With Robin intent on killing criminals, it’s up to the Teen Titans to stop him. Will they be able to talk sense into their once friend, or is he just too far gone?
There’s a lot going on at DC comics right now, and in some of their latest news it was announced that Teen Titans will be ending in November. That gives Robbie Thompson enough time to wrap up this particular story. I bring all this up because with the title and arc coming to a close each book should really feel like it’s being used for its full potential. While I think there were some good things done here to push the book towards its conclusion the majority of the story still feels like it’s going in circles.
The bulk of the narrative follows the Titans as they first fight, and then attempt to find, Robin and it’s with the Titans where things feel like they’re just repeating themselves. Damian continues to spout the same tired statements he’s had for a while now: that killing is the only option, that what he did was right, and that the rest of the team should open their eyes and get on board. It does nothing to really convince anyone on the team –let alone the readers– as to his mindset. The rest of the Titans are little better as they have discussions along the same lines we’ve already seen, murder is bad, we had a hand in all this, and we need to stop Robin. None of this is really new to this run, and it all just kind of feels like padding to fill up this issue before the big confrontation with Batman solicited in the Annual.
While the tone of the dialogue feels mostly repetitious, there are a few moments in the text I think do stand out as positive. Instead of simply being angry at Robin and blaming him the team also expresses a desire to help him too. Since Thompson took over he’s been working to add in elements of the story to make readers more sympathetic to Robin and I feel like this is one of those places. It makes me really wish that Thompson had either come onto the title earlier or had a little more time on it solo to see how his perspective might have altered the narrative a bit.
He also does this with Damian in this issue, even if it really only is a moment of doubt. Robin is confident initially, by the end you can really see his own doubts about his ‘mission. He spent the whole night in contemplation instead of going off to kill someone else, and when he loses against his team he does have a moment of doubt. Fernandez does this by giving us two panels close in on Damian where he’s first angry, then unsure as his eyes slide to the side and he hesitates to speak. It’s a good, and telling moment, that perhaps he too is not as convinced as he wants everyone to think.
Beyond the discussions being had, the physical aspects of this book also feel a bit like they’re going in circles. The team fights Robin, looks for Robin, and then finds and fights Robin again, and while they don’t end up back in Gotham, they do end up at Mercy Hall, where many of their fights have taken place. It’s made all the more frustrating by the fact that the group obviously doesn’t really know where to look for Robin. They split into two groups and kind of just, wander around until they decide to go back to Mercy Hall to regroup. The plot really doesn’t feel like it moves forward until the last few pages when the team actually talks to Robin, and a new character appears.
One thing I do want to say about the first fight is how cool it is to read. Fernandez’s style works well as the team faces off against Damian, showing off each one as they work together to try to stop Damian. What really makes it for me is the combination of paneling and lettering. Fernandez does some really fun things on the page like having Robin flip through panels, and creating panels that feel shaky with movement, angled this way and that and kind of layering over each other.
Added to that are moments where Rob Leigh’s letters really add in feelings of blows landing. During this fight, he uses big over the top letters, sometimes in front of characters and sometimes in the background. The use of thunk at one point in the fight between Red Arrow and Robin really makes the hit feel like it landed.
I said earlier that Thompson does do a few things to push the plot towards what might be an ultimate conclusion, and that’s done in two ways. The first is a ‘figure’ exploring Mercy Hall. Fernandez is careful to never really show this figure in full light or give any clear details of who they are, but it’s obvious who it is on the last page of the book.
The second thing Thompson does is show many of the villains that the Teen Titans previously locked up and brainwashed, now back together and out for revenge. Instead of being afraid of the Team, they have been pushed by Robin’s murder of Brother Blood into action against the Titans. I do like this concept because it again makes them accountable for what they did. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out.
The story wraps up by revealing the person whose been searching Mercy Hall.
It’s Batman, finally come to confront Robin about everything that’s been going on.
Honestly, I don’t really think he needed to be so hidden during his search of Mercy Hall, especially considering the fact that the cover has him confronting the Titans, and he’s been physically in the last two issues, looking into Damian’s affairs. I think it actually would have worked better to have clearly shown him investigating Mercy Hall. That way there would be some tension of when he’d find them, and who he might find.
While the reveal does promise a final end to this particular story, it still feels like this has gone on too long. Perhaps that’s simply because this particular fall for Robin was broadcast at the very start of this run, or just because we’re three issues into an arc that’s supposed to resolve it and not much has really been said that we haven’t heard before. Either way, I’m beyond ready for the story to move on from all this.
- Cat and Mouse stories never get old for you
- You like seeing Robin lose fights
- The Titan’s enemies are finally making their move
Honestly, I’m still not sold on this whole Robin goes rouge narrative, and giving me another issue that feels circular and repetitive doesn’t do much to convince me I should think otherwise. There are some positive aspects to the story, like the building of a bigger threat to the team, with the re-introduction of villains the team has taken down, but it doesn’t do enough to counterbalance an issue that really doesn’t push the story forward until the last page or so. With Teen Titans ending soon, I’d like to see the book spend less time going in circles and more on ting up loose ends.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.