Teen Titans #17
A Tale of Light and Dark
There are books I love reviewing every month, and there are books I hate reviewing every month. I never know which Teen Titans is going to be. Teen Titans #15? Meh. Teen Titans #16? Really cool. You just never know.
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Batman and Robin, Nightwing, and Red Hood and the Outlaws all set a pretty high bar for what we can expect as fallout following Death of the Family. So far, Batgirl is the only one who just kind of glazed over the otherwise huge event. Nothing really happened to Tim in Death of the Family, so I don't have very high expectations for this issue, but Tim's is looking awfully down on the cover, and Batman, Incorporated's big news is now fair game to discuss, so maybe we will see some fallout from either Death of the Family or Batman, Inc.
We also have some other big events shaping up for this series. Raven, terrible costume and all, is heading for Teen Titans supposedly to become a new member, and I cannot say that excites me much. We already have too many characters with too little development, and the last thing I want is more added to the mix. Also, based on the silly costume change, I'm going to bet I will not like other new DCNU changes to her character. We've also been promised a Deathstroke crossover, and Teen Titans are guest starring in Firestorm this week. Kurt Lance has been popping up and messing with Solstice periodically, and we have been promised, not for the first time, that Tim will finally have a team meeting and discuss the future of the team which has been sticking together for no particular reason ever since the conclusion of The Culling. Does Lobdell manage to take all these disparate story lines and pull them together to make a coherent story, or is this issue, like this team, held together by the thinnest of threads?
In this issue, Tim has an important talk with the team and shows them their new pad, and at least one evil force is growing in power.
I Hate Tim More Every Day
Okay, so there are some things that happen towards the end of this issue which I will leave alone for the moment, and it appears that Tim is not responsible for those actions, but he is clearly responsible for the section where his inner monologue is going, and even there, he is a major dick.
First, Tim has been a total douche all the way back from Gotham because he is embarrassed over what happened with Joker. He claims, “Nobody wants to here that (meaning an apology) from the guy who is leading the team,” but that's a load of crap. If someone screws up, they should apologize. It is only his pride which is getting in the way. Furthermore, Tim really does not have anything to apologize for. He was captured, but so were many of the best minds and combatants on the planet! So what? Sure, the Teen Titans almost died, but they almost die regularly under Tim's leadership, and they understand the risks. Tim does not need to apologize; he needs to thank them for being his friends and looking out for him, but again, his desire to be in control of everything and appear flawless is apparently making him act like a giant phallus.
Things get worse as Miguel and Kira reach out to Tim trying to connect and break the tension, but though Tim appears to handle the situation correctly on the exterior, his inner monologue reveals that he is full of crap. Tim apologizes for the need to keep his identity secret, but his monologue makes it clear he doesn't really feel all that bad about it. I have no problem with him keeping his secrets because as he mentions in a very pre-Flashpoint Tim sort of way, his secrets are not his own. (someone has read some old school Robin. My money is on Fabian Nicieza, the former writer of Marvel's The New Warriors and Trinity and current writer of Teen Titans and Batwing) However, Tim does not need to lie about his thoughts and feelings. Even worse, Kira really exposes herself emotionally and says that she counts him as a close trusted friend whatever his true name, and Tim responds, “That means more than you realize, Solstice,” but his inner monologue says, “Not really.” What? You are saying that you have no real friendship between yourself and your teammates even though you are espousing just the opposite. What a (censored)!
Ever since Teen Titans #0 butchered Tim's origin, I've said that if I were writing Tim, I would either insist on changing his origin or make him a villain, and I'm beginning to think the maybe Lobdell (former writer of Uncanny X-Men and current writer of Teen Titans, Red Hood and the Outlaws and Superman) is doing just that. It would be great to see a member of the Bat Clan truly go to the dark side and use their own knowledge and resources for evil, but if Lobdell and Nicieza are truly building towards this, then they should make is a shocking reveal not the only logical conclusion to Tim's despicable actions.
Whoa! Character Interactions in Teen Titans?
This came as a real shocker to me that in this issue. Lobdell actually takes time for the characters to interact. I've been begging for this from issue #1, yet I do not think we have ever seen more than two pages of the characters just chilling and talking through things rather than dealing with some immediate threat. This book desperately needs this, and I was delighted to see that, though 17 issues later than it should be, these Titans are finally getting to know each other on panel.
That being said, Tim and Cassie are pretty unlikable in the DCNU. I already went on about Tim, so the only other thing that might be relevant to add is that he smiles constantly even though he apparently does not feel all that happy, and I do not like fakery. Beauty queens tick me off for the same reason. Cassie, on the other hand, just seems like an extremely bitter (censored). I gave her the benefit of a doubt for some time that she was just jaded on the outside and would be revealed as beautiful on the inside, but after seeing her origin story and a year and a half of stories featuring her, she is pretty much without excuse.
On the other hand, we have good interactions between all other members of the cast. If you will look closely when Tim shows off the pool, you will see that Bart prepares to push Cassie in the pool, and in the next scene, they are all dripping, so apparently they took some time for a swim which is pretty cool. We've never seen Tim hang with his crew which is another major failing of the series. It's amazing the Titans would even stay loyal to Tim based on his standoffish and holier than thou nature. We get to learn a bit more about KF's past too which is a thread that was dropped around issue five and seemingly forgotten.
A lot of the interactions in this issue were centered on the Teen Titans' new home which I thought was pretty nice. When Tim took them to the waterfront, I was expecting to see Titans Tower off the coast, but I was delighted instead to see an awesome boat. I think the idea of a boat and Tim's reasoning behind the aqua based home is pretty cool. Though I am a big fan of continuity, I do think having a public base that everyone knows was pretty silly, so I'm glad the tower was not revived. As perhaps a little nod to the T shaped tower though, the boat does have a T symbol semi-hidden at the top of the ship.
Spinning Too Many Plates
Let's review the amount of subplots going on right now. Tim and the Titans are suffering some trauma from Death of the Family, and Tim should be feeling the death of another Bat character pretty soon. Deathstroke is coming to the series. Raven and Trigon are coming to the series. Teen Titans will, though perhaps not in this book, be meeting Firestorm. Skitter took off and disappeared. There are budding romantic feelings between Tim and Cassie and Bart and Solstice. Solstice has ability fluctuations thanks to a phantom Kurt Lance stalker. Tim is supposed to be giving the team a purpose and finding a reason for them to stay together.
There is a lot going on, right? Well, apparently it is not enough because Lobdell ignores most of these potential story lines and piles on nearly half a dozen new plot points! What the heck, man?
There is some mysterious new figure taking people's powers. Apparently, some people are predicting this to be the evil Dr. Light which makes sense. Tim is being a...jerk to put it nicely. (Spoilers) Bunker's old lover is in some serious trouble. Tim is either evil or being manipulated...probably the latter. Finally, some unknown and unexplained new character can cause people to drop dead.
Seriously, there is way too much going on here. Stop it. Pick a few plot lines and stick with it giving lots of time for character development. Stop the cluttered, rushed nonsense!
1. Lobdell said he was going to stay away from old Teen Titan villains like Deathstroke, Dr. Light and Trigon, but now, he appears to be bringing them all back, so I guess that old villain ban is over.
2. This probably is Dr. Light based on the fact that he is called doctor, he is stealing light based powers, and he can already make visual constructs. Also, I think he is solicited to make an appearance in issue #18. He looks like a generic monstrous bad guy now though. I kind of like the old slightly lame costume. Also, the story is called “The War of Light and Dark,” so there is that subtle hint.
3. (Spoiler) It would be nice if it turns out that Tim has been an evil, possessed version of himself this entire time and that his origin story was a load of crap that Trigon made up. One can hope.
4. Eddy Barrows (former penciler for Nightwing and current penciler for Teen Titans and cover artist for Nightwing) takes over for art this week, and other than Tim smiling too much (which might be plot relevant), I enjoyed his work. Good stuff.
I loved to see the team interact, but I hated Tim, and this whole story board feels cluttered. Based on enjoying the last issue and Fabian's work on this issue, I'm going to give it a benefit of a doubt, but the arc could easily go either way at this point. If you are a big fan of Teen Titans, check it out, but otherwise, I would suggest you pick it up only if this review made it sound good.
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