Well, here we are, two months into Future State, and I’m curious to see what you guys think of the event so far. For me, the interest and excitement that come with its initial newness has worn a bit, and the whole thing isn’t quite as shiny and fascinating as I had hoped going in. Generally I’ve really enjoyed the stories that feel less connected to the event as a whole. Books like Wonder Woman or Superman/Wonder Woman (look, I really like Yara Flor, okay?) have been far more enjoyable to me because they don’t have big stakes or make me feel like I have to go dig through a whole timeline I care very little for.
Unfortunately, Teen Titans is not one of those books. In fact, it feels deeply entrenched in Future State’s overarching timeline. Reading it makes me feel like I’ve stumbled into the middle of an event I didn’t even know was happening, and makes the completionist in me want to go read the rest of the story, which is a problem since these are all glimpses of the future.
As a whole, Future State: Teen Titans suffers greatly from this idea of being tied together with the main story. It loses the fresh originality I’ve seen in some of the other books to bear the burden of being a key element in this random end of the world plotline that’s taken up not only it, but other titles like The Flash. And honestly? I don’t understand why Future State needed a main story in the first place. When we first started looking at this event I was hoping each of these stories would be different peeks into all kinds of possible futures. Tying everything together kind of negates the appeal of these stories for me, especially when DC’s talking about omniverses and infinite frontiers.
So, why talk about this big overarching plot anyway? Why not talk about the book? Well, it’s tied its identity so closely with the apocalypse plot there’s little room to explore individual characters or team dynamics. It’s all about saving the world from the apocalypse and what’s essentially the very end of this iteration of the Teen Titans.
Like the last issue, Sheridan packs a lot of information into this one, and while we have more answers, there’s also so much left out from the narrative. Still, he works to streamline the story so that everyone comes together for their final stand. In fact, all that talk about everyone’s different plan in the last issue turned out to be naught as the team comes together anyway. The Titans goal is to lure the four horsemen of the apocalypse together so that Raven can bind them to her and they can all be sealed away. Each element introduced in the last issue, the Spear of Eternity, the H-Dial, and even Red X himself all play a part in defending Raven from the horsemen long enough for her to cast her spell.
Because the book focuses mostly on this final battle, we get to see a lot of cool fight scenes, and a few really nice group shots throughout. The whole book looks phenomenal. I am a big fan of the way Rafa Sandoval draws these characters, in both flashbacks and present day. His takes on Nightwing, Kory, Starfire, and even Cybeast make the characters feel true to how I view them, and also fresh for this story. I think he’s a good fit for this group of characters, and I’m eager to see him draw them in (hopefully) happier times in Teen Titans Academy.
Alejandro Sanchez’s colors do a lot to add to the tone of the story as well. I always love when flashbacks are colored in a different tone than the present day story, and the pallet he chose to go with for them adds a somber feeling, especially in this issue. Gone is the happy party from last issue, replaced by events growing closer and closer to present day.
Speaking of flashbacks, this issue has quite a few of them. They’re scattered in a way that makes the story feel disjointed, and as much as they shed light on current events, they also create more confusion by almost contradicting information we got in the last issue. Red X wasn’t caught, he ran away then turned himself in. The big flash of light I’d assumed was part of the reason the Tower (and world) fell is not brought up again. And many of the deaths are unclear in how they happened, whether by accident or because of the Four Horsemen. Instead of clearing things up, they feel more like a chance to pack in extra exposition that only creates more loose plot threads.
As for the characters, most of them fade into the background, and those that don’t do little to excite me. The drama of Dick taking on Deathstroke’s mask is quickly brushed aside and hardly dealt with at all. Raven, Starfire, and many of the others are little more than background figures. Even the characters who have moments to shine like Red Arrow and Red X, feel hollow. I just haven’t seen enough of this team together, or have a firm understanding of the stakes at play for any of this to feel like it matters to me.
To combat that feeling, Sheridan chooses to focus on Crush and Emiko’s relationship with her fallen teammates Roundhouse and Kid Flash, Dick’s with Donna, and Red X’s with the group at large, but, again, it’s really hard to care about sacrifice and heroic moments when the story is the comic equivalent of showing up to a movie 45 minutes late. Even important information like knowing half the world’s population is dead, or that part of the apocalypse is somehow Red X and the Titan’s faults doesn’t do a lot to make me feel for these characters or their plight.
And that’s my main problem with this book. It’s the end of a story I didn’t get to read. It even ends with a note telling readers to “see how they got here” in Teen Titans Academy. To me that’s backwards to how the story should be told. The fate of all these characters has been spoiled, so how am I supposed to care about them now or next month with the first part of their story?
The story is quite simply trying to do and be too much for this to work. It’s our introduction to the characters soon to be featured in Teen Titans: Academy, the end of their story, and a big event in Future State’s timeline. Maybe if it had focused solely on the original Titans, or the team from Teen Titans it would have come out differently. But it’s killed off many characters I know and care about and replaced them with new ones I haven’t met yet, don’t know well, or haven’t seen for a long time. The stakes, as artificially high as they are, are just that. Artificial. I’m being told to care about a world that’s already ended, being defended by characters I largely don’t know or are no longer anything like how I remember them –like Nightwing– and it’s all too much for two issues to handle, at least for me.
- Endings are the best beginnings
- You’re invested in the whole Future State story, not just individual tales
- You don’t mind a tragic tale here or there
Future State: Teen Titans as a whole just doesn’t work for me. Even in this issue as we get a better look at the team’s ultimate plan to save the world, I never really found myself connecting with the story. It tries to do too much, and ends up feeling disjointed and less about its central characters, even in moments that should feel epic and emotional. It’s a lovely book to look at, but if you’re still trying to figure out if this one’s worth picking up my suggestion is to wait and see how you feel about Teen Titans: Academy first. Get to know the characters before you dive into a story set so far in their future.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.