Since disassembling the original team the Titans ongoing has improved a lot. Dan Abnett used the time the team was apart to strengthen the direction of the Titans members as a team and individuals. Now with things in the DC Universe escalating after Justice League: No Justice it is time for the Titans to reform in order to tackle these new threats appropriately. To do just that Abnett has assembled a new version of the Titans team made up of Nightwing, Donna Troy, Raven, Beast Boy, Steel and Miss Martian. This is a much different team they aren’t all friends from the beginning like the original incarnation of the Titans. That may be a good thing as we can see how this new Titans squad’s dynamic grows over time as they get used to working together. Let’s see if that is the case with Titans #23.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brandon Peterson
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: A new metahuman loses control of their powers at a convenience store and a large energy sphere covers a part of the city.
After Miss Martian quickly sets up a mind-link between them the Titans move out to find out what is going on.
Donna Troy and Beast Boy ride of to one part of the area while Nightwing, Raven and Steel check out a different area. Miss Martian asks if she should join them. Nightwing quickly turns the request down.
Elsewhere Donna Troy and Beast Boy are attacked by a large rat-like creature. Beast Boy transforms into his beastly form but it only ends up attracting more of these unknown creatures.
Miss Martian detects the situation and figures out that the rat-like creatures were affected by the surrounding area. When Nightwing and the others go help out Donna Troy has already killed all the creatures.
Raven suddenly sense people’s emotions in the the area. One of the guys in the group of people tells the Titans that he saw a kid who almost killed him with his powers.
Raven figures out that the energy they detected accelerated meta-powers for everything in the area without a true point of origin.
Suddenly the guy from earlier appears and shows off his new electric powers by hitting Steel with an electric blast. Beast Boy tries to calm the guy down and discovers his name is Tyler. Raven stops the others for joining to give Beast Boy a chance to convince Tyler to stay calm.
Tyler says that he keeps losing control as he keeps thinking about saving the world. Beast Boy relates to this and shows Tyler his beastly form that he has trouble controlling. Tyler calms down enough to settle his powers down.
Raven compliments Beast Boy for completing the mission. She then apologizes for how she has been acting recently towards Beast Boy.
After getting power dampeners Tyler says he kept hearing a scary voice in his head. Miss Martian hears this and looks at footage of when Tyler first lost control and blasted the store clerk in the head with an electric blast that should’ve killed him.
Miss Martian immediately goes to the scene and confronts the clerk. The clerk suddenly transforms into a demonic monster and quickly knocks Miss Martian and Donna Troy away. The Titans struggle to take the monster down. Suddenly the monster’s head explodes when Tyler shoots him with an electric blast.
Tyler freaks out at killing someone. Steel tries comfort him.
Miss Martian says that there are no further traces of an emergencies in the area and that the threat has been contained. Not taking kindly to her nonchalant attitude, Nightwing reminds Miss Martian that this isn’t an experiment and that they are dealing with people’s lives. Miss Martian says that they needed to handle the threat with a similar energy. Nightwing figures out Miss Martian stopped Tyler’s dampeners from working and they must do things without others dying.
He says that they don’t kill and that the Titans is his team and they follow his rules. Nightwing then tells Miss Martian to end the team’s mind-link. End of issue.
The Good: Keeping the momentum going Titans #23 hits the ground running as the team waste no time in hitting the ground running. That was a wise move as we got all the set-up of this new Titans team in the recent one-shot special that released after No Justice. And with that set-up out of the way Dan Abnett was able to highlight what makes this new Titans team intriguing with this first mission.
Right away Abnett gets across how the events of No Justice with the Source Wall being taken down has serious ramifications for the universe, including Earth. Seeing how the new metahuman, Tyler, easily lost control of his newly gained powers got that across in the first page. Abnett added some more details to how dangerous things are on Earth by establishing that the rise in metahuman has also made those powers as being unstable due to the Source Wall energy. This fact makes any metahuman the Titans come across more dangerous than before as the team has to approach things differently.
That different approach is best shown with how Beast Boy is able to calm Tyler down by simply relating with him. This is a completely different way of dealing with a threat than what we see in Justice League and other comics. It established what Nightwing told Miss Martian about the Titans not being a group that kills. Beast Boy being the one that accomplished gave him a positive character development as he is still getting comfortable with his new form.
Beast Boy’s character development was further enhanced by how Raven was the one to back the rest of the Titans down so Beast Boy could handle things. In doing so Abnett is able to resolve the sub-plot he introduced in the Titans Special issue where we saw Beast Boy hurt by Raven being distant with him. Reaffirming their friendship right away makes it so we don’t see this sub-plot dragged out. In turn, that gives room for Abnett to dedicate more time to for positive character development for both Raven and Beast Boy.
Speaking of Raven, Abnett did a good job establishing how important she will be to the team as she is the one that figures out what is going on in the area and that there were normal people in danger. Given that Abnett previously set Raven up to be the second-in command of the Titans along with Nightwing this was a good way to show how she can lead in the field when necessary. While Nightwing is still clearly the field leader Raven showed that her voice will be just as important in tackling threats create by the current instability within the DCU.
Abnett also did a good job in getting over how Nightwing is still the leader of the team. Throughout Titans #23 we saw him directing the team as he was the one in charge. At the same time Abnett shows that Nightwing isn’t going to lead the team by making him the only voice on the field. Even though this is a new roster Nightwing showed he had trust in Raven and Beast Boy to be the ones to handle the situation with the new metahuman. This made Nightwing putting his foot down with Miss Martian when reminding her he is the leader and that the Titans don’t kill come across with the conviction you expect from a leader.
The rest of the team was also given some solid writing from Abnett that showed he has a character arc for every member of the team. Abnett did not shy away from the team being comfortable enough with each other to be able to be light hearted when going out in the field. We saw this with Donna Troy’s joke about Nightwing getting all the cool toys. At the same time, Abnett quickly flipped the switch with Donna’s character as we see her go into rage mode when killing all the rat-like monsters on her own. It was quick but showed that Abnett has plans for every member of the Titans to grow as the series progresses.
While the Titans did take down their first threat Abnett did a good job in showing that this first case was just leading them to something bigger. That tease makes you wonder who is actually behind Tyler’s metahuman powers becoming unstable as the demonic creature was clearly just a grunt. Given that we saw Brother Blood as one of the teased villain for the Titans to go up against in the one-shot special it may have to do with him. If that is the case then this is a good way to build up Brother Blood as he is using the current state of the DCU to his advantage.
Brandon Peterson got the job done with his artwork in Titans #23. He got across how big of a deal the current state of DCU is with all the chaos Abnett gave him to draw. Throughout the issue Peterson was able to show the different power sets of the Titans, making them each stand out in their own way. The only thing that kept the issue back from an artwork perspective was when Peterson tried to make his art look more like a video game storyboard. Those parts of the issue looked awkward when we got more typical comic book artwork.
The Bad: Though most of the members got time to shine in Titans #23 the one character that was left out of all the development was Steel. Abnett didn’t really show what Natasha Irons as Steel brings to the team outside of being the newbie within the Titans team. Given that this was the first issue the team is together there was bound to be one character that got lost in the shuffle. Unfortunately for Steel she turned out to be that character. Hopefully we get some sort of spotlight on Steel in the future so that Abnett can show readers not familiar with who she is a way to connect to her character.
From a story perspective Miss Martian’s arc in Titans #23 continues to be the weakest part of the current direction Abnett is taking this series on. The character has zero credibility when she tries to put herself in a position of power over Nightwing or Raven. With how the previous version of the Titans crumbled because of secrets having Miss Martian taken on that arc just makes it hard to get behind what she is trying to do. Since she does lack credibility since she has very little history within the comics you never really get on her side on how she goes about dealing with things. And with how Nightwing reamed her out in front of the team there should’ve been a part of the reader that felt bad for her. But that does not happen since Miss Martian has not earned the trust the other members of the Titans have at a base level.
Overall: Titans #23 was a good start to the new direction that Dan Abnett is taking the new roster he has created. From the beginning Abnett hits the ground running as he waste no time in having the Titans tackle the current problems going on in the DC Universe following the events of No Justice. And with solid character work and teases of what is to come there is a lot to love about Titans #23 for fans of the franchise.