Teen Titans 18 – “Tales of the Titans (Titans Tomorrow, part 2)”
By Geoff Johns and Mike McKone
The Story: Trapped in the future, the team must find a way home while outmaneuvering their future selves, who, it turns out, aren’t very nice.
The Good: The linchpin of this chapter is Robin’s confrontation with his older self. The power of the scene is supposed to come from the depravity of how far Tim Drake has sunk, and it works for the most part. It actually goes a long way to spelling out what the triumvirate of Johns, Judd Winick, and Brad Meltzer are trying to do with the DC Universe. They’re building things to, well, a crisis point, for lack of better words, and things can go one of two ways. Here, we’re shown one of those ways, and the fact that we’re so emphatically not supposed to like it gives me hope that things will turn out differently in the “real” future.
I also like the development with Bart. It’s not at all a surprise, but it’s right. Bart ought to be the one Titan of the current group who doesn’t go bad.
There’s some fun hints at future Titans stories herein: the references to Hawk and Dove, Mia, and of course Aquawoman’s presence. Time travel is so much fun. And hey, any story with the Cosmic Treadmill in it is aces with me.
The “bad” Titans operate out of San Francisco. The “good” Titans are based in New York. It all comes to a head in Keystone City Kansas, which by coincidence is Bart Allen’s hometown. Geographical parallelism. I love it.
The Bad: This ish is a little light on action. The cemetery scene is defined mostly by the talk between Batman and Robin, and the fight with Deathstroke is too short to have much impact. Obviously, there’s gonna be a slobberknocker next issue, but I was hoping for a bit more this time around.
The Quote: “The world got so dark. We had to also. We just followed the trend.”
The Final Word: More talky-talky than fight-fighty, but still a solid issue.
The Grade: B+
Fantastic Four 520 – “Rising Storm, part 1”
By Mark Waid and Mike Weiringo
The Story: So, Galactus just showed up and made Johnny Storm his herald, right after Reed switched his and Sue’s powers. That can’t be good.
The Good: Dammit, Waid, you make it look so friggin’ easy. Johnny Storm as Galactus’ herald. Well, duh. I never would have thought of that in a million years, but now that I see it, it’s so perfect.
Waid’s strength on this series comes from the fact that he’s never forgotten that the FF is first and foremost a family. That gets highlighted here in a pair of scenes that illustrate just how integral Johnny is to this team, and also show that there’s a lot more to him than the brash exterior he hides behind. The people who bitched about how Waid was mishandling his character may now officially shut it.
It’s also fun to see Johnny and Sue coming to grips with each other’s powers. Of particular interest is the fight (oh, of course there’s a fight) between Johnny and Karragan (the Unforgiving). It culminates in a gruesome but splendiferous splash page. That’s gonna leave a mark.
Note to Quasar fans: You’ll both be very pleased to know he makes a special guest appearance in this issue. At the very least, he’s got a great visual.
The Bad: So I just found out last week that Waid and ‘Ringo are leaving after this arc is done. That makes me sad. L
The Quote: “You fight like a woman.”
The Final Word: One down, three to go. Ah, well; this’ll make a nice capstone.
The Grade: A
MadroX 3 – “Dead Dirty Pool”
By Peter David and Pablo Raimondi
Cover by David Lloyd and Brian Reber
The Story: When last we left Jamie, he’d fallen into a pool in Chicago after a dupe in New York got shot in the head. This issue: Things get worse.
The Good: It’s official: Jamie is losing it. It’s fun to watch, though, as the ultimate ramifications of his powers and actions play out. Noir is as much about the hero’s inner journey as it is about crime and killing, and thanks to the unique setup, we get to see that journey played out externally, in the form of Jamie’s confrontations with his dupes. Which makes the surprise ending all the more fitting, as that particular plot point comes to a direct head.
When I heard this book would be set in Mutant Town, I figured it would only be a matter of time before the inevitable crossover with Mutant X. I didn’t expect it to come up so soon, though, so kudos to David on that particular surprise.
Pablo Raimondi makes Rahne Sinclair look hot, even when she’s a werewolf. So that’s a plus.
The Bad: There’s not much overall character movement here. The B plot is only advanced a little bit, and takes up most of its time with a fight scene that’s certainly fun, but not very integral (at least, not that I can see). As for Jamie’s predicament, it’s pretty much just an extension of last issue’s difficulties, with the only new wrinkle coming in at the end. It’s a good wrinkle, but I want more.
Eddie Vance isn’t much of a villain so far. Russian Mafia… oooooooh, scary. Plus, the last thing the X-Books need is yet another self-appointed solver of “the mutant problem.”
The Quote: “I assume you’re the one responsible for the pool of blood in the hallway.”
The Final Word: Still fun, but I’m champing at the bit here.
The Grade: B+