Saturday, July 9, 2011

Review: Titans Annual #1

It is all going away soon and I know that. All of this DCU is going away come September.

Some of it I will miss ... like Supergirl being in the Justice League.

Some of it I won't miss ... like a Titans book of super-villains, or Roy Harper wallowing in his own self-pity, acting the part of the 'lost soul' while trying to rediscover his heroism.

So what was I to do when Titans Annual #1 was released this week? Well, those who know me would realize that Supergirl in the JLA would trump just about anything. So I was in and bought the book. It didn't hurt that Cliff Richards was on art. I really liked his work on Huntress:Year One.

But that other stuff was still out there. And it dragged this issue down. I am simply not invested enough in Roy too much to care (although I think this happening to him is pretty low). Add to that the fact that Supergirl gets beaten up and defeated way too easily ... again ... and I ended up wondering if I should have passed. I mean it, I am sick of seeing Supergirl get trashed.

The book opens up on the border of Qurac and Khandaq where we see Osiris following in the foot steps of Black Adam, slaughtering Quraci troops as they prepare to invade. It strikes his sister Isis as wrong but there is no denying that he is reveling in his power. I have to say that given his uniform, there was a definite Kid Miracleman feel to him.

Meanwhile, the League are hunting down Deathstroke ... and consequently his Titans. But his Titans are Cheshire, Arsenal, and some plasma powered girl named Cinder. Hardly a team that could stand up to the power that this League brings. I mean, in all honesty Jade, Donna, or Supergirl should all be able to beat this team on their own. Right?

Even Deathstroke must realize it. He is carrying a small nuke on board as insurance. Someone tries to grab him, bye bye everything. Even Dick has to say with grudging respect that Deathstroke is a step ahead of them.

Except Deathstroke, at least in recent years, seems like someone who wouldn't want to kill himself for any reason. Maybe back in the earliest Titans tales when he simply wanted to retire and seemed to regret the whole Terra thing in the end, but not now.

Still, the League can't risk it and end up taking off.

But then the psychoanalysis of Harper starts up.

First Deathstroke tells him useless a man he is. He is only on this 'team' as a tool, a deterrent for hero interference.

Then, when they land in Khandaq to 'team up' with Osiris, Roy gets another dose. Cheshire wonders if the heroes see something in Harper that he no longer sees himself.

Finally we get to the bottom of Deathstroke's plans. He has enlisted Dr. Sivana to create a Methuselah device, a machine that heals. But one more component of the machine is still missing. He gets Isis to join the fight because he promises to use the machine to bring back Black Adam.

The Terminator has also added the Tattooed Man to the ranks of his team. The Tattooed Man seems reluctant to join, especially when he knows a fight with the JLA is on the horizon. He recalls that he fought with them at one point ... way back in Final Crisis. Nice continuity there. But in the end, he joins up.

Of course, the League is still on their mission to bring The Terminator to justice and so the mandatory brawl in Khandaq happens. Here is a nice 2 page spread.

But even with the added muscle of Osiris, this looks like a mismatch. First off, why would you send the Atom against Deathstroke when you have so many heavy hitters. And Donna against Cheshire? Is that even fair? Jade seems to be holding off Osiris. And Batman is tied up with Arsenal. And Supergirl, Starman, and Congorilla ... they are sort of there but not there.

Anyways, the battle somehow goes on all the time while Batman continues the psychological barrage against Roy. First Dick tries to convince Roy to come back to the light. Then, when Harper refuses, Dick turns on him. trying to beat a sense of hope and heroism into Roy.

Heck, I began to feel bad for Arsenal. Everyone has an opinion about him and none of them are good.

But then the anti-Supergirl nonsense took over. While most every other JLA member escapes this comic without a scratch, Supergirl gets taken down by three villains.

First Osiris dive bombs her, knocking her away from Dick and Roy.

Then, the Tattooed Man lassos her with his arm barbed wire and slaps her to the ground. Now don't ask me how magic 'ropes' would allow him to tug her out of the sky, or cause her face to bruise when she hits the ground ... but it does.

After seeing Kara get kicked around in the recent DCUO Legends book and now seeing this, I thought I had seen it all. I was wrong ...

We get this full page splash of Deathstroke filleting Supergirl with a Kryptonite sword, just like he was de-boning a fish.

I have to say I am sick of it.  I am sick of seeing Supergirl get taken out by second rate villains. She is a Kryptonian, is somewhere in the top tier of DC most powerful characters ... and in the last 6 weeks we have seen Livewire, Killer Croc, Osiris, the Tattoed Man, and Deathstroke pound her. Would we ever see a similar run with Superman? Wonder Woman? Orion?

I have talked about editorial errors bothering me in DC's

I mean here Starman is clearly blasting Cinder. The dialogue says it. So why is she colored like Jade? And why would the colorist think Starman would ever be blasting Jade like this? It is irksome.

Anyways, in the end, Isis shows up to stop the fight fearing for her people. She even shouts down Osiris. While noble, she demands that both sides of the fight leave or face her wrath and have it considered a breach of international law.

And the League agrees to leave! They allow Deathstroke and his team to walk. That seemed too quick. The League wants justice and that isn't justice. And you would think that if Isis wants to put the bloody history of Khandaq behind her, that harboring a team of super-villains isn't a good place to start. Still, the whole interaction rekindles feelings of hope in Roy. Perhaps he gets some redemption before the DCnU comes into being.

But there is one last insult to Supergirl fans. The battle with the League was set up just so Deathstroke could take on Supergirl. Her blood, gathered on a piece of her tattered cape, is the last component in Methuselah machine, a machine which will be used to heal not Black Adam ... but Jericho.

Let that roll around a bit ... Deathstroke wanted to fight Supergirl because he knew he would win and get what he wanted and escape. I would say it was a foolish plan except it happened.

Anyways, even if I remove my Supergirl bias, I don't know if I would have enjoyed this book. I don't care for Roy enough (although I did end up feeling bad for him in the end). I don't think Deathstroke should be treated this powerfully. And this Titans team should have been crushed by the League.

But I do have a Supergirl bias and she gets treated pretty badly here.

Overall grade: C-


taichara said...

I hate the Titans book and everything contained in it.

But if this last gasp of an arc somehow restores Joseph before this DCU goes under, I am all for this annual. You want to talk about a character that's been dragged through the mud ...

Anonymous said...

This is a good time to say..."It is only a Comix!" or isn´t it...?
I mean, why does it bother you so much to see their abuse?? Wouldn´t you do it to your most hated enemy?
The REAL (not Fake: Isis unveiled/ Wondie/Maria Magdalena/Lucifer) Spirit of truth??
Now would be a good time to ask yourself: "Is this guy with the wild Conspiratorial nonesense right?? Is "DC" (Owned by Satanist/Gangster Rockefeller family...) really the Church of Isis...? Is "Dan Didio" only the front for a New Age bul#$%&/it outfit that is desperately still trying to bring their "Age of aquarius" on everyone?
And the biggie: Is the REAL SG up there: (The Christian Holy Spirit) slaying their false goddess Isis?? Is that what makes "Dan Didio" see red...? And abuse her so horribly??
Man! You got every clue...think a little!!
DAVID (We need you sane...)

Anonymous said...

Well Orion was dumped in the garbage...

I agree though, I hate seeing Kara get hurt so viciously by someone as second-tier as Deathstroke, and the Tattooed Man. A Kryptonian is invincible, dammit!

I can't wait till Titans and this JLA are just gone.

Diabolu Frank said...

Hello, stupid. Wow. I have more interest in this fight than I should, since it involves so many former New Titans. It's kind of neat seeing Dick (who finally became Batman) fight his old friend and one time successor Roy (who couldn't even hold up as Red Arrow,) but there's no way Arsenal could go any kind of distance in an actual fight.

Osiris could maybe handle Supergirl for a while, and Cinder might give Starman a bit of a hassle. Deathstroke at prime fitness could take on Congorilla, the Atom and even Donna Troy. However, I don't see how the Tattooed Man could manage to be a problem for Jade, and that's where everything falls apart.

See, any one of the Leaguers could take Cheshire or Arsenal in fairly short order, which means doubling up on the already thin ranks of the Titans. Cinder and the Tattooed Man follow soon after. That pretty much leaves Slade and Osiris, so the only remote chance for victory is if Isis joins in, and even then, it's really tough to see Donna, Supergirl and Jade not handling that bunch. The numbers, skills and powers just do not add up in any logical way.

More importantly, once you reach the point where the Atom is vowing to avenge Ryan Choi and the League come in, it's time to wrap it up. This needed to be the big finale to the Titans overarching story, not an opportunity to punk the League, including two members about to relaunch solo series. Roy's got a team book and Slade a solo of his own, so you have them escape and safe face. You do not crap on everybody else to maintain a Titans team that gets canned in August.

Final note: Kryptonite sword? No. Stop. Shut up. Where does Slade get that much of an alien mineral, and once its unsheathed, how long before Superman shoves it up Slade's pooper? That's definitely too obvious to be clever, and harkens back to the old days when every other hoodlum had a glowing green rock in his pocket.

taichara said...


Calling a spade a spade (and it doesn't help the stupidity of the story events in general, tis true), that's not a Kryptonite sword. It's only coated with Kryptonite, which Slade apparently(?) acquired from Luthor.

So yeh, Slade's not gallivanting around with large sharp chunks of space rocks.

Gene said...

Anj wrote:
"We get this full page splash of Deathstroke filleting Supergirl with a Kryptonite sword, just like he was de-boning a fish."

That has to be one of the most disturbing comic book panels that I have ever laid eyes on.


Diabolu Frank said...

That's... something. I'm not sure it's better or worse. A glazed sword seems more economical and as "realistic" as that sort of thing goes, but it also means Supergirl was taken out by a plain old sword (painted yellow? made of wood?) with some radioactive schmutz.

Anonymous said...

Wow crappy summer for Supergirl eh? Jobbed out to Livewire and the freakin' Tattoo'd Man. Appalling, what next will Ma Hunkle kill her in August just to gin up the relaunch?
Speaking of bias, there seems to be a strong one at DC against Supergirl. I'm not saying it's everyone at DC, but mighy few BAD IDEAS ever get nixed when it comes to Supergirl.
Just sayin'.

"Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?"
Johnny Lydon

John Feer

Anonymous said...

Not sure exactly how I feel about this one.

Her opponents did refer to her as the most powerful and considered her the one they needed to plan for and concentrate on, so I guess that's something.

I also like the little bit I see of the art in your preview. Although the shadowing is very awkward in the kryptonite seen, it's much better than the shorts-under-skirt look.

She should not be getting smacked around by these clowns though, nor Killer Croc. There should be some danger and she shouldn't win every fight either. I guess I'm ok with losing to Livewire. Livewire did kick her butt pretty badly in "Girls' Night Out" and in the team-up with Batgirl, she described electric based attacks as a weakness of hers. I don't like how it was done, however. Livewire asking how much more can you take with a path of destruction behind her implies she had been kicking Supergirl's butt around the city. Supergirl is running from her, Supergirl's attack is easily laughed off, and Livewire strengthens her attack knocking Supergirl out, implying that during the previous beating she had given Supergirl, she was only toying with her and could have knocked her out at anytime.

Anonymous said...

Wow... That's just...horrible. Definitely taking that one off of my comics to get. She can't DIE! I'm sure her healing ability will kick into gear as soon as she gets to the yellow sun. Great Rao, that HAS to hurt! -ealperin

Anonymous said...

It seems Supergirl is primarily a "yardstick" character right now with her abilities varying in proportion with the need to make the villain in question look menacing and dangerous by taking her out. Let's not forget her getting one-punched by Doomsday in JLA and the fact that she and the rest of the Superman family are scheduled to be whipped by various Doomsdays so Superman can save the day. Again.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments. I think that jumping into this title made me a bit harsh in my critique.

Anyways, for the story to continue Deathstroke 'needed' to win but the whole thing seemed a little skewed. And while Supergirl does survive and vow a rematch with Deathstroke, it was a bit lousy to see her taken out.

I hope she isn't a 'yardstick character' like the Spectre and Lady Shive.

karl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I suppose we should be grateful that Marv Wolfman did not write this particular Titans Annual, in which case Dr. Sivana would have been handed Supergirl's severed head to experiment on.
Now that Livewire, Kiler Croc, Tattooed Man and Deathstroke have softed Kara up, Doomsday should have no problem punking her real good.

Otherwise for this "bright spot" this is shaping up to be an awful summer for Supergirl fans with much worse things to come more than likely.

Thanks DC, you can't even execute a reasonable Green Lantern movie but even in your death throes you can still treat Kara Zor El like a red headed stepchild.

John Feer

Anonymous said...

Well this reviewer could care less about Roy and I could really care less about Supergirl. So I guess we're even on that. Too bad I already authorized my shop to pull this drek in the vain hope that DC would pull their heads out of their unmentionable places...but apparently I took a shot of hopeful soda. Really should have known better.

Thanks for the review. Titans fans thus far have either been too busy retching or, more likely, never bothered to pick up the piece of trash with hard earned money. If I were you, I'd demand my money back.

Anonymous said...

You haven't been far off. This annual, this direction, and this series have been God awful from the beginning. Speaking as a Titans fan, mind you, but just... using Ryan Choi as a sacrificial lamb in order to make Deathstroke's team look like badasses, the sheer amount of blood and gore (#25 opens with a woman who has a giant bullet hole in her forehead), Cheshire emotionally blackmailing Roy into joining, DRUGS MADE FROM CHILDREN... I don't even think I need to go on after that last one.

One of the really annoying things about this annual is that it cements Osiris devolving into a Superboy-Prime rip-off. And Eric Wallace wrote the Power of Shazam Blackest Night tie-in, where he managed to go out heroically. Granted, it didn't make much sense as there were scenes in the background of the main BN book with Osiris killing people.

And with Jericho... J.T. Krul fixed him in the BN tie-in issues of Teen Titans, and then Wallace made Jericho dying just so he could fix him. This whole series has been gearing towards Eric Wallace fixing a character that he broke in the first place, right after Jericho was fixed again.

Anonymous said...

i COMPLETELY agree on how they make her so vulverable.

I bet the real supergirl is tough and dangerous, she isnt like a human. Shes like superman. shes a completely different race to humans and the GIRL OF STEEL. shes got the SAME POWERS AS SUPERMAN. and she deserves to be shown as powerful as he is. Just because she is a girl, means nothing.

Most powerful superheroine. just like superman is the most powerful of the dudes. thats what supergirl is too.

Anonymous said...

Ok, let me jump straight to my point: when you say deathstroke, you are talking about the 1 guy who almost took the entire jla on his own in "identity crisis" issue 1 so saying "second-tire" about him is like saying" why doesn't Optimus prime kill the teenage mutant ninja turtles?"
Plus NO kryponian is invincible against kryponite, even going near it will take away their powers. Read more comics people