Review: Teen Titans Annual #2
According to the infinite wisdom of DC Comics, the Superboy we’ve been getting to know all along in the New 52 is going to die. Though I don’t know for sure, because I’m not reading the Superboy series or any of the Superman comics, for that matter. And because I don’t read those, Scott Lobdell hates me. At least that’s the impression I get reading Teen Titans Annual #2. Almost everything that happens in this issue ties closely to the events of Superboy and whatever strange concoction of clones and time travel Lobdell and DC have been building over there.
Not that it really matters, in the end, because Teen Titans Superboy is barely a character in the first place. Just like Teen Titans is barely readable.
Comic Rating: 3/10 – Bad.
I have always felt that the decision-making in the New 52 is haphazard at best. DC changes directions on characters and series at the drop of a hat. If something isn’t working, they will go to extreme lengths to try something else and just kind of hope it all works out in the end. No thought is being given to the bigger picture or the long run, and nowhere is that clearer than in the fate of Superboy. Lobdell said at a recent comic convention that Superboy is going to die. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t joking. Instead, DC are going to forge ahead with someone named Jon Kent, the future son of Superman and Lois Lane. It seems the Superboy we’ve been reading about in Teen Titans is a clone of this Jon Kent fella. Again, I think this is all covered in the Superboy series, but I understand that comic is generally unreadable, so I haven’t bothered.
But it’s apparently required reading if you want to try and understand Teen Titans. I would complain more, but then Teen Titans has always been a dumping ground for tenuous connections to other comics. Multiple storylines and characters from Teen Titans have been shuffled off to other comics for no explicable reason; just another example of why Teen Titans is a terrible comic book.
Teen Titans Annual #2 is the issue where Jon Kent replaces Superboy on the Teen Titans. The switch involves time travel, an editor’s note to read Action Comics Annual, and the Teen Titans being played for chumps. So all-in-all, it’s your typical issue of Teen Titans in the New 52. It’s bland, the characters are wafer thin and more effort is put into exposition and clunky dialogue than actual character building.
I would say that it’s sad to see Superboy go, but it’s really not. The character has been as dull as a brick since Teen Titans began, and his recent hook-up with Wonder Girl was the exact opposite direction I wanted the story to go. So see you later, Superboy! You existed, and that’s probably all that can ever be said about you.
Join me after the jump for a full synopsis and more review.
As per the latest issue of Teen Titans, our heroes are lost in the time stream with little rhyme or reason where they’ll end up. For example, Red Robin, Wonder Girl and Superboy have popped out 20 years in the future, and Tim takes them down to the Batcave of the future to try and get some answers. Unfortunately, the Batcave was recently trashed.
It’s always fun to see Tim Drake acknowledge his Batman roots, though it’s never fun to be reminded that ‘Tim Drake’ is no longer his real name. Damn you, DC.
The Titans split up to look around, and Superboy announces that his tactile telekinesis might be able to activate some hard drives…because he has no idea how computers work, I’m guessing.
As we’ll see several times in this issue, all Superboy has to do is say the words ‘tactile telekinesis’ and his powers can pretty much do anything. I would question his need to say ‘tactile telekinesis’ out loud all the time, but considering what he can do with it, it’s probably similar to shouting ‘Wonder Twin Powers Activate!’ It’s just his thing.
In their searching, Wonder Girl finds a dead Batman.
They find a dead Alfred too, and Red Robin reminds himself that this is only one potential future. None of this is written in stone. Fortunately, Batman has left a recorded message in the Batcomputer that explains absolutely nothing, and, of course, Superboy’s TK finds the message, as he helpfully explains.
It just doesn’t stop with this guy.
After listening to the message, the trio are teleported out of the Batcave and up to the Justice League Watchtower, where they meet the only surviving Justice Leaguer: green Beast Boy.
No explanation is given as to why he’s green instead of red, but we don’t really need one, do we? He explains that he’s the last Justice Leaguer, and he seems to remember exactly where in the timeline this trio of Titans comes from. Then he takes them into another room to introduce them to the Teen Titans of a future in one of those glorious double page spreads where everyone just so happens to mention everyone else’s name, so that we can get quickly up to speed.
Not that you need to know their names, because none of them appear again for the rest of the issue.
Although that’s not entirely true. The one with the blast hands – randomly named ‘Blur’ for no apparent reasons – sees Superboy watching them and he immediately launches into an angry attack. He’s also randomly French for no apparent reason, and we can tell he’s French because Lobdell inserts phrases like ‘ma cherie’ and ‘incroyable’ into his speech. Gambit has nothing on this Blur character. Blur is super-pissed at Superboy for things he has apparently done in the past, referencing things like the ambush in Coral City. Blur is all set to kill him – but as we all know, Superboy has tactile telekinesis.
Adult Rose Wilson knocks Blur out to stop the fight. Then everyone splits up while they calm down.
Superboy goes out into space to clear his head. Wonder Girl goes to check out the records room. And Beast Boy takes Robin into a room filled with old trophies from heroes and villains and explains to him about Jon Kent, and how the Superboy they know is a clone. Then Beast Boy says that he knows all of this because Red Robin himself explained it to him.
Out in space, Superboy is attacked by Jon Kent, who was the one actually responsible for the destruction of the Batcave and the ambush at Coral City. Jon uses his own psionic powers to give Superboy a memory dump, forcing our hero to live through all of the horrible murders Jon committed (or at least that’s what they say happens, we don’t actually see it). Jon seems like a pretty horrible dude, yet why he allows the new Teen Titans to exist is never answered. He clearly hangs out near their satellite and has no hesitation attacking Superboy. But then the history between Superboy and Jon is probably well covered over in those Superman comics I mentioned never reading. This is not their first encounter.
The two do battle across the cosmos, smashing into moons and asteroids and whatnot. There is a running telepathic conversation between the two of them during the fight, because neither one of them can throw a punch without a speech involved. They just won’t shut up!
But let’s take a break from the fight to visit the other Titans, shall we?
Beast Boy reveals to Robin that, in the past, Robin told him his real name, signifying that all of this is solid and on the level. This is apparently all part Red Robin’s plan, giving younger Red Robin the information he will need to go back in time and make sure none of this dark future comes to pass.
Meanwhile, Wonder Girl finds the records room destroyed, but somehow manages to activate a secret message from Red Robin. So apparently you don’t need tactile telekinesis to activate long dormant recorded messages? Come on, Lobdell, at least keep things consistent.
The message is broken up and short, revealing only that there is a traitor on the Titans who ends up getting them all killed. Because what’s a superhero team without a traitor? And what would a cryptic warning message be if it actually spelled out what went wrong? Helpful, maybe? We can’t have that.
Anyway, Raven finds Wonder Girl, and Red Robin finds them both. Raven’s using her soul self to traverse the time stream to gather the Titans. They’re ready to go, except they don’t have Superboy.
Out in space, Superboy defeats Jon and then impales him on some kind of metal spike. He’s about to deliver the final blow when he suddenly fades from sight.
An editor’s note kindly tells us to go read Action Comics Annual #2. I decided to look up that issue to find out what happens, because I am nothing if not dutiful in my reviews. Nothing really happens to him. He just gets swept up in the next big Superman crossover: Krypton Returns. Considering how unpopular Superman franchise crossovers have been in the New 52, I don’t expect anything to come of this one – other than Superboy dying. I assume it’s going to happen. Also, Superboy isn’t even the least bit fazed that he left his teammates behind and got magically pulled out of the time stream. He just kind of rolls with it and falls right into line helping Superman.
Anyway, back in Teen Titans Land, Beast Boy and Rose rescue Jon from being skewered. They take him to the med bay, patch him up and then dress him in a copy of Superboy’s costume. It’s all part of some elaborate plan to pass him off as Superboy so that the Teen Titans take him back with them. And it works! Despite the fact that Raven is supposed to be connected to all of their soul-selves, and she would know if one of them became disconnected, right? Nah, that doesn’t seem to bother anybody. None of the Titans notice any difference in the Superboys.
So the Teen Titans leave and Beast Boy and Rose hope they’ve done the right thing. I can only assume Lobdell has some ingenious plan to explain why Jon goes along with the ruse and why the Titans don’t immediately see through him once he wakes up.
But who knows when we’ll see that? The next Teen Titans issue is going to feature the trial of Kid Flash, presumably explaining where Kid Flash and Solstice were during this issue. One can only hope they were having the adventure of their lives through some future, alien judicial system. Maybe there will be lots of objections and an alien judge shouting ‘order in the court’. We can only hope.
Anyway, so this issue was typical of any Teen Titans issue. For some reason, Scott Lobdell will not release his iron grip on this series. Is it still selling well? Is that it? Are a ton of people buying Teen Titans? I know I am, but then I enjoy doing these reviews for you readers. Teen Titans is just so blandly bad. It’s not doing anything remotely interesting or memorable with its characters. The storylines can be creative, but they have no visible impact on anyone involved. The Teen Titans treat traveling through time like traveling down the block to buy a loaf of bread. None of them care or react to anything that happens to them. Red Robin sees a dead Batman? He justifies it as part of time-traveling and then moves on. Wonder Girl sees a cryptic message from a dying Red Robin? She shrugs it off and moves on. Red Robin has a meeting with adult Beast Boy that Future Red Robin set up? He just accepts it. Nothing gets to these people. They are never whelmed, overwhelmed or underwhelmed. And that’s because they have no character.
Teen Titans in the New 52 has always just been a facsimile of the pre-reboot Titans. DC and Lobdell have taken basically recognizable characters and run them through one action adventure after another. The characters never learn anything. They never grow. They never change. They just exist in a comic book. The main Teen Titans are no more fleshed out than the Future Teen Titans we met in that one splash page.
They even have their own token foreign Titan who speaks with random Spanish words added to each sentence.