Comic Review: Teen Titans #21
Huh? Are we still here? Is this comic really still plugging along? Weird. We just got the new solicitations from DC Comics the other day that the Teen Titans will switch into Rebirth mode in September, so it looks like we’ve got a handful more issues to trudge through before the end. Writer Tony Bedard seems like he’s going to try and make the most of the time he’s got, and I’m not going to blame him for giving it the old college try.
Comic Rating: 5/10 – Alright.
After the extremely silly last issue, where Bedard proved he has little understanding of Internet memes, we pick up this issue with a battle between the Teen Titans and the Brain and Monsieur Mallah. They’re classic Titans villains, but not in the New 52, so I think Bedard is just having some fun — and he does. With theoretically nothing to lose or waste or cost, I think Bedard just decided to write a fun Brain and Mallah story. He delves into some interesting Mallah characterization that makes me think Bedard had a couple giggles writing this one.
As an issue of Teen Titans, it’s harmless. There’s nothing more to say or do with this team. We already know what happens next, and we’ve already seen that Tim Drake alone moves on to something bigger and better. So there’s no tension in what Bedard does to the team or the characters. We get a really pointless cliffhanger at the end of this issue, and I kind of want to roll my eyes.
But Bedard and artist Miguel Mendonca make the most of a meh situation.
We open in New York City, where the Titans have tracked down an Internet troll who makes dumb memes about super-villains. The Brian and Mallah have beaten them to the punch, and the Brain is trying out a new mind control device. He got the troll, and then he grabs Wonder Girl, forcing her to fight with Red Robin. The two smash through a window and land down in a nearby zoo.
Monsieur Mallah hates zoos and doesn’t really want to chase after them.
The Brain flies out after the Titans while Red Robin calls in backup. He has Raven and Power Girl rescue the troll, with Beast Boy and Bunker helping him out in the zoo. They free Cassie from the mind control, but the heroes struggle to take down the flying Brain as he attaches more mind control devices on the zoo animals and the zoo visitors. Soon, the Titans have their hands and paws full.
Meanwhile, Raven and Power Girl easily pluck the mind control device off the mind of the troll, and they try to convince him he’s a total idiot. The troll insists that he’s just making dumb jokes, and Power Girl gets to the heart of the matter.
The Internet troll finally seems apologetic and wants to help.
When Raven shows up at the zoo, she’s able to quickly pull off the mind control devices from all the people and animals. Brain continues to fight, blasting Red Robin with a laser. Wonder Girl is so angry at that that she grabs the flying Brain and threatens to kill him! Brain laughs that she’s just proven his point, that he’s been doing all of this to prove that labels like ‘hero’ and ‘villain’ are empty. Mallah is having none of it.
The fight is over, and Raven teleports the two of them to her dark dimension for holding. Not sure why the Titans couldn’t just hold them for the cops, especially when Raven’s dark dimension is especially evil and insane. But whatever. This is how the Titans roll.
The Titans split up and put all the animals back in their proper cages. The Internet troll promises to only make positive Titans memes from now on. When they’re done, the rest of the team realize that Red Robin is missing!
Turns out he’s been kidnapped by Amanda Waller, who wants to make him an offer.
Ugh, Amanda Waller, really? I never had much of an opinion of her back in the day, but in the New 52 era, I don’t think there’s any character out there who makes my skin crawl more…and not how DC intends. After the character’s slimming down in the New 52, and her stunningly bad portrayal on Arrow, I just can’t take Amanda Waller seriously anymore. She’s not even a poor man’s Nick Fury. ARGUS itself is only half-baked, and the Suicide Squad has had so many changes and iterations in the New 52 that she has no foundation or stabilization to stand on.
DC would like us to think her arrival here is momentous, but who cares? Teen Titans is coming to an end soon, and we know that Red Robin doesn’t take her up on whatever offer she might have. As a cliffhanger tease, she’s bunk.
But as an issue spotlighting the Brain and Mallah, Teen Titans #21 wasn’t half bad! Does anybody know if Tony Bedard has written them before? Because he has a lot of neat ideas for the two of them, and I kind of enjoyed that aspect of this issue. Perhaps when offered the Titans writing gig, he jumped at the chance to get his hands on the two characters. I can’t blame him. They’re fun and weird in that special comic book way, and he definitely leaves a mark on them.
Though he doesn’t leave much of a mark on the Teen Titans. As always, the Titans in the New 52 are just along for the ride. They get in some quips, I guess. And there’s some solid teamwork, I suppose. But everything with the team is pretty half-baked these days. This ‘fugitive’ storyline has always been rather weak. The Internet troll segment gets cleaned up in the weirdest, least interesting way possible. And I couldn’t be less excited for this development with Amanda Waller.
As a Brain and Mallah adventure, this issue is pretty darn fun with some solid characterization. As a Teen Titans issue, I’m ready for this series to get Rebirthed.