Titans just reached a nice milestone for any comic as it passed its 25th issue. Unfortunately the anniversary issue did not help improve the stock of current storylines developing in Titans. There were some forced character development in that issue, particularly when it came to Miss Martian. Dan Abnett needs to start kicking things into gear with Titans as there is a lot of potential with what he is trying to do with this series. He just now needs to start tapping into that potential and let the stories grow organically. Can that start happening now? Let’s find out with Titans #26.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brent Peeples
Inker: Matt Santorelli
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: After drinking some beer Donna Troy joins the rest of the Titans to head out on their latest mission.
A little later the Nightwing, Miss Martian, Donna Troy and Beast Boy arrive in Joalskot, Norway while Raven and Steel stay behind in the Titans Boom Room. Raven warns the Titans that she is detecting high levels of residual energy in the area but can’t detect were it is coming from because of her soul-self is still missing.
Ben Rubel freaks out over experience his first mind-link. Steel reminds him that he is just a Titans adviser not a member. They then begin to argue about who is smarter.
Raven gets them back on track about the capacitor they are working on to store Source energy. Raven wonders if it’ll work. While Ben says it should theoretically work Steel asks Nightwing that they should test out the capacitor. Nightwing says to test it as they’ll need it to find the source of the problem in Norway.
The Titans team in Norway are suddenly attacked by some unknown creatures. During the fight Miss Martian is punched into a building. As the fight continues Beast Boy starts losing control of himself and starts fighting without any sort of control. Donna tells Nightwing the energy in the area is negatively affecting Beast Boy.
Steel joins the Titans in Norway and helps clear out the creatures. She then knocks out Beast Boy and takes him to recover.
Nightwing and Donna are left to fight the remaining creatures in the area.
Elsewhere Miss Martian finally recovers enough to stand but is being weakened by the energy in the area. She suddenly loses control of her powers and turns into her White Martian form.
Nightwing and Donna hear a scream through their mind-link and rush to check on Miss Martian.
Nightwing and Donna are able to reach Miss Martian, who has recovered enough to regain her normal form. Miss Martian says that there is a dark energy in the area that is creating a bloodlust that is controlling the creatures they are fighting.
More of the same creatures suddenly surround Nightwing, Miss Martian, Donna, and Steel.
The creatures reach the Titans Boom Room. Ben is confused as to why the capacitor is not working like it should.
As the fighting intensifies Ben and Steel talk about why the capacitor is not working. Steel tells Ben to reverse the capacitor to discharge the energy inside it. Ben does so and that causes all the creatures to be destroyed.
In the aftermath Steel sees that the creatures were actually the corpses of the former residents in Joalskot. Donna and Nightwing investigate the bodies and find out that the ones responsible for killing the residents used the Source energy to weaponize their blood. Seeing how the ritual knife wounds look they conclude the Blood Cult are responsible.
Elsewhere Mother Mayhem says next time she will succeed.
A little later, at the Titans Command Center in the Hall of Justice, Nightwing tells Beast Boy their is no upside to what they discovered about what the Blood Cult is doing. Beast Boy reminds Nightwing that he has successfully led the new Titans in their mission to stop those on Earth manipulating the Source energy for malicious reasons.
Beast Boy goes on to say that this just proves the world needs the Titans since the Justice League is off doing their own thing. Nightwing says Beast Boy’s speech was a nice try and thanks him for what he said.
Elsewhere Ben compliments Steel on coming up with a plan and admits she is smarter than him. Steel says she needed Ben’s help to get it done and they need every advantage they can.
Miss Martian shows up and admits she thought Ben would’ve run away after what he experienced. Ben says he almost did but says what the Titans are doing is to important and he wants to help by using his tech expertise for the team’s missions. Ben then mentions how freaky the mind-link thing is and reveals he saw Miss Martian’s White Martian form when she screamed. Ben promises not to tell anyone else about it. End of issue.
The Good: Titans #26 was a big improvement over how the previous issue turned out. The story effectively worked to put over the greater mission statement that Dan Abnett has set-up for the Titans. In the process several character arcs are strengthened by how they are being developed through the ongoing missions the Titans go on.
The pacing of Titans #26 is by far the strength of Abnett’s latest story. By having these one-shot style stories Abnett is able to keep the focus on the mission statement he created when this version of the Titans came together. This issue in particular showed how quickly the Titans can work together to figure out a solution for the latest problem originating from the Source Wall energy. In doing so Abnett is able to get across how effective the Titans are already after only just forming this new incarnation of the team
In using this one-shot style storytelling Abnett does a much better job developing the plans of the Blood Cult. Having these quick missions effectively show how far reaching the Blood Cult’s plans are. It makes them look like a bigger threat than if we just saw this story take place in one or two locations. The Blood Cult using that Source Wall energy in the way they have creates greater interest in what their endgame is going to be. And by extension it compliments how the Source Wall energy has created a lot of chaotic situations for the Titans to deal with on Earth.
Though the Titans are still in the dark about what the Blood Cult are planning this was by far their best performances as a team. With little time to discuss, much less argue, about how to deal with the creatures the Blood Cult created it forced the Titans to act quickly. This situation made it so we finally got to see more of what each member of the Titans brings to the table as everyone slotted into their role well.
This crisis in Norway gave Steel the chance to shine the most. After being a background character up until now Abnett finally had Steel step into the spotlight as it was her technical expertise that save the day. Seeing how she was able to come up with a plan that solved this conflict showed how much belief she has with her abilities. That along with how was able to knock out a crazed Beast Boy and hold her own against an army of the blood creatures drove home that she is also a powerhouse on the field.
Helping make the entire situation more intense was Beast Boy continuing to lose control of his powers. Abnett continues to do a good job having the Source Wall energy affect Beast Boy during these fights. Even though his powers are out of control when Beast Boy is in control he is one of the powerhouses the team needs. As a reader this makes you hope that Beast Boy learns to control this power rather than just fighting against his new levels of power.
On a less obvious character arc, Abnett added to Donna Troy’s current character crisis with the opening of Titans #26. From that we see how Donna is still not fully allowing herself to deal with her own personal faults. Instead she has decided to drown her sorrows in alcohol. While it is not affecting how she operates on the field right now the slow build of this internal crisis for Donna is being handled much better than her previous character arc. The slow build will only help when Donna deals with her personal demons even more effective as Abnett is creating strong groundwork for that character exploration.
On their own personal struggles, it is good to see how Nightwing is personally taking this situation with the Blood Cult. This is what Nightwing created this version of the Titans for and seeing that visible frustration grounds the character even as he is looking at the greater picture. Beast Boy reminding Nightwing that the Titans are doing accomplishing the mission statement he created for them, especially with the Justice League dealing with other cosmic problems, was a great way to further emphasize how much weight is on Nightwing’s shoulders.
The artwork in Titans #26 was once again as consistently good as you expect it to be. Brent Peeples has improved his artwork with each passing issue. You can tell he is getting more comfortable drawing each characters powers and abilities in the battlefield. The action was all clear, even though things got more and more chaotic as the blood creatures numbers continued to increase. Peeples also does a good job in delivering on what the character’s emotional states are in various scenes with how he draws the expression on their faces.
The Bad: The weak link of this series has been Miss Martian and that did not change with Titans #26. There was zero surprise when it came to her White Martian reveal. This is something that Abnett has not built towards to make it feel big. Up until now we have only been focused on the secret mission Martian Manhunter has given her. That secret was never implied to involve Miss Martian’s White Martian status.
Without properly teasing how big of a deal this is there is no reason to care for this. Rather than being an impactful reveal it is just a reminder of how often Miss Martian’s status as a White Martian has been the only thing that is ever explored with the character. The fact that Abnett or other DC writers can’t figure out a way to do more than just have her White Martian status as a key character point just drives home how boring of a character Miss Martian is.
Titans #26 also did nothing to make Ben Rubel an intriguing character. There is zero credibility to Ben’s character to believe that he was smarter than Steel or that he could somehow see Miss Martian’s true form. More so than anything else, Ben was just portrayed as an annoyance that caused the Blood Cult crisis in Norway to continue for two more pages than it should have. With how big this crisis around the Source Wall is having a character like Ben that lacks credibility will only bring down the stories he becomes a key player on. Titans #26 just highlighted that fact about Ben.
Overall: Titans #26 shows that the current mission statement for the team has legs. Dan Abnett did a very good job creating greater interest around what the Blood Cult are using the chaos created by the Source Wall for. In the process Abnett using the conflict the Titans resolved to show how strong of a team they are while developing several character sub-plots. As long as we can get more issues like Titans #26 this series could start rising to become one of DC Comics better ongoings.