Teen Titans Annual #1 Review

The Lazarus Contract hasn’t delivered as I was expecting it to do. With the name of the crossover I was expecting it to be something much more. So far the crossover between Teen Titans, Titans and Deathstroke has been a very that has kept it from feeling like the event it should be. Everything so far has felt small and Deathstroke’s plot does not seem to fully warrant a full blown crossover. Now with only one issue left I hope that the ending having extra page count can make The Lazarus Contract worth everything. Let’s find out with Teen Titans Annual #1.

Writers: Christopher Priest, Benjamin Percy and Dan Abnett

Artist: Paul Pellettier; Khoi Pham; Brett Booth

Inker: Andrew Hennesssy; Wade Von Grawbadger; Norm Rapmund

Colorist: Adriano Lucas; Jim Charalampidis; Andrew Dalhouse

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: Years ago, Grant Wilson is enjoying the new life with his new friends. The eldests of Grant’s new family whisper to one another that they finally have him after she circled Deathstroke’s place for weeks. The woman reveals to Grant that they are all part of a think tank that works for HIVE, who has several groups like them, to help solve the world’s problem.

Sometime later, HIVE scientist promise Grant that they can make him like his idol, Deathstroke, and will work covertly for them.

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Later, Grant, as the Ravager, fights the Teen Titans. As the fighting goes on Deathstroke suddenly appears and takes Ravager away.

Deathstroke ends up taking to Ravager to the middle of the forest. Ravager is ecstatic to meet his hero after so many years of admiration. Ravager’s excitement disappears after Deathstroke reveals his true identity as Slade Wilson. Slade tries to explain that he never wanted the life of a killer for his son but Grant does not want to hear it and tries to attack Slade. Slade knocks Grant out and says he is going to have to run farther back into the time stream next time.

In Jersey City, both Titans group run to get into their jet in order to meet up with Flash in Hatton Corners. The Titans tell the Teen Titans that they are going to leave Kid Flash behind. Though Beast Boy tries to argue for them to take Kid Flash with them, Robin agrees with the Titans.

Inside the jet the Teen Titans still argue that they should’ve of not left Kid Flash behind and maybe they should call the Justice League. Nightwing tells everyone to focus as they don’t have time to waste, though Beast Boy thinks things are already over their heads.

Back in Jersey City, Jackson Hyde wonders where everyone is.

The Titans land in Goat Island where they meet Jericho, the son of Deathstroke, and Flash. Jericho says that Deathstroke is currently in the time stream and Nightwing says that is where they are headed.

Back in Jersey City, Jackson and Kid Flash run through the city until Kid Flash finds the one pay phone in the city. Kid Flash tries to call Barry Allen but only gets his voicemail. Kid Flash tells leaves a message with information on where the Titans are and to get the Justice League there.

Flash, with Jericho’s help, creates a vortex to access the time stream. The time stream portal opens and the original Teen Titans show up. Robin acts quickly by hitting Kid Flash in the heart. This causes Flash in the present to start to fade away, as Robin is trying to cut Deathstroke’s connection to the Speed Force. Robin keeps attacking the original Teen Titans but is stopped by Nightwing.

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Back in Jersey City, Wintergreen picks up Kid Flash and Jackson.

Back in the past, Slade once again tries to get his son to listen to him about changing his fate so he doesn’t die. Grant does not want to listen at all. Slade continues trying but is suddenly pulled out of the timeline he is in.

Elsewhere Wintergreen gives some details on his history with Slade to Jackson and Kid Flash, revealing what Slade’s motives are to change the past. Kid Flash thinks Slade took advantage of him because of who his father was, though Wintergreen says Slade won’t see it that way.

Back in the past the original Robin tries to bring Kid Flash back to life. When he is successful, Kid Flash in the present regains his powers and quickly runs to the other Titans location, as they have returned to the present.

Now with everyone back in the present Deathstroke is seething with vengeance for what the two Titans teams have done by taking his son away again. Deathstroke tries once again to run to the past with his goal of going back farther back in time.

Flash reappears and tells the Titans that Deathstroke entered the Speed Force and could be lost forever. The Titans think that means they win but Kid Flash shows up and says that if they are real heroes they won’t just leave Deathstroke lost in the Speed Force. After some arguing Kid Flash gets frustrated and runs into the Speed Force.

As Flash is about to run after Kid Flash he is stopped by Nightwing, who mentions that he could get lost in there again. Nightwing then creates a plan for Lilith and Raven to create a psychic bond between everyone to strengthen Flash’s connection to the present. Jericho helps out with his powers.

Flash senses that Kid Flash has finally entered the Speed Force but is unable to control himself once he is inside.

Jackson finally shows up and Robin is reminded that they left him behind. Raven suddenly feels the feedback from the psychic link between everyone as Flash reveals he ran away from Deathstroke. Robin realizes that Raven’s powers is having a negative effect on Flash, just as the latter enters the Speed Force.

Robin talks to Raven and tells her she is safe and she can come back to her friends.

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Flash and Kid Flash suddenly appear coming out of the Speed Force with Deathstroke, who has lost his connection to the Speed Force.

Deathstroke once again blames the Titans for taking everything from him and reveals he saw things in the Speed Force no man should’ve ever seen. Deahtstroke says each of the Titans should die today but he instead quits being Deathstroke and walks away.

Sometime later, at the Teen Titans Tower, Kid Flash is having a hard time controlling his powers so Raven helps him out. Robin shows up and tells Kid Flash that he took to many risks working with Deathstroke. Kid Flash tries to explain himself but Robin fires Kid Flash from the Teen Titans.

Over at Jersey City Medical Center, the Titans get Flash checked out and the doctor reveals that Flash’s pacemaker, which he has been using for years, is still working but is the only thing supporting his weakened heart. The Titans are surprised by this sudden health problem for Flash. Flash gets depressed as his timeline has been messed with again. The Titans think they can do something about it but Flash just walks away since they beat the bad guy. End of issue.  

The Good: Teen Titans Annual #1 did not change the trend of the story contained within “The Lazarus Contract” being a disappointing crossover. “The Lazarus Contract” largely felt like a waste of time and each series would’ve been better off telling their individual stories rather than get involved in a crossover. Even with the few consequential things that happened by the end the crossover ends up getting tagged out at home by a mile as it rounded the bases trying to get an inside the park home run.

The artwork was by far the greatest strength of this entire crossover and Paul Pelletier deliver on what you expect a good looking comic book to look like. Pelletier has a strong grasp in how to capture the classic look of each character and make the action jump off the screen. He did an especially good job portraying how the Speed Force works as there was a great sense of motion to what was going in each page.

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Khoi Pham and Brett Booth also did a very good job in the two pages they each got to draw. There wasn’t a lot for them to draw in as their scenes were very talking heavy. Pham did get across Robin’s authority when he fired Kid Flash. Similarly Booth was able to deliver on the emotional weight that loomed over the discovery of Wally’s weak heart.

The Bad: Though it did it’s best, everything that happened in The Lazarus Contract never felt earned. Christopher Priest, Benjamin Percy and Dan Abnett tried to make everything that we went through mean something by giving us three big developments they all fell flat. Each of the things that happened of consequences just did not seem worth all the build up.

The big thing that went against The Lazarus Contract is that while Deathstroke can work as the lone antagonist for a story it did not work here because his series was part of the crossover. The fact that the character is portrayed more as an anti-hero he never ended up playing like a big time villain. Because, while his plot did need the two Wally’s powers, nothing he did was overly evil. The most villainous thing he did was taking Kid Flash’s Speed Force. After that each time we saw him go back in time he never actually tried to kill anyone to so his son could live.

And that is where Deathstroke’s plot completely falls apart as his plan to travel back in time he should’ve used his powers to take out HIVE before his son got to them. That would’ve instantly solve everything and he would have then gone to save his son by trying to resolve things with the child version of Grant. But since he did not do that immediately, Deathstroke comes off looking incompetent, even though he is supposed to be one of the greatest strategist in the DC Universe.

It doesn’t help that the Titans solution to things felt very forced as they did not fully think through their own way of taking down Deathstroke. The Titans being surprised that Damian would try to kill Wally when he was Kid Flash made them look just as stupid as they should’ve know better than try to interact with their younger selves. It at least made the older Titans look like they haven’t grown out of their childhood since they didn’t just go straight after Deathstroke.

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It doesn’t help that the Titans going back to just meeting their original selves felt like an unnecessary move. Rather than meeting their younger selves they should’ve used their first attempt to figure out where Grant was just like Slade. Because they didn’t do that the meeting between the three Titans felt more like the writers tried to give us a fanservice moment rather than a plot development that actually made sense.

That is where not having a big villain threat like HIVE that ended up hurting The Lazarus Contract even more. Without a true threat that caused havoc, everything that happened felt small. Which is also slightly forgetting the HIVE subplot introduced in the Titans issue of this crossover. In that issue we saw the Titans fighting some people from HIVE but they were thrown aside for Deathstroke’s own search.

It also did not help that during the time Deathstroke spent going back in time we didn’t ever see any consequences with him trying to rescue his son. There should’ve been some sort of hint that each time Deathstroke traveled through time that the present was affected in some way. If we saw some affect to the present than it would’ve made the Titans solution have more weight as they were racing against time before things changed in their lives yet again. But without it, there was no actual weight to how hurried the Titans solution to stopping Deathstroke.

All of this also made both of Wally’s fates feel less worth it. With the original Wally receiving an additional heart problem just felt like Priest, Percy and Abnett were piling on to a character who has not had any good luck since returning to the DCU. There is already enough things that have happened to Wally to help differentiate him from Barry and the other Wally that this was unnecessary. It also doesn’t help that everything in Titans so far has been centered around the crap Wally continues to deal with. This would’ve meant much more if it was Arsenal, Lilith or Tempest since they currently don’t have strong sub-plots to follow.

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Similarly, with the Kid Flash Wally still being a relatively new character him getting kicked out of the Teen Titans by Robin did not carry any weight. At this point Kid Flash is still a fresh character that fans who are only reading Teen Titans are still trying to connect with. And since there hasn’t been a lot of time given to Kid Flash in Teen Titans to connect with him, his loss does not feel as impactful to the series as it should. It just came off as something you do to create some sort of shock factor to a story that was missing it.

Overall: Teen Titans Annual #1 failed to deliver an ending that made The Lazarus Contract a memorable story. With the characters involved it was fair to expect that the story would reach the heights of other classic Titans tales. Even when the story tried to deliver an ending that impacted the future of multiple characters it ended up not meaning anything. Now the best thing for all series involved is to distance themselves from one another as this failed attempt at a crossover just caused them each more harm than good, from a quality standpoint.