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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’.

Teen Titans #12

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:

Click to expand

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.

There’s one mystery solved!

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.

Red Robin finally took off his costume!

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:

Time stands still

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.

With everybody in beach gear for some reason

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.

He’s saying what I’m thinking

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!

Uh…I guess?

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.

Yes, Red Robin, take Harvest even a little bit seriously

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?

——————–

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About Sean Ian Mills

Hello, this is Sean, the Henchman-4-Hire! By day I am a mild-mannered newspaper reporter in Central New York, and by the rest of the day I'm a pretty big geek when it comes to video games, comic books, movies, cartoons and more.

Posted on October 22, 2015, in Comics, DC, Robin and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 22 Comments.

  1. I was actually looking forward to this issue, partly because I liked what Pfeifer was trying to do… It didn’t always land, but his characters at least felt three dimensional, & that they were trying to break away from the previous volume….

    Imagine my confusion, & my frustration… When I see Scott Lobdell receive top billing upon my seeing the book, followed by what seemed to be just a rehash of Scott Lobdell plots, ranging from Wonder Girl’s armour, to Kid Flash’s crimes, to Red Robin’s apartment, to Superboy being a weapon, to freaking Harvest…

    No Manchester Black… No Raven… No Beast Boy… No Chimera… No Power Girl… No Bunker… No Elite… No Despero…

    Seriously DC Comics…? They clearly have no faith in this property anymore… Even Titans Hunt, which was announced as an ongoing, has been rebranded as a maxi series…

    Thank you for sharing a very accurate review… It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who couldn’t stand the stupidity of this…

    • You are not alone, friend! This issue was baffling! And since nobody seems to be reading it, I haven’t really seen any other announcements or behind-the-scenes info on what’s happened. It’s so strange! Personally, I kind of liked Chimera…but I guess she’s getting the cut too.

  2. Titans Hunt wasn’t terrible but not satisfying either. It sets up this mystery where apparently Dick Grayson, Roy Harper, Aqualad, Donna Troy, Lilith, Herald, Gnaark and others used to be a team or something but that was erased from their memories. It’s a hard sell because it’s expecting you to care about C-List Titans like Lilith, Harald, Gnaark.

  3. Amazing. Just… amazing. Ladies and Gentlemen: Scott Lobdell has thorougly Lobdellized (that is, FUBARed) the Teen Titans book beyond all possible redemption.

    DC, the Teen Titans was one of your best properties. The fact that for over forty issues you have not had the savvy to put an actual talented writer on this shows how completely clueless you are. You have wonderful writers doing some of your secondary characters such as Starfire, Dick Grayson and Harley Quinn, yet you have completely incompetent messes handling Superman, Wonder Woman an the Teen Titans- books that should be your strongest offerings.

    What the hell is wrong with you, Dan Didio?

    Dear god, I am tired of Scott Lobdell crapping on everything with his self-important writing, his terrible “It was EXACTLy as I planned it forever!” villains and plot-themes that had mothballs in them by the mid nineties. How does this man find work? No, really, it’s a question I have to ask: How does he get work? Does he have blackmail proof of the alleged affair Dan Didio supposedly had with JG Jones’ wife? Is he Kevin Tsujihara’s long-lost child? What gives? Even Nocenti has been thankfully dropped, why is Lobdell still a thing?

    Ah, my poor Titans. You have fallen far and long since the days when you used to rule the roost with Wolfman and Perez writing you.

  4. I have to admit… I had a glimmer of hope for Titans Hunt-
    But the first issue failed to grab me. I’ll grab the second one out of feeble hope, but the fact that we’re dealing with the New 52 murderlust Donna Troy and asshole Garth instead of … well, the better versions of the character isn’t exactly tempting me to keep reading.

  5. Sean,

    I am not the first writer in the history of comics to work on a “cutaway” issue.

    The editors wanted to wrap up the Superboy story using Harvest — as the only writer who has read any of the Harvest material I was asked to help flesh out the story.

    It was never anyone’s intent to drop the M.A.W. story or to cut off Will at the knees. All your questions regarding the prison break and Manchester Black and Chimera and Beast Boy and Bunker etc will be resolved in their entirety next issue.

    You are of course welcome to not like anything you don’t like about any issue — but I just wanted you to rest assured that the story you and other fans have been reading continues in issue #13.

    S

    • Wait, for reals? Have I gotten loud and obnoxious enough in my Internet ranting that the real writers of the comic notice? Oh man, egg on my face.

      Well, uh…*ahem*…despite my aforementioned rantings, thanks for stopping by to clarify what the heck happened in this issue. Makes total sense when you put it like that. Weird and random, but I suppose it does make sense.

      Chimera fans rejoice!

    • Going to be honest with you here. Harvest seemed to kinda just come out of nowhere in this issue. I mean honestly, it’s like he jumped of a bush and then suddenly…..BOOM….HARVEST. It just felt like crouching tiger hidden harvest to me.

      • I think he’s saying that’s exactly what happened. DC decided they wanted to extricate Superboy from the ongoing story, and decided Harvest was the best way to do it. So Mr. Lobdell was brought in due to his familiarity with Harvest, wrote up a story where Harvest gets Superboy to leave, and that’s Teen Titans #12.

  6. LOL Give yourself more credit, Sean! I’ve been reading your reviews for a while — and enjoy them even when I don’t agree with them!

    You should remember that most people writing comics are fans of comics as well. It makes sense that we’d reviews like any other fan.

    • Mr. Lobdell, will DC Comics be issuing a statement regarding this? Readers were lead to believe that #12 would be the conclusion of this story arc. Why remove Superboy from a story arc he was central to, before its conclusion?

      Will you be co-writing with Will Phiefer from now on? You are solicited on several issues of Teen Titans coming up.

    • A dissapointed TT fan

      This man just hates Superboy, doesn’t he? I just can’t understand somebody like this is given charge over such an interesting character to just demolish every bit of development and relationships he had. And I’m not buying that “they wanted Harvest so I had him back”. This whole issue was a self-glorifying crap fest that tried to celebrate everything he did wrong in his old run. Guess I’m out of Teen Titans again, for a good while. Until it hopfully gets cancelled back, or given to another writer who actually has any respect for the characters.

  7. I really enjoy Doomed and Red Hood/Arsenal. They are pretty fun. But I have to say that Lobdell’s interpretation of Teen Titans and Superboy were among the worst comics I have ever read. On top of that, ideas like Harvest and tape from the near future saying one of the Titans is a traitor where pretty much directly lifted (with the Harvest plot expanded) from Lobdell’s 90’s X-Men work.

    I can only assume that the Titans are currently under Despero’s control and are hallucinating. Which is fine and is something commonly done in comics. However, where Lobdell fails is to let his audience know or hint that this is the case (if indeed this is the explanation for the issue).

    I guess Mr. Lobdell still holds to the 1990s maxima that convoluted stories are mysterious and exciting, and confusing the hell out of your readers just keeps them coming back for more. It didn’t work then and I don’t think it works now. Sorry!

  8. On a different note, there are two basic paradigms where teen heroes work. One, they are in a boarding school type of scenario. Two, they do all the superheroics on the side, but still have a civilian life with parents, etc. Teen Titans is the only teen book I can think of at the BIG TWO that eschews both paradigms. It’s heroes have always been teenagers on the run with unlimited financial resources, which I assume come from Red Robin. But… where are these kids’ families? Shouldn’t the kids’ families at least worry or at least wonder where their children are? Are the kids’ families all dead? Or do the families presume the kids are dead and just not recognize them even with all the social media coverage and found fame of the Titans? Have all the Titans dropped out of school? Is Red Robin responsible for them passing their GEDs, too? How has Batman not checked in on Red Robin once (prior to amnesia, of course)? He’s smart, but he’s still a 15 year-old.

    Just having a group of powered teens that are completely disconnected from life and just fight super villains and run away from secret organizations without giving things like food and shelter and their families a second thought is just pointless. It doesn’t work. I don’t know why it’s so hard for editorial to explore these problems…

    • My guess is that editorial doesn’t care, really, about the Titans. We’ve heard zero news about the alleged Titans pilot that was supposedly going to start filming in the fall, and DC’s attention is focused on the big three (less on Wonder Woman) for their upcoming movies. My guess is that the Titans right now are considered one of the low-priority properties, especially since it isn’t likely they will appear in movies or TV (let’s remember that Dick Grayson is dead in Dawn of Justice, apparently) and that the Teen Titans show was turned into an inane and rather dumb cartoon that is more or less a prophecy come true of the Wolfman-era joke called “The Teeny Titans”.

    • Tim Drake getting his GED has been a story idea I’ve been sitting on for years, ever since they first ditched the idea of him going to school. It’d be such a neat subplot!

  9. It saddens me that that an unreasonable excuse from a writer of a comic (book company) makes a paid (?) reviewer change “sides.” The comic book industry makes me ill, how customers are obligingly willing to be treated with disrespect and continue to give the companies money.

  10. I started picking this up because I used to read the odd issue, when Infinity Inc. wasn’t out. I kinda hoped to see something similar to the 80s stuff (it could at least have that “feel” since Earth 2 is failing miserably for me). I also liked the new Power Girl, who, so far, can join, unjoin, join again, and get big. Teen Titans has been a pointless merry-go-round that rummages for nonexistent reasons to go from crisis to crisis and exchange banter. I keep hanging on, in the hope that NEXT issue will have some character development (don’t superheroes have downtime anymore?!?!?!).

  1. Pingback: Review: Teen Titans #13 | Henchman-4-Hire

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