The Lazarus Contract crossover did not do any the Titans series any favors. After having some good momentum going into the crossover it all came to halt afterwards. The recent issue, Titans #12, did not help bring things back as the focus on the various romances in the Titans derailed the intriguing storyline around what HIVE is doing. Now with Omen learning more information from Psimon in their recent meeting hopefully Titans can get back to what makes the series strong rather than what has taken away its momentum. Let’s see if that is the case with Titans #13.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: V Ken Marion
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The Titans battle HIVE soldiers in Alton Laboratories as Mr. Binder walks into the lab.
After the Titans finish off all the HIVE soldiers they demand Mr. Binder hands over Karen Duncan’s stolen memory engram. Mr. Binder acts like he doesn’t know what the Titans are talking about but Omen instantly knows they are lying.
The Titans once again demand to get the memory engram. Mr. Binder instead tells his computer to activate the “Endgame” protocol.
Suddenly several Mr. Binder’s appear and start battling the Titans. Mr. Binder is able to put up a strong fight as he reveals that he is able copy each of the Titans’ powers. Flash is a bit distracted as he is not sure how much of his powers he should use which Mr. Binder is able to take advantage of to knock him and Nightwing down.
Arsenal is able to take down one of Mr. Binder’s copies with an explosive arrow. Donna Troy checks on Arsenal but he waves Donna off when she asks Arsenal if he has seen Flash. Other clones of Mr. Binder use this as a chance to knock out both Donna and Arsenal.
Tempest finds Omen knocked out and checks on her. Omen tells Tempest not to let their relationship distract him from the fight as he could become the team’s weak link. More Mr. Binder clones show and surround the pair.
Flash sees this and decides to tap further into the Speed Force to save his friends.
Elsewhere Malcolm Duncan meets with Gnarrk about getting his help in saving his wife since he does not trust the Titans, as he sees them as responsible for Karen’s current state.
Back at Alton Laboratories, Flash saves Tempest and Omen but his heart starts affecting him. Bumblebee, Flash, Omen and Tempest regroup and decide to finally work as a team against Mr. Binder and his clones.
Though they are able to put up a better fight Mr. Binder continues to copy their powers to overwhelm the team. Flash taps into the Speed Force even more and takes out all of the Mr. Binder clones in the room.
Nightwing looks into Mr. Binder’s computer and finds out that HIVE is building an army of superhumans by stealing superpowers through their Meta Solutions company.
While Nightwing keeps on looking for Bumblebee’s missing memories she notices how close Flash and Donna are. Arsenal acts like he doesn’t care.
Flash and Donna talk about how much Flash is pushing himself. Donna then mentions that they should slow their relationship down so they don’t hurt someone.
Mr. Binder wakes up and tells the Titans that they will never find the memory engram and that HIVE’s plans are much bigger than they know.
On another side of the lab Omen mentions to Tempest how she recently met with Psimon and discovered that their is a traitor on their team.
Nightwing gathers the team to let them know that the entire datacore at the lab has been taken, including Bumblebee’s memory engram. He mentions that he found that HIVE was tipped off that the Titans were coming. Nightwing then asks Omen how Psimon made her turn on the team. End of issue.
The Good: Reading Titans #13 felt like we were presented two very different comics in one package. On one hand Dan Abnett continues to push the concept of a traitor within the team that is working with HIVE to further their plans for the DC Universe. On the other is a comic filled with romantic sub-plots that would make CW’s Riverdale jealous.
When Abnett keeps the focus of Titans #13 on the former he is able to tap into what makes this series so intriguing. In dealing with Mr. Binder we are able to see what each Titan brings to the table and how recent events are affecting the team chemistry. Specifically, the heart condition Wally West is suffering as he continues to try to be the Flash. Abnett makes you wonder as a reader what Wally’s breaking point will be each time he taps further into the Speed Force. It is a kryptonite that makes Wally’s side of the Titans story much more interesting as we get away from the “man out of time” angle following his return.
Similarly, while Wally deals with the kryptonite of his powers playing up the fact that Arsenal is someone without powers gives the character a story of his own. Though Nightwing is also powerless as the leader of the team Nightwing is able to stand out as the one the others look to for direction. Arsenal does not have that so to focus in on his ingenuity when it comes to fighting alongside the rest of the Titans will make him stand out further as the plot with the HIVE develops.
Speaking of HIVE, the traitor sub-plot continues to be well handled as Abnett gives us multiple Titans who we should think the traitor to be. Omen being labeled as a possible traitor and Nightwing calling her out for secretly meeting with Psimon does feel like a misdirect. Though with how heavy she has been about pushing the idea of a traitor it does make you wonder if there is more going with Omen. It is still early on to say as any of the Titans could turn out to be the traitor but this sub-plot creates more tension around what HIVE is up to.
V Ken Marion delivered some solid artwork. With a heavy focus on action Marion was able to flex his muscle in showing off the various skills and powers each Titans member has. The fight with Mr. Binder felt chaotic but never to busy as Marion focused on specific fights even in an enclosed space.
The Bad: The biggest thing that keeps Titans #13 back is the continued reliance on all the different romantic sub-plots. There is so much going on with all the Titans being paired off as a couple you would think that Titans was a high school drama on the CW. Though I’m not against any of the pairings, the fact that they are all happening at the same time make it hard to actually get invested in any of them.
The reason Abnett has made it hard to invest in any of these pairings is that he has made this the focus of the majority of the members of the team. Rather than finding a creative way to develop each Titans member individually at the same time it feels like the only way they will get development is in these romantic pairings. It’s to the point that each character has stopped whatever development they had prior to Titans #12 because there focus is on their romantic partner.
And the fact that they all happened at the same time hurts the actual impact of seeing Wally and Donna and Tempest and Omen together. There is just nothing special to either one since they are all occurring at the same time Mal and Karen are having their problems as a married couple. Adding Roy as the jealous third wheel doesn’t help any as you soon realize the only one not wrapped up in a romantic sub-plot is Nightwing. And the only reason Nightwing isn’t dealing with romance problems in Titans is because he has on series with his own love interest over in his comic book.
This all in turn makes what Mal and the Titans are trying to do to help Bumblebee recover her memories not feel as important as it should. It especially hurts Mal’s part of the story as he is just completely wrapped up in romance drama like the other Titans. Hurting Mal’s case even more is the fact he is taking zero of the blame for what happened to Bumblebee when it was his words to Karen about having her powers taken away by Meta Solutions that caused the memory loss. For him to allow his anger to blind him and blame the Titans 100% just makes him come off as a weak character in hindsight.
Having Wally once again be the narrator for yet another issue of Titans felt extremely recycled. Since Titans started we have constantly been feed internal monologues from Wally. Even though this is supposed to be a team book you wouldn’t think that with how Abnett continues to push Wally’s narrative over every other Titans member. If Abnett really wants to make Titans a strong team book he should mix things up by getting us inside the heads of others, especially Tempest, Donna and Roy who are playing too much of a supporting role on this series.
Overall: Titans #13 was an extremely mixed bag. When Dan Abnett focus on the Titans conflict with HIVE and the potential traitor on the team the comic is at it’s best. Unfortunately the heavy focus on romantic sub-plots for every character except Nightwing hurt any positive character development Abnett is trying to deliver. As long as the romance is heavily focused on Titans will never be able to deliver on the potential it has as a strong team comic book.