Comic Book Review: Titans East #1

At first I was excited about Titans East #1. I thought this would be a great opportunity to grow and develop some new Titans. Then I found out that Winick has been tapped as the writer and my excitement quickly drained away. Then I found out that Winick viewed the characters in Titans East as “misfires” and was gleeful at the chance to get rid of them. And that lessened my interest even more. Then I found out that Titans East #1 was the lead in to the return of the classic Wolfman Titans with Titans #1 and I got interested again. So, I’m on a roller coaster of emotions when it comes to Titans East #1. Let’s go ahead and do this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Judd Winick
Pencils: Ian Churchill
Inks: Norm Rapmund, Andy Lanning & John Sibal

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin the all-time best Titans roster ever assembled in Robin (Dick Grayson flavor), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy flavor), Kid Flash (Wally West), Changeling, Cyborg and Starfire brawling with the Joker and Bizarro. Cyborg, Starfire and Wonder Girl take on Bizarro while Robin and Changeling take on Joker. Kid Flash grabs a bomb from Joker and super speeds himself somewhere remote to let the bomb harmlessly explode.

Raven then engulfs Joker and exposes his mind to all of his fears. But, unlike most villains that Raven faces, the Joker simply laughs like a madman at all of his fears. Kid Flash then appears back on the scene. He had stopped by S.T.A.R. Labs to pick up some blue Kryptonite. Kid Flash uses the blue Kryptonite to take down Bizarro. Robin then punches out Joker. The Titans stand victorious and cheer out “Titans Together! Together Forever!”

We cut to the present day with Cyborg at Titans Island in New York. Cyborg is contacting all of his former Titans teammates to come ask them to join him in his effort to help train a new generation of Titans. Donna Troy is off with the Challengers and says she can’t help Victor right now. Beast Boy is with Doom Patrol and says that he can’t join the Titans now. Raven simply says “No.” Starfire is without her powers and is dealing with the crisis in Countdown to Adventure and declines re-joining the Titans. Roy tells Cyborg that he is now a member of the JLA and not the Titans. Wally West tells Cyborg that he is a member of the JLA and doesn’t have the time between the League and everything else that is going on with his family.

Finally, Cyborg contacts Nightwing. Nightwing comments that he just got out of a team (The Outsiders). Cyborg says that this new generation of heroes needs some of the older Titans to properly train them. Nightwing comments that having the original Titans and the new Titans on the team together would make for a huge roster. Cyborg retorts that it works for the JSA.

Nightwing asks Vic if any of the other original Titans have said yes. Vic falls silent. Cyborg answers no. Nightwing says that now isn’t the time for the original Titans to come back together as a team. Cyborg utters under his breath that they are more than just a team. Cyborg then tells Dick to not worry about it. That Cyborg can handle whipping these newbies into shape all by himself. Nightwing answers back that he knows that Vic is more than up for the task. Then Nightwing adds that he has never thought that the Titans were just a team.

We cut to Hawk stepping out of the shower. She comments to Dove how last night she had sex with this boy that has a way of making a girl feel dirty. Hawk and Dove power up and go off to Titans Island.

We shift to Power Boy thinking about the chick he had sex with last night and how cool it was that she was into costume play. We see a Supergirl costume lying on the bed. Power Boy thinks how he is a rising star and that joining the Titans is a great thing for him. Power Boy thinks that he will be the leader since he was made for that role.

We zip to Cyborg meeting with the new members of Titans East. The roster includes Power Boy, Hawk, Dove, Little Barda, Son of Vulcan, Lagoon Boy and Anima. Cyborg does his best drill sergeant impression and lays down the law with the new members. Cyborg says their training begins right now with a war game. Power Boy is it and everyone has to attack him.

Power Boy starts brawling with the other members of Titans East. Since Power Boy is the strongest member of the group, he more than holds his own against the combined powers of the rest of the team. During the fight, Power Boy comments if he knows Hawk. Hawk asks if Power Boy doesn’t recognize her without the Supergirl costume.

Hawk punches Power Boy high into the air and into the middle of the forest next to them. The team arrives where Power Boy landed. However, there they find Power Boy’s smoldering corpse impaled on a tree. Dove radios Cyborg and tells him to come quickly. That something terrible has happened.

Suddenly, an unknown person begins firing laser blasts at the members of Titans East. Hawk is blasted and killed. Dove is blasted and killed. Little Barda is blasted and killed. Up next is Son of Vulcan who is blasted and killed. Lagoon Boy is then blasted and killed. And lastly, Anima is blasted and killed. (Wow. That took talent to write. Color me so impressed.)

Cyborg rushes onto the scene and finds the corpses of all the various “misfires” lying on the ground. Cyborg starts stammering “No. No. No. No.” Suddenly, a giant fireball comes crashing down from the sky right on top of Cyborg and blows him up. We see Cyborg blown to bits in the middle of a smoldering crater next to all the corpses of the members of Titans East. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: God, Titans East #1 was truly a wretched read. Luckily, we get some wonderful Ian Churchill artwork that will allow me to satisfy The Revolution’s Rule of Positivity. I am a big fan of Churchill and I loved seeing him draw the classic Wolfman/Perez Titans in this issue. If it wasn’t for the strong artwork this issue would have been completely unreadable.

I also loved seeing the Wolfman/Perez Titans in action once again. Even if the dialogue was atrocious, it was fun to see the classic Titans kicking some ass. Man, the Wolfman/Perez Titans were fantastic. And Donna in her red Wonder Girl costume is a personal favorite of mine. Churchill does a great job drawing her.

The Bad: Titans East #1 was a complete and total hack job. Seriously, I may be harshly critical of some issues, but rarely do I find a comic book to be a complete hack job from start to finish. Seriously, a lobotomized hamster could have written a more interesting and creative story than this issue. This issue read like a thirteen-year old kid with Attention Deficit Disorder wrote it.

I always try to be respectful to comic book writers. Even if I am critical of some writers like JMS I will still admit that almost all of the writers employed by Marvel and DC are very talented and work hard at their craft. I strongly dislike calling any comic book writer a hack. However, rules always have exceptions.

On the Marvel side, the only writer I honestly feel is a hack would be Daniel Way. On the DC side, Judd Winick is the only writer I would call a hack. Seriously, if there are any young aspiring comic book writers out there, don’t give up hope of writing for Marvel or DC. If Way and Winick can continue to find employment with the big two then absolutely anyone can become a comic book writer.

Winick tosses out a pathetic issue. We get some mind numbingly lame dialogue. As always, Winick tries way too hard to be “hip” and “trendy” with his dialogue and how he delivers the characters. Winick cannot help himself trying to write dialogue that you would get on a pathetic MTV show. Of course, Winick knows a little bit about lame MTV shows.

Winick’s dialogue never is as “cool” or “trendy” as he thinks it is. Instead, it just comes across as lame and cheesy. And what was up with the terrible Silver Age style dialogue that Winick gave the original Titans in the flashback scene? Oh, that scene just read awful. I don’t know if it was just Winick’s normal lack of talent or if Winick was doing it on purpose to contrast the style of dialogue in the “old days” of the 1980’s with Winick’s trendy and edgy dialogue of the present day.

Maybe Winick needs to read Wolfman’s dialogue from his run on the Titans. The fact is that Wolfman never gave the Titans such campy Silver Age style dialogue. Wolfman’s Titans were legendary stories. And Marv Wolfman has more talent in his pinky that Winick does in his entire body.

Of course, what do you expect from someone who was on the “Real World?” Winick needs to snap out of his state of denial and accept that he is 37 years old and stop trying to be so “hip” and “trendy” with every comic book that he belches out. It is sad and predictable. A huge reason why Winick’s Outsiders became so unreadable was his constant attempts to make the team trendy and edgy. Instead, they just came across as cheesy and mopey rejects from the Grunge Era. Same thing goes with Winick’s pathetic re-imagining of the world of Shazam that we are getting over in the unreadable Trials of Shazam. Talk about trying painfully hard to re-make Shazam into what Winick thinks is modern, hip and edgy.

There is absolutely nothing in this issue that could possibly be construed as character work. At no point does Winick engage in anything resembling character development. All the Titans, new and old, talk in generic voices. Winick gives us the most one-dimensional version of the classic Titans that I have ever read. Hopefully, he can do better when he manhandles my beloved Wolfman/Perez Titans in Titans #1.

And why would Winick bother to engage in character work on these new Titans that he labeled “misfires?” For a writer with as meager talents as Winick to call any character that another writer came up with as a “misfire” is a joke. Winick should just concentrate on trying to nurture and grow what small talent he does have in trying to craft quality stories rather than taking shots at new characters other writers have created.

Since Winick gleefully came up with the idea of Titans East #1 as a way to slaughter all of these “misfires” then there was no reason to waste any of his time trying to develop any of them into interesting or distinct characters. I mean, c’mon, that would have taken some effort and talent.

The number of dead Titans is becoming simply laughable. By my count there are now 30 dead Titans. I think there have only been a total of 74 Titans. That means that 40% of the characters who have been Titans are now dead. That is idiotic. Dan “death count” Didio’s bizarre obsession with slaughtering Titans is pathetic. But, hey, remember that Didio promised us a happier and shinier DCU at the end of Infinite Crisis.

At this point, death in the DCU has completely lost any and all meaning to me. Killing a character now has zero impact on me when I read a DC comic. This crutch has been overused in the DCU by writers with little talent or by talented writers who are just lazy.

Once again, Dan “death count” Didio chooses to kick off a new title with a blood bath. That has pretty much been DC’s modus operandi to starting off any new “big event” or any new title. Randomly slaughter some characters. It takes little creativity or effort. It creates a cheap “shock” to the reader and creates an artificial feeling that this must be something big and important.

Unfortunately, this approach to every “big event” and new title simply burns the reader out and makes them totally desensitized to the death of characters. This method has absolutely no impact on me anymore and I’ve grown numb to it. I find it terribly predictable and completely boring.

I think DC and Winick wasted a real opportunity here to do something different. Instead of recycling the classic Titans, we could have gotten a brand new lineup of Titans in the Titans East.

Look, I adore the Wolfman/Perez Titans. They are hands down my favorite roster of the Titans. However, at some point, you just can’t go home again. And no matter how DC brings back the classic Titans it won’t be the same. And it won’t be as good. I love the Wolfman/Perez Titans, but DC needs to evolve and move forward. The Wolfman/Perez Titans had their glory and now they have all evolved, grown and moved on to a different stage in their lives. Now is the perfect time to grow, nurture and develop a new batch of interesting characters for the next generation of Titans.

Talented writers can take any character and make them interesting. As a matter of fact, talented writers love the challenge of taking a character that has long been perceived as being lame and evolving them into a popular character. Take Power Man for an example. He was a cheesy 1970’s character. Along comes Bendis and after some strong character work, you have a revitalized Luke Cage that is quite popular.

You can even look closer to home with the work that Johns did on the Teen Titans. He took in newer characters that had no personality and were not that interesting in Kid Devil, Miss Martian and Ravager. Johns put for the time and effort and developed and fleshed out their characters into some rather cool and interesting Titans.

Winick had the perfect opportunity to show that he is talented and can take a bunch of “misfires” and craft and mold them into a collection of some pretty interesting and cool characters. However, Winick takes the easy way out and certainly makes his boss, Didio happy by slaughtering off some more Titans.

So now DC and Winick are going to give us the classic Wolfman/Perez Titans in the upcoming issue of Titans #1 instead of a fresh new team of Titans in the form of Titans East. That is too bad. The Wolfman Titans have grown up and moved on with their lives.

Wally has a family and is now associated more with the JLA than the Titans. Roy has grown up and is now Red Arrow and has assumed his rightful place with the JLA. Starfire is doing her own thing with Animal Man. Donna has more than moved on from the Titans and is busy with the Challengers. Beast Boy has gone back to his roots and his true home with the Doom Patrol. And Nightwing doesn’t need to go back to the Titans. He has led the Outsiders. Now that Batman has taken back control of the Outsiders from Nightwing, I’d like to see Nightwing step up to the next level and take Batman’s place in the JLA. I think that going with a new batch of character in the Titans East would have been a better idea than recycling the past.

Overall: Titans East #1 was an extremely unimpressive read. If you love carnage and seeing Titans getting slaughtered then this is most definitely an issue for you. Beyond those fans, I don’t see why anyone else should spend their money on this issue. I know fans of the Wolfman Titans will be happy that the classic team is coming back with Titans #1. And I am happy to an extent. But, it must be remembers that it won’t be Wolfman writing the stories, it will be Winick. So I don’t expect this second go around to be anywhere near as good as the first.

5 Comments

  1. Once upon a time, when no one ever died, comics could be boring. But I’m not sure the new “everyone dies” approach works much better, certainly not when it’s just the Z-listers (with the occasional upper-tier character).

    http://community.livejournal.com/scans_daily/4423979.html#cutid1

    The above livejournal post includes at the bottom a “lost” version of the final page that reveals the real killer.

    Not to say that I particularly cared for any of these characters, but, really, killing Hawk and Dove? They’re lame, but doesn’t that mean they’re just going to have to spend time introducing a fourth set of them?

    That said, the sight of Power Boy (a character who was introduced in Supergirl explicitly to provide a love interest as vacuous as she was) impaled through his man-boob-window and burnt to a crisp is so ludicrously over the top that I can’t help but find it the most entertaining thing that I read this weekend. I laugh just thinking of it.

    Also impressive that Cyborg somehow knew how to contact Donna and Kyle while they’re Multiverse-hopping.

  2. Yeah, this comment format seems to have a hard time fitting those things all in, so I’ll break it up into pieces; just assemble them end-to-end:

    http://community.

    livejournal.com/scans_

    daily/4423979.html

  3. poor lagoon boy. 1 less young justice member. (Bart allen, Conner Kent, Lil Lobo, Lagoon Boy)

  4. Conversation in the DC editorial room, part 2:

    DiDio: Judd, hey there. I see you’re doing good work on Green Arrow/Black Canary…killed off Everyman though, I’m not really pleased with that. If there’s one thing I won’t tolerate, it’s the destruction of perfectly good plot devices.

    Winick: Sorry boss, I got distracted thinking about sex/AIDS/dead comic characters, what can I do for you?

    DiDio: It involves the Titans.

    Johns: I’m out.

    Wolfman/Perez: Titans…and Winick? [Vader]Noooooooo[/Vader]

    Winick: Sounds great, which one of them is getting AIDS or will somehow else be involved in a social issue while talking in trendy/modern/cool-speak?

    DiDio: Well we’re going to have the old Teen Titans reform the team, as part of a really out-of-left-field and new approach to comics.

    McKeever: (under his breath) This is almost as stupid as Iron Man being a prick to Thor in Thor #3

    Winick: Awesome!

    Wolfman/Perez: (in a state of shock)

    DiDio: I’ve also decided to make this teamup even more MEANINGFUL and TOTALLY AWESOME by killing off some characters as part of a redshirt team.

    Simone: Dan, after this, do you think we’ll have time to…

    DiDio: I have no time for meaningless diversions. I need Titans, dead ones. How about Spoiler, that Stephanie Brown character. Could we kill her again or something? I mean it’s not like anyone cares what happens to her other than those internet fans.

    Dixon: I hate you

    Winick: (Sings) The Titans are going to die, oh the tragedy and social impact, my oh my.

    DiDio: (looking at Countdown #24) !!! blow that shit up Superman Prime !!! This is what comics is all about

  5. glad you appreciate the insights into DC 😉

    I found this funny…in the first joke conversation I had

    “DiDio: Blah, blah. Let’s use the multiverse like it was meant to be used. And by that I mean let’s blow some shit up, you know, kill a few billion/trillion people.”

    Reading the discussion at Newsarama I find the following gem;

    “NRAMA: Jimmy and Justin – what instructions were you given on Earth-15 in terms of what it was like and who was on it?

    JG: Blow it up. Kill everyone. “

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