Every comic is somebody’s first, so be reader friendly, goes the truism. It’s not a rule writer Tim Sheridan pays attention to… as with most issues, he doesn’t introduce his cast. Not really. A few names are dropped, but if you’ve not been making notes, good luck working out who all the Titans Academy students are. This chapter of Sheridan’s neverending Red X story also serves as part of the War For Earth 3 crossover, giving him a whole new batch of characters to not properly introduce.
Sheridan does provide a line or two of context about the storyline, with Rick Flag mentioning that Amanda Waller is invading Earth 3, but it’s not much, and it’s a long time coming. Most of this issue is the Titans Academy students and staff hanging around their new safe house – Titans Tower having been blown up (take a drink) – and worrying about the ever-troublesome Red X.
Because despite the massive array of powers and decades of experience on the part of Nightwing, Raven, Donna Troy, Arsenal and the Flash, they can’t find the mystery man (my guess is former Titan Danny Chase, teen telekinetic turned teleporting Phantasm). Oh, and Tempest – onetime Aqualad, now massively powerful sorcerer – appears in one panel.
As the lunch lady.
Ye, and indeed, gods.
While some kids eat, others are having a secret meeting in the basement.
Once again, the senior Titans are doing a truly terrible job of keeping an eye on their young charges, and by the end of the issue things are even more ridiculous on that front.
At Star Labs, Raven is accepting an offer from students Gorilla Gregg and Cybruh (no idea, I’ve only read every issue) on behalf of the stricken Changeling and Cyborg.
Meanwhile, erstwhile Suicide Squad leader Rick Flag and his recruits Captain Boomerang, Mirror Master, Bloodsport and, I think, an alternate world Harley Quinn, break into the supposed safe house – it’s all done with mirrors.
Never mind ‘lying around’, I can’t believe the Titans have all that stuff at all… when have the heroes habitually gone into battle wielding such terrifying weapons?
Anyway, Starfire and Nightwing show up and join the fray.
Does anyone understand what’s happening? Dick is pulling his punches? Against a known killer who’s broken into the building? There’s nothing to set up the exchange with Starfire.
Wally shows up with Rick Flag and, er, Harley Twin?
You may recall that last week, in his own book – that would be the previous chapter of this very crossover – Wally met Mirror Master. Well, he doesn’t. There’s no mention at all. There’s not even the excuse that different editors are handling the books, as all four parts have come from the desks of Chris Rosa and Paul Kaminski.
I thought last issue was bad, but this one may be worse. More stupid characterisations (why is Wally a grinning loon?), missing story beats (the Titans know probably a dozen super-scientists, and they’re trusting the lives of Gar and Vic to a couple of students?), random nonsense (why does Stitch refer to Donna Troy as the ‘Dragon Lady’?) and misplaced humour (as well as the Tempest business – a nod to Darkseid as the Tiny Titans dinner lady? – there’s Donna quoting Batman 66 as she revs up the T-jet).
Let’s find some positives. The art by Tom Derenick is mostly pretty solid. I really like his Donna, Starfire and Arsenal, and the kids have some nice facial expressions. Mind, the old Titans are a tad over dramatic in that reaction shot above. The colours by Pete Pantazis and Matt Herms are fine, and Rob Leigh’s letters are as spiffy as ever. There’s a nicely drawn random dog on the opening page.
There you go. Positives.
As for the cover, as with last week’s Flash it’s not exactly relevant to the issue at hand. Looking at the other covers for this crossover, it seems artist Rafa Sandoval and colourist Alex Sinclair are doing one big image…maybe it’ll be a pullout extra in a collected edition.
I feel I should apologise for such a negative post, but these comics aren’t cheap. This crossover should be a lot better and that needs calling out.
Is it me? Is the War For Earth 3 working for anyone?