Comic Book Review: Teen Titans #44

The Revolution liked the last issue of Teen Titans with the exception of the incredibly lame mind control plotline involving Batgirl. I have a feeling that this cop-out of a plotline is going to assume center stage of this story arc and kill any interest I had in this Titans East story arc. Of course, maybe my fears are totally unfounded. Maybe Teen Titans #44 can keep the streak of consistently great reads on this title going for yet another month. Let’s hit this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns & Adam Beechen
Penciller: Tony Daniel
Inker: Jonathon Glapion

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We start with Ravager and Jericho investigating the Titans East Tower and running across Deathstroke the Terminator. Ravager and Jericho immediately attack their father.

We cut to Wonder Girl waking up in the Fortress of Solitude. Wonder Girl at first thinks Match is Conner, but once he steps out of the shadows, she recoils in horror. Wonder Girl is pissed that Match is alive and Conner isn’t. Match proceeds to lay a beat down on Wonder Girl.

We cut to Kid Devil tied up on a cross. Kid Crusader tells Kid Devil that he is going to free Kid Devil from the Devil’s influence. Kid Crusader utters a spell that returns Kid Devil back to his human form. Kid Crusader says that it is only temporary so he must kill Kid Devil before the Devil’s influence returns. Kid Crusader apologizes that it must be this way, but that Kid Devil will be going to a better place.

We shift to Robin tied up and at the mercy of Batgirl. Suddenly, Jericho, Ravager and Deathstroke come crashing through the wall of the cave where Robin and Batgirl are located. Batgirl immediately attacks Ravager. Jericho then uses Deathstroke’s sword and stabs Deathstroke through his chest. Batgirl and Ravager continue fighting. Ravager calls Batgirl “Bat-Bitch.” (Which officially cements Ravager as my favorite Titan.)

We cut to Raven held captive by Riddler’s daughter and Joker’s daughter. They play mind tricks on Raven that she is going to lose control of her emotions and become Trigon.

We shift to Risk and Cyborg. Risk has removed all of Cyborg’s arms and legs. Risk says that the Titans put each other back together like they do for Cyborg all the time. However, the Titans never did that for Risk. That they never viewed him as one of them. Risk says that Deathstroke said Risk could take whatever pieces from Cyborg that Risk would need. Risk says Cyborg doesn’t have anything that he needs.

Risk says he has a ton of Deathstroke’s money. And he has his anger at the world. That is all he needs. Risk says he doesn’t hate Cyborg personally, but that Risk needs a place to focus all his anger and that is going to be on Cyborg.

We cut to Miss Martian strapped into a machine that keeps her body at sixty-two-point- seven degrees Celsius where Martian skin bubbles from the heat. Inferno and Inertia are mocking Miss Martian. Inferno says that Martians are slaves in the future because of a terrible crime on Martian committed on Humanity. That Martian is Miss Martian and that Miss Martian is Inferno’s slave in the future. Inertia then tells Inferno that Slade needs them.

We shift to the cave where Jericho and Deathstroke are fighting and Ravager is getting the upper hand on Bat-Bitch. Inertia blasts in and takes out Ravager. Robin manages to free himself. Batgirl attacks Robin. Robin tells her that he made a counter-serum to Deathstroke’s mind control serum just in case Deathstroke got his hands on Ravager and the Titans had to stop her again. Robin then injects Bat-Bitch in the throat.

And presto change-o, Batgirl turns to “normal.” Batgirl says that Deathstroke drugged her and used her like he did with Terra and Ravager. That she remembers it all. She pulls off her mask and says that she is going to kill Deathstroke. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Teen Titans #44 was a better than average issue. Johns and Beechen moved this issue along at a nice pace. This was definitely one seriously action packed issue. We got plenty of brawling from the very beginning all the way to the end.

I loved the various match-ups that we got in this issue. Match versus Wonder Girl is compelling. You have Cassie having to fight the monstrous version of her dead boyfriend. That is a great twist.

Inertia and Inferno versus Miss Martian. That was the most interesting of all the match-ups. It was quite intriguing that in the future Martians are slaves. And that it is all due to one Martian, Miss Martian, and a horrible crime against humanity that she committed. And to top it all off, Inferno is the person who owns Miss Martian in the future.

This teaser certainly grabbed my interest. Suddenly, Miss Martian went from a rather bland character to one that has a pretty intriguing plotline involving her future. I hope that Beechen decides to investigate this plotline a little deeper during his run on the Teen Titans.

I dig how Johns and Beechen are handling Risk’s character. Risk’s anger and rage is completely understandable. The reader can easily be sympathetic to Risk and why he is doing what he is doing. I liked the comparison between Cyborg who the Titans have put together numerous times and Risk who lost his arm and was basically discarded by the Titans. Plus, you gotta love Risk’s bitchin’ moustache.

The match-up between Ravager and Jericho versus their daddy, Deathstroke, was fantastic. It has plenty of drama and emotion. Seeing Jericho stab Deathstroke through the chest was certainly unexpected. What makes this brawl so interesting is the fact that no matter how angry Ravager and Jericho are with Deathstroke, he is still their father. And no matter how messed up the things that Deathstroke has done to his children, he honestly believes that he has done all of those things out of love for his children.

I’m interested to see how Johns and Beechen resolve this family drama. I hope that Ravager and Jericho stay with the Titans. However, I have this sinking feeling that the siblings are going to leave the team in order to work on themselves and their family. I hope I’m wrong.

The match-up between Robin and “evil” Batgirl is fantastic. It has plenty of drama and emotion. There is nothing more delicious than a close friend and ally who has turned to the darkside. “Evil” Batgirl is awesome and quite interesting. “Good” Batgirl under the influence of mind control is just another lame derivative character. “Good” Batgirl interests me about as much as Supergirl does. And anyone that knows the Revolution is quite familiar with my disdain for Superbarbie.

On the flipside, I just love Ravager more and more with each passing issue. Johns had already gotten me to warm up to Rose’s character and now this issue cinches it for me. Ravager busting out the name “Bat-Bitch” and fearlessly brawling with Batgirl and refusing to back down made me dig Rose even more. Ravager is a great character and I hope that Beechen keeps Ravager on the Titans’ roster.

Tony Daniel supplied his usual fine artwork. I love how Daniel draws the Titans. Daniel always crafts a pleasing looking comic book that does an excellent job conveying the emotions of the various characters.

The Bad: Teen Titans #44 was certainly the weakest issue of the Teen Titans that I have read in a long time. And that is alarming since this story arc is where DC Comics mixes Adam Beechen into the creative team to serve as a bridge for Beechen taking over the Teen Titans from the very capable hands of Geoff Johns. I don’t think it is a coincidence that when Beechen comes into co-write this story arc with Johns that suddenly, the quality of the writing slips.

I have had serious reservations about DC placing the Teen Titans into Beechen’s hands as of issue #47. Beechen has done a solid and respectable job on Robin ever since the One Year Later story arc began. However, at no point was Beechen’s writing anything that special and Beechen’s story on Robin has definitely declined over the past six issues.

I was surprised at the lack of substance to this story arc. I had high expectations and felt that we were going to get a story arc with more to it than what we got in this issue. I felt that Beechen and Johns really rushed the plotline involving Batgirl. I honestly thought it would take longer to resolve Batgirl being under Deathstroke’s mind control. I mean, I thought the mind control serum was incredibly convenient, but having Robin just happen to have some anti-serum on him and quickly free Batgirl from the mind control was just way to easy and expedient.

Beechen and Johns failed to get me to change my opinion concerning the entire mind control plotline involving Batgirl. I still firmly believe that it smacks of an alarming lack of creativity. This mind control plotline is just far too convenient literary tool and fails to capture any of my interest at all. Mind control as an excuse for a character’s seemingly heel turn is lame. Always has been and always will be. It is too bad that Beechen didn’t stick to his guns and keep Batgirl as a villain. I think as a villain she has much more potential than as yet another in a very long line of derivative heroes.

I could care less about Joker’s daughter and Riddler’s daughter. I find both characters to be terribly boring and just cheap imitations of the real characters. This match-up with Raven is the only one that presents little to no interest for me. Another reason why this match-up isn’t as interesting is because there is no history between these characters unlike the other match-ups.

I think the match-up between Risk and Cyborg is forced. But, to be fair, Johns and Beechen didn’t have much choice. Cyborg doesn’t have a natural foil like the other Titans. So, Risk had to be shoe horned in to take on Cyborg.

The ending was certainly dramatic enough. However, it did nothing to get me excited about the next issue. This ending gave me the impression that this story arc is going to be dominated by Batgirl and her feud with Deathstroke.

Overall: Teen Titans #44 was a better than average read. If you like big-time fights, then Teen Titans #44 was definitely an issue that you would enjoy. If you are a big Batgirl fan then you will absolutely love the ending to this issue. Batgirl fans should definitely run out and purchase this issue. For the rest of us, this issue was nothing that great.

5 Comments

  1. I’d have to give this issue a five at best. I gave them the benefit of the doubt last issue, but this one just hurt. This book felt, and read, like filler. It was almost like the lead writer took a break from his final major storyline, and handed off the reins to someone alot less experienced, like his agent, maybe. It would be akin to Johns and Donner letting Bruce Jones pen the next installment of the Last Son arc in Action Comics.
    This book did everything short of screaming out thealmost words ‘treading water,’ at least to me. How’d you like that cameo Cyborg? Wonder Girl, welcome to the Fortress of Solitude-Lite. By the way, Match is a terrible name for a character. They should’ve just cut out the extra letter and just named him Copy, or maybe Xerox. As a matter of fact, Xerox actually sounds a lot better, although for the purposes of this hypothetical, you could use the spelling Zerox to sidestep any copyright and/or trademark issues.
    Oh, and please let Batgirl be faking a rehabilitation. Instead of getting a miniseries or arc in Robin’s title to proper flesh out this personality change, we get, what three or four pages? Joker’s daughter? Riddler’s daughter? Is it absolutely necessary to have a Titan have a direct arch-foe to deal with? This is like a bad episode of Challenge of the Superfriends, except I look forward to those just to see what that kooky Toyman is going to do next.
    I’m sorry, but this was just a terrible issue, aside from the art. Tony Daniel is the one saving grace of this title, and he’s getting ready to leave, too.
    For all the hoopla and pseudo-hype this story was getting a while back, the ball has just been dropped, kicked down the street, and rolled into a gutter. Note to DC: next time, just have Johns write his final arc completely on his lonesome. Then you can let him team up with pretty much any unproven talent you want to, either on a follow-up arc, or a miniseries to get his feet wet. I’ll be the first to admit writing is no easy task, especially in regards to having to put your talents on display to people who solely want to tear your work apart, but aside from the last issue of Robin (which, in hindsight, was actually really well-done compared to earlier attempts by Beechen), there really isn’t anything else that has proven (to me, anyway) Beechen’s the guy to follow Johns on a team book. I think he’s got his hands full just making Robin an interesting title (not due to the character, but more to his blah writing), let alone a team book.
    It’ll be interesting to see if this arc can finish off strong, but hopefully Adam will find his footing and not just write seven versions of the same character.
    Hopefully, I’m in the minority, and everyone else really liked this issue, because if sales start trailing off before Johns even leaves, we could be screwed.
    DC cancels great books (Manhunter got the axe twice, before being saved); Lord knows they won’t hesitate to axe the Titans if they start nose-diving on the charts.
    Cross your fingers…

  2. I’m willing to give Adam a shot, but following (and in this particular case, understudying) Johns is just way too much to ask of a writer still earning his merit badges.
    Beechen’s Robin arcs have pretty much been hit or miss with me. The Cassandra arc was pretty good (mostly because I didn’t follow the Cain character, so I didn’t have anything to be pissed about); the Captain Boomerang series did a pretty good job of keeping the ball rolling. Even the inexperienced kid with powers arc (was Shift his name?) wasn’t too bad. The done in one with the kid on the roof contemplating suicide was well done, as well. Klarion the Witch-Boy in Gotham City, however? Momentum killer. Beechen recovered with last month’s issue, with Tim on a date. Haven’t had a chance to read last week’s issue yet (some of my mail-order books came in damaged), but all in all, I’d say Beechen is a solid 7.5 on his way to an 8.
    Having him tackle a team book when he’s really digging into his own title, though? Kind of questionable. The good news is this should provide us with one clear voice for Robin in both books, and as such, Adam can only get better writing Tim’s character. Perhaps if he approaches his initial arc from Tim’s viewpoint, he can build a solid foundation and work from there, using Robin to differentiate between, and get a feel for, the other roster members.
    I was probably too hard on him in my previous post, but this arc just feels like too many cooks in the kitchen. I think Johns had a finite story he wanted to tell, but was sidetracked with Beechen’s contributions. If they really wanted to tell this story more effectively, they could’ve upped the amount of issues this story ran through, but that would’ve been prohibitive to new readers. When you think about it, this would’ve benefitted from becoming a five or six-part mini, but I respect Johns for wanting to tell this story in the monthly. It just really has not panned out as of yet. They’ve got two more issues to knock it out of the park, though, so this could’ve just been a slight speed bump. Let’s see if they can spit-shine this bad boy.

  3. Cass Cain’s book got me into comics, so I was glad to see what looks like a return to form. It was abrupt, but I appreciate that Johns–in his last issue, no less–didn’t screw around or waste our time. He just “fixed” her, and moved on. Now the ball’s in Beechen’s court, and her fans are eager to see what he does…

    But with that said, I think the issue as a whole was too disjointed. It wasn’t just a case of “too much action, not enough story”–none of the individual conflicts segued well into the others. However, I thought the Joker’s/Riddler’s Daughter segment was an interesting way to keep Deus Ex Raven out of the picture.

  4. Forgive me, but I fail to see how this personality change for Batgirl made less sense than her turning evil in the first place. They put more effort into fixing her character than they put into making her convincingly evil.

    Seriously, WTF does having a half sister have to do with deciding to turn evil and betraying everyone?

  5. > I always thought that any person
    > who is the child of Lady Shiva and
    > David Cain, two assassins, trained
    > from birth to be the perfect
    > bodyguard for Ra’s al Ghul and
    > killed her first person at age
    > eight has a solid foundation to
    > explain any heel turn that they
    > may undergo.

    … I don’t think you seem to really understand the Cassandra Cain character beyond surface biographical details. You’ve made it clear you’re not a fan, and that’s fine, but I wonder why you feel the need to now present yourself as being very familiar with the character’s nature and history and actions in order to claim she’d be a good villainess.

    In any case, there’s been sufficient exploration of these issues in the past; she didn’t know Shiva was her mother until near the end of her monthly series, she was repulsed by her first murder and vowed not to kill again to the point of almost dying at Shiva’s hands, and she loathes Cain for everything he tried to make her. If you choose to ignore that, that’s of course, your right, but again, I don’t see how it allows you to claim you ‘know’ Cassandra’s character when you’re ignoring the majority of her appearances.

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