Titans Annual #2 – Dan Abnett, Writer; Tom Grummett, Tom Derenick, Pencillers; Cam Smith, Mick Gray, Trevor Scott, Inkers; Adriano Lucas, Colorist
Ray – 7/10
Corrina: Wish the Run Had Been Better
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Dan Abnett’s Titans run comes to a close in Titans Annual #2 – at least this version does, as the team will be combined with members of the Teen Titans and a few new characters in a few months. But while Abnett’s writing has always been competent with what he had to work with, the core dynamic of the original Teen Titans reuniting hasn’t worked since launch mini Titans Hunt. It feels like an awkward high school reunion that never ends. This final issue continues to deal with those problems, although several members of the team are never even mentioned at all. Garth, Bumblebee, Mal, and Lilith – all completely forgotten. Abnett pares down the cast to Dick Grayson, Wally West, Roy Harper, and Donna Troy as they battle their “final boss” – The Brain, whose mental evolution is happening at such an accelerated rate that he’s losing what’s left of his humanity, including his connection to Monsieur Mallah.
Two veteran artists, Tom Grummett and Tom Derenick, split art duties on this double-sized finale, and they both do a competent job to the point where I didn’t even notice a jarring art shift at all. The central plot is fine – Brain’s taking control of the world’s environment and computer program, and creating hundreds of disasters to trap the Justice League. And although it didn’t feel as genuine as Orlando’s recent work with the characters, Abnett’s take on the relationship between the two villains was a nice touch, particularly Mallah’s slow desperation as he realizes his partner is slipping away from him. The big issue is that the Titans still don’t feel like a team. There’s constant snarking between the three guys, and Roy in particular feels like an abrasive, resentful jerk. His friendship with Jason Todd always felt much more real like this. And Donna Troy is still a blank slate, which makes making her a center of this final arc an iffy move. Break up the stale dynamic, add some new fan favorites, and this team could be rebuilt into something good.
Corrina: This was never going to be the classic Wolfman/Perez Titans. I accepted that and wanted to give the new series a chance to make something on its own. Titans Hunt, bringing in a number of the great secondary characters that never got enough play in the Wolfman/Perez era, was an excellent start.
But the promise never materialized. The characters who could have added a unique flavor to this version–Mal, Karen, Lillith, Gnaark–never had much of a chance in the regular series, with Mal stuck in limbo worrying about Karen, and Karen stuck in a horrible plot about wanting to lose her memory and powers. (Bumblebee fans should read DC SupheroGirls or Bombshells United.) Meanwhile, the core Titans of Dick, Wally, Roy and Donna never jelled either, even when they had their new headquarters, and the ridiculous break-up via Justice League fiat ended any hope that they would. (To be fair to the creative team, that break-up might have been editorially mandated.)
But, hey, if the Brain and Monsieur Mallah is your jam, you’ll at least enjoy this issue for them.
For the future, I want a creative team with something new to say with the younger DC characters, as Young Justice did, not another inevitably inferior rehash.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.