This issue, a Titan DIES!
Or, if it’s Tuesday, it must be Crisis. Let’s pretend the previous 17 or however many Crisis events we’ve enjoyed or endured since the Crisis on Infinite Earths happened were fluffy affairs, because this is the Dark Crisis! Which means that the villains stand in the shadows. Well, so far… by the end of this first of seven parts a horde of bad guys have used a Teen Titans Academy student to blow up Titans Tower, which hadn’t been smashed to smithereens for at least a week.
Who’s the unfortunate student? Well, following the rules of popular fiction, it’s the one who most recently realised they had a bright future ahead of them, in the final issue of Teen Titans Academy.
A classic Titan also dies, but that isn’t going to stick because a) they’re currently not where the gun thinks they are, courtesy of the aforementioned Academy comic; and b) they’re a classic Titan.
Before the big finish – well, cliffhanger – we follow fill-in Superman Jon Kent as he flies around the globe trying to recruit members for a new Justice League, a legacy team to take up the slack. Since the most recent version of the League supposedly died, all heck is breaking out.
The big foot belongs to Green Lantern Hal Jordan, an original JLA Leaguer who wasn’t with the latest team when they were killed. He sounds a rare note of sanity when it comes to Black Adam, the only member of the League to have survived the conflict.
As a space cop, Hal is well equipped to answer the question of ‘what’s next?’
And so Jon sets off to find members for a new Justice League.
So who finally steps – or flies – forward?
Well, that’s random. A few veterans, some of whom have been Leaguers. The odd new hero. And Harley Quinn, a villainess with serious mental problems who redefines the term ‘wild card’.
Still, she is big in movies.
I trust writer Josh Williamson to have chosen this team for their story possibilities. There’s certainly some fun characters, such as Frankenstein and Blue & Gold. And I’m delighted to see Frost – no longer a Killer – get another chance after her heroic turn in Steve Orlando’s hugely underrated Justice League of America run. And while she’s wearing a hideous costume, and is a last minute substitution, Mary Marvel having been taken off the board by DC Editorial, Supergirl is a very welcome addition.
There is a super-elephant in the room – why is Jon needing to organise a Justice League? The last few years have seen the League based at the Hall of Justice, where dozens of heroes allied to the League hang out… were they just there for the free coffee? I’d love to see the remains of the Satellite era League step forward, the likes of Elongated Man, Red Tornado, Hawkman, the Atom, Firestorm (what’s his reluctance about, surely not that Doomsday Clock nonsense?). Perhaps they could be allied with the alumni of other Leagues, such as Vixen, Gypsy, Captain Atom, Congorilla and Silver Sorceress… it really doesn’t matter who, the point is, there’s no reason to interpret the ‘deaths’ of one iteration as a moment to pass the torch to a new generation. If there’s such a big threat coming, experience should be to the fore.
I prefer the legacy aspect of the DCU to slip into stories organically, as does happen here, in that scene with Jon, Hal and Wally; Hal takes charge, Wally gives Jon advice, Jon runs with it – it’s three generations of heroes working together.
I did enjoy this issue, and look forward to watching the ups and downs of the heroes over the next several months – I’ve read enough Josh Williamson books to have faith in his storytelling ability. Little snippets of fun are scattered throughout, such as Wally calling Green Lantern ‘Uncle Hal’, which makes sense – they’ve known each other since the current Flash was a pre-teen.
This bit of dialogue from Nightwing, at a memorial for the lost heroes, stands out for a different reason.
I know we fans tend to make the differentiation when it comes to Lanterns, but surely to the man in the street John Stewart is simply Green Lantern?
There are plenty of questions to be answered after this opening instalment: why are the nutty cults coming out of hiding? Why are the big hitter villains keeping their powder dry? Who has various heroes in their sights… I really hope its Deadshot, back from his recent death in the last-but-one Suicide Squad series – he’s too good to be absent from the DCU for long.
The only ‘what the….?’ moment came when Williamson addressed the relationship between the Titans and the League.
Nah! One of the core ‘rules’ of the Titans, Teen or otherwise, is that they do not defer to the Justice League; if they’ve ever had an assist, it’s because both teams are in an event.
Still, we do get that rather brilliant spread of DC B-list and lower bad guys attacking Titans Tower. Any day I see the likes of Typhoon, Crazy Quilt and the Bug-Eyed Bandit is a good day. Daniel Sampere does a tremendous job throughout the issue, drawing a Perez-load of heroes and villains interacting. Sampere’s storytelling skills serve the story brilliantly, with the action clear at all times. Characterisation such as Jon trying his dad’s patented hands-on-hips pose when he bids to recruit the new Wonder Girl is just perfect. The only niggle I have is with this panel.
From the dialogue, it seems that Black Adam is judging Dr Light to be slightly mature for a superheroine, but she looks no older than anyone else (she’s actually about 5000 years younger than the Egyptian relic).
Otherwise, the art is first rate, with excellent cityscapes, a luscious jungle, convincing tech… and it’s all made better by Alejandro Sanchez, who makes Earth 0 a wonderful world of colour. Sanchez is especially great at showing us the time of day with his lighting choices.
And letter man Tom Napolitano, apart from the sharp dialogue, gives us some cracking sound effects, and I like the way locations are writ large in establishing shots – it’s very cinematic.
The wraparound cover by Sampere and Sanchez is a smasher, definitely worthy of a Crisis.
This series if off to a splendid start, I reckon – I’d love to know your thoughts.