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Mild Mannered Reviews - Teen Titans Comics

Teen Titans Annual #1

Teen Titans Annual #1

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 2, 2012

Cover date: July 2012

"The Culling" - Part 1

Writer: Tom DeFalco & Scott Lobdell
Penciller: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund

Reviewed by: Shawn Morrissey

Click to enlarge

The Teen Titans find themselves in the Crucible, Harvest's den of despair and carnival of personal sadistic pleasure. Among the hundreds of the teens trapped is a motley band of humans and metahumans, namely Artemis, Lightning, and Thunder. Red Robin befriends these three and learns more about the Colony and Harvest's master plan: to weed out the weak and recruit the strong to become his Ravagers.

The Legion Lost is trapped elsewhere in the Colony, and despite their incredible powers can find no way to escape. Soon Harvest's obsequious goon, Leash, pounces upon his orders and thrusts the Titans unto the Legion, pitting the two teams against one another. Neither team, however, with their heroic integrity tries to kill the other. We learn the fight was only to wear the intrepid youngsters out. Now, the Culling begins.

Leash gathers more of the trapped teens, including Artemis, uses his powers to enrage them, and sics them on the Titans and the Legion. The two teams set aside their own fisticuffs and take on the new threat, careful not to actually harm anyone. In the confusion, Artemis is killed. Red Robin realizes the futility of the fight and vows to take down Harvest.

With the fight won, Harvest commands his troops to go forth and reap the dark winds. The Culling has just upped the ante.

1Story - 1: The sheaths at the end of shoelaces are called aglets. Aglets can be made from several types of materials, but they're most commonly made out of plastic or metal. The function of aglets is to keep the fibers in your shoelaces from unraveling. Of course, since aglets pinch the tips of the laces, they make the laces easier to pull through the eyelets of your shoes. If an aglet ever falls off one of your laces, don't fret. They're easy to make. Just lightly burn the end of the naked lace and apply some firm tape.

The etymology of 'aglet' can be traced to the Latin word 'acus', meaning 'needle.' Shakespeare refers to aglets in his play "The Taming of th..." Huh? What's that you ask? Why am I wasting your time with all this useless information? Well, my friend, that's exactly how I feel about Teen Titans Annual #1. It completely wasted my time.

If this is just a taste of what's coming for this crossover, I'm afraid we as readers are doomed. "The Culling" is what Teen Titans and Superboy have taken months to lead into, and while it generally feels better than what both titles have been offering, it's still just decaffeinated storytelling. To be fair, the dialogue reads a lot more smoothly than it has been, and I suppose we can applaud DeFalco for that bonus.

The worst part of all this is I'm losing interest in the characters, mostly because their supporting cast is so paper-thin and contrived. Take the death of Artemis, for example. It's displayed that this hit Red Robin hard, but I didn't care whatsoever. Artemis showed up, tossed a few cocky words around, got chummy with Red Robin, then dies. There was no weight to the whole thing. I couldn't sympathize with Red Robin because I didn't care enough about Artemis. On top of the poor characterization are the uninspired character names. The perfect example: Fist Point. He has points... on his fists. They really couldn't come up with something better? How about, I don't know, Knuckle Prick? How does Pummel Spike catch your fancy? The whole package just feels very lethargic. And speaking of characters, what does Lobdell have against fully using Superboy in this title? Again, the Boy of Steel is mostly absent.

Ultimately, this story just isn't bold enough, and Lobdell isn't making any strides to remedy that. Lobdell truly wants this to be heavy hitting, but it's just fluff. Teen Titans Annual floats like Muhammad Ali, but doesn't sting nearly as hard.

4Art - 4: Booth and Rapmund are in top form for the Annual. I've mentioned before that I really like this art team, and find their shortcomings, like Booth's tendency to render all his characters alike, a virtue to their work.

They've made some strides here to improve their panels, as well. Booth and Rapmund seem to be taking a few notes from Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. Paneling is important to comic books, and when you have artists like Yanick Paquette breathing life into the panels, and actually integrating them into the story, you have no choice but to step up your game.

What I like in particular here are the backgrounds. The Colony has a bit of a Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome feel to it. Good stuff.

2Cover Art - 2: There's not much excitement going on here. It's fitting for the story, I suppose, but we've seen this kind of cover umpteen times.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2012

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