Damian Wayne’s USP is that he’s a bit of a dick – highly intelligent, but even more arrogant. I’ve defended him down the years as a wild card who can turn a story on its head, disrupting normally smooth-running relationships, injecting extra excitement.
This issue, though, he does something unforgivable.
Let’s work our way to that…
The newly super-fast Deathstroke is running up and down the timestream, desperate to bring his late son Grant back from the dead. He want to intervene at a crucial moment so Grant, as HIVE lackey the Ravager, is never killed in battle with the original Teen Titans by the powers granted him by the science bandits.
Not all the young heroes are gung-ho about taking on the world’s greatest assassin now he has super speed.
I can’t say I entirely disagree with Beast Boy; bringing in more power, more people with experience of time-bending, might be the best course of action. But his colleagues reckon there’s no time to lose, no pun intended. They’re about to fly to the original Titans’ Hatton Corners base, where Wally West I, Kid Flash turned Flash, has news of his battle with Deathstroke. Damian, blaming Wally West II for Deathstroke getting super-speed, takes a decision.
(This isn’t the massive dick move, oh no, this is more regular Robin…)
Another hero also misses the flight.
Soon Wally II and Jackson Hyde are making their way across country, getting an unexpected lift from Deathstroke’s right-hand man, the very definition of the friend out to save you from yourself.
The combined powers of Starfire, Raven, Flash and Deathstroke’s other son, Jericho, get a sub-team of Titans back to the past, where there’s immediately a potentially reality-wrecking encounter.
And then, Damian’s moment of madness.
He’s just killed a hero because he believes it’ll save the day. He gambles young Wally I will be back to life soon, but seriously? He’s surrounded by peers, and older heroes, and rather than a quick conflab, murders the first Kid Flash on a hunch?
When Damian dumped Wally II earlier I wondered why the rest of the heroes didn’t immediately lock this decidedly non-team player in the nearest Batcave. This, though, this is the point at which Raven should banish him to a nether dimension, Donna Troy lock him behind Doom’s Doorway or Tempest dump him in a sub-sea trench. Instead, all we get is Nightwing restraining Damian for a while.
By the end of the story, Damian’s back to his regular ways, and I’m amazed the elder Titans team don’t do something to put this loose cannon in his place. Before that there’s plenty more in the way of time travel trouble and cracking characterisation – young Wally, in particular, impresses with his thoughtfulness. I won’t give chapter and verse, leaving you to find out for yourself what happens in this double-sized issue tying up the Titans/New Teen Titans/ Deathstroke crossover.
I will say that three characters – one from each series – reach turning points. And this I like, because that’s what I want from an extra-length finale; that’s what DC would often give us in the New Teen Titans’ Eighties heyday.
In terms of DC Rebirth rewriting of history – outside of Deathstroke’s plot – we see Grant Wilson’s path to HIVE villainy in a more 21st-century context. It puts the troubled teen’s time as the Ravager in a more sympathetic light.
My favourite member this issue is Aqualad-to-be Jackson Hyde – he’s not yet taken the name – who manages some good incredulity-based gags while taking the situation with due seriousness.
Deathstroke writer Priest scripts this issue after plotting with Dan Abnett and Ben Percy, who handle two short codas outlining the consequences of The Lazarus Contract. All three writers seem to be having fun, and looking forward to taking the new plotlines further in their regular series.
Penciller Paul Pelletier shows once more what a great storyteller he is, skilled in panel-to-panel transitions, dynamic action and facial expressions. I hope we see him take on a regular DC series soon. Andrew Hennessy’s bold inks and the colours of Adriano Lucas and letters of Willie Schubert complete the package.
The two-page back-ups feature the talents of artists Brett Booth & Norm Rapmund, and Koi Pham and Wade Von Grawbadger, and while they’ve no room to go wild, it’s good, professional work.
The cover comes from illustrator Mike McKone and colourist Alex Sinclair and its fun, but would be so much better without all that speed lightning DC’s wedded to these days.
This Special – announced as an Annual, it beats me what fhe difference is – is an absorbing, exciting, good-looking read. Now, if only DC would follow it up with the Damian Gets Ssnt To Arkham Asylum Annual…