Review: Teen Titans #12
I…I don’t know how to begin this review. I don’t know what to say to introduce any of you to what you’re about to read. Teen Titans has left me speechless at times since the start of the New 52, but this issue…this is a whole new level. This is insane. It’s been nearly two months since the last issue of Teen Titans, and something has happened. I don’t know what, exactly. I can make a few guesses. It looks like DC Comics has simply decided to cut off writer Will Pfeifer at the knees, throw out everything he had been writing, and bring in the worst possible person to try and clean up Pfeifer’s ‘mess’.
Forget everything you’ve been reading for the past year, apparently. Teen Titans has finally, and without warning, lost its mind.
Comic Rating: 2/10 – Very Bad.
When we last left the Titans, Red Robin and Chimera were battling Wonder Girl, the Elite and Despero in the bowls of a metahuman prison. Superboy had just arrived, seeking to clear his name. And Raven and Bunker were about to be attacked by a prison full of angry inmates. Well…uh…forget all of that. Just forget it. Pretend it never happened. There’s no more simple way to put this: Will Pfeifer is gone…I guess? His name is still on the cover, but I can’t imagine he had anything to do with this comic. Either DC has fired him or just told him to stop writing Teen Titans, because this comic literally just drops the entire prison story on the second page. You’re not going to believe it.
Maybe DC disliked Pfeifer’s comic as much as I did.
But then DC goes and makes the even more foolish move of bringing Scott freakin’ Lobdell back to take over! What the hell?! Lobdell? SERIOUSLY?! Of all the people working at DC Comics, of all the people in the comic book industry, of all the people sitting at home, they brought Scott Lobdell back to Teen Titans? He’s the guy who got canned so that Pfeifer could be brought in! He’s the guy whose exit from the series was so momentous that DC restarted the series at a new #1, an unprecedented move for the New 52!
Teen Titans #12 defies anything I could have possibly imagined happening. Join me after the jump if you’ve got the stomach for it…
So again, if you recall, the last issue ended with Superboy arriving in the metahuman prison to clear his name and get his life back. The first page of Teen Titans #12 recreates that moment with a panel of Superboy screaming, “Give me back my life!” That’s it. And then this panel here is the second page of the issue:
Let’s take a moment to understand what the hell just happened.
Everything is gone. The prison, Despero, Chimera, the Elite, Bunker, Raven…everything. Just poof, it has all literally vanished. They didn’t even appear on the first page. New artist Ian Churchill, another sudden replacement creator, didn’t draw any of them. This issue couldn’t be any more of a 180 than if they’d used turn signals. Everything Pfeifer was working on is gone in an instant.
Instead we’ve got Red Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash and Wonder Girl standing in the original apartment where they first came together as Teen Titans, only they realize it’s not the same room, it’s some kind of simulation. And remember the plot about Superboy killing a bunch of Durlans posing as suburbanites, and how Pfeifer was building to some kind of revelation about what really happened? You can forget about that too. Superboy suddenly remembers exactly what happened.
So he did kill them, but his mind was shut down when it happened. Uh…OK? Good enough explanation as any, I suppose. Cassie then quickly forgives him as Kon says he just wants to get help. Then Bart launches into his own little inner struggle about the crimes he committed in the future. Then it’s Cassie’s turn, and she goes off about the decisions she made to don the Silent Armor. And everybody can see that the simulation keeps changing around them to fit what they’re talking about.
This issue has quickly and suddenly developed into the four ‘main’ Titans talking about their feelings and their pasts — even though Superboy and Kid Flash haven’t been ‘main’ Titans for a long time. So if you’re following along, the story that was being told has been completely scrapped, and instead we’ve got an issue of introspection for characters who have no real nature, past or importance to introspect. I’ve been reading the New 52 Teen Titans since the very beginning, and while these four characters were BFFs prior to the reboot, they are next to nothing to each other at this point in the history of the Teen Titans.
But here we are.
Also, Red Robin gets his moment to talk about his origin and explain that he researched all the members of the team before he started recruiting them.
OK, so, now comes the moment when the issue implodes. I know it’s been a strange ride so far, but buckle up, because it’s about to get even more insane. Here is why Lobdell was probably brought back to try and salvage Teen Titans. Granted, ‘salvage’ probably isn’t the right word, but I don’t think DC is purposefully trying to make this comic worse. Someone somewhere had to think this was a good idea.
Are you ready? Here is the mastermind behind this sudden shift in focus:
No! NO NO NO! No!!! COME ON!!
It’s Harvest! Freakin’ Harvest!
We’re through the looking glass here, people. Black is white. Up is down. Insanity is our only recourse.
If you recall, Harvest is the first major villain of the New 52 Teen Titans. He’s a maniac from the future who came to the present to try and stop the next generation of metahumans. He gave himself that insane evil angel costume and started kidnapping teenage metahumans, then he made them compete in a Hunger Games/Battle Royale scenario, and the survivors were allowed to join his all-star team. It was terrible. Everyone thinks so. The Teen Titans stopped him, then they stopped him a second time when Lobdell brought him back.
Now he’s back again, using this transforming room to send the Titans on some kind of spiritual crisis.
And it works! Superboy immediately and completely buys into Harvest’s claims that he’s just a weapon.
Kon then gets Bart to admit that they never trusted Superboy, which rings false. He then tells Wonder Girl that he thought he was in love with her, but that can never be the case, even though they never had a relationship in the New 52. Then Red Robin is so determined to stop Superboy’s surrender that he dramatically pounds on the guy’s chest, as if they’re the bestest friends in the world and Tim can’t let him do this.
They never had such a friendship in the New 52. Remember when Kon was replaced by a homicidal clone and nobody noticed?
There was no such friendship. None of these relationships were ever as thought-out as Lobdell is portraying them here. Teen Titans in the New 52 has always been about what super-villain they’re going to fight next. It was never, ever about inter-team relationships or friendships or personal stuff. Heck, the only real, meaningful relationship that has ever existed in this comic is the friendship between Beast Boy and Bunker, and they don’t even appear in this issue.
But whatever. That doesn’t matter. Because Kon makes the ultimate sacrifice!
I have no idea what just happened. He flew into a thing? And that thing fell apart? And he’s…dead now? What?
And then Harvest goes on some kind of super-villain rant about how each of the Titans will join him eventually, and that it’s fear that holds team together. Red Robin shouts at him that he’s wrong, like this is some big dramatic moment, but Harvest just laughs and tells them that it’s the fear of each other that keeps them together, even though that makes absolutely zero sense about the Teen Titans at all.
And we’re to be continued…I guess.
I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen this happen in real time before. Clearly DC Comics suddenly got fed up with Will Pfeifer’s storyline, so they brought in a ‘fixer’ to just cancel everything immediately and try to come up with some kind of replacement story. Was the prison all just an illusion created by Harvest’s magic room? Did he teleport the Titans out of the prison, and everything with Despero is still happening to Chimera and the others?
Do we really care?
Listen, I was not a fan of Will Pfeifer’s Teen Titans, but did he really deserve this? DC couldn’t let him wrap up his storyline? Did he sleep with somebody’s wife? Did he get lupis and immediately have to stop? I have no idea. DC brought in Lobdell and Churchill to just get rid of everything and come up with a weak introspection issue that doesn’t matter. I can’t imagine how Teen Titans is supposed to continue after this. I mean, it clearly does. There will be more comics coming out. Lobdell and Pfeifer are credited as the writers on the January 2016 issue.
I have no idea how to explain this. But suffice to say, this is a crappy issue. Abandoning the prison storyline is an asshole move. At least that had tension. This is an issue where four characters try and dig deep into their lives and decisions, even though none of those matter. These characters are in no way defined by their origins or their friendships. So having an issue all about the four of them exploring their emotions is pointless. Superboy and Wonder Girl were a couple before the reboot, not after. Superboy and Red Robin were friends before the reboot, not after. None of this lands. None of this matters. None of these characters matter to each other in the New 52.
And Teen Titans the comic has never mattered any less.
So what’d everybody think of Titans Hunt?