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Can This Really Be the Same Book?

April 16, 2010

     I remember when I finally made the decision to start reading DC Comics.  There were three major factors involved in that: Geoff Johns’ at the time recent work (Infinite Crisis and the new directions for all the books coming with that), Justice League Unlimited, and the anime-inspired Teen Titans cartoon show.  I loved that Teen Titans show, as silly and over the top as it could be at times, so it was only natural that the first DC book I got was Teen Titans.  That was over four years ago, just around the time of One Year Later, back when Johns and Tony Daniels were still on the book.  Fastforward to now, Teen Titans #81.  Although more than half of the characters on the team are people Johns worked with (Miss Martian, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Raven, and now Superboy and Kid Flash), it’s nothing like the classic it used to be.  In some jumbled-up, awkward story, Blue Beetle, Beast Boy, Raven, and Miss Martian go looking for their missing teammates, who have been captured by Holocaust.  Said missing team members, a.k.a. Static, Wonder Girl, Aquagirl, and Bombshell, fail at escaping, and even Wonder Girl admits that’s her personal low point.  Beast Boy whines about his problems, and Cyborg talks with two “mysteriously shadowed” people.  Blue Beetle locate Holocaust’s compound, and they break in, then locate their teammates.  Just as Holocaust seems to have them on the ropes, Cyborg arrives with the mysterious people, who turn out to be Superboy and Kid Flash, ready for battle.  Then, in the Ravager backup, that girl is alive and fighting for her life in the hospital.  Ravager beats herself up for it before receiving a message from Will Roades.  She meets with him, and he, wanting to see what side of the fence she falls on, offers a trade: her life for the lives of a few other girls he has kidnapped.  She tries to get it both ways, tricking him and taking out most of Roades’ goons with a gun.  However, she misses one shot, and Roades stabs her in the shoulder.  So now, everyone dies.

     I thought Sean McKeever killed the Teen Titans.  I thought that he was basically running everything I liked about the characters into the ground.  But at least he could tell a coherent story, even if it wasn’t always good.  Felicia D. Henderson may have some good ideas, but I’ll never know, as they’re trapped underneath absolutely awkward dialogue and funky scene transitions.  This issue, more so than even the last one, has some of the worst dialogue I’ve seen outside of a Chris Claremont or James Robinson book.  I mean, the exchange betwen the four captured members after the failed bubble escape attempt…  That stuff is just painful to read.  It started out mildly funny, but the moment they all got serious, the quality of the dialogue went out the window.  And honestly.  “Welcome.  To the day you all die.”  Or “Welcome to the jungle, baby!”  Holocaust is possibly the worst offender.  Plus, all the characters, like Wonder Girl, Static, and Beast Boy, are so busy whining (as if they haven’t done enough of that in the past few issues, especially Wonder Girl) that the plot just meanders along at a snail’s pace.  Even Joe Bennett’s art suffers a bit, especially at the end.  Kid Flash’s head just looks like a square with a chin.  And a lot of the detail that normally characterizes Bennett’s work is, in certain panels, just… absent.  Again, this story could be good.  You know, if someone else, someone who could actually tell a story, were writing it.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it is.  McKeever and Yildiray Cinar’s absolutely random and pointless Ravager backup is significantly better than the main story, and I never thought I’d be praising McKeever for his work on Ravager.  Everything’s relative.  Because I love this book so much, I won’t stop reading it.  But PLEASE bring Geoff Johns back.  Take this book seriously again, DC.

Plot: 2.5      Art: 7.9      Dialogue: 1.5      Overall: 2.7

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