Titans has been in a weird spot lately. When the series started Dan Abnett built the series around the intrigue around the original Wally West’s return to the DC Universe as Flash. That intrigue has been washed away during the events of “The Lazarus Contract” crossover. Now we are left with a series that is placing a bigger focus on romance rather than building the greater HIVE storyline. Hopefully with Titans #14 we see Abnett return to building the HIVE overarching plotline. Will that be the case? Let’s find out with Titans #14.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: 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: At the Pizza Fish Wholesale Cold Storage facility in New York City, Tempest leads the Titans against the Trident Three, who Tempest trained with in Silent School years ago.
Eight Hours earlier Tempest does not take kindly to Nightwing saying that Omen is a HIVE spy. Omen breaks up the argument by revealing that the reason she met Psimon is to figure out who on the team is looking to betray them.
When Nightwing asks Omen why she kept that information from them Tempest brings up the Lazarus Contract he kept from them.
As Nightwing and Tempest get into another argument Flash jokes how this situation is not helping his heart problems, much to the team’s discomfort.
Nightwing tells the team that he has a device he “borrowed” from Spyral that can scan and analyze individual brain patterns which they can use to figure out who is the HIVE spy.
Back int the present Nightwing saves Tempest from being choked out by one of the Trident Three. Nightwing and Tempest then team-up to to take down one of the Trident Three.
Afterwards Tempest wonders how much longer Nightwing’s device will finish running it’s analysis.
Five hours earlier, as Nightwing finishes scanning every Titans’ mind Roy brings some pizza for everyone to eat. When biting into a slice of pizza Tempest realizes that the sauce is laced with stagfish venom and everyone needs to spit the pizza out now.
Back in the present Flash overexerts himself as his heart starts giving him problems. Arsenal saves Flash from being stabbed by one of the Trident Three.
Flash thanks Arsenal. Arsenal calls Flash a liability. Flash asks Arsenal what his problem is. Arsenal says that Flash knew how he felt about Donna and still kissed her. Flash and Arsenal start arguing to the point they come to blows.
Donna is quick to break up the fight and throws both to the side as she realizes that they are fighting over her.
In another part of the facility Tempest, Omen and Bumblebee take out one of the Trident Three. Omen wonders what will happen if she really is the traitor. Tempest tells Omen not to worry as he loves her and knows she isn’t the traitor.
Tempest then orders the Titans and Trident Three to back down. He then reveals to both groups that he stopped using magic because it cost him someone he loved but decides now is not a time to dwell in the past. Tempest releases a massive magic blast that finishes off the Trident Three in one attack.
Tempest tells the rest of the Titans that they now know his secret and walks out of the facility.
In Gooseville, Maryland, Gnarkk and Mal Duncan break into a HIVE facility to try to retrieve Bumblebee’s missing memory engram.
Back at Titans Tower, Flash tries to apologize to Donna but she does not want to hear it as she already has too much on her plate to be dealing with petty things.
Nightwing announces that the results are almost in and asks where Omen is.
At Rikers Island, Omen meets Psimon again in order to get more information on the traitor within the Titans. Psimon only mocks Omen for having a superhero name that perfectly sums up her role in life by bringing destruction to the world.
Back at Titans Tower as the rest of the team await results Nightwing’s computer finishes the analysis. It reveals that Nightwing is the HIVE spy.
Nightwing quickly deletes the information. Nightwing then asks his HIVE contact how he should go about dealing with the situation. End of issue.
The Good: The core story that expands on the history of the rebooted version of Tempest shows where Titans as a series excels. The unfortunate thing is that the much needed spotlight on Tempest is dragged down by everything else Titans #14 deals with.
As much as everything around it brings it down, Tempest’s story is the strength of Titans #14. Tempest is the character in the team that has been in most need of a spotlight issue. He is the one that up to this point has been filling the role of whatever is needed from the story he is inserted in. By expanding on his backstory Dan Abnett is finally able to give Tempest something that makes the character more than just a powerhouse.
Brett Booth’s artwork continues to be a consistent force in the Titans comic. Booth gives a youthful energy that helps Titans separate itself from comics like Justice League. With Titans #14, Booth was able to flex his action muscle by drawing action that highlights every Titans’ power during the large battle.
The Bad: The farther we get away from the recent “Lazarus Contract” crossover the more we are seeing Titans become overwhelmed by the romantic drama. Rather than focus on the intriguing sub-plots, such as Wally’s heart problems, Donna’s mysterious history or Bumblebee’s missing memory, all get is a comic focused on the romantic drama around each character. Romance in comics is not a bad thing but when handled like it is in Titans #14 we see how they all end up canceling each other out in terms of interest
At this point all the drama around the love triangle of Donna Troy, Wally West and Roy Harper, growing love of Tempest and Omen and Mal Duncan getting back Bumblebee’s memory engram, is becoming repetitive. Abnett is not adding anything to these various romances that make them feel they are unique to these characters. Having all of them go on at the same time also makes you wonder if you are reading about a superhero team or a storyboard for a CW show.
That feeling of repetitiveness is not helped by the fact that Abnett is trying to split his time between the three romances at the same time. That split makes it harder to connect to any single romance sub-plot. Not having a focus on building one romance over time hurts every character involved in these sub-plots.
This is especially the case for the Donna, Wally and Roy love triangle that has already reached the eye rolling point. The fight Wally and Roy get into over Donna did not make anyone look good. Instead it made both Wally and Roy completely unlikable as they acted like teenagers rather than adults. That teenager tone made it hard to believe Donna would ever get with Wally or Roy. Instead it made me as reader, who is a big fan of Wally West, hope that Donna kicks both Wally and Roy out of Titans Tower.
The only thing the love triangle has accomplished is make Wally’s heart problems and Donna’s mysterious history seem trivial. Abnett even treats both as just additions to the love triangle with how both Wally and Donna use it in the argument with Roy. This treatment makes two of the most intriguing sub-plots in the series come out of Titans #14 even worse. It’s almost at a point where you wonder if we should care if this is how important character sub-plots will be treated.
While not to the same extent, there continues to be very little chemistry between Tempest and Omen’s relationship. A lot of this falls on the fact that because of how quickly they got together that it is hard to get behind why they are a couple. This is one of those relationships Abnett would have been better off spending more time developing in the background before making it a key romantic angle for the series.
Omen also isn’t being helped by the way Abnett is having her go about searching for the traitor in the team. Going back to Psimon highlights her own character weakness as she does not put in the effort to solve a problem. Instead she looks for the easy way out, which in this case is seek out the advice of a villain. That in turn makes Omen an unlikable character since she doesn’t go out of her way to figure things out with her powers or other skills.
All of this makes you realize that we aren’t reading a comic book of superheroes. Rather issues like Titans #14 come off as a reality show that will end with only one character remaining. For a superhero team title to feel that way does nothing to help build anticipation for what is next. That only goes to hurt the HIVE sub-plot since Abnett focuses on the in-team fighting rather than building the forgotten rogues gallery of the Titans.
All the in-team fighting made the impact of Nightwing’s being revealed as the HIVE double agent. Since all we are getting is the Titans fighting each other I have no desire to see how the team reacts to their leader being the actual traitor or finding out why. That is the complete opposite feeling the ending of Titans #14 needed to have.
Overall: Titans #14 failed to deliver an chapter that built further interest in what comes next for the team. For all the intriguing sub-plots Dan Abnett has created all the forced romantic drama has enveloped the series and is keeping Titans from reaching it’s full potential. That’s an unfortunate outcome given that Titans #14 finally provided the spotlight Tempest needed but is dragged down by all the worsts aspects of the Titans series.