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Mild Mannered Reviews - Teen Titans Comics

Teen Titans #20 Teen Titans #20

Teen Titans #20

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 22, 2013

Cover date: July 2013

"Only Begotten"

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciller: Eddy Barrows & Patrick Zircher
Inker: Eber Ferreira & Patrick Zircher

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

"Only when Trigon has stripped your lives of Honor, Love and Friendship while finally claim your souls". These were the words we were left with last issue by Raven.

We open directly after those events, as the Teen Titans stand in shock, due to Psimon's "Psi-Blast" killing the National Guard that came to aid the Teen Titans against Trigon.

Solstice charges toward Psimon in anger, Psimon retaliates by telling her to "Drop Dead". Kid Flash gets to him before he can finish that thought and kill Solstice, like he did the soldiers. He repeatedly smashes Psimon's face into the ground, only to have Superboy stop him, and remind him that he is better than that.

While this is going on, Trigon watches from the Under Realms, with his three sons;

Belial The Eldest, wielder of the Ebon Flame. Raskoff, The Warrior Prince and Suge, The Possessor.

Trigon recounts his tale to his son's, how he ruled "A Dozen Dark Kingdoms". He took what he pleased, but longed to rule Earth.

To help him in this goal, he deceives a human woman, and she gives birth to Raven.

She is taken by her mother, and finds sanctuary in the realm of Azarath, where Raven grows up and comes to age. Gaining as much knowledge as she can and learning from the denizen's of Azarath, Raven eventually is forced to leave her home, so to protect her teachers and surrogate family from Trigon, who eventually finds where she is. Raven flee's to Earth, and by doing so manages to evade Trigon for a few more years, but is caught and handed over to Trigon in the Under Realm by the Phantom Stranger.

The Phantom Stranger hopes that Raven will somehow implement change in the Under Realm, and that she would lead Trigon's minions in open rebellion against him.

Raven seems to join Trigon in his preparation against Earth, but there is good in her heart, so she never truly fits in, in the Under Realm.

She secretly watches the Teen Titans. What she wants them for is unclear at this point. trigon assumes that she plots to bend them to her will, so they may accompany her, when she finally takes rule of Earth.

Trigon sends his three son's to Earth to bring back Raven. As they leave, he watches Raven, like a father wanting and waiting for his daughter to come home.

Meanwhile in NYC, the Titans are still coming to grips with what has happened. Raven and Wonder Girl have words. Raven has a fit of rage and lashes out at Wonder Girl, only to be knocked down. Raven apologizes for her outburst, wonders what came over her, Bunker answers her question, by pointing out that three beings have just entered their realm. He points to the Brothers Trigon coming to collect their sister.

4Story - 4: The story literally takes place right where last issue left off. We pick up right after the "psi blast" from Psimon in the final pages of last issue. I liked this aspect quite a bit. It continued the narrative in a natural flow.

However, in the opening pages of this issue, we learn that Trigon is gone... No glorious exit, no speech, no monologue, just simply gone!

So why the hell did he come in the first place? To trash NYC?

And is Raven a good guy/gal now?

I'm not going to go off at Lobdell for this, rather I'm calling out the Editor, Mike Cotton. Mr Cotton obviously is not proof reading Lobdell's scripts, otherwise the narrative wouldn't have been so choppy in terms of Trigon leaving and Raven aligning herself with the Titans.

So many unanswered questions. There is a hint Raven has been mentally reaching out to the Teen Titans... Was she the cause for Red Robin tongue wrestling all the girls on the team? It seems that the writing is not consistent in certain aspects. Which does not bode well for readers that follow from month to month.

A small character moment I absolutely loved was how Kid Flash lost control, and then Superboy steps in to stop him from killing Psimon. The line "your better than that" really evoked SUPERMAN. That is something that Superman would say, and it's an absolute joy to read something like that come from Superboy!

I realize that this book is the primary outlet for Red Robin/Tim Drake, but he gets too much face time. It feel's that this book revolves around him. Thus making it less a team book and more a Red Robin book (and then sadly by proxy a Batman book).

Most of the issue was taken up with the telling or rather re-telling of Raven's origin. Which is pretty much the same as the Pre New 52 origin for Raven.

The Titans are exactly where they were when the issue started, standing amidst the destruction left by Trigon. At the end of the issue, the Brothers Trigon show up to throw down with the Titans. So in an essence, this issue was really a filler, so to stretch out this storyline a bit more. I hate decompressed story telling, but thats how comics are written these days, so no use complaining about it.

I really liked the introduction of Raven's brothers. Each one seems like a credible threat, and they also have the family resemblance. Their dislike of Raven is interesting, opens up great possibilities for future tales for not only Raven and Trigon, but also Each can be a menacing threat/villain for the Titans. Kind of reminded me of Mongul's son and daughter, when they were seeking revenge on Superman a few years back. If trigon dies... there are 3 spares!

I would have only scored this issue a 3 this month, being just a filler, and having the origin story take up most of the issue, but one thing really touched me as I read this issue. One aspect really made me care about the villain of the story... The Devil has a Heart...Trigon loves Raven!

Much like any father would, Trigon loves his only daughter. He may have played it off to his son's, saying that he needs her, in order to rule Earth, but that last scene with him, as he sends his son's to Earth to take on the Titans and bring back Raven. The panel that shows his face, below the panel, where he dips his fingers in the pool of blood. Those two panels in that scene, speak louder than anything else. There is love in Trigon's black heart.

In comics these days, a lot villains have had more layers added to them, to give them more depth and make them more rounded characters. Sadly the same formula has been used time and time again to many a bad guy, essentially making them DC's version of a certain Marvel magnetic mutant menace.

The aforementioned formula is as follows:

Villain + Tragic past/traumatic event + Extreme measures = A Really Good Bad Guy.

Some examples in recent years of this are Sinestro, Black Adam, General Zod... Even Lex Luthor to some extent.

Here though, the bad guy is still a bad guy. (Heck he's practically the devil). The depth comes in the form of something you don't associate with the devil, and that is, he loves his daughter. Probably the first and only thing he has ever loved.

It's revealed in the story that Raven needed the ability to love. This begs the question, why does she need the ability to love? Is it for her to love Trigon unconditionally, thus doing his bidding? Or to simply have Raven love him back?

5Art - 5: I'm not a fan of multiple artist on a book, but it was handled really well this issue. I recently learned that Eddy Barrows has some health issues, hence the reason he falls behind on his pencilling duties from time to time.

The entire Trigon/Raven Origin was done by Patrick Zircher, and I must say, his style perfectly compliments the dark nature of the story telling. His style seemed a perfect match for the super natural aspects of Raven's origin. I like that Patrick Zircher draws the citizen's of Azarath (Raven's teacher's) with the same cloak's that Raven sported Pre New 52.

Also Zircher rendered to of my most favorite panels this issue. Trigon looking at Raven in his "viewing pool". He managed to give him emotion, which I have never really seen or associated with the character before.

Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira continue to do a superb job with the Titans. As I have stated in my other reviews, I love the personality Barrows brings to each character of the team. There was so much emotion in the faces of Solstice, Red Robin and Psimon on the opening page. Without the narrative, it's clear that all three are in shock.

The panel where Kid Flash pummels Psimon's face into the ground was also a personal favorite of mine this month. Through illustration, we are reminded just how ferocious and dangerous Bart can be, if he were to ever lose control.

Not sure if I like beast Boy being red now, instead of green, but this is the New 52, so such changes are to be expected. And that finally leads me to the coloring. As usual Alex Sinclair brings a whole new dimension with his color art. This month he had assists by Pete Pantazis, and it's obvious the pages that Sinclair didn't work on. Pete Pantazis does a good job also, matching the color palette that Sinclair establishes earlier in the issue.

3Cover Art - 3: I hate to rate this cover so low. It is a beautiful piece of art by the regular team... But nothing even remotely happens in this issue that justifies this image! It's completely misleading!

The blame really falls on the shoulders of editorial (again), and I'm a huge fan of Barrows art, but I can't score it any higher, it's false advertising, and I expect more from DC!

Lastly...Why is Red Robin wearing Avalanche's helmut?... It even has an "X" on it!

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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