Review: Teen Titans #8
So everybody gets new Tron-inspired costumes! That’s got to count for something, right? Why do they get Tron-inspired costumes? Who knows! But apparently that’s what NOWHERE does when it captures young metahumans. So if nothing else, I can at least stop complaining about how lame NOWHERE is as the bad guy. They finally step up their game in this issue to reveal some pretty nasty goings ons.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t make for a good issue. But at least it’s not as terrible as last month.
Comics rating: 2/5: Bad.
At the end of the last issue, the Teen Titans were grabbed by the evil Harvest and NOWHERE. This issue gets pretty freaky. NOWHERE has some people who can warp reality, so the Titans are put through some really weird, sometimes confusing torture shenanigans. The idea is to break the Titans by revealing their inner most secrets, except that nobody has very interesting secrets. We get little vignettes about each character, but none of them really build the characters up at all. At the very least it puts the Titans in a precarious situation as they gear up for the big crossover event with Superboy and Legion Lost (for some reason).
Though somebody get guest artist Ig Guara away from superhero comics immediately. Ig Guara is a good artist, but holy cow do some of his characters absolutely suck. When your costumed superhero looks like a kid wearing big, uncomfortable pajamas, you were not destined to draw superhero comics.
So we make a big jump from the end of last issue to the start of this one. The Titans were all captured and are now in some vaguely evil looking place, while new villain Omen uses her reality warping powers to do freaky things to one Titan at a time. She also mocks them verbally. The other Titans, meanwhile, kind of just stand around and watch, while complaining about not being able help. Omen claims that she can turn the Titans into their worst fear – but considering she’s turning Red Robin into a literal bird, complete with bird talons -she may be off the mark. That doesn’t seem like it would be Red Robin’s biggest fear.
The other Titans, meanwhile, are standing outside Red Robin’s ‘cell’ and Wonder Girl is pounding her fists to try and get in. Bunker tries to pull her back, and it’s here that I’m most concerned with the artist’s style. Just look at how silly Bunker looks. It’s like he’s wearing a big purple sock.
Kid Flash doesn’t fair much better. Red Robin, in his more technical suit, looks alright, and the girls look mostly fine. Still, that Bunker is just embarrassing.
Solstice interrupts them to explain that in-fighting is exactly what Harvest wants. She was a prisoner of NOWHERE, so she knows how this works. She tells the other Titans that the only way out is death! There’s a lot of melodrama in this issue.
Omen finishes with Red Robin and reverts him back to normal, and we get a little scene of Red Robin being all curious and detective-like about his surroundings. He tries to talk Omen into switching sides and helping him defeat Harvest, but she won’t have any of it. She willingly joined with Harvest. Then she tosses Red Robin aside and grabs Wonder Girl for her turn, where we learn the secret of Wonder Girl’s powers.
Basically, Cassie Sandsmark has no powers herself, it’s all in her magical armor. And she made a deal to protect someone she loves. So those are some actually good surprises. But it takes several exhaustive lines of dialogue to reveal all of this, as you can see in the picture.
We then cut to Red Robin, who is strapped to a table in some other room. When Omen tossed him aside, he ‘woke up’ in this room, as opposed to Omen’s weird torture chamber. Harvest then appears and chats with Red Robin a bit.
Cut back to Omen, she’s switched to Skittles and we learn that there’s more to the united Celine and Skitter than we had any idea. Again with the melodrama.
Outside the torture chamber, Bunker continues to freak out while Solstice keeps up the vaguely threatening prophecies of doom.
Then today in random interludes, we cut to New York City, where the now skinny Amanda Waller and some guy named Agent Kurt Lance are investigating the big ship that Solstice destroyed back during the fight with Superboy in issue #5. Waller denies Suicide Squad exists, and says that she only wants to stop the kids before somebody gets hurt.
Back at NOWHERE, Wonder Girl wakes up in the other room, strapped to the table. Both she and Skittles have fancy new Tron-inspired costumes, like on the cover. Red Robin has managed to cut himself free, but he’s not sure if Omen simply wants him to believe that he’s free or if he’s actually free. Trippy.
In the torture room, Kid Flash is taken by Omen to go next, while Bunker and Solstice continue to freak out.
Basically Solstice is still freaking out about her time as a prisoner of NOWHERE, and Bunker is scared about what’s going to happen to them all. Kid Flash seems to be taking it in stride, though. He’s not very scared, and warns Omen about how his powers are pretty freaky. She laughs at the fact that he’s worried about her, but then Omen is zapped while trying to read Kid Flash’s mind. She pulls through easily enough, and teases him about all of the strange things she discovered in his mind. Remember, Kid Flash is from the future…or something.
Omen then strips off Kid Flash’s special costume, and his powers start freaking out again. It allows Kid Flash to break free and he speeds to save Bunker and Solstice. Then Bunker gets killed.
Solstice too – but guess what! It’s a trick! This was Kid Flash’s worst nightmare, and he soon wakes up in the other room with his own Tron-inspired costume. Wonder Girl breaks him free and explains that Red Robin has found a way to swim over to the torture room, where he confronts Omen and attacks!
Buuuuuuut…that was all a trick too. Red Robin wakes back up in the other room, where the whole team is still trapped, and in their Tron-inspired costumes.
Harvest and Omen are there, along with another villain, Leash. Harvest calls the Titans his ‘New Ravagers’ and orders Leash to take them all to The Colony. Leash gets a chance to introduce himself as a guy who can control people as long as his purple leashes are attached to those people. Gotta love it when a character gets a chance to explain both his name and his powers in the clunkiest expositional dialogue possible.
And that’s the issue.
Part of me thinks I might be grading it too harshly, but Teen Titans needs a lot of work. The story has gone off the rails, and the overall plot hasn’t slowed down enough to give us time to care about the characters. Yes, we can recognize their names and costumes each issue, but do we know anything about them as people? As human beings? That’s what I want to see, and I’ll keep saying it in these reviews until it happens. I don’t care one iota about Harvest or NOWHERE or the Colony. But maybe I would care about them if I cared more about the Teen Titans, either as individuals or as a team. A book like this should always be characters first, crazy plots second.
Because considering how quickly they toss villains at us in this series, who could possibly care about Harvest, Omen or Leash? They’re just flashy looking bad guys who are bad for now worthwhile reason. They have no depth. Their plan is largely insane. And the melodrama and the artwork absolutely clashed with what was actually happening. So Omen messed a little with the Titans’ heads, big deal. Nobody was actually hurt, the torture was all psychological, and pretty weak at that.
And what is up with the stupid Tron-inspired costumes?
For too long now, Teen Titans has been more style over substance. And that style just isn’t very good. Somebody needs to put the brakes on this crazy train before it goes any further off the tracks.