Titans #12 Review

Titans had a good start with Dan Abnett bringing the original Wally West back as the Flash. His journey back to being the Flash hasn’t been the easiest as Wally’s previous life has been mostly erased. Luckily his life with his best friends in the Teen Titans still exist and we are seeing how the original team are getting back into the groove of being a team again. That transition to being Titans together again has recently hit a rough patch with “The Lazarus Contract” denting the dynamic between the team. With it being revealed that Nightwing made a deal with Deathstroke back during his Robin days and Wally now having a pacemaker for his bad heart things aren’t getting easier for the team. Now we may see things get rougher as Lilith/Omen searches for a possible mole on the team. Is there a mole on the team? And if there is can the Titans survive it as a team? Let’s find out with Titans #12.

Writer: Dan Abnett

Artist: Kenneth Rocafort

Colorist: Dan Brown

Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10

Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10

Overall Rating: 3.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: At Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York, Omen is being led through the prison by some guards. She is taken to a containment room and left alone with Psimon.

Psimon is surprised Omen is facing her without a mask. Omen says she does not need one but does want answers. Psimon comments on how Omen looks like she hasn’t slept in a while and easily sees that it is because her team is coming apart at the seams.

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Psimon looks into Omen’s mind and goes back to the events of the previous day, beginning with Donna Troy letting her frustrations on her history with Wonder Woman out on some training robots. Omen and Tempest walk in after Donna is done training. They both comment on Donna letting out her anger and Omen says if Donna needs to they could talk. Donna says she isn’t interested in talking at the moment and walks out.

Roy notices Donna and tries to talk to her but Donna is not interested and continues to walk out of the training room.

Roy wonders what he did. Omen tells him that Donna just needs time and he shouldn’t take it personally. Roy says that is hard. Omen tells Roy that if he likes Donna he should tell her rather than beat himself up about Donna not liking a guy like him. Roy doesn’t like that Omen is reading his mind and walks away.

Tempest asks Omen if she still wants to train. Omen says she does and they begin their training session with Omen knocking Tempest down a few times.

Omen thanks Tempest for showing how to show her abilities to predict others movements. Tempest comments that she is not someone they have to protect. He then is about to admit that he likes Omen but Omen already knows and they kiss.

Psimon comments on Omen and Tempest relationship and says he now sees what the emotional turmoil is affecting her team. He then notices that it was also a “bright” day for Wally West.

Going back to the day before, Donna and Wally are talking in the kitchen about Linda dumping him recently, though Wally and Linda weren’t really dating. Donna thinks Wally needs to take things slow but that is just not him. Wally then mentions that things have changed since he got a pacemaker and how he feels that if he stops being the Flash he won’t have anything left. Donna says she knows how he feels and maybe it is time for them to both start something new.

In the hallway Roy is hyping himself up to tell Donna he likes her. When he goes into the kitchen he is shocked to see Wally and Donna kissing. Roy walks away without saying anything, throwing the flowers he got for Donna in the trash.

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In the present Psimon laughs at the soap opera life Omen and her friends are living as their friendship is the team’s greatest weakness. Psimon believes that all the emotional stress is making Omen easy to read. Omen comments that if Psimon thinks that or if she is playing him. Psimon confidently believes he is the more powerful psychic and delves deeper in her mind.

Back to the day before, Mal angrily talks to Nightwing about how Karen’s life with him and their kid has been taken from her mind. He then talks about how Karen now wants to be with the Titans and Nightwing is letting her. Karen walks in and tells Mal that no one is letting her do anything as she has chosen to stay with the Titans.

Mal angrily walks away. Karen comments that she may have made things worse and feels bad for Mal. Nightwing says they will fix things.

Back in the present, Omen asks Psimon why he stole Karen’s memories. Psimon only says that Karen had valuable information for HIVE to use. Omen asks what “Engram” is. Psimon laughs it off as her trying to manipulate him. He then comments that the Titans are falling apart. Omen doesn’t know what Psimon means.

Psimon comments on Lilith’s Omen superhero name being a subliminal warning she created for herself.  Psimon reveals that for a long time now he has a had a premonition about a dangerous threat coming and Omen is a warning of that. Omen believes Psimon is just playing games with her but Psimon says all the information she needs is in her mind.

Omen still doesn’t believe him so Psimon tells her to look inside his mind. Omen does so and sees a dark figure hovering over her Titans teammates that have all been knocked out after someone betrayed them.

Psimon states that Omen knows who the traitor is. Omen suddenly mentions Alton Laboratories, much to Psimon’s confusion. She then reveals that while she isn’t as powerful a psychic as Psimon she opened her mind to him so she could sneak into his and get the information she needed. Psimon compliments Omen and says he will fry her brain for what she did.

Omen unleashes a psychic blast, showing that she lied about being less powerful as well. She reveals that he only saw what she allowed him to see about a traitor.

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Later as the Titans sneak into Alton Laboratories, Omen wonders who amongst her team she can trust. As Nightwing leads the charge into the lab Omen begins to wonder who the traitor is. End of issue.

The Good: Coming off a subpar crossover the Titans needed to come back strong with a focus on a story about the team. While that is what we got in Titans #12, the story did not connect in the way it should have. The big reason for that is the focus on several soap opera-esque storylines hurt the overall impact what should be an interesting story of a mole within the team that Omen is looking for.

The one part of the story I will compliment is how the mystery of who the mole is being built. Through this mole sub-plot Dan Abnett has created an arc that could make one of the members of the Titans team. Because outside of Nightwing, who has his own solo ongoing series, and Wally West, who has had a lot of attention given the nature of his return at the start of DC Rebirth, this mole storyline could give another character the opportunity to shine. We are already seeing how much this mole storyline is helping add some depth to Omen’s character. If she does not turn out to be the mole than any of the other Titans, including Mal Duncan, can be elevated depending on how the sub-plot is developed further.

The Bad: There is an old phrase of “quality over quantity” and that is something that should’ve been taken to heart before Titans #12 came out. While this issue did not kill the mole sub-plot, it was definitely hurt by Dan Abnett trying to deliver several “shocking” scenes. By trying to give fans several twists to digest, the impact of each subsequent surprise was hurt since Titans #12 was a comic filled with them.

When it comes to characters becoming romantically paired up, I don’t normally mind it. As someone that does ships certain characters in comics (Dick Grayson/Barbara Gordon!) I normally like to see how writers develop romantic plotlines. But while I like a good romantic plotline I want them to be developed in a way that is organic for those characters so when it does happen it feels earned for both sides. That is unfortunately the thing that was missing from the pairing of Tempest/Omen and Donna Troy/Wally West.

The biggest problem with both romantic pairings is that neither felt earned. Instead both came off as incredibly rushed to give fans something they may or may not have wanted. One of the reasons for this is that up until now we haven’t seen Abnett put a lot of focus on the friendship with the team. Even before “The Lazarus Contract” we had a lot of the focus be on how the team is readjusting to Wally’s return and what their new history is. There hasn’t been enough time to see how each member outside of Nightwing and Wally, for obvious reasons, has developed since the Titans reformed.

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Since we didn’t get time to see how either pairing developed we didn’t get a “finally” moment that we had when Nightwing and Starfire finally got together back in Wolfman and Perez’s run. What made Nightwing and Starfire’s relationship so great is that they didn’t instantly become romantically involved. Even though they had their first kiss at the beginning of the series we didn’t see them get officially together until around New Teen Titans #20. During that period we got to see how close the two got, build themselves up individually and naturally grow to romantically like each other.

That natural development of Nightwing and Starfire’s relationship is what both Tempest/Omen abd Donna/Wally pairing needed. Because with both pairings we just have not had a lot of time with either. With Donna and Wally have had minimal screen time together. So the two coming together felt completely random to make Roy suffer rather than giving us a fresh pairing, which is how Donna and Wally kissing should’ve come across.

Meanwhile, with Tempest and Omen, the former has only started to train the latter to fight. Tempest and Omen’s relationship, in particular should’ve been treated similarly to Nightwing and Starfire’s original pairing as Abnett should’ve dedicated more time for readers to see them interacting together before their big moment.

It also doesn’t help things that both “big” moments are executed in a similar manner as each one is looking for something missing. Having both first kisses happen in the same issue just lessens the impact and makes them looked even more forced in to add drama for the mole sub-plot. There is so much romantic drama in these two scenes that when you add in what is going on with Karen and Mal there is a feeling that the Titans are just a daytime soap opera.

Speaking of Karen and Mal’s broken marriage, while all the other romantic drama hurts the serious nature of their story, Mal’s attitude isn’t helping any. The way Abnett continues to portray Mal only hurts the character as he has lost any aspect that made him a hero. Since Titans Hunt, Mal has been shown to be more of a coward than strong former hero. If we are going to care for Mal’s troubles than we need to see how he is able to be a strong individual that makes you want to see him and Karen back to how they used to be.

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All of these romantic sub-plots ended up hurting the execution of what should’ve been a great psychic battle between Omen and Psimon. The look inside Omen’s mind would’ve been much stronger if we instead saw the focus be on where Omen stands with the rest of her Titans teammates. Given that Omen was one of the characters that forced Nightwing to reveal his past deal with Deathstroke, we should’ve have seen how that affected the team. Doing that by showing Omen in different types of discussions with her teammates post-The Lazarus Contract would’ve improved both Titans #12 story and the crossover the team just took part in.

Kenneth Rocafort artwork does not help things. At it’s best, Rocafort’s artwork does not get in the way of a bad story. But not helping elevate the story is a big problem when we do have so many big moments that none of them across as major character developments by just looking at the artwork. With so much that happens it could’ve have been easy to see how much stronger Tempest/Omen and Donna/Wally’s pairing was if the artwork made it look special.

Overall: In an effort to deliver a number of romantic pairings that would get fans talking Titans #12 forgets to deliver a quality story. Dan Abnett and Kenneth Rocafort failed to make what should be major chapters in Donna Troy, Wally West, Roy Harper, Tempest and Omen’s lives impactful due to bad execution. Hopefully having a mole within the team helps the future of the Titans series because the various romantic pairings sure did not.