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Mild Mannered Reviews - Teen Titans Comics

Teen Titans #22 Teen Titans #22

Teen Titans #22

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 24, 2013

Cover date: September 2013

"Dark Titans"

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Layouts: Eddy Barrows
Finishes: Jesus Merino
Colors: Pete Pantazis

Reviewed by: Keith Samra

Click to enlarge

Our story begins where we left off last issue, with (Red) Robin, Beast Boy and Raven facing off against Trigon and the five members of the Teen Titans; Superboy, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Solstice and Bunker that he has taken possession of.

Raven splits her Soul-Self up into different individual avatars to combat the possessed Titans, and a battle ensues. A possessed Bunker manages to get the better of Raven, while at the same time, Beast Boy takes the shape of an Octopus and surprises Trigon, by attaching himself to Trigon's head.

An enraged Trigon throws Beast Boy off, swearing that he will curse the young hero to burn for a millennium. Robin takes advantage of this distraction and dives for Trigon from above, aiming his razor sharp wings at the villainous demon lord.

Robin's desperate attempt to stop Trigon proves successful, as his wings pierce the back of Trigon's head, and come out the front, impaling the monster through the face.

Trigon pulls the discarded wings from his head and speaks directly to Robin, telling him that he has won nothing, and that in the end Trigon will be there, as he was in the beginning, long after Red Robin is dead, and that he will spit on his grave...

Trigon disappears, and the possessed Titans are released from his control. Raven questions weather her father's influence has completely left the Titans, but is reassured by Robin that he is gone and to let it go. Raven embraces Robin, hoping that he is correct in his assumption.

Bunker tries to recollect the events that just transpired, and thanks Robin for saving them. Beast Boy in the form of a Lion, licks Wonder Girls to try and awaken her from her unconscious state. Superboy grabs and pulls Beast Boy off, he says he is happy that Beast Boy is OK, and wants him to stay that way, hinting for him to stop licking Wonder Girl. Solstice and Kid Flash share a moment, as Solstice helps Bart to his feet.

Bunker surveys the destruction around them, and questions how they are going to fix the situation. Just then, a woman that resembles Amanda Waller, who had been watching the battle last issue, steps out of a portal with six agents dressed in black suits. They tell the Titans that they will take care of the situation, by wiping the minds of any witnesses to the events, and blame the destruction on a rare case of earthquake hitting New York. It is also revealed that the soldiers that were killed by Psimon a couple issues ago, were never truly there. Rather were a manipulation of Trigon. This is confirmed by Raven. The woman steps back into her portal, taking Psimon with them. She says to the Titans that this was a one time favor, and if they ever cross paths again, it will not go down good for them.

Later on the Titan's yacht, Robin welcomes Raven to the team. He tells her that the team is a safe haven for meta powered teens, and that they will keep her safe from her father and any other dangers they may face. The whole team welcomes her on board. Raven, happy to hear this, thanks them, and reveals that Trigon tried very hard to break them, even going as far as influencing Robin to act out of character and give into his inhibitions, causing him to have intimate moments with both Wonder Girl and Solstice.

She then excuses herself, saying that she needs some alone time, and heads to her room. Once there, she calls to Trigon, and tells him that she has successfully infiltrated the Teen Titans! Trigon appears and his happy with the results.

Meanwhile the rest of the team is still coming to grips with the revelation that Raven has just bought to light, and all are angry with Robin. Kid Flash takes off first in a burst of super speed, leaving Solstice to go after him. Wonder Girl and Superboy follow suit, leaving Robin with Bunker to come to terms with his transgressions.

Solstice pleads to Kid Flash to let her explain, but Bart has barricaded himself into his room. He asks Solstice to leave him alone, only to find someone entering his room through another sort of portal. The being calls Bart by the name or Bar Tor, and tells him the time has come for him to pay for his crimes in the future!

We close with Bart being pulled into the very same portal, with many different arms and hands pulling him in, and we hear Solstice's voice calling out to him from outside the room.

3Story - 3: Where to start? A rather disappointing end to what seemed like a promising story when it began.

I don't see why this issue couldn't have been combined with last month's? Last month was nothing more than a slug fest with Raven's brothers, with Trigon returning at the end, and taking possession of five of the most powerful members of the team. That could have been done in two pages, and combined with this issue! This is why I really dislike the "decompressed" story telling approach, or the "Dragon Ball Z" approach to comic writing as I like to call it. We waited a whole four months for this storyline to play through, and it could have been told in two issues! There is even a catch up narrative by Beast Boy on the last two issues, in the opening page, which he tells in six paragraphs!

Trigon takes possession of the Titans, yet does nothing much with them at all. The battle is over far too quickly. I would have rather seen the possessed Titans fight the other three Titans, than have had the issue-long battle with the Brothers Trigon from last issue. All it was, was a showcase of how "bad ass" (Red) Robin is... Even though I'm a big fan of Tim Drake, I'm getting tired of him being in the spotlight all the time. It's like watching a Tom Cruise movie, with Tom being in every scene! Beast Boy and Raven were free, but as usual, Red Robin throws the crucial final punch, or rather jabbing his razor sharp wings into the back of Trigon's head. As strong and sharp as Robins wings may be, I doubt that they could or rather should have pierced Trigon's skull in such a way. I mean isn't Trigon meant to be a threat to even Superman? So can Robin's wings pierce Superman too?

Trigon leaves after his defeat yet again... 'Nuff said, don't worry, he reappears near the end of the issue... Again!

An Amanda Waller lookalike turns up. Previously in the last couple of issues, I had mistaken her for "the" Amanda Waller, but like Jessica Rabbit she's just drawn that way... This I feel was a bad choice by the initial artist's rendition. Visually it is confusing. Our mysterious woman seems to turn up out of nowhere (no pun intended), with the Men In Black?! They even do the "flashy-gizmo" thing, and make everyone other than the Titans "forget" that the so called battle even happened with the use of a "Parameter Psi-Scrub". I felt this was a cop out really, having the public forget, and think it to be a rare earthquake really cheapens the story. Also the fact there were no soldiers killed in action, but rather have them be a psychic projection by Trigon, makes me ask why even bother showing such a scene in the first place? Couldn't this battle have taken place in a desert or the Titan yacht instead? That way there would have been some ramifications afterward as to where the team would reside.

Raven is welcomed to Titans, but is still working with her father. This felt like a call back to the Judas Contract storyline. This time Raven replaces Tera. Not sure how I feel about this. If they are going to do something similar, they need to do it right, otherwise leave it be. Come up with something new, instead of dipping into the well, and making cosmetic changes.

Everyone mad at Robin in the end was good to see. As stated before, I like to see ramifications! It's great drama in the book. I'm glad they tied up that loose end, was starting to feel they were just going to leave that little plot thread dangling... Like Skitter... Remember her?

Kid Flash may not be Bart Allen... Again intriguing idea, but needs to be done properly, not like this Trigon storyline. Kid Flash's real name may be Bar Tor... The name sounds like it came from a Masters of the Universe character or the John Carter novels. Tuns out Bart or Bar Tor may have committed some evil acts in the future to help his family. This certainly is a huge departure from Impulse/Bart Allen. Again I hope they do this right. Bart is another favorite character of mine, and I'm not liking how these characters have been treated at times in the New 52.

Bart taken away into a void with many hands pulling him in... This was a very cool cliffhanger! This I can't wait to see play out.

I was expecting an epic storyline when Trigon turned up. And I feel greatly cheated with how it played out and ultimately concluded. Sure Raven is now a "fox in the hen house," but it feels they swapped Terra out and replaced her with Raven for the New 52. I'm sad to say that this is not Lobdell's best work, and I really hope that he steps up his game in the months to come. There doesn't seem to be much consistency in his writing. It varies from issue to issue, and it's getting a little tiring.

My friend Shawn Morrissey, who started out reviewing this title when the New 52 started, dropped the book, because he couldn't stand Lobdell's writing anymore. I had been a Lobdell apologist for quite some time, but I'm starting to feel Shawn's pain at times with the writing. I don't know if it's my view on the New 52 as a whole, but I feel that sales-wise DC may be making a fair bit of money, but the quality of the books has dipped quite a bit. I think what the book needs is some small quiet and family type moments, like the Titans of old. I want to see the bond that these characters have with one another, rather than fighting big threats or each other all the time! A little less action and some more drama could go a long way to help the quality of the book.

Two team member, Solstice and Bunker fade into the background too often. Now with the addition of Raven and Beast Boy to the team, what will happen to them? I would really like to see more of these two characters in play, as well as have more light shed onto their back stories. We are two years into the New 52, and still these two characters have only had a couple of moments to shine in 22 issues.

I apologize if I sound like I'm complaining about the New 52. I don't mean to, it's just the frustration I feel as I write this review at this time.

5Art - 5: The art continues to be of high caliber! As I mentioned last issue, I'm just as big a fan of Jesus Merino as I am Eddy Barrows. (Whom I read is facing some health issues of late).

Sadly Barrows only supplied thumbnail art for this issue, as stated in the credits, but the compositions are great. And having Merino do the finishes was a great choice.

The opening splash page with Robin, crouched in a position ready to strike, speaks more for the setting than any description. Followed by the great double page spread, that shows the scope of the threat. I loved how Raven split her Soul Self into different Avatars. It was a really striking image.

Superboy using his T.K. punch to take down Raven was a cool moment, and beautifully rendered. It was quite cinematic in its scope, and also portrayed the power that Superboy possesses in the best fashion.

Merino handled the personal moments equally well, with the welcoming of Raven into the team. And everyone in turn getting mad at Robin afterward.

The splash page of Raven in her room and Trigon coming from the shadows was my favorite in the whole book. It had a very "Succumbing To The Devil" feel to it, and you can really see both artists' work quite predominately. It looks like an Eddie Barrows page, yet still has a Jesus Merino feel to it! Loved it!

My second favorite is the one panel where Superboy hugs the Lion formed Beast Boy. It felt like a call back to a scene in Superman: Peace On Earth by Alex Ross.

My only complaint would be that Merino is a little heavy with the inks at times, but still his work always looks very striking, so I can't discount the man on that.

All in all, the art in the issue saved it for me. It made up for the disappointing conclusion to a mediocre storyline.

The coloring continues to be awesome. Pete Pantazis does a fantastic job of setting the tone with his color palette. It still has the feel of an Alex Sinclair colored book. And that's a compliment, as Sinclair, I feel, is one of the top 5 colorists in the business.

4Cover Art - 4: This month's cover was done by Howard Porter, colors and all apparently. The composition is great, but the figures look a little stiff. This was a common complaint of mine whenever it came to Porter's work, but there is a lot of character in all their faces. I love how Trigon looks really menacing!

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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