And so we say farewell to the latest Teen Titans series, which has the distinction of being the most frustrating superhero series in years. Some issues have been great, more have been terrible. Which means that the book tanked and the promising new characters – Gorilla Gregg, Stitch, Summer, Diego – are likely now waiting in a queue to be maimed or killed in the coming Dark Crisis.
So, what do they get up to before that happens? The final issue opens with Stitch and her ‘Young Justice Dark’ pals engaged in a fight to rescue the hero we’re told to call ‘Shazam’ from Apokolips.
Back on Earth, the senior Titans are wondering if they can separate the recently fused Beast Boy and Cyborg.
And Diego, aka Chupacabra, shows his newly discovered Uncle Jorge that he’s ready to spread his wings.
Raven comes up with a temporary fix so the world won’t know Gar and Victor have become a little too close.
And, Titans Tower rebuilt after the Red X debacle (see issues… nah, don’t bother), Academy headmistress ‘Ms Starfire’ gathers students old and new.
If you can get past the fact that the continuation of Titans Academy within the DCU makes no sense (new starters have to pass a memorial to the students killed so far on Ms Starfire’s watch), the speech is pretty good. It’s a shame it’s played out against a couple of pages of empty rooms and doors closing… throughout this run Tim Sheridan has refused to accept he’s not writing for television. He scripts as if for a TV show we’re binge watching, with recaps of situations, even such fundamentals as the regular naming and basics of characters, ignored. The slow pan to the final page image of the new Titans Tower standing proud as Kory says her piece would have worked on telly, with stirring music behind, but in a comic it’s a static, dull look for a series end.
As for the rest of this issue, the business on Apokolips is never explained – when the sadly Not Original Captain Marvel is asked directly why he was there, he evades the question. Sheridan prefers to get in a plug for an upcoming mini-series starring Mary Marvel or whatever she’s called these days… Shazamette?
The Diego subplot gets far too much page space – so he’s grown wings, big deal. And I get that artistic Uncle Jorge is meant as a nod to New Titans legend George Perez, but this is comics – a long-lost relative who gets immediately super chummy with their supposed nephew and never takes off their dark glasses while grinning and encouraging him to take off his shirt… could it feel more sinister?
As for the original Titans, Sheridan is seriously taking the piss. Gar and Victor are very much in a body horror situation and everyone is smiling away. Nightwing, in particular, is unrecognisable. I get trying to keep someone’s spirits up, but there is no way an adult man as empathetic as Dick Grayson would be making gags about nabbing an unneeded bedroom. And then there’s Raven’s temporary patch… how the heck does that work? It’s an illusion that Beast Boy and Cyborg are separate, but it ‘feels’ different to them? And their word balloons are coming from several feet apart?
It’s not enough to have a line from that obscure kid who helped fuse Gar and Vic to save them from something or other that a solution is coming soon… this is the last issue, the writer should put the toys back in the box as he found them. I find it hard to believe this nonsense will be acknowledged the next time Beast Boy and Changeling appear (I think that’s in the coming Dark Crisis).
At one point Dick and Kory muse about what they were like when they were the same age as the Academy students, with Nightwing saying ‘We were so young’. Well, no, he was about 20 when the New Titans formed, hence the dropping of ‘teen’ from the team name.
Tom Derenick remains one of DC’s most unlauded assets, an artist with the ability to give any script the appearance of a coherent story… which makes reading the thing all the more frustrating. Derenick keeps characters on model, makes fight scenes look exciting, sells Diego’s thrill at new vistas opening up… it’s such a shame he’s not assigned to a decent series.
Peter Pantazis and Matt Herms share the colouring assignment and everything looks fine, while Rob Leigh adds interest to the dialogue with his various treatments. Sadly, editors Chris Rosa and Paul Kaminski were apparently very busy the day Sheridan’s script arrived.
The cover, by Derenick and Herms, is deeply boring.
The finale implies Titans Academy has a long future ahead of it. DC solicitations tell a different tale. While I hope some of the new characters are used in future years, I won’t be sad to see the school blown up again – Titans Academy was a fundamentally stupid idea that never reached what little potential it had.