Last month Roundhouse explained why he betrayed the team, and in a moment of rashness trapped Djinn in her own ring, putting the team down not one but two members. Now Lobo is back, and ready to complete the contract he took on the team, by using Crush to do it. Can the remaining Teen Titans come together to stop him? Or will Lobo’s plan to use Crush against them win out?
Things open with Crush as she finds herself trapped in her own mind alongside Lobo. He’s used Lex Luthor’s gift to take full control over Crush via their shared DNA. The extent of this control seems to be absolute when he wants it to be, with Crush unable to do much of anything herself. The story is a very light on the details of just how this is possible, and even Lobo’s explanation is loose. I wish we had more details on what exactly Luthor’s gift was or how it works; just sharing DNA with a person doesn’t mean you can control them, so there has to be more to it. Without an explanation, I also can’t see a way of anyone fixing this problem in the future.
The first few pages are some of my favorite in the book because of how weird and disorienting they are. Chang creates a really fantastic and confusing mindscape with panels that are wild and flow one to the other, in a way that showcases better than anything how much chaos Crush’s mind is in with Lobo taking control. The way Crush floats around and the sudden appearance of Lobo in a flowery bathrobe and teddy bear slippers further adds to the confusion (and provides a moment of levity, because Lobo in that bathrobe is a sight to see). Maiolo’s colors also help the chaos with vibrant reds and smoky blacks that are reminiscent of both Crush and Lobo’s eyes. The red is an effect that’s used throughout the rest of the book to show the reader each area where Lobo is fully in control of Crush: sometimes it’s in splashes of color in the background, but mostly in the place of where black might normally sit in the background of the pages or outline of panels.
Most of the issue is spent with Lobo and Crush as they hunt down one bounty, then go after the rest of Crush’s teammates. While I don’t know much about Lobo, I found him really fun to read. His interactions with Crush make him the kind of bad guy I like to dislike, as every page he’s in with her shows readers just how much he’s enjoying his new control over Crush. While I initially wasn’t a fan of the idea of him showing back up to interrupt the plot, I feel like it’s done well and meaningfully this time. He has a contract against the Teen Titans to fulfill, and his drive is aimed more towards that this time, instead of being bogged down by the surprise that he has a daughter. It also directly impacts one of the main plot points the title has been working towards since the start, but we’ll get to that.
Alongside Lobo, I enjoyed reading Crush’s struggles against him. As much as we see Lobo enjoying this, it’s made equally obvious Crush hates it. She fights him on everything, and does anything she can to break free, from lashing out at Lobo to resorting to asking please to get him to stop. For such a tough character, Crush has consistently been one who has a softer side, and we see here just how torn up she is about hurting anyone that doesn’t deserve it. It will be really interesting to see how she reacts after this arc is over, and how she’ll deal with everything Lobo made her do. Her whole goal in joining the team was to find Lobo, and now that she has, and has had a few run-ins with him, I’d like to see how her opinions might change or alter.
The story doesn’t focus solely on Crush and Lobo, but takes time to check in on Roundhouse and the rest of the team. Robin is hard at work trying to free Djinn from her ring, and the others are in the prison, guarding a confined Roundhouse. There are some nice moments between Roundhouse and both Kid Flash and Red Arrow. Neither really forgive Roundhouse for what he’s done, but it’s good to see them talking about how they feel about recent events.
The last third of the book is dedicated to the team trying to stop Crush from destroying Coney Island. Maiolo brings even brighter and more vibrant colors during this fight, with bright signs and bumper cars in neon lights. The page even pulls in the symbol of doom and makes it work with everything else going on. Those colors, tied in with Leigh’s letters, make the whole scene bright and engaging. I particularly love the opening few panels, filled with destruction and shouts from the crowd, setting the scene for the fight ahead.
The fight, while full of action, is a losing battle for the team. At any other time having Crush take out the Teen Titans would have felt like a stretch, but they’re down almost all of their super powered members, and Kid Flash’s powers are on the fritz. With the team crippled the way they are, it’s a quick fight, before Lobo’s hauling them all off to meet his employer. During this, he mentions considering making a deal to keep Crush, and it made me wonder why he hasn’t questioned where Djinn and Roundhouse are at. The last time he came after them on this same mission the whole team was there, and I doubt his employer wanted only some of the team. For a bounty hunter, you’d think it would be important to him to make sure he’s got everyone he’s been sent after. It’s a small detail, but still one that pulled me out of the story.
One of the things I liked about this fight was the fact that the team actually felt like a team. There is drama going on, but Robin, Red Arrow, and Kid Flash’s goal was to bring Crush home to deal with the problem of Djinn’s imprisonment together. I’ve talked a lot about the need for some teamwork in this book, and I can’t help but be hopeful that Glass is taking the story down that line at last. It feels late, and it’s frustrating to have the book be so disjointed for so long, but I’m glad to have felt some of that missing camaraderie in this issue. It seems like Glass is going to bring the team together by setting everyone up for a redemption arc. We’ve had Robin with his prison, Red Arrow’s shooting of Deathstroke, Roundhouse’s betrayal, and now Crush’s take down of the team, even if it was unwillingly. I could easily see them coming together through this to be a stronger team, and working towards being better. I won’t go into the fact that this very premise was the whole reason many of them were brought onto the team in the first place, especially since this is more of a theory at this point, but the whole thing is an interesting thought and something I’d be happy to see.
Finally, as the story wraps up, we start to see a lot of the plots coming together. I mentioned earlier that Lobo’s contract on the team has to do with one of the main plots, and finally at the end we get to see what that is:
The Other has shown themselves at last! This shadowy character has been lurking through this story since the start, and it’s nice to have them appear as more than a rumor or threatening presence. I’m really happy to see plot points that have been hanging over this series for over a year now start to come into play again.
With an old plot finally showing back up, it feels like things are at last lining up to move in a more steady direction. It’s bothered me for a while how random and disparate the story has been from month to month, jumping from one new plot to another without really resolving any of them. Now we’re starting to get progression and even resolution for many of them, like the identity of the traitor and the teens acknowledging the prison. Things are feeling more even. Again, it’s a little frustrating that it took so long for the series to find its footing, and I wouldn’t quite say it’s there yet, but I’m hopeful that things will continue on this positive track in the future.
- You’re ready for a Lobo and Crush (reluctant) team up
- You love creative panels and colors
- Plots are finally progressing!
- Lobo in a flowery robe and teddy bear slippers
Teen Titans has struggled from a lack of direction and team cohesion for a while now. Thankfully, it seems like things are starting to clear up as various plots progress, and even as the team is fractured, they seem to finally be coming together. Lobo works as the driving force for much of that in this issue, by creating a reason for the remaining titans to rally. With creative art, lots of action, and balance in the story, this issue was enjoyable and set the stage for some really exciting things to come.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.