It’s time for another big DC Comics crossover. This time around it is time for the Teen Titans, Titans and Deathstroke ongoing series to cross paths. With how deep Deathstroke’s history goes with the Titans franchise, this is a crossover that has been long in development. Given that the former Titans nemesis has been headlining his own ongoing series since the New 52 began there is no telling where “The Lazarus Contract” crossover will go. Will the two Titans groups be forced to team-up with their greatest villain? Or is there something else occurring in this story? Let’s find out with Titans #11.
Story Writers: Christopher Priest, Benjamin Percy and Dan Abnett
Script Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorists: Andrew Dalhouse and Carrie Strachan
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Years ago The Ravager has completely overwhelmed the Teen Titans and is choking Robin (Dick Grayson) out. Suddenly something happens to Ravager to cause him great pain in his heart. Kid Flash tries his best to save Ravager after he collapses but it is not working.
Deathstroke suddenly enters the scene and tells the Teen Titans to get away from his son. Deathstroke grabs his son, who asks Deathstroke if they killed the Teen Titans. Deathstroke hugs his son and says they did as he dies.
Deathstroke carries his son away while telling the Teen Titans that they will pay for killing his son.
Three days ago, Deathstroke wakes up in a hospital bed and is welcomed back by Wintergreen. Wintergreen sees that Deathstroke’s corneal transplant was a success since he can see again, though he comments that most blind men that regain their sight are usually more happy. Deathstroke wants a jet ready for take off to New York.
Wintergreen mentions that both Rose and Joseph are recovering from their injuries. He then mentions that while Deathstroke was in unconscious he kept calling out Grant’s name. Deathstroke still wants the jet to get ready and Wintergreen can “mother” him on the way.
One hour ago in New York City, the Titans are battling grunts who they think work for HIVE. Omen reads their minds and discovers that these people they are fighting have just been hired by HIVE. Nightwing tries to get some answers from one of the grunts. The grunt tells Nightwing that the person who hired them, named Lazarus, had a message for them “The deal is off.” Omen wonders what that means but Nightwing says he doesn’t know.
While checking on the other grunts Omen notices that Flash is not with them anymore.
In the present in an unknown location, Flash wakes up to find the Speed Force inside him going crazy while hooked up to some device that is forcing him to run. Someone from the shadows asks Flash his name and he says it’s “Wally West, the Fastest Man Alive and—.” Flash is surprised he just said that outloud.
The voice from the shadows tells Flash to continue running. Flash tries to resist but the man in the shadows tells increases the intensity of the device to force Flash to run faster. The man then asks Flash about the Titans. Flash tries to resist but says that the Teen Titans were a team formed to prove themselves. He goes on to say the team was forgotten after Abra Kadabra threw him in the time stream, which the other Flash pulled him out of he now has memories of a different world with a different history.
The man in the shadows shuts down the device forcing Flash to run. This gives Flash time to see that the man in the shadows is Deathstroke, who has a deal for Flash.
Deathstroke reminds Flash that he was there when the Teen Titans “killed” his son. Flash says that the powers HIVE gave Grant caused his heart to fail and they tried to save him but they weren’t fast enough.
Over in Titans Tower, Tempest can’t find Flash anywhere and wonders if it may mean that he fell back into the time stream again. The Titans give him a weird look and Tempest decides to go back to locating Flash.
Omen asks Nightwing about Lazarus and the deal the grunt mentioned. Nightwing says he doesn’t know anything. Omen doesn’t think Nightwing is being honest. Nightwing asks Omen if she is trying to read his mind. Omen says she couldn’t even if she tried since Nightwing’s mind can’t be read. Nightwing continues to say he is not withholding anything and the reason she can’t read his mind is because of his training.
Nightwing and Omen walk away in different directions even though Donna tries to get them to return. Omen suddenly realizes Nightwing lied to her.
At the unknown location, Deathstroke turns the device back on holding Flash. Deathstroke asks Flash about how the Speed Force can be used to bend time. Flash says that it can. Deathstroke takes this to mean that Flash can travel through time. Flash realizes what Deathstroke wants and tells him to reconsider his plan.
Deathstroke does not listen and turns his machine to full power. Flash says that Grant is dead and they can’t change the past no matter how much they want to.
Flash then uses his powers to vibrate through Deathstroke’s machine. Flash then pins Deathstroke to the wall and says they can’t go around messing with the past and they must focus on the future. Deathstroke breaks free and says that Flash has no clue how to use the Speed Force. Flash grabs Deathstroke again and says things are over.
Deathstroke says he has a deal for Flash: help him save his son and he will stop being Deathstroke forever. Deathstroke says this would mean Flash saves thousands of lives. Flash is hesitant but says he can’t help Deathstroke.
Deathstroke says he has a contingency plan as he has what he needs from Flash already. Deathstroke opens a door to a room with Kid Flash held in a similar device Flash was in earlier.
Kid Flash asks Flash how they can both be Wally West. End of issue.
The Good: Titans #11 does exactly what every good opening to a story, especially a comic book crossover, should do and create intrigue on multiple levels. While Deathstroke’s part of this crossover will get the majority of the attention Dan Abnett, along with fellow story writers Christopher Priest and Benjamin Percy, feeds us several sub-plots to follow closely during this crossover. And so far we have only really gotten the Titans and Deathstroke’s part of the story.
Right out of the gate Titans #11 reminds us what the history between the Titans and Deathstroke in. Though things are different in this DCU than the one that established their history with one another there are core things that have stayed the same. Basing the story around this big moment in the Titans history helps everything else that happens in the present day feel even more.
Even though several years have passed since Grant Wilson’s death it is clear that it is an event in Deathstroke’s life that has haunted him the most. Though he does some villainous stuff in kidnapping both Wallys’, Deathstroke is shown that he may not be the true villain of this story. That fact makes what happens next in Deathstroke’s part of the story, especially with the skill he showed in capturing two Speed Force users without anyone noticing until it was too late.
Deathstroke’s story also helped propel one the big sub-plots since DC Rebirth started with the two Wally Wests meeting one another once more. Unlike their first meeting this time around Kid Flash Wally now knows that the Flash Wally he meet not to long ago is also a West. How this affects not only this story but the overall direction of the Flash franchise will be interesting.
It’ll also be interesting to see if Deathstroke’s machine that forced Flash Wally to overuse his powers also caused others to remember forgotten history. Because if that is the case than “The Lazarus Contract” may mean even more to the DC Universe beyond the Titans family of comic books.
The other part of the story that will add intrigue to “The Lazarus Contract” is learning about whatever Nightwing is keeping from the team. It’s clear that there is something that Nightwing knows about this Lazarus person he has not revealed to others. With the Titans still learning to work together this new mystery will be a good test of who the team can trust since no one other than Omen is questioning Nightwing.
While smaller part of the story, it is good to see Abnett and company working in HIVE to be a heavy presence in this story. Abnett has been teasing HIVE’s involvement in the greater DCU when it comes to the metahumans. Now we see how HIVE continues to work behind the scenes as they are using other organizations to battle the Titans. This further teases how powerful the organization now is as they continue to evade our heroes and hide their true motives from everyone.
Brett Booth once again delivered artwork that popped of the screen. Given that he was able to draw Wally West using a good portion of the Speed Force, Booth was able to shine as he showed off how powerful the Speed Force is. At the same time, Booth was able to draw on the emotion of every character as we see Deathstroke go from the pain of seeing Grant die to Nightwing hiding things from Omen. That range of emotion helps elevate the important story beats of Titans #11.
The Bad: Though I know it was in there for add a little light hearted comedy to the issue, Tempest’s line about Wally possibly slipping back into the time stream fell flat. It did nothing to make Tempest look good and that space could’ve been better used for another character. As is it just showed how low of a level on the totem pole Tempest is in importance on the team.
Overall: Titans #11 kicks off the big “The Lazarus Contract” off on the right note. Dan Abnett, along with story writers Christopher Priest and Benjamin Percy, did a great job using the Titans history with Deathstroke as the core to launch the rest of this story. Now with several plotlines in play there are plenty of fun things for Titans fans to follow moving forward.