Comic Review: Teen Titans Annual #2
I am a huge fan of hyperbole. It makes everything better. So believe me when I say this is probably Scott Lobdell’s finest Teen Titans comic in the entire New 52 era. I’m not entirely sure why Teen Titans gets an Annual issue on this Fifth Wednesday with a total status quo change right around the corner, but whatever. I can go with the flow. I don’t mind reading new comics, especially when they’re this solid. I daresay, Teen Titans should have been like this all along.
Comic Rating: 7/10 – Good.
Teen Titans Annual #2 gets to be Lobdell’s finest Titans issue for a few simple reasons: there’s an extended sequence of the Titans hanging out as civilians, the super-villain actually ties into an earlier comic that I liked, and there was some legitimate characterization and development. This issue isn’t about to break the mold or convince DC to not Rebirth Teen Titans, nor is it going to make me forget the past few years of crumminess. But considering we’re just killing time until Rebirth, it’s nice that Lobdell gets another chance to go out on a high note.
Honestly, I had completely forgotten about the unresolved plot thread in this issue. The Annual picks up from the encounter with Professor Pyg way back in December in Teen Titans #15. I liked that issue, and I like this one. That’s probably the best we can hope for with the Teen Titans, for now.
Join me after the jump for the full synopsis and more review!
We open in the best place possible: a nightclub, where the Teen Titans are out of costume and having fun. I would have given anything for the New 52 Titans to have done stuff like this on a regular basis.
Wonder Girl and Bunker are killing it on the dance floor. Red Robin is kind of a stick in the mud, and Power Girl is forcing him to do a little dancing and enjoy himself. It’s great. There’s real characterization here, and it’s really nice. This is exactly the sort of fun personality that has been completely absent from the New 52 Teen Titans.
Here’s a nice moment of Miguel and Cassie.
And here’s a nice moment between Tim, Cassie and Tanya.
These are just quick little scenes, but they’re so nice for the characters. They’re friendly with each other, they have fun with each other, and they act like real people. That’s exactly what I want in my comics. But it comes too little, too late. And soon we’re caught up in yet another superhero adventure. Because the Teen Titans can’t go one freakin’ day without getting into a fight.
First up, Beast boy and Raven are outside. Beast Boy used his celebrity to get everybody into the club, but now he feels like hanging out alone in an alley with Raven. He has her get some food from a nearby food cart so that she gets a little human interaction. It’s a nice moment between the two.
Inside, the guy Miguel meets offers him some new drugs, but Miguel turns them down. Good thing, too, because the guy soon turns into a giant, green porcupine monster!
Bunker and the Titans inside the club take out the monster with a well-placed punch. And I’m slightly disappointed that most of the Titans wear their costumed under their clothing. That sort of thing works for Spider-Man, because he’s wearing underoos. But Red Robin and Power Girl can really keep their complicated, armored costumes underneath normal clothes?
Eh, it’s a dumb nitpick, and I’ve gotten it out of my system.
Red Robin examines the unconscious man to try and figure out what’s going on, except that a bunch of other club-goers have also turned into giant green animal monsters. The Titans rush to get everybody else to safety without doing to much harm to the monsters.
Meanwhile, Raven arrives and helps usher the innocent people to safety in her dark dimension.
Red Robin heads into the kitchen with Beast Boy because he’s realized that one of the waitresses was passing out the drug samples. The kitchen is empty, except for a secret, hidden staircase down into the basement. Red Robin and Beast Boy head down and stumble upon Sister Blood and her entire damn cult just chillin’ in the basement.
Look at that editorial note in the bottom right corner. The Ravagers? How adorable. Like anybody read or remembers The Ravagers.
Anyway, like I said earlier, this plot picks up from a previous issue of Teen Titans that I enjoyed. Professor Pyg kidnapped the Teen Titans and stole Beast Boy’s blood to hand over to the Blood people. Teen Titans usually has a problem with villains coming out of nowhere, but at least this time, the threat is previously established.
In a couple of really dull exposition pages, Sister Blood goes on and on about using her powers to summon Beast Boy to the club and using his blood to turn her cult followers into green animal monsters. It’s a fine villain plot, as these things go.
Meanwhile, the other Titans have cleaned everybody out of the club, and it’s safe for Raven to release all the innocent bystanders she ‘saved’.
Where has this Raven been all our lives? She’s legit funny! In an evil, demonic sort of way.
Once everything is cleaned up, the other Titans rush down to the basement and help Red Robin and Beast Boy fight the cultists. Beast Boy gets especially angry because he doesn’t like having his own powers turned against him. Red Robin has to stop him from killing Sister Blood, who, uh…slipped outside and tried to hide in a nearby truck?
I guess maybe that’s the food truck from before?
So the bad guy is stopped and the cultists are rounded up. The Titans ask what they’re supposed to do now, and Red Robin is upset that this trouble got this far. He tells them that they should have taken care of Pyg back when he first arrived, but instead they allowed him to get away and allowed this whole thing to grow out of control. Cassie and the others think he’s being too hard on them, that they’re allowed to have fun and live their lives.
But Tim is being more specific.
Red Robin walks away from the team, wondering just how much good he can actually do with the Teen Titans.
So it looks like somebody is thinking of Tim’s new Rebirth status quo!
This was a solid, relatively enjoyable issue of Teen Titans, which doesn’t come along very often. It had all the makings of a good comic book, but it lacks the overall sense of unity and progress, considering it’s a random Annual issue with zero connection to the main series, and with Rebirth right around the corner. I’m not even going to try and fit this into the ongoing continuity of the series. This might as well just be a stand alone issue.
Out of all of DC’s titles, I have no idea why Teen Titans has gotten so many Annuals.
Anyway, considering it on it’s own, Teen Titans Annual #2 is pretty fine. I loved the opening scene at the night club, which checked in with all of our characters in fun and unique ways. I wish the relationships and friendships on display here had always been part of the main series. I’ve never felt that Power Girl was ever properly invested in this series. Heck, Lobdell writes in this issue that she’s some kind of super genius, and I can’t for the life of me ever remember that being a thing. If it was, maybe it was mentioned off-hand once or twice.
But I’m not here to nitpick how Teen Titans, as a whole, was pretty crummy. I’ve done that plenty, and I think it’s getting a little old.
This issue, specifically, was fun. A friendship between Miguel and Cassie would have been fun to explore, along with the friendship between Tim and Tanya. And I was always a fun of the Tim/Cassie pairing, of which we get only the slightest hints here. Sadly, he’s gone back to Stephanie Brown in the new Detective Comics, so there goes my hopes for a new and fresh romance at DC.
The fight against giant, rampaging green monsters is fine, with some creative uses of Bunker’s powers throughout. Artist Cory Smith really nails the issue, with great characters, strong action and just fun art all around. I especially enjoyed that moment with Raven and the people trapped in her dark dimension. Kudos to everyone involved in that stinger.
I liked that the villains called back to that previous issue, with Lobdell cleaning up a dangling plot thread that I don’t think anybody particularly cared about anymore. He also managed to wring some real drama out of it, with Red Robin angry that the Titans didn’t take care of this problem when it first popped up. That would have made for some solid character development if these plot threads were allowed to continue.
Sister Blood was a little half-baked, but I’m not bothered by that. What the heck were they doing in the weird, cavernous basement of this nightclub? And then she just runs out and hides in a nearby truck? She was never anything more than a single nuisance, but an issue of Teen Titans can’t go too long without a super-villain fight, as always.
There’s not much else to say about Teen Titans Annual #2. It’s a random enjoyable issue floating in a see of general malaise. Rebirth is still coming, so it’s not like this issue will make any sort of difference in the series. It’s just an island of comic book OKness, an acceptable purchase that lets writer Scott Lobdell go out on a high note. Which I guess is fine. Nice of DC to give him the opportunity.