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Titans #1: Haven't We Been Here Before?

When Marv Wolfman and George Perez first created the "New" Teen Titans, many saw them as DC's answer to the growing popularity of the X-Men. The parallel was strong enough that Marvel and DC did do an inter-company crossover with both teams, and for a while, the Titans carried two books simultaneously.

With this week's Titans #1, the comparison seems apt once more, but this time, it's not a good thing. Convoluted continuity? I think that's there. A sprawling cast that includes characters you barely registered? That's there. A very limited choice as to who the secret villain will be? There, too. Most importantly, everybody looks darned pretty after attacks on their lives, even having time to change outfits.

Seriously, this book bore a second reading just to make sure it was as bad as my first impression said it was.

Instead of a jumping on point, Titans #1 actually claims to be the continuation of an earlier story - it says "Part 2." Thinking back, you might remember the Titans East Special #1, which ended on an unresolved downer note a few months ago when Cable stole Baby Wildebeest and fled into the future…wait. Wrong downer.

Right in the thick of things, this opens with Nightwing going to one of Batman's "safehouses" stowed around Gotham for his family. It's actually a reasonable idea, one of those things that reminds one that when writer Judd Winick is well-edited or perhaps passionate about an assignment, he does write well. But Dick senses something wrong, jumping out of the apartment just before it blows up.

Falling to the street, he encounters a rogue band of Golden Globe awards. Apparently the DC Universe just had a huge rash of breast implants; even undead leather babies got them. Thanks to Ian Churchill's otherwise competent art, we now know that Donna Troy and Starfire must be extremely grateful for their super-strength. Otherwise their backs would be killing them.

Let's leave the killing to the villain, though, shall we? He sets up death traps for each one of the original new Titans (that would be confusing no matter who wrote the book), and clearly has it in for anyone who has ever been a member. Mysteriously, Winick has no love for Tempest (Aqualad), Hornblower or Bumblebee, unless they're already dead and I've missed it.

Deathtrap is too kind a word for what happens here, actually. What we get are huge pages of Churchill posing the heroes in various states of threat from some sort of demonic creatures. Great splash pages - except that the book overuses the device. At least that made the second read go much faster.

In a case of absolutely poor writing, what we don't get is how the Titans defeat their foes. Not as in they're still fighting by the end of issue one, but as in every fight actually happens off-camera. Winick has time for the lightest strokes of characterization, with Red Arrow/Speedy/Arsenal/Roy Harper coming off the best, before charging to the next set-up with no pay-off.

Then there's the matter of continuity. If you want to have the slightest hope of enjoying this book, pretend continuity doesn't matter. This happens on the same day as the Titans East book, which had to have been months ago. Kyle Rayner and Donna Troy are concerned about Countdown, but not so concerned she can't stop and join her old teammates. Starfire definitely has experienced Countdown to Adventure, but decided to stay with Buddy Baker's family after all. And the actual Teen Titans, the ones that are teens, have a line-up that ended at least six months ago.

So that's the Zorlac talking - seriously, it's like reading a Batman solo book. You have to pretend the rest of the DC books don't exist to really get into it. Not that I could.

Someone could correct me on one other matter - Winick puts Raven in high school. Did she become de-aged at some point? Because even doing fuzzy comic book math, that means she seduced a college-aged Wally West into rejoining the Titans when she was about twelve.

That's just creepy.

We've been here before, and I should have learned my lesson the last couple of times. Whenever Winick writes the Titans coming together, they reminisce about old times, look grim and rededicate after someone dies. (See that mini-series that killed Donna Troy and revived the Outsiders a few years back.) DC touts this as forging a new team from the ashes of old, dead friends. The problem is - they don't have any old friends left to kill.

What's Snapper Carr doing these days?

Derek McCaw


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