The biggest disappointment out of Future State was Teen Titans #1. It wasn’t even a contest. That disappointment has extended to the greater Four Horsemen storyline that has connected Future State: Teen Titans to Future State: The Flash and Future State: Shazam. There is a major lack of cohesion with this big storyline direction that has impacted the three series telling the Four Horsemen Saga. It hasn’t helped that there hasn’t been a good sense of how closely connected the events are in terms of when they take place in the Future State timeline. Add in the surprises that amounted nothing more to just being there for shock value purposes I was extremely down on Future State: Teen Titans #1. Can Tim Sheridan and Rafa Sandoval turn things around with Future State: Teen Titans #2? Let’s find out.
Writer: Tim Sheridan
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Julio Ferreira
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: Nightwing brings Red X with him to meet up with the rest of the Titans. Starfire and Cybeast call out Nightwing for bringing Red X back into the fold. Nightwing asks them to trust him.
Six months earlier the remaining Titans gather around the graves of their fallen Titans members. Nightwing suddenly shows up and calls them all out, including himself, on how they just weaponized kids. Nightwing then reveals that Red X recently found him and asked to be locked up. Starfire and Raven then bring up how half the population is now gone with the Four Horsemen terrorizing the world and the Justice League in disarray. Shazam doesn’t want to give up. Nightwing agrees.
In the present, Nightwing and Starfire get into an argument about him wearing Deathstroke’s colors and mask. During this Nightwing reveals he stopped working with Slade Wilson six months ago.
Starfire quickly gets tired of arguing and tells Jakeem Thunder, Johnny Thunderbolt, Totally Tubular, Bratgirl, Chupacabra, and Gorilla Gregg that they will stay behind to act as the last defenders in case the rest of them fall in the upcoming battle.
Sometime earlier Bratgirl and other Teen Titan Academy students try to use the H-Dial to contact Roy Harper but don’t have any success. Miguel Montez tries to stop them from continuing to use the H-Dial but it is to late as continued use causes a bright light to consume them.
In the present Raven teleports Starfire, Nightwing, Red Arrow, Cybeast, and Red X to Detroit where Shazam, Bunker, and Crush have been fighting the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (which includes Wally West as Famine and Roundhouse as Pestilence).
Flashing back to the past, it is shown that when Wally West was turned into Famine he almost killed Nightwing. Raven was able to save Nightwing and teleport Famine Wally West away.
In the present Shazam reveals that their plan is to have Raven tether herself to the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and then imprison her inside the Rock of Eternity. The Titans all work together to fight the Four Horsemen in order to buy Raven the time she needs to execute their plan.
In the middle of the fight Famine Wally West kills Red Arrow. This stuns the Titans long enough for War to take control of Nightwing and Red X.
Raven is finally able to begin her chant. Noticing this War also turns Starfire and orders her to attack Raven.
As this happens Nightwing and Red X break out of War’s control. Red X tells Nightwing they can’t use the H-Dial under these conditions. Nightwing then has Bunker help him get some distance to get other equipment ready. As that happens Pestilence Roundhouse breaks Bunker’s defenses.
Nearby Raven breaks Starfire free from War’s control and teleports herself, Starfire, and Red X to the rest of the Titans location.
Nightwing finally finishes his preparations and gives Red X the H-Dial to use. Red X takes off his mask and charges at the Four Horsemen. Nightwing then reveals that Red X shares a special connection to the “Host” who brought the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to Earth.
In the past the remaining Titans can’t believe that Red X betrayed them because he thought the team was a bigger danger than the Four Horsemen. Raven at the time thinks Red X had his reason.
In the present Nightwing tells the team that Red X is trying to make amends for his part in bringing the Apocalypse to Earth. He then reveals that the Teen Titan Academy students at some point modified the H-Dial during an event on a past Halloween.
Red X then dials “8-4-8-2-6-7” on the H-Dial to summon the spirits of all the dead Titans (including Wally West, Donna Troy, and Roundhouse). Raven channels the power of her fallen Titans teammates to complete her chant to tether the Four Horsemen.
Just as things settle down the power of the Four Hosemen inside Raven starts to get out of control and turns Nightwing, Crush, Starfire, and Cybeast against Bunker.
Seeing that they are running out of time Shazam is forced to take Raven into the Rock of Eternity, leaving Bunker behind to fight the demonic Nightwing, Crush, Starfire, and Cybeast alone.
Inside the Rock of Eternity, Shazam carries Raven to an alter believing that nothing can escape as long as he is standing guard. End of issue.
The Good: For worse Future State: Teen Titans #2 continues the events from the first issue and never is able to take the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to a level needed to show signs of improvement. Like the first issue, Future State: Teen Titans #2 relies too much on the shock value of what we see and is said. There is no actual substance behind it to make you actually care where we are at during this time period of the DC Universe. The lack of clarity when things take place in relation to other Future State comics only add to the disappointment that came with Future State: Teen Titans #2.
Luckily we did have Rafa Sandoval’s good looking artwork to carry the story in this issue. While the actual material around the art isn’t great Sandoval’s artwork does get across the struggle the Titans go through against the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Sandoval does a particularly good job giving each of the Four Horsemen designs that fit with what Wally West, Roundhouse, and the other two members are supposed to represent. It added to how creepy they all looked and created a sense of concern for the Titans, at least on a visual level.
The Bad: As with Future State: The Flash #2, what hurts the story that Future State: Teen Titans #2 presents is that is not the beginning, middle, or end of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Saga. This issue, along with the previous issue, come across as one chapter of a storyline that has been going on for a while. And even when we reach the final page there is no major resolution other than giving us an intermission to whatever direction this Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse Saga goes next during Future State.
It doesn’t help that a lot of the interactions we see take place in Future State: Teen Titans #2 are very weak when it comes to logic. Tim Sheridan completely relies on the shock value of various character decisions to carry the weight of what happens. Things like seeing Nightwing wearing Deathstroke’s design and mask, Cyborg and Beast Boy’s fusion as Cybeast, and the Teen Titans Academy students messing around with the H-Dial, just to name a few, don’t add to the story. The only thing they do is give Sheridan a convenient out for the decisions on where we find all the cast members of Future State: Teen Titans when the series begins.
Nightwing with his Deathstroke turn is the biggest example of the failure to properly explore what the events of the past caused many characters to change. Outside of mentioning that Dick Grayson worked with Deathstroke six months earlier there is no actual change to the character outside of visually. There is nothing about how the events in Gotham City with the Magistrate causing Dick Grayson to get Slade Wilson’s help to get a new edge. Nor do we see Dick Grayson as Deathwing using Deathstroke like tactics with the way he fights. It is all just one big palette swap that screams of this being nothing more of wanting to sell more copies of this comic book rather than how this character choice impacts the direction Dick Grayson will go. It is not all that different from the poor Ric Grayson character turn we saw in Nightwing not to long ago.
The same can be said with the Cybeast fusion of Cyborg and Beast Boy. At no point does Sheridan explore how this fusion of Cyborg and Beast Boy impacts both characters. We only get one brief instance of this being touched on in the opening page of Future State: Teen Titans #2. Outside of that Cybeast is nothing more than a background character. The way this fusion character was treated just makes you realize how Cyborg and Beast Boy really drew the short end of the stick when it came to Future State. And given how important of a character Cyborg in particular has become to DC Comics over the last decade it is a bigger headscratcher that a background role as Cybeast is the best Sheridan could do for the character.
These specific character choices go for the rest of the Titans that appear in this issue. You never get a true sense of how much the Titans have gone through during this unknown amount of time. More than them fighting to survive it just appears that this group of Titans have been hiding out in a bunker bidding their time. Which further hurts the scale that Sheridan is trying to go for because we never get a change in the two settings of the bunker and one destroyed city. Having one page showing the Four Horsemen, even if it was in flashback form, going around causing death and destruction around the world would’ve put over what the Titans were up against. Without that sense of scale Sheridan never taps into the greater conflict he is trying to tackle alongside the events in Future State: The Flash and Future State: Shazam.
Sheridan also does just about nothing to present the Four Horsemen as world ending. As mentioned before, the setting just being in one location kept what they were doing small in comparison to what we are told about the death and destruction the Four Horsemen have caused. They aren’t even given lines outside of a brief line Famine speaks as Wally West. Outside of that the Four Horsemen are treated as nothing more than monsters of the week style villains. There is no depth to them which only further points to how meaningless the whole “Host” who release the Four Horsemen being tied to the Titans was.
Adding to the disappointment of how the Four Horsemen are treated is the fact that Sheridan does nothing to tap into what it means for Wally West and Roundhouse to be part of this group. This never comes across as something that seriously impacted the Titans to have their own turned into members of the Four Horsemen. Sheridan had plenty of opportunity to address that in all the dialogue he provided but never really does. Which further points out how poorly DC Comics has treated Wally West’s character since he returned in DC Rebirth for no reason. The character is just once again treated like someone who is no better than dirt.
Because of all that the entire thing with the H-Dial just comes across as nothing more than a deus ex machina to conclude the story with. Since we didn’t get the Teen Titans Academy story before this series what we see go down with the H-Dial doesn’t mean much. Its just an excuse to have a Titans Together moment but nothing more. Without the backstory of this or how Red X used this as a chance to redeem himself it is all meaningless.
Speaking of which, Red X’s redemption arc just falls completely flat because we were never on an actual journey with the character. We don’t have a connection to the character that justifies him getting this opportunity. This once again falls on how we were dropped in the middle of a long running story that we know little about. It’s unfortunate that this is how Red X’s introduction to the DC Universe went but just speaks to it being more about his appearance in this book rather than true character development that mattered for Future State: Teen Titans.
It does not help any that once again we don’t get a real sense of time for when events are taking placing in Future State: Teen Titans #2. The best we get is Nightwing showing up as Deathwing six months before the events of this issue to reunite with the Titans. Outside of that Sheridan is vague with when things take place. This isn’t something that is a problem exclusively with this series as all Future State comics that have included flashbacks have the same problem.
For Future State: Teen Titans this is particularly problematic because we are told that a lot has happened since the Four Horsemen were released, including the Justice League being a mess of a team during this time. But you never get a sense of how much time has passed between the flashback and present day. Which further points to how disconnected Future State: Teen Titans feels in relation to other Future State books that Nightwing, Shazam, Flash, and others appear in.
Overall: When all was said and done with Future State: Teen Titans #2 I could only reflect on all the lost potential with the end of this mini-series. By heavily relying on shock value of where we find this group of Titans at this point in the Future State timeline this series never finds its footing. Once you get beyond character appearances there is nothing but a story that fails to tell a compelling narrative. Its such a disappointment to have to say all of this about a series featuring some of my favorite comic book characters.
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