move forward with their own motivations, wrapping this three-issue arc up on a much higher note than I would have initially expected.

In all of this, the book never loses it’s lighter tone though, and that’s something I actually appreciate. Where the writing and character representation may have been poorly executed previously, this chapter feels a little more honest and a lot less hokey. I think a large part of this issue’s success comes from the fact that it’s told from Beast Boy’s perspective. Taking this approach allows Jurgens the opportunity to embrace the tone he’s desired, without sacrificing characterization.

The Art

Scot Eaton handles the pencils here and does a respectable job. While I wasn’t overly impressed with his work in previous issues, there are moments here when he shines – especially with some of these intense facial expressions. Considering the book’s lighter tone, some of the reactions Eaton draws are quite effective. Other than that, some inconsistencies and questionable action prevent his work from being more than just “good.”

Jim Charalampidis delivers the colors for the book, and he makes a strong effort to match the light-hearted nature of Dan Jurgen’s story. There’s also something fun and infectious about the vibrant colors, and this alone is another reason I recommend this book for younger audiences.

Recommended If

  • You want a fun, light-hearted read.
  • You miss the vibe of classic comics.

Overall

Titans: Burning Rage #3 delivers some solid improvements to a title that’s been otherwise lackluster and generic. A move to create a more dynamic and complex narrative, as well as a focus on Beast Boy help elevate the fun factor and make for a pleasant read. Is this book perfect? No, but it is entertaining and fun, which is more than I can say for a number of titles hitting stands today.

SCORE: 6/10