The second week of Future State continues as we are shown what happened to the Teen Titans in this new continuity. Based on information released we know that at some point the veteran Titans established a new school called “Teen Titans Academy” with hopes of training the next generation of heroes. Just looking at the cover for Future State: Teen Titans #1 it does not look like the school turned out well for the Titans. What happened to caused what looks to have been a great disaster in the Titans history? Let’s find out with Future State: Teen Titans #1.
Writer: Tim Sheridan
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At the destroyed Titans Island, Dick Grayson brings Red Arrow to visit the graves of their fallen teammates, which include graves for Donna Troy, Wally West, Wallace West, and Matt Prince.
While looking through the wreckage Dick Grayson finds Red X’s mask on the ground.
In a flashback to several years earlier the Titans and their students gather to celebrate Nightwing’s birthday. One of the gifts that Nightwing gets is the Red X mask from his students.
Back in the present Nightwing finds a case with the H-Dial nside. Before they can see if it works Starfire contacts them to let them know plans have changed as “they” are back.
At the Titans Safe House that Cybeast (Beast Boy and Cyborg fusion) has appeared.
As they head to the safe house Dick Grayson gets into an argument with Starfire over the communicator of what there strategy should be as Nightwing wants to go with an all out assault. Starfire calls Nightwing out for sound like “him” (who is said not to be Bruce Wayne).
Inside the safe house Starfire goes over the plan with the Titans of how they will use the information Cybeast provided to link up with SHAZAM’s field team.
After dismissing the team Starfire has a tense meeting with Dick Grayson, who reveals he does not like that they are still calling him Nightwing, including Starfire.
Elsewhere, Raven helps Bunker and Crush a dragon-like four headed creature. Before she can help more Raven loses her connection to Bunker and Crush’s location.
Inside the safe house sub-basement Raven is frustrated that she lost her connection. She tells the person locked in the sub-basement prison she needs more training but that person says they’ve done all they can. Raven thinks the person doesn’t believe she should do what she is planning on doing. The person says she is correct as all they are trying to do is hoping to make things right. Raven then senses that Cybeast is awake.
In another part of the safe house Cybeast tells the Titans that they found the location of the Spear of Destiny that’ll help them put an end to the apocalypse. Raven reveals that the Spear of Destiny will help them draw the Four Riders of the Apocalypse to them so they can make their last stand where SHAZAM’s team is at.
In Detroit, Bunker, Crush, and SHAZAM work together to hold back the demons until the rest of the Titans back them up.
Sometime in the past Red X is shown defending a student whose power is going out of control from the rest of the Titans. As the Titans try to stop the out of control student Donna Troy is killed by all the uncontrollable energy in the room.
Back in the present, Dick Grayson releases the person who was Red X to back him up as he is planning to do whatever it takes to win. As Red X walks out of his prison cell Dick Grayson puts on Deathstroke’s mask. End of issue.
The Good: Since each title in the Future State direction takes place at a different point in a timeline that goes all the way to the end of time it we were bound to see comics suffer from such a broad time period. That is exactly what happened to Future State: Teen Titans #1 as this comic is so reliant on events in other Future State comic books that it just ends up falling off the tightrope it is walking on.
The one thing I will give Tim Sheridan credit for from a story standpoint is how he handled the weight of the deaths within the Teen Titans. All the surviving Titans members are shown to have been impacted by the death of their teammates differently. This gives weight to how much all these surviving Titans have been through up to this point in the Future State timeline.
On the art side of things Rafa Sandoval delivered his normal level of consistency with Future State: Teen Titans #1. The issue looks great throughout with a good style used to separate out the present and flashback scenes. The whole world that the Future State: Teen Titans live in comes across as having gone through a lot even though we don’t know what those events are.
The Bad: As mentioned before, Future State: Teen Titans #1 suffers most from how far in the future it takes place in. We are planted right into a place in a time period where all these big events have happened that come across that we should know about. The way this entire issue felt completely uninviting even if you are familiar with who Nightwing, Starfire, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven, and the other Titans in this issue are.
That problem is only made bigger by how Tim Sheridan references things from other Future State comic books that haven’t even been released. The editors note to Future State: The Flash #2, which doesn’t even come out until February, just highlights all of this. It comes to a point that I just wanted to stop reading this comic book because of how promotion for events in the Batman Family, The Flash, and other Future State comic books are referenced. This all shows how problematic having titles in the Future State direction take place over the course hundreds of years just causes confusion to the reader.
The flashbacks that Sheridan includes do nothing to help add context to what we see go on with the veteran Titans. The flashbacks are all more of what we know from the current DC Universe until the last flashback scene involving Red X. There are no hints to why Dick Grayson has suddenly become the new Deathstroke, the problems in Detroit, Cyborg and Beast Boy’s fusion, or any other story element in Future State: Teen Titans. All these flashbacks end up doing is adding to how confusing the storytelling in Future State: Teen Titans #1 is.
Having such a chaotically paced story made the way all the characters interact with each other never work. Whether its how much of an asshole Dick Grayson acts throughout or Raven’s problem controlling her powers, no character ever feels fully realized. All of the Titans in this issue feeling like they’ve been replaced by people we don’t know in any sort of way. Which all goes back to how we don’t get much character development to properly explain where we are dropped into the Future State timeline.
This causes the moments that are supposed to be this monumental character moment, like Dick Grayson putting on the Deathstroke mask, fall completely flat. There is no reason given for why Dick Grayson would end up becoming the new Deathstroke. Especially since the Future State: Nightwing series has yet to release to provide some context why Dick Grayson would go down the path we find him on in Future State: Teen Titans #1. Its all just comes across as unearned.
The same goes with what we are led to believe as this big event that is going on in Detroit involving the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Outside Raven quickly taking out a dragon-like beast there is no context given to how big of a problem this all is to the DC Universe of this time period. All of it is written like we should know what SHAZAM, Bunker, and Crush are dealing with just through the mention of the Four Riders. Without spending more time developing this part of the story the sense of urgency in getting the Spear of Destiny and what Starfire’s Titans are doing never hits the way Sheridan intends.
The whole fusion of Cyborg and Beast Boy also never hits the way Sheridan intends it to. Sheridan never properly gets over how Cybeast is dealing with his fusion mentally. Even when Cyborg and Beast Boy each talk through their Cybeast form you don’t get how big of a deal this is. It all comes across to give a dramatic story beat to this issue visually but never dedicate time to showing the ramifications of the fusion.
Overall: Future State: Teen Titans #1 is by far the biggest disappointment of this new direction DC Comics has started. Because of where this comic book takes place in the DCU timeline it became reliant on things in other Future State comic books that have not even been released yet. That causes many problems for where we find all the characters. That lack of character development extends to the main conflicts that this series is dealing with. There are so many key details missing that you quickly get to the point of not caring about what happens next in Future State: Teen Titans.
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