Comic Review: Teen Titans #36: One Year Later

Geoff Johns has the Teen Titans rocking and rolling. This is probably my favorite of all the One Year Later storylines. Plus, we are getting a double shot of the Titans this month! That will make up for us not getting any Titans during the month of June. Anyway, grab your snack choice, fried platanos for me, and let’s check out Teen Titans #36.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Tony Daniel
Inkers: Kevin Conrad, Andy Lanning & Norm Rapmund

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.

Synopsis: The issue starts with the Brain and Mallah watching the sunset in Paris. The Brain mentions that he cannot wait for his new body so he can see the sunlight with natural eyes rather than through his electronic eyes. The Brain says that soon it will be time for Revenge. Time to kill Doom Patrol. (The dialogue was just too corny and cheesy!)

We then shift over to Doom Patrol’s castle. Kid Devil is taken into surgery. Vox then creates a portal for Vox, Robotman, Negative Man and Bumblebee for them to follow the members of the Brotherhood. They leave behind the Titans, Beast Boy and Elasti Girl. Cyborg asks Beast Boy why Vox (known as Mal) didn’t say “hi.” Beast Boy said that Vox and Bumblebee suffered injuries when they were lost in deep space a year ago with Cyborg. Vox’s sub-sonic weapons blew up in his face which caused his lungs and vocal cords to be replaced. Now he can’t talk. Bumblebee was irradiated with some kind of energy and shrank down to a six-inch height. She is now on special meds to keep her diminutive heart from going into cardiac arrest.

Beast Boy then told Cyborg that the Chief, Dr. Caulder, told him to extend Cyborg the offer to join the Doom Patrol. Beast Boy explains that he joined Doom Patrol because his adoptive parents are on the team and his mom can’t handle his dad’s problems alone. Doom Patrol is family. Wondergirl says that that is more than can be said for the Titans. That since Superboy died, the Titans have gone through twenty members. Nobody wants to stay.

We then cut to The Chief performing surgery on Kid Devil along with Elasti-Girl’s help. The Chief says that there is nothing mystical about Kid Devil. That someone transformed him into this creature using meta-human gene manipulation. The Titans enter a balcony over looking the surgery and watch the progress. The Titans ask Beast Boy to ask his father for help. They all leave the balcony except for Robin who stays behind. Elasti-Girl asks The Chief if what he wants to do with Kid Devil is the best idea for him or his friends. The Chief tells Rita not to question him. That he found her skull in the waters of the island where the Brotherhood tried to blow them all up. He treated it with synthetic proteins for years until she was able to re-grow her malleable body. The Chief continues that she may look relatively normal, but that isn’t the case. Her elastic brain has extreme difficulty thinking straight. That she needs to let him do the thinking for her. To follow her orders like the others and maybe, one day she won’t be a freak anymore. That people will love her like they used to. Elasti Girl apologizes and says that he is right. (Wow! The Chief is not only a dick, but he is a psycho as well!) Robin, who has been listening to all of this, suddenly has his phone ring. The Chief yells at him to leave the area. Robin leaves and answers the phone. It is the Blue Devil. Robin tells Blue Devil that Kid Devil has been seriously hurt. Then Robin is cut short and says “Excuse, me? You can’t be serious.”

We then cut to Beast Boy’s dad, Mento. Beast Boy says that they need his help. Mento says he is too busy to help. He is frantically writing his seventh novel of the day. Beast Boy asks his dad to take off the mental helmet. His father says that he can’t. That he needs to write these novels because Elasti Girl loves them. That The Chief said to keep the helmet on because Elasti Girls is in love with Mento and not Steve Dayton. Beast Boy says “I need you Dad.” And that mom would like him without the helmet. Beast Boy then walks away.

We cut to the other Titans waiting for news on Kid Devil’s recovery. The Chief enters and tells him that Kid Devil is out of surgery and healing at a rate ten times the normal human. The Chief then says he wants to discuss Kid Devil’s future. Robin says, first he wants to talk to Kid Devil. Robin enters Kid Devil’s room. Robin tells him that he just spoke to Blue Devil. Kid Devil knows he has been busted. Robin said that Blue Devil told him that he has not spoken to Kid Devil in almost 2 years. Robin asks Kid Devil who he has been talking to these past few months. Kid Devil says nobody. Kid Devil said that he never meant to lie. That he has tried so hard to be good. That it is not easy for someone who’s never been anything but less than average. Kid Devil then asks if this means he is not a Teen Titan.

We then cut to the Chief meeting with the rest of the Teen Titans. He tells them that Kid Devil does not belong in the Teen Titans. Because he will always be shunned and feared. That the Doom Patrol can offer him something the Titans cannot: a family. That he has special physical and psychological needs that can’t be serviced by a bunch of selfish teenagers. Robin enters the room and says that Kid Devil is staying with the Titans. Robin says that Dr. Caulder’s care is very questionable. Beast Boy tells Robin to show the Chief some respect. Robin says why should he? That Dr. Caulder is keeping everyone on the Doom Patrol so desperate to be accepted, to be liked that they will listen to his every word. That he talks terribly to Beast Boy’s mother. And that Batman had told Robin that Dr. Caudler is the person who caused their accidents and created Doom Patrol on purpose. Elasti Girl says that they have forgiven him for that. The Chief is pissed at Robin and says he is only trying to help people that the Titans can’t. Suddenly, Negative Man bursts into the room. He tells them that they got Robotman, Vox and Bumblebee. That the experiment has started.

We shift to Paris where the Titans and Elasti Girl and Beast Boy are on the scene. They split into two teams. Cyborg, Beast Boy and Elasti Girl bust through the entrance to the Brain’s secret base. They find Vox, Bumblebee and Robotman being held captive. Suddenly, the Brotherhood rumbles into the room.

We then cut to the other team of Robin, Ravager and Wondergirl in another part of the base. Robin runs off saying “The missing piece. It has to be here.” He then comes across a glass chamber filled with a green liquid similar to his cloning chamber under Titans Tower. Robin says “How are they doing it?” Wondergirl and Ravager enter the room and find the Brain’s old machine “body” on the floor with the glass dome that housed his brain shattered and empty. Suddenly, the Brain appears with his brand new body complete with a butt shaped head. He says that the Titans will not be able to stop their rampage of revenge because “Love is on our side.” (Ok, that was odd.) End of issue.

The Good: Johns delivers yet another good issue with Teen Titans #36. I liked the Doom Patrol’s castle. Nice and creepy. What a perfect HQ for the Doom Patrol. It was nice to finally find out what happened to Vox and Bumblebee after they were stranded in space during Infinite Crisis. They certainly sustained some serious injuries. Mal losing his voice. Bumblebee being stuck at six inches tall and having to be on heart medication. Infinite Crisis scarred many of the survivors. I liked the injuries. No war is fought without some of the soldiers living, but with the burden of permanent injuries.

It was an interesting discovery that Blue Devil has not spoken to Kid Devil in almost 2 years. That Kid Devil had not been calling anybody this entire time. I thought the scene with Kid Devil and Robin was very well done. You could really empathize with Kid Devil. Robin is the golden boy. Not all heroes are like that. Some struggle just to be average. Guys like Kid Devil. This scene did a great job of fleshing out Kid Devil some more and really getting me to enjoy his character and to identify with him a lot more.

I loved the scene between Beast Boy and his father Mento. Mento, Steve Dayton, is a tragic figure. He so obsessed with being loved by Elasti Girl that he has driven himself to the point of insanity by always wearing the Mento helmet. It is also interesting that The Chief has planted these thoughts in Mento’s head. That he must always wear the helmet. That Elasti Girl does not love Steve Dayton, she loves Mento. It seems that The Chief wants to keep everyone weak.

I liked the theme of the “deconstruction” of the Titans as a family. The year between Infinite Crisis and the beginning of the One Year Later storyline, really tore the Titans apart. They were completely deconstructed and are now in shambles. They are at their lowest point in a long time. How they have gone through 20 members in the past year. That no one wants to stay. That no one gets along. That is very unlike the original theme of the Titans.

Contrasted against the crumbling Titans where nobody likes each other and there is no sense of family anymore, you have the Doom Patrol where there is an amazingly strong sense of family. However, at what price? Yes it is a family. But, it is a dysfunctional family. The Scene with The Chief and Elasti Girl performing surgery on Kid Devil really accentuated how sinister The Chief with the way he spoke to Elasti Girl. Also, the way he is keeping Mento mentally unstable by playing off his fears of not being loved by Elasti Girl. The Chief is the puppet master pulling the strings of all the members.

Beast Boy joined Doom Patrol in order to help his mom and dad. That is a very understandable reason for Beast Boy leaving the Titans. It makes perfect sense and shows Gar’s desire to be a good son. But, Gar looks so sad in this entire issue. This isn’t the same Beast Boy as before Infinite Crisis.

The theme of contrasting the Titans with the Doom Patrol came to its culmination in the scene where Robin calls The Chief on his shady tactics and that Kid Devil will be going home with the Titans. We are seeing flashes of the true spirit of the Titans. Robin is the foundation of the Titans. Robin carries the spirit of the Titans. That despite Kid Devil lying to them, he is still family. They still love him and will take care of him. They will always support him. This is a symbol of their love and friendship that used to make the Titans a family. Being a Titan always meant more than being a JLA’er. Being in the JLA was like making into a prestigious club. Being a Titan meant being part of a family. Huge difference.

The final scene was great! Robin begins to show his obsession with figuring out how to clone Superboy. And The Brain finally has a body. Butt head and all. I think the other Titans are going to discover what Robin has been up to very soon. And when they find out, things are going to get ugly.

Johns is doing an excellent job on the Teen Titans. I thought that Teen Titans #36 was well written. It has a strong story. Good dialogue and is moving at a nice pace. Johns has such an understanding for all these characters and it really shows in his writing. He has such a great feel for their personalities. It makes the dialogue stronger and makes for a fun issue to read. I especially love the way Johns wrote Robin in Teen Titans #36. I may not be impressed with the way Johns writes Batman, but I definitely dig his version of Robin. Robin is such a stud. He just comes off very cool in this issue.

Tony Daniel’s artwork is just fantastic. I love his art! Daniel’s art really adds to the storyline and makes the Teen Titans an even better read. Daniel’s puts so much emotion in not only the characters’ facial expressions, but also in their body language. The reader really feels the emotions of the characters. The scene with Kid Devil and Robin was especially well drawn. Daniel’s art just sucks the reader into the comic book and makes for one hell of a ride.

I also love, love, love the way Daniel draws Robin! His Robin is awesome. I especially like how he draws Robin literally morphing in and out of shadows. Very well done.

The art is also broken down and laid out well. Each page varies up the number and size of panels. Plus, the perspective and angles in each panel are slightly different. Close ups, far away shots, etc. A lot of variety and it gives the comic a cinematic feel and increases the intensity of the comic.

The Bad: Seriously, the dialogue at the beginning between the Brain and Mallah was so corny and cheesy. Just terrible. I expected an evil “Bwahahahahaha!” while we were at it. That entire scene was simply not good.

The Brain’s dialogue at the very end was just weird. That the Titans won’t be able to stop the Brotherhood because Love is on their side. Ok. Maybe the Brain needs to lose his right to talk for a while.

Other than that, Teen Titans #36 was an excellent issue. I am enjoying Johns’ One Year Later storyline and combine that with Daniel’s great artwork and you have a title that is definitely worth your hard earned money.