Review: Teen Titans #29
I am as surprised as anybody to declare that Teen Titans #29 ain’t half bad. Actually, maybe that’s going a little too easy on it. Let’s just say that Teen Titans #29 is not the train wreck that most issues have been. It helps that nobody does anything else stupid in this issue. Possibly because the story is about everyone reacting to all the stupid things they did in the last issue – and boy, those were some stupid things. Instead, Teen Titans does what I’ve always wanted it to do: slow down and treat these characters like real people who have real conversations and real lives. That these conversations and lives occur a thousand years in the future in the middle of some weirdly pro-Evil Empire war is just the price one must pay for still reading Teen Titans.
I have little doubt that the latest issue of this unfortunate series is just the calm before the inevitable crapfest that will be the return of Harvest. I do not expect the final two issues to be anything other than painful, but at least writer Scott Lobdell gave us a brief moment of ‘not-so-terrible’-ness.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
The primary reason that Teen Titans #29 isn’t as bad as the other most recent issues is that all of Lobdell’s worst writing traits are gone. There are no insufferable blocks of stilted exposition. The only editor’s note referring to another comic is referring to only the previous issue. There are no random, one page ‘teases’ for some future villain. And if you were in any way upset with his characterizations and bastardizations of beloved heroes, then there’s some bittersweet good news: he wipes them off the table in this issue. Evil Superboy, for example, doesn’t even show up. I have no idea what’s happening in his solo series, but we here in Teen Titans get one throwaway line about his whereabouts and that’s it! We don’t have to deal with his horrible inner monologues about needing to find a cure! Good riddance, I say.
Of course, I still feel bad for any fans of Bart Allen. To think there were Wally West fans who were upset that he didn’t get to appear in the New 52 when it started. Man, you got nothing on Bart Allen fans. I wouldn’t be surprised if we never see him again. There’s no last minute save. No change of fortune. Lobdell kicks him to the curb along with Solstice. I would feel bad for any Solstice fans, but really, are there any? She’s gone too. And yes, she totally killed that judge at the end of last issue.
I wonder if Teen Titan‘s imminent cancellation led to Lobdell’s deck cleaning in this issue, or did he always plan on ditching Kid Flash, Solstice and Superboy as awkwardly and as brutally as possible?
Join me after the jump for the full synopsis and more review.
We open with a flashback to Solstice’s time in the Culling, before she was rescued by Kid Flash. This wasn’t touched upon very much over the course of the series, but apparently she was in a few Cullings before she ended up in that cell next to Kid Flash in Teen Titans #1. Anyway, in this flashback, Kiran has teamed up with a cute boy named Dereck, who leads her to a secluded spot so his violent, bloodthirsty buddies can ambush her. That’s what Kiran gets for trusting cute boys! Seems to be a pattern with her.
Kiran actually looked normal before this, but suddenly thrust into such a life and death situation, her powers really kick into high gear to save her.
Afterwards, her body is remolded into the onyx-skinned one that we know, and Harvest himself pays her a visit, telling her that everything he’s doing is for everyone’s own good. Then he carries her off.
This might have made for a good origin for Solstice if it wasn’t so closely tied into the Culling nonsense. One of the best things about Teen Titans‘ cancellation is that we’ll hopefully never have to hear about Harvest or N.O.W.H.E.R.E. ever again. And if DC ever collects a synopsis of the history of the Teen Titans in the New 52, they’ll hopefully just gloss over the specifics of why Red Robin brought the team together.
At any rate, that flashback is used to show us how horrible Kiran’s life was before she met Bart and the Titans, and that’s why she was willing to KILL A JUDGE in order to stay with him in future space prison. Also, she’s somehow now able to turn back into her human form. How did that happen? Who knows, it’s never explained.
Bar is back to being the kind and caring version, and he and Kiran are all lovey dovey about their future of hard labor together. They both tell the other that they love them, and it might even be romantic, if she hadn’t KILLED A JUDGE to be there! She’s psychotic! And she would have just gone back with the Titans and lived a very nice life if she wasn’t so blindly in love with Kid Flash. This relationship is pure poison. But don’t worry, we’ll hopefully never hear about it ever again.
Red Robin shows up to tell the two of them goodbye, because he has free reign of the ship for some reason and can go wherever he wants. He tells Kid Flash that he was a pretty good superhero, and that they did good work together. Solstice doesn’t let him get two words out, so assure of her choice and her fate.
Then Red Robin can only stand there and wave goodbye as two characters who have been on the team since the beginning, one of whom has a long, popular history with DC Comics, are thrown away like yesterday’s garbage.
Oh and look, the cells are pulled apart by gravity, so they don’t even get to hold hands anymore.
I would be more upset at the complete disposal of such characters if I cared even one iota for their well being. But this is what Teen Titans does to one’s soul.
Anyway, Red Robin’s still in this comic, so he heads out to find Wonder Girl. Raven finds him first and asks if he’s OK. Tim tells her that the Teen Titans were formed to give teenage heroes a voice, a chance to make their own future, but not in a world where they were free of the consequences of those choices. Fair mission statement, former Boy Wonder. Raven admires him for being such a different man than her father, and it’s no wonder Trigon fears him (he does?!). Red Robin just asks if she’s seen Cassie.
Red Robin finds Wonder Girl in the weight room, because an alien spaceship on the other side of the galaxy 1,000 years into the future has a very Earth-like weight room, complete with dumbbells and punching bags. Wonder Girl is taking out her aggression on a punching bag that, frankly, doesn’t belong to her, when Red Robin enters the room and tells her that Kid Flash and Solstice are gone. She balls her fists and remarks that it’s all just falling apart, and drops the one line saying that Superboy has decided to stay in this timeline. While it’s a horrible way to tie off that storyline, I’m just grateful that Evil Superboy is gone.
Red Robin just smiles and tells her that this is life, the one you get, so go and have a ball…though not those words exactly. But he tells her that they can’t always expect to win, even if they are superheroes.
But Tim definitely wants to win something!
Tim explains that he’s had a crush on Cassie since day one, but he always held back because he didn’t want to complicate the team. Now that the team is gone, they can hook up! So it’s good that everybody either ditched them, got replaced by an evil doppelganger (and killed) or is being sent off to eternity prison! Robin can get some!
Red Robin, Wonder Girl and Raven are the only Teen Titans left, and the Functionary arranges to send them back home, because they’ve had the technology all this time. Bar’s sister Shira thanks them for everything they did to try and help her brother, and Red Robin tells her it was an honor. Yes, it was an honor to fight on the side of the Evil Empire to suppress a rebellion by a bunch of freedom fighters. Good moral stand there, Teen Titans. Chalk this up in the win column.
They return to their yacht in time to find Bunker and Beast Boy battling some vaguely sinister bad guys who we’ve never seen before.
Whatever, there are only two issues left, so why not introduce some random, pointless, pathetic new villains?
OK, so in all honesty, I like the idea of hooking up Red Robin and Wonder Girl. I’ve always been in favor of it from the few times Lobdell has successfully teased it. If there was anything he did right in the massive pile of crumminess that was Teen Titans, Lobdell did an OK job teasing a relationship between Tim and Cassie. That worked because that was something human. Unfortunately, he was far more interested in writing about insane superhero battles than writing about human characters, and that’s why Teen Titans in the New 52 is a failure – though don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of reasons for that. Of course, I probably like this storyline because I’m a big fan of Tim Drake, but I still think it was well handled – especially if we ignore that ridiculous period when Tim was inexplicably controlled by Trigon into seducing the ladies on the team. We hopefully never have to think about that storyline ever again.
There’s no saving Teen Titans at this point. It’s going to crash head-on into cancellation and remain a blight on DC’s New 52. I’m not even sure what they can do to revive the name and team if they ever decide to relaunch. But at the very least, this issue wasn’t so bad. There are still inexplicable moments, like the completely off-hand dismissal of Superboy, the Titans’ continued partnership with the Evil Empire, and Lobdell’s continued inability to understand the vacuum of space. But most of the issue was quite fine, spent with the characters and their feelings, which is always a plus in my book. These characters may not be fully formed or really be all that great of characters, but at least they weren’t the mindless, personality-less drones of previous issues. They were kind of, almost, real people in this issue, reacting in real, legitimate ways to the tragedies that had befallen them.
But Solstice still murdered a judge in cold blood and will now spend the rest of her life in a hard labor prison camp. So whatever.