Things haven’t gone smoothly for Dan Abnett’s Titans series since coming out of the crossover with Teen Titans and Deathstroke. The series has been on a decline since the start of “The Lazarus Contract” as Abnett has relied too heavily on personal drama with all of the members of the Titans members. That has led to all the various character arcs ringing hollow thus far. The latest development with an evil version of Donna Troy, who is calling herself Troia, didn’t do much to create excitement for the series. While it did not create excitement for how “The World Stops” arc will end at least adding Troia could give this conclusion some big ramifications. Will that happen? Let’s find out with Titans #18.
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: The Titans face off against Troia’s avatars while trying to save Donna Troy from her evil future self.
Troia mocks Donna about Wally’s death but both are surprised when Flash and Kid Flash show up, with the former tackling Troia. Flash reveals to Donna that the Speed Force had him in a frozen state and Kid Flash gave him a jump start.
Flash pulls Kid Flash aside and apologizes for not being a good friend or mentor to him but he is going to start now. Flash orders Kid Flash to run and get the Teen Titans and Justice League to help them out.
Flash and Donna then rejoin the fight against Troia and her avatars.
Finally having enough Troia uses her knowledge of the Titans to systematically take them down one at a time. Troia then tells Donna that no matter what she will become Troia and she should just start now.
As the last one standing Arsenal tries to talk to Troia and admits he always loved her. Troia gets shaken by the revelation for a second but quickly grabs Arsenal by the throat and says she doesn’t care about him.
Donna is able to save Arsenal but is overpowered by Troia, who continues to mock Donna for what her future is going to be. Donna fights back and starts fighting more evenly against Troia. During their fight Donna says as the greatest weapon against the threats of the Multiverse Troia is scared of her. Donna shows this by overpowering and sending Troia back through her time portal.
All of Troia’s avatars regain their senses. Bumblebee hugs Mal Duncan and reveals that she has regained all of her memories.
While Arsenal helps Gnarkk recover Psimon tries to tell Omen he was trying to help her. Tempest tells Psimon to stop messing with his girlfriend and punches him through the ground.
Donna tells Arsenal, Nightwing and Flash she isn’t sure where Troia went to but she is going to make sure she never returns. Donna tells Arsenal she heard what he said and holds his hand while saying it was a good thing he said.
Nightwing takes Flash aside and tells his best friend to stop dying.
Omen tells the team that Mr. Twister and the Key have escaped.
The Titans work quickly to track down and surround Mr. Twister and the Key from getting far. End of issue.
The Good: Titans #18 is the turning point issue the series has needed for a while now. Unfortunately how we got to that point was not the most well executed story you’ll ever see. That lack of execution makes it even more disappointing how Dan Abnett ends up resolving several plotlines without explanation.
While a small scene that ended up not pushing the story forward all that much Titans #18 best moment was the moment the two Wally Wests’ went to the side to talk. In this quick talk Dan Abnett is able to establish what the relationship will be between the two Wally’s. At the same time Abnett treated the moment as a growing moment for the Titans’ Wally as he finally starts moving on from the past. Realizing that he can’t continue to be self-involved opens the door for Wally to be more involved in not just the Titans but the greater DCU, especially re-entering the Flash series.
Brett Booth was once again the shining light of Titans #18. Booth’s energetic art style made every action sequence have a strong sense of movement. There was something always going on in terms of action. Whether it was in the foreground or background, we saw characters battling for their lives constantly. This made the big moments stand out more from a visual perspective.
The Bad: As many sub-plots that Titans #18 ends there is just no sense of satisfaction to any resolution. That lack of satisfaction all centers around how Donna Troy’s battle with her future self, Troia, ends. For as much personal and physical damage Troia did to the entire Titans family for her to be simply be defeated because Donna somehow found the strength to punch her to another dimension was horrible storytelling. There was absolutely no indication that Donna had such power, even from Troia’s ramblings. It made it look as though Abnett found himself in a corner with no way for the Titans to defeat Troia so he just threw his hands up and just had Donna “punch harder.”
That solution to the Troia problem is made worse by the fact that Abnett did actually set up a way for Donna to take out her villainous future earlier. Six pages earlier to Troia’s defeat Abnett gave a hint that Roy’s speech made Troia hesitant. That moment of hesitation should’ve been used to show Troia’s power to stay in the current DC Universe was waning. In giving Troia such a weakness that should’ve been the moment Donna was able to muster all her strength in one punch that sent her back to her timeline.
In that way Troia being taken out by Donna would’ve made the villain not look weak. Because as it stands the entire Roy speech where he admitted his love for all versions of Donna Troy really meant nothing. By the point that Donna and Troia had their final battle Roy’s speech is quickly forgotten. In making Roy’s speech so forgettable Abnett fails to make the reader understand why Troia even let Roy speak in the first place.
This lead to an awkward ending with Donna and Roy holding hands while Wally, who is technically Donna’s love interest, was standing on the side. This all seemed to imply we are going to get more of a love triangle between Donna, Roy and Wally, which is the last thing Abnett’s Titans series needs. It is a plot point that shows that as presently constructed the Titans series is missing the important family angle that has defined this group. Instead Abnett just treats the team more hormonal than the Teen Titans.
That lack of importance extends to how Abnett wraps of Bumblebee’s missing memory suddenly returning to her. Throughout the previous issues of “The World Stops” arc there was no indication that Bumblebee got her memory back. Then all of a sudden as we open Titans #18 Bumblebee acted like her memories returned magically. The lack of explanation to this just drives home how unimportant Bumblebee’s entire story was to the Titans series. For characters that have always been on the lower end on the totem pole in importance within the Titans mythos this does nothing to elevate Bumblebee or Mal Duncan. Abnett could easily swap both characters out with other classic members and would not miss a beat on what happens in the series.
Furthering the disappointment of Titans #18 was the use of Troia’s avatars. After spending so much of both Titans Hunt and Titans in making Mr. Twister, Psimon and the Key into formidable foes they are all afterthoughts in Titans #18. All three villains are simply taken out at the end with a simple punch or made to quake in fear. This was all not a good look for the three villains who individually where able to almost break the Titans. For them to appear in the way they did at the end just takes away from all the terrifying aura they had built against the team.
Overall: Titans #18 puts the final nail in the disappointing story arc that “The World Stops” ended up being. After starting out as a story about a HIVE spy within the Titans for some reason that storyline was completely forgotten for an even less coherent story involving the future version of Donna Troy, Troia, coming to kill the team. The way Dan Abnett executed Troia’s story left a lot to be desired. So much so that the only saving grace for Titans #18 was the strong artwork from Brett Booth.