Comic Book Review: Teen Titans #43

The Revolution always looks forward to reading the newest issue of the Teen Titans. I’m glad to see that Tony Daniel resumes the art duties with this issue. Teen Titans #43 promises to be a huge issue. This issue kicks off a brand new monster story arc involving the Titans East led by Deathstroke the Terminator. There is no possible way that a writer as talented as Geoff Johns could screw this up. I fully expect that Teen Titans #43 will be an excellent read and a good beginning to what should be an extremely entertaining story arc. Let’s do this review.

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

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

Synopsis: We begin with Jericho and Ravage in New York where they met up with Nightwing and had lunch together. Nightwing takes off saying that it was great to see Jericho again and to call him if Jericho needs anything. Rose comments to Jericho how this was the first time that Nightwing didn’t stare at her swords like he was waiting for her to attack him. Rose comments how since Jericho has returned that the Titans have all been much nicer to her. Even Wonder Girl. Jericho signs to Rose that it is great to have family. Rose agrees.

We cut to Robin, Wonder Girl and Raven in Robin’s underground lab where he has been trying to clone Conner. Robin tells Raven that he wants his family back. Raven responds that she can’t resurrect Conner. That all she did for Jericho was bring back his body. That Jericho’s soul was never let this plane since he was imprisoned on a computer disk. Raven says that Conner’s soul has moved on. Robin responds that they can’t give up. That the Titans are unifying and that Conner will complete it.

Suddenly, a blur whips through the cave and takes down Robin and Raven. It is Inertia, Bart Allen’s clone. Inertia attacks Wonder Girl. Match, Conner’s clone, then appears and says that Wonder Girl is his to deal with. Match then takes down Wonder Girl with one punch.

We cut to Cyborg and Miss Martian in the prison where Bombshell is being held. Cyborg wants Miss Martian to use her telepathic powers to find out who Bombshell was working for when she attacked the Titans. Bombshell no longer has her armored skin so she is vulnerable to Miss Martian’s powers. Bombshell attempts to use mean thoughts to block Miss Martian from accessing her mind. Bombshell yells that Miss Martian is a white Martian and that once the JLA and Martian Manhunter find out about her that they are going to come to get her. That the Titans will never trust her.

Miss Martian looks into Bombshell’s mind. Miss Martian is stunned and tells Cyborg that Bombshell is a Titan. That there is a second team of Teen Titans. Suddenly, Risk busts through the wall of Bombshell’s cell. Bombshell asks Risk if he is here to break her out. Risk says not exactly. With that, Batgirl comes diving through the hole in the wall and slits Bombshell’s throat killing her. (Of course. Because, you know, this is a happier more positive DC Universe than before Infinite Crisis.)

Risk says that Bombshell didn’t hold up her end of the deal and that Slade is all about deals. Joker’s daughter, Duela, and Riddler’s daughter show up and take out the prison’s security system. All of the inmates are loose and they begin to attack the guards. Cyborg and Miss Martian try to contain the prison break. Unfortunately, Miss Martian is taken down by one of the prisoners: Sun Girl. Sun Girl says that where she comes from they know each other very well. But, in this time, this is the first time Miss Martian has met Sun Girl.

We cut to Kid Devil in a Catholic Church listening to the sermon of the Padre. Kid Devil begs for God’s help to save him from his deal with Neron. Suddenly, Kid Crusader appears and says that God and Deathstroke have sent him. That Kid Crusader is here to save Kid Devil from Neron. Kid Crusader then blasts Kid Devil and takes him out.

We shift back to Robin tied up in his cave beneath Titans Tower. Deathstroke and Batgirl are standing before him. Deathstroke says that the Titans have taken away his family. That the Titans killed his first son, Grant, the original Ravager, when Grant attacked the Titans. Then the Titans took Jericho from him. And now, the Titans have taken Rose away from him.

Robin responds that Slade is crazy. That the Titans didn’t kill Grant. That Slade killed Jericho. And Slade drove Rose so madly insane that she carved out her own eye. Slade responds that he wants his family back and that the Titans better let him take his family back or there will be more changes like there was with Batgirl. Slade asks Robin why he thinks Batgirl has been acting the way she has lately. Deathstroke says that if the Titans take family from him then he takes family from the Titans.

Deathstroke tells Batgirl that it is time for her shot. Deathstroke then injects Batgirl with some type of serum.

We cut back to Rose and Jericho in New York. Jericho and Rose go to visit the original Titans Tower in New York. Instead, they find some nightmarish version of the original Titans Tower. End of issue.

The Good: Teen Titans #43 was another great read. Johns continues to work his magic on this title. Johns delivers a perfectly paced issue. Not too fast and not too slow. There was a great balance of action and dialogue. Teen Titans #43 is also well plotted. Johns creates a solid foundation for what is clearly a well plotted story arc. Johns possesses excellent vision and almost always delivers story arcs that are technically sound, well focused and move with a purpose.

I also liked how Johns moved into place all the players. Having Rose and Jericho go to New York to meet Nightwing for lunch was a logical occurrence and a convenient way to get Rose and Jericho in the backyard of Deathstroke’s Titans East without it seeming too forced. I also liked how Johns introduced the various members of the Titans East. Each entrance was dramatic and full of action that grabbed the reader’s attention.

As always, Johns serves up plenty of wonderful dialogue. Johns has an incredible feel for each Titan’s personality. Everyone has the proper external voice. The strong dialogue also creates good chemistry between all of the characters. The dialogue was especially well done in the final scene between Robin and Deathstroke.

It was nice that Johns quickly established the purpose and mission of the Titans East. I also enjoyed that Johns quickly unfolded Deathstroke’s motivation in creating the Titans East. I was a bit surprised that Johns did all of this so quickly in the very first issue of this story arc.

However, there is really no need to draw it out for a long period of time. The reader already is familiar with Deathstroke and what makes him tick so just being cute and trying to hide the ball with regards to Deathstroke’s plan would have just made this story arc unnecessarily slow. Plus, you know Johns, even though it appears that we know everything, that there are going to be some surprises in store for us.

I like a little over half of the roster for the Titans East. I dig Risk, Inertia, Match, Kid Crusader and Sun Girl. Inertia and Match are cool because I like evil clones. Risk is great because he is the scarred ex-Titan and brings a whole level of issues and intensity to the storyline. Kid Crusader is neat because he provides the perfect foil for Kid Devil. Plus, Kid Crusader is an excellent plot tool that Johns can use to further flesh out Kid Devil and his deal with Neron.

And I dig Sun Girl because her real name is Deborah Morgna. And that makes her an ancestor of Dirk Morgna, the one and only Sun Boy of the Legion of Super Heroes. And I totally dig anything that has a connection to my beloved Legion.

I have to say that it was awesome to see Nightwing back in the pages of the Teen Titans. I know that Dick will never again be a member of the Titans since we now have Tim Drake filling Dick’s spot. However, to me, the only team for Dick is the Teen Titans. That is his home. Dick doesn’t work for me on any other team. And that goes for the Outsiders.

The scene with Robin and Wonder Girl asking Raven to resurrect Conner was powerful. I feel so bad for Robin. Tim still hasn’t gotten over the death of his best friend. And it is totally understandable. Tim has no family. They are all dead. The Titans are his family. And now that the Titans are finally coming together for the first time since the end of Infinite Crisis, Tim understandably wants his best friend back in order to complete the unification of his surrogate family.

It seems that Johns isn’t ready to bring back Conner and I am glad. Did I like Conner’s character? Yeah, I did. However, now that Johns killed Conner off, I want to see him remain dead. Why? Because Conner dead has more impact and influence on Robin and Wonder Girl’s character growth than he did when he was alive. Conner’s death has been a powerful literary tool for Johns to use to examine the minds of Robin and Wonder Girl and to grow and expand their characters.

Of course, do I think that Johns is going to eventually bring back Conner? Yeah, I do. Why? Well, its comics! Nobody stays dead. Want proof? In my opinion there are basically four deaths that were supposed to be permanent no matter what. Bucky, Uncle Ben, Jason Todd and Captain Marvel. Well, Bucky, Captain Marvel and Jason Todd have all been brought back. Uncle Ben even made an appearance from an alternate reality.

So, I have no reason to believe that any character that is killed off will stay dead forever. Also, Johns keeps teasing the reader with brining back Conner. So, that makes me think that Johns has something in store for Conner in the future.

The scene at prison with Miss Martian and Cyborg was pretty cool. Johns delivered some good action. Plus, Johns surprised the reader with an unexpected killing. I certainly wasn’t expecting Batgirl to leap into the scene and slice Bombshell’s throat. I never liked Bombshell so I have no problem with her being killed. Plus, this death hammers home the point that the Titans East are just like their mentor, Deathstroke. Completely ruthless.

Johns cranks up the intensity of the scene by having a full scale prison break ensue with Cyborg and Miss Martian caught in the middle. Plus, we get Sun Girl taking out Miss Martian and referencing that they know each other in the future.

I also liked that Johns brought up the JLA and Martian Manhunter in this scene. With the events over in Martian Manhunter’s mini-series, it makes sense that the JLA would want to know about any white Martian that may be on the loose. And obviously, Martian Manhunter probably would have some serious issues with a white Martian not only on Earth, but also a part of the Teen Titans. I hope this teaser leads to a JLA/Teen Titans crossover at some point.

The Kid Devil/Kid Crusader scene was pretty interesting. The two characters are obvious foils for each other. What is neat is that even though one is a “Crusader” and one is a “Devil” they are both pretty religious characters. I also like the little twist that Johns places on their relationship by revealing that Kid Crusader knows all about Kid Devil’s pact with Neron. This is a real stunner. Nobody but Kid Devil and Zatara know about Kid Devil’s pact with Neron. And here Kid Crusader claims he is here to save Kid Devil from his pact with Neron. Really? By killing him? At any rate, this should be an interesting little battle.

Johns turns in one fantastic final scene in Teen Titans #43. This scene is extremely well written and packed full of intensity and emotion. This is the meeting between the two main characters. Robin and Deathstroke. Deathstroke may hate all the Titans, but it is Robin who always garners his full attention. The dialogue was powerful and made this a gripping scene to read.

Johns reveals Slade’s motivation for forming the Titans East and attacking the Titans. And it all makes perfect sense. Johns did a great job taking Deathstroke’s history and building off of it to its logical conclusion. From Deathstroke’s warped point of view, the Titans very much have destroyed his family. One son is dead. The other son and his daughter have completely turned their backs on their father and embraced being Titans. Deathstroke is a man very much alone.

Johns then does an excellent job showing the reader how Deathstroke and Robin are two sides of the same coin. And that is one reason why these two characters are such fierce rivals. Robin has also lost his family and, therefore, has filled this void with the Titans acting as a surrogate family. Deathstroke’s desire to get his children back and to take away Robin’s family in the process is the natural result of the history between the Titans and Deathstroke.

The revelation of Deathstroke’s declaration that he will take parts of Robin family for himself leads to Johns revealing that Batgirl is under some sort of mind control. Deathstroke has been giving her shots of some serum that allows him to control her and to make her perform villainous acts. This was also a surprise I didn’t see coming.

This scene between Deathstroke and Robin lays a solid foundation for what is most definitely going to be one wild and exciting storyline. There is going to be some serious soul searching that is going to occur during this story arc. I have a feeling that Batgirl and Risk will probably be rehabilitated and come around to the side of good. However, the rest of Titans East are hardcore criminals who don’t need any mind control serum for them to perform nefarious acts.

Johns then delivers great hook ending with the nightmarish Titans Tower. The ending certainly grabs the reader’s attention and gets him excited to read the next issue.

Tony Daniel’s artwork kicks ass. It is great to have him back on this title. As always, Daniel draws the best Robin there is.

The Bad: Mind control is lame. Lame. Lame. Lame. I hate it. I despise it. There is almost no time that I like it. So, John reveals that this entire time Batgirl has been under the mind control of Deathstroke. That is why she turned into one of the biggest villains over in Robin’s solo title during the One Year Later storyline. And in one fell swoop, Johns totally kills any interest at all that I have ever had in Batgirl’s character. I know that Batgirl fans are probably peeing their pants with this revelation. They are going to get their heroine back. Personally, I’m not impressed.

I thought it was pretty cool that DC would take not just a heroine, but one that was a part of the Bat Family and make her a villain. I thought Batgirl’s heel turn was pretty cool and made for some compelling storylines. However, a heel turn is only intriguing if the hero of their own free will becomes a villain. The use of some mind control serum makes Batgirl’s heel turn shallow and uninteresting.

Having Batgirl performing villainous acts like killing Bombshell out of her own free will would make for a much more complex story. However, Johns has now used the mind control serum as a convenient plot tool to excuse Batgirl of all her evil deeds and absolve her of everything and let her easily slip back into the role of a hero.

The members of Titans East that I find completely dull would be Batgirl, Duela and Riddler’s daughter. Mainly because I loathe pure derivative hero. Anytime you take an established hero like Batman and just swap out the “man” for “woman”, “boy” or “girl” you pretty much lose all of my interest.

It’s like the writers all sat around burning their brain cells trying to come up with a good idea. And one of them says I got an great idea for a new villain. We take Joker’s character and make him a teenage girl so she’s like the Joker but a teenage girl. Get it? What a great twist, right? No. It is boring. Go take a bong hit and come back with a more original idea. If I want a Joker style character, I’ll go read a story with the Joker in it. The real deal and not some imitation.

The only purely derivative heroes that I have ever enjoyed have been Conner and Wonder Girl. Conner was cool because even though his codename was Superboy he was so much more. Being a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor gave him tons of originality. Wonder Girl has also managed to break free from Wonder Woman’s shadow since DC has done a great job giving Cassie her own unique personality.

Now, Legacy heroes are cool. Characters like Robin and Kid Devil have their own unique codenames, different costumes and their own identities compared to the hero who has influenced them.

There was absolutely nothing about Duela or Riddler’s daughter that made me think they were anything other than the extremely lame derivative characters of two very cool Batman villains. Maybe Johns can get me to change my mind and make me end up liking Batgirl, Duela and Riddler’s daughter. After all, I’ll give Johns credit for making me change my opinion about Kid Devil and Ravager. I had zero interest in both characters when they first appeared in this title. Now, I love both of them.

Overall: Teen Titans #43 was a blast to read. Johns continues to be one of the hottest writers in the industry. This Teen Titans East story arc has tons of potential and should make for a fun ride. If you haven’t given this title a try then I definitely suggest that you do. It is certainly worth your money.

6 thoughts on “Comic Book Review: Teen Titans #43

  1. Hey,

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  2. Liked the review, up until Batgirl, which IMO was misplaced for a host of reasons. First, we have an evil Batclan member. His name is Jason Todd.

    Second, Batgirl turning evil wasn’t compelling at all. It was stupid. By your own admission, you were completely ignorant of the character before she appeared in Robin. Well, so was the writer. Turning evil because you discover a sibling barely cuts it in the Silver Age, let alone now.

    Third, of all the Batclan, Cass’ origin is second only to Batman’s. If they’d given her a different costume and name, and changed nothing else, her character would be just as strong. Unlike all the Robins, unlike Nightwing and unlike Oracle, Cass’ character isn’t dependant upon her relationship with Batman. He simply is the best foil for her. And making her a killer negates all that.

  3. Just curious, but what makes Oracle’s, Nightwing’s, Robin’s and Huntress’ origins stronger than Batgirl’s? Huntress, Jason Todd and Dick’s origin are minor variations on Batman’s. Tim’s and Oracle’s origins depend on Batman’s existance.

    Cassandra’s, however, does not. Her template is the noble savage. Raised as a human weapon, she discovered morality when she crossed the line and killed a man. For her personally defining moment, there is no Batman ‘losing parent/family trauma’. Indeed, what makes Batman such a good foil for her is that she’s almost a reverse Batman. Whereas his parents were saintly, hers were killers and abusers. Whereas his defining moment was being the victim of a crime, hers was committing a crime.

    Ultimately, that’s why making her a villain weakens the character. It’s a statement that you can’t overcome your upbringing.

    The only thing that makes Cassandra remotely derivative is her name. Take that and Batman away from her origin, and the character can still stand on her own merits.

    Take away Batman from the origins of Nightwing, Oracle, Jason Todd, Tim Drake and you have no characters. Nightwing’s character is dependant upon how far he’s come since being Batman’s sidekick. Oracle’s origin is depends on her past work as a heroine who emulated Batman. Jason Todd’s grudge comes from his time as Robin. And Tim? His character started out with him believing that Batman needed a Robin.

    Shame you never bothered to look, because you’d see alot more there than with most of the cast 😉

  4. I think the one thing many people are missing is the fact that Geoff Johns is getting ‘help’ with this storyline.
    This week on the Newsarama website ( and (, both Johns and incoming Titans writer Adam Beechen discuss how they’re basically co-writing this arc, with Beechen taking over thereafter (Johns is giving up the book).
    While I have no problem with Johns stepping down, I don’t think Beechen is the right fit for this book, though I’ll try to keep an open mind (His Robin issues are pretty good, although his last arc was kind of boring). Like you, Rokk, I didn’t really follow the Cassandra Cain character at all until One Year Later, when her fans were screaming bloody murder. While her fans might indeed feel vindicated with this ‘explanation’ of what has been happening behind the scenes, I am in total agreement that this ‘back story’ is extremely lacking. It’s like many of the earlier Smallville episodes (this week’s included), where the main players forget everything they learned during the episode. It’s pretty much a cheat.
    I’ve rambled a little too long, and have gotten off-topic, but my main point was I’m pretty sure the Batgirl ‘plot’ came from Beechen. I don’t really see Johns coming up with this idea on his own (he’s always struck me as a creative writer), and wouldn’t be surprised if Beechen didn’t go for the quick fix, since his OYL arc fell under immediate fire for the questionable ‘turning’ of Cassandra.
    I actually wish they hadn’t even tried this half-assed explanation, and instead saved it for the World War III books coming out soon. Hell, they’re even advertised as explaining what happened to Batgirl. This could all be a swerve of some kind, but mind control is a pretty weak plot device.
    Hopefully, the rest of this arc will wash out the slightly bad taste I have in my mouth.
    Don’t get me wrong; it was a great setup issue, but that Batgirl crap really felt phoned-in.
    Apologies for the wall of text.

  5. Hey, Rokk. It’s Cisco again, but I figured I’d post using my screenname since it’s pretty much been my online identity forever. Not as holy as the coveted ‘Comic Book Guy,’ but it does the job.

    You have a valid concern in regards to Beechen writing Robin young. I hadn’t even thought of that, but it’s true. While I like seeing obscure characters show up in big-name titles, Robin’s ‘team-up’ with Klarion the Witch Boy left much to be desired, and seemingly killed any momentum Beechen was building with the book in the last year.

    The Cassandra Cain OYL arc kept my attention, as did the pairing with Captain Boomerang, and the subsequent Dodge storyline. But this last outing just felt like I was reading ‘Robin’s Adventures in Romper Room.’ I thought the best part of this last issue was seeing his would-be girlfriend get ready for their date, and that’s not a good sign.

    Don’t feel bad about not visiting sites like Newsarama. Even though they’re great sources for news and info, they can just as easily screw you over by posting spoilers on the front page the day a book comes out (i.e. Spider-Man’s reveal to the world in Civil War 2, but I mostly blame Marvel on that one, as they were whoring their new crossover title on any media network that would cover it, even stooping to the point of revealing key elements of the story a day before or the day of release).

    Recently, though, I’ve noticed their comic reviews don’t get posted until the weekend, giving everyone some time to read the books in question.

    Plus, Newsarama is a great site for 52 teases (hehe).

    Thanks for reading.

  6. “Sometimes you can’t overcome your upbringing?” Cass’ upbringing taught her how to fight, react, and read body language. There was nothing in her upbringing that made her a cruel, selfish, sadistic murderer however. She was being reared as a killer-for-hire, not a supervillainess. And she performed ONE act of murder-for-hire at the age of eight, was utterly repulsed and instantly ran away from that life. So Cass was NEVER a killer — even that first murder was something her father influenced her into performing, and an act which she reacted to absolute horror and the refusal to ever do it again.

    So this argument that Batgirl is falling back into previous behaviour is entirely wrong. Not a matter of opinion, not one point of view — wrong. Batgirl’s previous behaviour makes it pretty clear she doesn’t want to kill and won’t. To claim that she’s ‘reverting’ is incorrect.

    No offence intended to rokk, of course, who isn’t familiar with Cass’ character, but I just wanted to respond to that claim.

    Not thrilled with the mind control explanation either. It fails to explain why Batman and Barbara Gordon were unconcerned that their potentially lethal protege had gone insane. It would’ve been better to have Cass’ evil revealed as an undercover ruse. Batman and Barbara haven’t even mentioned Evil!Cass as a priority, which is another aspect of this poorly handled character direction.

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