Review: Teen Titans #13
In my last review of Teen Titans, I said the immortal phrase, ‘We’re through the looking glass here, people’, partly because it’s one of my favorite phrases, and partly because it’s so, so true. Teen Titans went off the rails in the last issue, with a sudden, seemingly random cutaway involving Harvest, probably my least favorite DC super-villain. Fortunately, no less than Scott Lobdell himself showed up in the comments of the last review to explain that DC higher ups wanted Superboy out of the comic, and he and Harvest were their way of doing just that. Makes sense, and I appreciated the helpful explanation. When the bosses say, ‘let’s do something else with Superboy’, you say, ‘how insane can we get in removing him?’
Though I don’t know to what extent writer Will Pfeifer can blame editorial for the continuing insanity in Teen Titans #13.
Comic Rating: 3/10 – Bad.
I’m going to keep the phrase ‘We’re through the looking glass here, people’ in effect for this new issue, because everything is just kind of wibbly wobbly in this issue. Continuity is a little thin, characters move randomly through the issue, and once again, a big hand-waving explanation seems to come out of nowhere to reverse the entire flow of the story. But considering all the shake-ups recently, I can’t be sure if the reverse was always planned, or if Pfeifer is just scrambling to fix his story. I assume he’d planned to end things properly with Superboy and is now being forced to come up with a whole new ending to his prison story on the fly. Very weird, but that’s editorial interference for you.
Speaking of which, we’ve got three different artists this issue, and all of them are pretty bad. The art is maddeningly wild and doesn’t do the issue any favors. Nothing does this issue any favors. I can only hope that Teen Titans comes out of this mess in one piece, and maybe we’ll get some kind of renewed focus going forward. Because if nothing else, I remain eternally hopeful that things will actually get better someday.
We open back in the MAW, a super-prison in Metropolis where Red Robin led the Titans on a hunt for Despero. There was supposed to be a big showdown between Despero, the Titans and Superboy, but forget all of that now. We need to focus on Bunker, who is doing his best to protect Raven in a random side room, because Red Robin thought it would be a good idea to bring the unconscious Raven into a super-prison. Remember that part? Well now they’re under attack by Dr. Psycho.
Psycho, a mean little telepath, makes short work of Bunker and then heads straight for his true target: Raven.
Outside, Manchester Black is rallying the rest of the Elite to secure the perimeter of the prison so that nobody can get out. He mistakenly calls Trinity ‘Indigo’, which is a nice indication of the character’s importance. And then he annoys Power Girl with his order barking.
Meanwhile, Red Robin, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash are alone in Harvest’s ‘chamber’. Apparently, after taunting them at the end of last issue, Harvest just up and left. I guess he had things to do. Bart is kind of annoyed at getting yanked around, and Wonder Girl tells him to calm down, because Red Robin is still reeling from the loss of his ‘best friend’, Superboy. But Red Robin is fine, and he starts hacking Harvest’s computer to teleport them back to the prison.
Then Red Robin says what is probably the dumbest thing I’ve ever read in this comic, which is saying a lot.
Ridiculous. So, uh, are the Justice League known for giving up? Are there any superhero teams in existence known for giving up?
And since when would Tim Drake use his youth as an excuse to not believe in defeat? He’s specifically known for being smarter than his years.
Whatever the case may be, this little speech encourages Kid Flash, and they’re all determined to save the day as Titans. Sheesh. But we’ll get back to them later.
In the prison, Beast Boy tries to attack Dr. Psycho, but the villain uses his powers to turn the big, green rhino into a little, green hummingbird. Then he puts Beast Boy to sleep. I don’t remember where Beast Boy was in the story at this point, and I’m too lazy to look up to see if he could even appear here. Psycho then delves into Raven’s subconscious, and she quickly teaches him that was a bad idea.
So Dr. Psycho is easily defeated and Raven is recovered. And Red Robin, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash teleport back to the prison. Now it’s time to take on Despero and stop the prison riot…right?
So poof! It’s all over. No riot. No Blockbuster fight, apparently. And no Despero. It was all a mental illusion. I can’t imagine this was Pfeifer’s plan all along. But then he did include Psycho in the last issue, so maybe it was? It’s hard to tell at this point. Red Robin then rushes into the prison to find out what happened to Chimera. She’s playing a prank on Manchester Black.
I don’t even know where to begin in trying to understand Manchester Black’s overall plan here. He wants to take out the Teen Titans once and for all? Then why was he helping them when he originally appeared? Why, when he was helping him, didn’t he betray them and quickly defeat them then? He had a lot of opportunities. Was he legitimately trying to help them back then, but has since changed his mind? Considering how ‘smart’ Pfeifer has been writing him, is his goal really as simple as taking out the Teen Titans? Is it even really that hard? Why send them to this prison in the first place when he had Red Robin and Wonder Girl at his mercy a few issues ago?
Anyway, best not to dwell on how ridiculous Manchester Black has been. At least now we know the emperor has no clothes.
And it turns out, Power Girl had grown suspicious of the pink-goateed tool and staged this trick to get him to reveal the truth. But Manchester is pretty annoyed at the two of them teaming up against him and his oddly flagged chest.
Manchester then somehow ‘actives’ Power Girl’s hidden powers and she grows into a giant. Apparently, he’s been drugging her for awhile now, and this gives her this new growing power. She then proceeds to use it against him — with similarly crazy art.
And so Pfeifer’s main antagonist is taken out by the Titan he’s written about the least, who has arguably the least investment in Manchester Black.
Anyway, Red Robin convinces Power Girl to calm down, and she reverts to her normal size. Manchester Black has been defeated, there’s no riot, and the Titans are back together. Guardian apologizes for the Elite, seeing as how they were apparently all being manipulated by Black. Red Robin says it’s no big deal.
And Beast Boy says probably the second dumbest thing I’ve ever read in Teen Titans.
What the heck is Beast boy talking about? We Are Robin is a movement. The Teen Titans are a clearly defined team. Red Robin said so earlier, that the Teen Titans were such a team that they had defining characteristics. And look at that panel. Nobody is talking to Beast Boy or says anything that would prompt his response. It makes no sense.
A bunch of nearby guards comment on how weird the situation is, but one of them says that they’ve got super-powered back-up coming. And sure enough, a super-guy shows up and takes out Red Robin, Bunker and Beast Boy.
The world on the other side of the looking glass is strange indeed.
It’s never enough, is it? Teen Titans can’t take a breather, can they? Here we are, seemingly at the end of Pfeifer’s larger narrative, but he can’t stop. Manchester Black has been defeated (quickly and almost effortlessly), the Teen Titans and the Elite are shaking hands and maybe uniting, and the Titans are redefining themselves as a team; this should be a great moment for character development or team-building.
But no. Instead we get this f’ing guy.
What the hell does Alpha Centurion have to do with anything?! Why is he here? What does he add to the comic or the team or the narrative?! Can we honestly not take a single, flippin’ break from nonstop action to have some real character development? Pfeifer has to bring in the most obscure possible character to fight our heroes? Is he playing some insane kind of one-upmanship game? If DC can bring Harvest into his comic, he’ll do them one better and bring in Alpha Centurion?
Dear lord, what is happening to Teen Titans?
This issue is a mess, and it’s not all excusable by editorial interference. I get that Superboy was yanked out of the comic, and Pfeifer had to scramble to come up with a new ending of this prison storyline. But was this really his best effort? He rushes through the end of Manchester Black, despite all of the build-up the character has had so far. He randomly gives Power Girl a new super-power. How long was she with the Elite? Was it really long enough for Manchester Black to secretly dope her up with new super-powers? Were she and Cassie really not at all suspicious of what Black was feeding them or doing to them? What about the rest of the Elite? Did he mess with them too? Heck, we still don’t know how Kid Flash came back to the present, or why.
Then you’ve got the ridiculous dialogue, like he’s not even trying. How does that one Red Robin line come out of the brain of a professional writer? Unless Pfeifer is purposefully phoning this issue in, knowing how messed up it was going to be. That’s the only possible excuse for this issue.
But then what’s with Alpha Centurion? Can they seriously not just end this comic on stable footing? They have to up the insane dial to 12?
I have no idea how DC Comics can justify keeping this series alive. The only recourse is to slash and burn and start again.