Review: Teen Titans #14
You know what, I had a really good day yesterday, so I’m going to take Teen Titans #14 as the beginning of something better. It’s not a good comic, mind you. In fact, it suffers mercilessly from one of Teen Titans‘ worst ongoing problems. But there’s an effort being made for a clean break, and possibly the promise of some more focused storytelling. And parts of it are pretty good even. I say that with a straight face. If the writing duo of Scott Lobdell and Will Pfeifer can keep this going, Teen Titans may actually be…eh…serviceable?
Teen Titans #14 has some good parts for the team, but pits them against possibly the most ludicrous adversaries in the title’s history. So you’ve got to take the good with the bad on this one.
Comic Rating: 4/10 – Pretty Bad.
One of the major problems with Teen Titans in the New 52 has been their insane policy with villains. They’ve fought some classics, like Trigon, and Harvest was at least positioned as a major villain with a major stake in the team. But more often then not, the Teen Titans fought against villains who came out of nowhere and had nothing to do with anything. It was like DC was haphazardly throwing darts at a big book of DC characters. There were the drugged-out prep school kids only a few issues ago, there was Detritus way back at the start of the series, there were The Light and The Way, and who can forget Grymm?
All of you. Every single one of you forgot Grymm. Nobody remembers Grymm. But he made two appearances in Teen Titans! Two!
Anyway, for reasons that will never make any sense to me, the Teen Titans fight against no less than five random, strange adversaries in this issue. That’s the weird, bad part. The good part of the issue is that they actually act like a team! Red Robin actually leads the Teen Titans in battle, issuing commands and utilizing their powers and fighting styles to the battle’s benefit. It’s kind of awesome. And it’s something that I really hope continues…except that the ending just throws everything out of whack all over again. So whatever.
Join me after the jump for the full synopsis and review!
Following the big screw up at the M.A.W., the Teen Titans have been arrested. They did break into a prison, after all. While they’re being perp-walked into waiting vans, they are yelled at by a gathering crowd, because apparently the M.A.W. has a public access section for crowds to gather. Thanks to the anti-youth vigilante sentiment in Robin War (out this week), the crowd is royally peeved at the Titans and are letting them have it. There’s even a news reporter at the scene, who is allowed to get up close and personal to Red Robin to ask him why they broke into the super prison.
Red Robin isn’t very polite to news reporters, and kind of has some bold ideas about his team of superheroes.
One of the guards then proceeds to smash Robin in the back, in full view of the public and the news reporters, but everybody just lets his behavior slide. The Titans are carted up and taken away, with all of the super-powers in one van and the powerless Red Robin in another. He wakes up eventually and listens in as the guard brags on the phone to his wife how he beat up a superhero. Red Robin keeps quiet and wishes that his best friend Superboy would show up and save him.
The Titans are saved, of course, but not by Superboy. And here is where things start to get really, really weird.
I have no idea who that is, and quite honestly, the issue doesn’t go out of its way to really explain. From the few hints they drop, his name is apparently Reiser, and he turned into that monster after being somehow infected by Doomsday in that big Doomed story arc from a few months (years?) ago. He’s also apparently obsessed with Wonder Girl, because I guess she was a part of that storyline?
I dunno. I didn’t read Doomed. But apparently this Reiser fellow gets to randomly come out of nowhere to save the Titans in this issue. It’s maddening.
Then, of course, that’s only the start of the madness. Because if you recall the cliffhanger ending of the last issue, the police have an ally in this issue.
This is insane. What is going on here? How does a guy like Alpha Centurion (who apparently also appeared in Doomed) show up in Teen Titans? What does he have to do with anything?! But here we are, with the Teen Titans fighting two random, insane characters who have no context within this series or the current storyline.
Oh, actually, Alpha Centurion knocks out Reiser, so he’s not even in the fight. He just showed up to break them out of the police vans. It’s OK though, because Alpha Centurion has a bunch of even more insane henchmen to help him out.
Insane! What the heck does any of this have to do with the Teen Titans?!
But like I said, it’s not all bad, because there are some nice moments of the team working together. Red Robin leads, the Titans all come together to help each other out, and it’s kind of nice.
Chimera gets into the fight, Bunker shows off some cool moves, Wonder Girl and Power Girl help out, Kid Flash does his thing; really, the Teen Titans actually work together as a pretty solid team in this issue — despite what it says on the cover. Honestly, this is the most teamwork I’ve seen them accomplish in probably forever.
Except, of course, for Guardian, Trinity and Klarion. Remember those three, from the Elite? Yeah, they weren’t invited to the party, apparently.
Anyway, with all of that teamwork, the Titans manage to trounce Alpha and his buddies and escape. They head to Gotham City and the Robin’s Nest, Tim’s secret hideout. We also get a slight art error!
Where is Red Robin, they ask? Well, he had Raven send him to Gotham City, because Tim is a main character in the Robin War event this month. This issue ends with Red Robin abandoning the Titans to hang out with Red Hood and deal with the cast of We Are Robin. Not sure why Tim would so completely abandon the Titans just to appear in another event, but I’ll live. It doesn’t hurt that Robin War #1 was a pretty good comic with some fun potential.
After the craziness of the last few issues, it’s good to see Teen Titans taking steps to close things off and maybe start fresh. But for every step forward this issue takes with the team, it takes two big steps back. It’s great to see the Titans actually working together, complimenting each other in a fight, and being a unit, but what the heck are they up against? Alpha freakin’ Centurion and his cavalcade of morons? Reiser?! Who the hell is Reiser and what business does he have randomly showing up out of nowhere to break the Titans out of jail?
There are no stakes in Teen Titans. Characters come and go at a moment’s notice, be they villain or hero. The public’s opinion of the Titans changes on a whim. They don’t have a solid base. They don’t have a solid motivation for being a team.
This comic is still just action figures being smashed together.
At least I kind of liked the art in this issue. It’s a wild sort of style, but it’s also ill-defined and just wouldn’t look very good as an ongoing art team.