TeenTitansAnnual1The current series started out pretty rough and I dropped it after just a few issues.  But since it was a slow week for DC Comics, I opted to check out this annual which kicks off a new storyline.  In ‘Forever Evil’ #2, Johnny Quick hurled the Teen Titans into the time stream.  The story carried over into ‘Superboy’ and winds up here as the three core characters Superboy, Red Robin and Wonder Girl arrive in a future where nearly every hero has been killed by… well, Superboy.  Their first stop is an absolutely destroyed Batcave where they make two gruesome discoveries.

Once beaming aboard the Justice League satellite, they encounter the last remaining superheroes and a small band of young heroes in training.

But very quickly Red Robin learns of this future’s destructive history and the conflict you can see on the cover occurs– Superboy from the present versus Superboy from the future.  Meanwhile, Wonder Girl finds a holographic recording that reveals that one Titan at some point will betray the rest of the team.  Much of the dialogue– from several characters– hints at this, so it’s still too early to start guessing who.  But one seeming betrayal occurs at the very end.

As far as story structure goes, the mystery of the “traitor” Titan is well set up.  The writing over all is above average.  I know that’s not glowing.  The actual writing isn’t bad, but there’s almost nothing new here.  How many traitors can one team handle?  It’s become laughable at this point.  In fact the time-traveling traitor story has already been done in the Johns/McKone run.  The evil futuristic Superboy is just a sadistic jerk.  His motivations aren’t explained and he lacks the fanboy dementia of Superboy Prime, which at least added an element of humor to that character.  Of course this is just the beginning of this story line, so there’s room for growth.  Oh and there’s some mystery about Tim Drake’s identity that’s hinted at, but not fully-embellished.  Another mystery to unfold, I guess.

One problem that continues to plague this series is the curse of the 90s.  The new young characters Red, Blur, Stonehenge and Irony could have all been members of ‘Youngblood’.  The dialogue also smacks of “Hey, I overheard some teenagers saying this so I’m going to use it a lot!”  In this case, it was the kids repeatedly saying “Right?” every time someone said something they agreed with.  And maybe nit-picky, but the name “Red Robin” just reads clunky when people are referring to him by his full name.  I’m used to them calling each other “Kon,” “Tim” and “Cassie.”  (When they shorten it to “Red” it reads easier and hints at some camaraderie.)

The art is pretty good across the board.  the layouts were by Barry Kitson who fully pencilled some of it, with other finishes by Art Thibert, Jesus Merino and Scott Hanna.  There’s a little bit of inconsistency– some finishes are cleaner, while others are grittier– but it’s not jarring or anything, which can’t be said for every book with mixed art teams.  I really can’t complain.

This book has certainly improved from the surly beginnings.  At least the characters are somewhat sympathetic and likeable now.  (Well, the important ones, at least.)  The writing is also fairly solid, but the general plot feels stale.  It’s sort of right there in the middle for me.

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TEEN TITANS ANNUAL #2
Written by Scott Lobdell
Layouts by Barry Kitson
Finishes by Kitson, Art Thibert, Jesus Merino and Scott Hanna
Cover by Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferriera and Pete Pantazis