The last issue of Titans worked to bridge the Return of Wally West story and the series second arc. With the Fearsome Five, Bumblebee and Herald are heavily involved in this new arc looks to bring even more classic Titans into the fold. So far Dan Abnett has shown he has a great understanding for the Teen Titan history with the core cast he has built. Now that he is expanding to add even more classic Teen Titans characters it will be very interesting to see how he balances it all. If his past work with Guardians of the Galaxy is any indication than this should be no problem for Abnett. Let’s find out if that is the case with Titans #8.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Karen Duncan (Bumblebee) remembers how she didn’t know when she married Mal Duncan (Herald) that he was a superhero. She remembers one story from Mal’s time with the Teen Titans where they were all taking on HIVE in Manila. To overcome the overwhelming numbers Robin had Mal blast the HIVE soldiers with a sonic blast.
In the present Karen is with Mal at Meta Solutions after they discovered that she was developing powers and the company can help her. Karen expresses that she is a bit scared but Mal assures her that Meta Solutions can help her with either controlling or taking away her powers if she chooses either route.
Karen says that while her powers are exciting she does not want to ruin their life together with their new daughter. Mal says that he doesn’t remember much about his superhero life outside of how dangerous it. He then reveals that a month ago he came to Meta Solutions and they took his powers away.
Karen is surprised to hear this for the first time. Mal admits he didn’t say anything because he didn’t want to be seen as coward. Karen is still in shock and expresses her love for Mal. After they hug Mal says that Meta Solutions can help her as well.
That is when Peter Simon (Psimon) introduces himself and takes Karen to get evaluated.
Over in Titans Tower, Donna Troy is going through all of the photos she has brought to the Tower to make it feel more like home. Roy Harper comes in and asks if she has any pictures of her family. Donna says she doesn’t but wants to focus on the future rather than the past.
In Wally West’s room, Wally is facetiming with Linda Park. Wally asks if they can hang out the next weekend but Linda says she is busy with work. They end their conversation with an awkward goodbye.
Dick Grayson walks in to check on how Wally’s conversation with Linda went. Wally goes over how Linda’s career has skyrocketed lately and they only see each other on occasion.
Wally brings up how Superman recently told him to build a new life rather than replace the one he lost. Dick reminds Wally to be patient as Superman’s advice was much better than what he would’ve gotten if he talked to Batman.
Wally expresses how slow everything is going for him and that it’s frustrating to permanently live at Titans Tower. Dick wonders if this has to do with Wally thinking Linda is not interested in him. Wally admits that she has been blowing him off more lately and that he is just asking to be rejected.
In the training suite Tempest tells Lilith to punch him. Lilith isn’t sure about the training but Tempest says that she has been trained by Nightwing and did want more training. Lilith punches Tempest in the face while he is still explaining the training they are about to do. Lilith apologizes but Tempest says they can continue the training.
At Meta Solutions Peter shows Karen the facility that has been created with generous benefactors funds. Peter explains that they help with new metas controlling their powers as the numbers continue to rise. Karen remembers that they removed Mal’s powers. Peter says they did as Mal wanted to do it for the sake of his family.
Peter takes Karen to his office and asks her about what she thinks of her powers. Karen explains that her powers appeared after her pregnancy as she sensed energy buzzing inside her that when she focuses can shot blasts through her hands. She says that the powers are exhilarating and scary but she loves them even though she can’t control them
Peter says that if Karen enjoys her powers than she should embrace them. He then shows her a closet with biometric exo-suits to measure her powers and help her to control her powers. Karen isn’t sure but Peter says that Mal will be fine waiting in the lobby.
In the lobby Mal gets some coffee. He suddenly spots Mammoth casually speaking to the receptionist. Mal suddenly flashes back to when Mammoth almost killed him (Titans Hunt). He freaks out and runs outside into an alleyway.
At Titans Tower, Lilith is starting to show great progress in her training with Tempest. Tempest compliments her ability, mentioning that she must be subconsciously using her powers to anticipate his moves.
Lilith suddenly senses something and collapses. Tempest checks on her and Lilith tells him that Mal is in trouble.
At Mal’s location the Titans show up to check on what is going on. Mal tells the Titans that Karen is in Meta Solutions but he couldn’t go back in because Mammoth was inside.
Donna remembers when they fought Mammoth last. Flash asks them about the fight. Donna reveals that the Justice League took him down a few weeks ago.
The Titans head inside and run past all of the security looking for Karen. They find Karen in her Bumblebee costume happily showing off her powers while the Fearsome Five watches the Titans enter the lab. End of issue.
The Good: Titans #8 does exactly what the first arc didn’t do as Dan Abnett builds several sub-plots for all of the Titans that all helps amplify the main story of this new arc. While it was understandable that the first arc had a heavy focus on Wally West, given the gravity of his return, it is good to see how the rest of the Titans have their own stories to be told through the pages of Titans. And by developing these sub-plots Abnett is able to give a greater connection between the Titans past and present, something that becomes very important as Bumblebee and Herald get some time in the spotlight.
As much love that Bumblebee and Herald have within the Teen Titans fan community I’ve never been a big fan of theirs. So when Abnett did not include them in the initial roster of the new Titans I wasn’t upset. And it’s a good thing he didn’t because this new angle of the characters already being a couple and uncertain about stepping back into the superhero game makes them much more compelling characters. This gives both characters a distinct storyline to follow that we aren’t seeing anywhere else, especially with Mal Ducan’s PTSD from his involvement in Titans Hunt.
Mal freaking out when he saw Mammoth illustrates how there are some characters in the DCU that can’t just brush off everything they see. This makes the character much more complex and highlights one of the themes in the Titans comic books is how they help each other out no matter what. Mal’s reaction plays in well with Karen’s own arc as Abnett gets you to understand why she wants to keep her powers and also have them taken away at the same time. The final shot of Karen in her Bumblebee costume brings into question how their dynamic works if she does decide to become a superhero at the end of this arc.
Using Bumblee and Harold in this way was also a good way to circle back to events in Titans Hunt once again. Even though the Fearsome Five are the villains of this story, Abnett does a nice job throwing us off with the visual of Mammoth in a business suit. That visual and Psimon’s presentation of what Meta Solutions gives an added layer to whatever plot the Fearsome Five have.
While the Fearsome Five are going to take the main focus of this arc now that the Titans have met them once again Abnett makes sure to further develop the groundwork for other storylines. The most compelling of these sub-plots is Abnett’s handling of the mystery behind Donna Troy’s past. With this version of Donna being a clean slate a “Who is Donna Troy” arc can put an official stamp on her origin without the baggage had in the pre-Flashpoint DCU. Hopefully when we do get around to this Abnett involves Diana in some way as that is where this version of Donna was introduced and it would help add to what was established in both this and Wonder Woman’s ongoing series.
Titans #8 also did well in reigning things back on the Wally West spotlight. With the last eight issues dealing with Wally coming to accept his new life it is time for it to be put on the backburner for now. Abnett did a good job with this part as he used Wally’s current emotional state to focus on his friendship with Dick Grayson. This pairing of Dick and Wally has a lot of potential given that they have always been best friends. Exploring their strong friendship and how Dick can help Wally move forward can be an entertaining sub-plot for the series.
Continuing with how all the Titans were developed, it was good to see Lilith get some solid character progression. Small things like Lilith training will only help strengthen her character in future stories. It will at least show how Lilith won’t just be a hero that stands in the background because she has a glass jaw. It also gives Abnett a chance to play with Lilith’s powers in a way we haven’t seen used for heroes with telepathic powers before.
With Titans #8 being a talking heads-heavy issue Brett Booth more animated style is able to keep the energy on high even in all the slow moments. Booth’s artwork keeps the flow of the issue moving forward, which keeps the reader from just wanting to see heroes fighting villains.. And with the Fearsome Five sudden appearance there will be sure to be plenty of action scenes for Booth to draw pretty soon.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: While low on action sequences Titans #8 more than makes up for it with strong character development for all of the Titans. Dan Abnett does a great job adding depth to the cast, with Donna Troy, Bumblebee and Harold getting the best character progression. The re-introduction of the Fearsome Five was also well handled as Abnett goes in an interesting direction with these established Titans villains. This all comes together to fully kickstart a new arc that will make fans of the Teen Titans franchise very happy.