Comic Review: Teen Titans #23
I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when Tony Bedard was given this writing assignment. I have to imagine that DC editorial told him he had relatively free reign to just write generic, harmless Teen Titans stories using whatever villains he felt like. Mallah and the Brain? Check. Amanda Waller? Check. H.I.V.E. and Queen Bee? Here we go!
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
It boggles the mind what DC is doing with Teen Titans right now. For reasons that I will probably never know, DC has decided to hold off the Teen Titans Rebirth launch for awhile, months after every other comic had their Rebirth. And for some reason, DC also decided to just drag out the massively unpopular New 52 Teen Titans rather than bring it to a merciful end. So we get issues like Teen Titans #23, where Tony Bedard writes a perfectly fine but utterly pointless Teen Titans comic.
Teen Titans #23 is about as banal as comic books can get. It’s harmless fluff written and drawn by a professional, highly skilled creative team. But they don’t spin straw into gold, they just keep it straw.
Join me after the jump for the full synopsis and more review.
Following their release from Belle Reve prison last issue, the Teen Titans head to New Orleans to just hang out for a bit. And in what is starting to feel like a routine at this point, the Titans get a page or two out of costume before some insane new threat emerges and they have to suit up. I swear I’ve seen this happen in possibly every new Teen Titans story for the past year.
Also, Batman calls Tim to tell him that Amanda Waller has had the authorities drop all charges against the Teen Titans, which nicely ties up that uninteresting plot thread.
Bedard might also be dropping some hints about how/why Tim leaves the Titans to rejoin Batman in Detective Comics Rebirth. I wasn’t sure if we’d ever actually get an answer to that question.
But the phone call is interrupted by all the power going out in N’Arlins.
This time, a strong psychic attack starts controlling every human being in in the city, and only Raven’s mystical power is able to protect the Titans. The massive mental assault pushes Raven to her absolute limit!
And on the very next page, everything is pretty fine.
It’s a jarring jump, but I’m just gonna roll with it. Raven is still struggling to keep the Titans safe from the psychic assault, but everyone else is fine.
The Titans stroll around the city taking stock of what seems to be happening. They figure out pretty quickly that they’re under attack from Queen Bee and H.I.V.E., who in the New 52 have something to do with Brainiac? I dunno, it happened in a Superman comic that nobody probably read.
For reasons that are never properly explained (or if they were, I forgot them), Queen Bee is in Louisiana to have her minions make two giant broadcasting dishes.
Beast Boy, fed up with just kind of standing around, grabs one of the mind-controlled zombies and screams at them to wake up. This alerts Queen Bee to their presence and she reveals herself to the Titans through a psychic hologram. She delivers the standard super-villain patter and continues with her plans while the Titans retreat to formulate a plan.
Red Robin has an idea, and he asks the Titans to trust him in a kind of silly team-building exercise.
Hands on top of hands? Sure, why not? What does this series have to lose?
So Bunker, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy and Power Girl split off to take down the two construction projects while Robin and Raven stay on the rooftop to carry out his plan. They watch as Queen Bee starts sending out psychic attacks to try and stop the attacking Titans, and Red Robin uses those outbursts to track her psychic power back to the source.
Soon, the other Titans are also under Queen Been’s control (since they got too far away from Raven’s protection), so it’s up to Red Robin and the weakened Raven!
The two of them fight their way to Queen Bee’s lair and managed to make it all the way to her control chamber before they fall under her spell. Queen Bee is so impressed with their ability to resist her that she strolls up to the two and peers into their minds directly — but the psychic backlash she encounters knocks her out! Red Robin has done it!
Later, Red Robin explains to the rest of the Titans that he realized that Queen Bee’s powers and likely her mind all worked on a logical, organized, hive-like structure. So he prepared a mental mind puzzle in his head and juiced it up with Raven’s chaos magic. When Queen Bee peered into his mind, she was unable to process the sheer insanity of Red Robin’s chaos puzzle and she collapsed.
Day saved, everybody!
This issue was perfectly fine. Heck, it’s even kind of clever there in the end, with Red Robin coming up with a pretty neat idea to defeat Queen Bee. And the art by Miguel Mendonca, Diana Conesa and Tony Avina is just as solid. This is a very well-made, quality comic book.
But who the heck cares?
Teen Titans #23 is as by-the-numbers as a comic book can get. Bedard opens with a very slight moment of out-of-costume team building, and then we immediately transition into a generic super-villain and a generic super-villain plot. The Titans face slightly insurmountable odds, then come away with the win in the end. That’s comic books 101.
There’s nothing really creative or original or interesting in this entire comic. There are no insights into the characters, no really pivotal character moments or interactions. Nobody really does anything of much interest.
So what is the point of dragging this series out? Next issue is the last issue of the New 52 Teen Titans. I have no idea what’s going to happen. Will Bedard actually link things to the characters’ Rebirth appearances (though only Tim Drake has appeared so far)? Will he come up with a good reason why this team breaks apart and stops being friends and allies?
There has been no build-up to the end. No story to justify the past several issues. From all appearances, Teen Titans is going to go out with a whimper. But rather than just a regular whimper, this one has been dragged out for issue after issue of mediocrity.
Teen Titans isn’t going out with a whimper so much as a long, dull, aching sigh.