The Teen Titans are over, disbanded by Batman. Even so, they still have one last challenge to face: dealing with the fallout from the failed secret prison, and their own guilt in being a part of it all.
With two issues to go, I feel like the story should focus most of its attention on wrapping up emotional threads as well as resolving the physical problem of the criminals they caught being free again. While it does try to do this, by focusing the action on a hunt for Gizmo, and much of the dialog on the team addressing their feelings towards Damian’s leadership, it also keeps interrupting itself with extra plot threads involving Damian. These are woven into the narrative, but the way they work out they often feel like they strip competency and agency from the team when they really need both of those to find a satisfying resolution.
The story picks up with the team split into two groups: Roundhouse & Crush, and Red Arrow & Kid Flash. Even though they are no longer the Teen Titans, they still want to figure out who sent Deathstroke to kill them, and stop them from causing further harm. Each group does their own research, and eventually all four end up back together as they chase down Gizmo.
The first half of the issue focuses mostly on the remaining team and in dealing with their own lingering guilt. It’s this half I enjoyed the most. Both groups spend time together and do some investigating to find out who sent Deathstroke after them and through it really talk out how they’re feeling. The theme of these conversations is about second chances, and I like that idea. I want these characters to resolve what they’ve done and move forward as heroes again. So it’s nice that the narrative wants to focus on this as well, and does it throughout the story. Red Arrow brings up the idea early on when she and Kid Flash are out looking for Gizmo, and then Roundhouse does it again later after they’ve had their first encounter with the villain. I liked these moments because they give insight into where each character is at, what they’re struggling with, and the fact that they have a shared goal.
Things get rockier after the team has come back together, their separate detective work leading them to the same place. They arrive at an old building to fight some of Gizmo’s robots and realize they’ve been brought there not just by their own power, but by a series of hints and nudges they think are from Robin. Red Hood later confirms this, as he shows up on his own search for Damian. It’s the idea that the remaining team members need a push from Damian to find Gizmo that really bothers me, and for a couple reasons.
First of all, the team should be competent enough to be able to do the research needed to find out who sent Deathstroke after them. It’s honestly not that big a leap to say it was someone they imprisoned. Red Arrow says as much at the start of the book, hoping that it is just Gizmo and not the others. Even if Roundhouse and Crush aren’t super experienced vigilantes, Emiko and Wally are. They shouldn’t need Damian’s help, and if Thompson really wants to convince us they’re trying to move on and find their own redemption they need to be allowed to do this themselves, not continue to be led by Damian. Having him be the architect to their redemption really only undermines their attempt at resolution, and removes agency from their quest to right their wrongs. His shadow can hang over them, and be an inspiration, but I don’t think he needs to be orchestrating things from the shadows.
Then there is Damian’s supposed reasons for doing this. The first is shared by Red Hood who asserts that Damian is messing with them so he can escape. The second is Roundhouse’s suggestion that Damian is giving them a chance to redeem themselves. Neither of these make any sense. Damian left still convinced he was in the right and the team was wrong. Why would he want to help them right a wrong he sees as right? Also, I don’t see why he would need to distract them to escape. He’s already escaped and none of the Titans seem interested in finding him. It’s a loose end that doesn’t really need resolving.
Jason’s appearance itself is also baffling. I can’t help but feel like this is a rough attempt at resolving his earlier mentorship of Damian, and their rocky parting, but honestly I’d rather it not even try. The book only has two issues left and I want to see the remaining team get a real resolution instead of spending time on things that can be dealt with outside the title. Plus, having the one other Bat who has killed show up and act like he’s hunting down Damian for doing the same thing is not a great look. All including him really does is interrupt the flow of the team’s investigation, and adds confusion to the story.
Despite the issues I’m still having with the story, Javier Fernandez’s art continues to be a lot of fun. I love seeing him draw more mellow, at home, scenes like Crush and Roundhouse’s introduction. You really get the feeling of a couple kids hanging out and playing games in just the few panels he does of this scene especially the initial one. Everything from Roundhouse’s excitement at winning to the way the controller shatters and breaks apart with one of the joysticks flying all the way to the other side of the panel all come together to make it a moment that feels very real to life.
His fight scenes continue to be creative as well. There’s this really cool panel during the team’s last encounter with Gizmo that show’s little targets from Red Arrow’s bow on various robots they’re fighting while Wally runs at them to continue the fight. It’s a neat little detail, and helps visualize what Emiko’s doing.
There’s also an earlier scene than that during the teams first encounter with Gizmo that’s just really delightful. Fernandez draws a full page of panels that are random boxes of different shapes and sizes, and angled to the side as the team fights a hoard of mini robots. The thing that really makes this page is the colors. Maiolo mostly sticks to his same color scheme he’s used through the book, reds oranges and yellows, but also It’s chaotic, but goes a little brighter and more vibrant than other places to make this moment pop. It all comes together to make the scene playful and reminiscent of games and toys which I feel is right in line with fighting someone like Gizmo.
The story ends with the Titans being rescued from their second fight with Gizmo.
Superboy comes to their rescue. Though, not because he wants to help the team, instead he’s looking for Damian. I expect this to be resolved next issue, but again I’m not sure how much I enjoy Teen Titans still spending so much time on Damian. Again, I’d rather have a resolution for the remaining team than the focus squarely on a character that is not in the title anymore.
This is the second time in the issue they’ve had to be saved, and it makes them look incompetent. This is really frustrating because, again, Red Arrow and Kid Flash are seasoned heroes. Roundhouse and Crush have also been doing this for a while. They really should not need to be bailed out again and again by singular people. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll consistently be interrupted like this over the remaining issues or not, but hopefully not. I really do want to see things come to a satisfying conclusion.
- You want to see where the Titans land after the Annual
- The team working together is something you enjoy
- Second chance narratives are something you enjoy
Generally, Teen Titans is attempting to wrap up the loose ends of it’s story by giving the remaining Titans a chance to resolve their own personal demons. The story is bogged down a few times by attempting to take on too many dangling threads like Red Hood, and in doing so takes the focus of where it should be, which is the team we still have. I like that the title obviously is pushing towards and ending, I just hope it can find a good balance by the end.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.