Sunday, January 7, 2018

Review: Teen Titans #15 (2017)

TEEN TITANS #15 (2017) — Regular
cover by Francis Manapul. @DC Comics
DC Comics, $3.99, 32pgs.
On-sale December 27, 2017

“Super Sons of Tomorrow, Part 3: Tomorrow is Never Promised”
20 pages, Read Time – 11:35

by Peter Tomasi & Patrick Gleason (story), Ed Benes & Jorge Jimenez (pencils), Benes, Richard Friend, and Jimenez (inks), Dinei Ribero & Alejandro Sanchez (colors), and Corey Breen (letters). Edited by Alex Antone.

 BOTTOM LINE: Good, and looks nice, although there's a lot more standing around talking about fighting, than actual fighting.

Let’s just say upfront, this issue was much better than I had expected it to be. So, far, the SUPER SONS chapter of this crossover has been the weakest link, which is sort of funny because SUPER SONS is one of my favorite current DCU titles, and the only one of the three involved in this storyline that is on my pull list.

I have avoided the Titans for years mostly because, from my perspective as a Bronze Age baby, the concept is a mess. And in the 52/Rebirth era, I don’t much like that Cyborg was never a member, that Raven is apparently a new character, or that experienced members like Starfire and Beast Boy are so willing to take orders from 13-year-old Damian. Plus, I’ve never really warmed to black Wally. Not so much because he’s black, but because he was introduced over in THE FLASH as kind of a punk. Here in this issue he’s mostly a non-entity though, so it’s hard to say how much he’s evolved.

And, of course, there was the whole post-52 confusion with Tim Drake. That’s sort of solved here as Tim-from-the-future adopts a new identity as The Savior. Good name. Surprised it wasn’t taken already. DC ought to put out a SAVIOR mini-series, just to wrap up the copyright and trademark. It’s hard telling how, or if, this identity will be applied to the present-day Tim over in the Bat-books, but one presumes it may evolved into his new normal after Dr. Manhatten gets done punching the universe over in DOOMSDAY CLOCK. It the new name and at least some version of the costume does catch on, this issue could be a gem in the back issue market. Maybe not a speculator’s dream, exactly, but it could sell for a few shekels more than surrounding issues of this series.

I do wonder about the costume, though. I mean, it looks good enough — an appropriate mix of noir aesthetic and battle-ready plating. I’m just not sure how Tim cobbled it together out of spare costumes from the other Titans. There’s not a lot on the costume that makes me go, oh, yeah, that’s Beast Boy’s boot, that’s Starfire’s breastplate, that’s Aqualad’s codpiece. The bottom of the cape looks like Raven’s cape, sure, I’m just surprised Tim had time enough to sew it to that jacket. And which Titan wears a jacket, anyway?

Still, decent costume. And very decent art, for the most part. I particularly liked a three-page sequence with Robin and Superboy in the Bat-sub. Those pages are truly gorgeous. It’s just a sequence of talking heads, really, but it is visually interesting, and the boys actually look like kids, not mini-adults, large babies, or dwarfs. I also note the coloring is very nice on these pages. As an old school comic book guy, I’m not usually a fan of airbrushed techniques, as I think it tends to distract from the art and story, rather than enhance it. But here, the skin tones are very pleasant.

Much of the rest of the book is a lot of talking, though. And while it also looks fine, we get five pages of Titans & Tim, sans backgrounds, debating whether they are going to let Tim change time, or beat him down, given that his goal is to kill Superboy in order to prevent him from crating some future cataclysm. In a 20-page tale, that seems like a lot of debating.

But eventually the decision is made for them as Tim gets sucked back into the time stream. When that happens, there’s an odd sequence where the Titans are seen repairing their Tower HQ, but then it reverts to the damaged state it was in after Tim’s assault in the previous chapter of this tale, in SUPER SONS #11. Kid Flash says this was Raven’s doing, that she used a “telephatic whammy” to keep everyone occupied while she and Beast Boy took off with Savior. I guess she made everyone think they just stopped worrying about where Tim was getting sucked to and turned to repairing the clubhouse for a bit, with those who took off appearing to work alongside them. Makes sense. It’s just the way the sequence was done, it took me a couple of moments to work that out.

But then Aqualad says Superboy gives off a unique energy signature, and, reaching into the water, says he can not only can track him, he knows where he is. And that, presumably, will lead them to Savior next issue. I’m not really sure how this works, given that Superboy was inside a sub the last time we saw him, and not actually touching water.

But, be that as it may, while this issue was a lot better than expected, I tend to think a lot of the standing around debating could have been truncated to a great degree, giving us in this issue the anticipated fight between the present day Titans and the future Titans, who are seen trying to draw Tim back to their time. Even the three-page Superboy/Robin scene could have been two pages. We also get three pages to start out the issue, establishing events thus far. That easily could have been a single page, allowing for more plot development in this issue.

And while this issue was decent enough despite its lack of plot movement or action, I doubt I’ll be jumping on board as a result of this crossover. Not at $4 a pop, anyway.



COVER: 7.25 | PLOT: 5.50 | SCRIPT: 8.25 | LAYOUT: 8.50 | ART: 9.00 | EDITS: 5.50

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