Titans has been put in an interesting spot as recent events have led the team to now be without their leader, Nightwing. With Nightwing out of commission after being shot in the head that Titans are left with a major hole to fill. It’s tough to see who on the team will fill that role. On top of all that they also need to make sure that they can continue to fulfill their mission as the main protectors of Earth. Can the Titans even stay together to continue that mission statement? Let’s find out with Titans #27.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brent Peeples
Inker: Matt Santorelli
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: After Roy Harper’s funeral Donna Troy leaves a flower at his grave before walking away.
Several days later Miss Martian breaks the news to the team that Nightwing has been shot in the head. She goes on to say that Nightwing is alive but is in critical condition and likely won’t be the same person when he recovers. Donna says that Nightwing will be fine as people like them always come back to life.
Beast Boy tells the team about his concern for Tyler Banes.
Steel and Miss Martian join Beast Boy to visit Tyler at the hospital. Beast Boy says that the Source Wall energy is starting to kill Tyler and they have to help him. Beast Boy walks away when he starts to get emotional.
Back at the Titans headquarters Raven finds Donna drinking again. Raven express how she knows that she is taking recent events hard. Donna tells Raven to use her powers to tell her exactly how hurt she is.
Raven states she can’t because her soul-self is gone. She goes on to state that since losing her soul-self has caused her to become numb to emotion, almost like a ghost, even though she can still intellectualize emotions. Raven says she give anything to feel the grief that Donna is feeling. Donna hugs Raven and while doing so jokingly offers her some tequila.
On the roof of the Hall of Justice Steel finds Beast Boy sitting alone. They talk about how the Titans are lost as Nightwing was the driven force for all of them to be on the team and their mission statement. Steel says that she knows that Beast Boy is extra concern for Tyler is also about his own worry that the Source Wall energy that is affecting his powers will kill him. Steel then reveals that she has a plan to save Tyler but it is a long shot.
Back inside the HQ, Steel tells the team they can save Tyler by exposing him to a high-dose of Source Energy though the cure is only a theory at the moment. Miss Martian says they can’t test a theory on a person. Beast Boy freaks over this but Miss Martian is able to get him to calm down.
Miss Martian states that without Nightwing around she is the default leader. Raven reminds Miss Martian that Nightwing created the team in response to the tragic events involving Jenna Lacey and using that as a driving force to save people like Jenna and Tyler.
Donna walks in and backs the others up that if they have a chance to save a life they should take the risks.
Miss Martian tells Steel to prepare the Source Wall capacitor. Miss Martian is still hesitant in doing this and wonders if this is what Nightwing really would’ve done. Donna says that it is a gamble but Nightwing would do the right thing by betting on his friends.
Hearing this Miss Martian admits that because she was is an outsider assigned by the Justice League to the Titans she has felt that no one has asked her how she is feeling about what happened to Nightwing. Miss Martian starts to cry. Beast Boy gives Miss Martian a hug.
A little later Steel begins the process of injecting Source Wall energy into Tyler. This causes a large cocoon to form around Tyler. Beast Boy is nervous about the entire process but is told not to interfere. When the process is done the cocoon disappears.
Beast Boy tries to see if Tyler is still alive. Steel breaks the news that Tyler is dead. Beast Boy accepts that they did everything they could to save Tyler. Raven reflects that Nightwing would’ve known the right thing to say in this situation. Beast Boy says Nightwing isn’t there and he can’t imagine things getting worse.
Elsewhere Tempest is shown rapidly swimming somewhere. End of issue.
The Good: With the events of Heroes In Crisis and Nightwing being shot in the head over at the Batman series Titans was one comic that could not avoid these developments. Even if it means changing course on certain aspects of the series Dan Abnett had to tackle these events head-on. That is exactly what Abnett does with Titans #27 and in the process he turns in the best issue of this series with this roster incarnation.
Opening Titans #27 with the funeral of Roy Harper was a great way to set the tone of this issue being about the entire team sense of loss. Donna Troy was the best character to set that tone given that she has the biggest connection to Dick Grayson and Roy Harper. They are two of the closest people in Donna’s life. That has become even more true in the rebooted DC Universe and the changes it made to Donna Troy’s backstory.
Given that we have already seen how Donna was already not dealing with her personal demons well after the events involving battling her future-self, Troia, this was the last thing she needed. At the same time, with Dick and Roy gone so are the last safety nets that she had to lean on. Now it will be about how Donna can deal with her own issues, something we haven’t seen since she was brought back into the current DC Universe continuity.
In putting Donna in this position Abnett has opened up the opportunity for greater growth. Because while she is still dealing with her drinking issue we do see as Titans #27 progressed that Donna started to slip into the leadership role that she has had within the Titans in the past. While she did not establish herself as the new leader Abnett did a good job setting things up for her to step up more without Nightwing around.
Speaking of Nightwing, Abnett dealt with the Titans losing their leader extremely well. Given that this was Nightwing’s team having him out of commission is a big blow to this incarnation of the Titans. Abnett took this opportunity to highlight how much Nightwing means to each member of the team and the overall moral as unquestioned leader. Without his steady hand they now all have a big hole to fill, which is something they weren’t ready for given that they just came together.
Choosing to have the first thing that the Titans were forced to deal with being the fate of Tyler Banes was a great way to further explore everyone’s mental state. What made Tyler Banes’ fate as the center of the main story in this issue was that it continued to keep the Source Wall energy conflict in the spotlight. Tyler’s situation emphasized why the Titans must continue to operate as a team as they are the only ones that are dealing with the Source Wall crisis on Earth at the moment.
This all put into question if the Titans that are on the team are willing to make the tough decision. That question is more or less answered as we see that none of them could make the final decision alone. The decision by committee positions the Titans in a unique spot as they will likely be without a true leader going forward. While that may be concerning it does give Abnett the opportunity to explore the dynamic between each character.
And Abnett does a good job in showing that this leader-less situation does provide positive potential with how Miss Martian tried to step into that role of a leader. Even though she felt that she had to assert her authority this situation made her deal with the fact herself she isn’t ready to fill that role. In doing so Abnett finally gave Miss Martian some solid character development as she finally admitted that she felt like a complete outsider since she was placed on the team by the Justice League and not because Nightwing selected her. This is a much better angle to develop Miss Martian than going back to obvious White Martian plotline that her character is always about.
Tyler’s situation put Beast Boy in a central position as it directly ties in with his unstable powers. This was a great way for Abnett to explore more of Beast Boy’s current mental state as we see him go from a wide range of emotions in Titans #27. Those emotions that Beast Boy had a tough time controlling made his scenes with Steel and then the rest of the team stronger. It showed how desperate Beast Boy is to find a cure and that desperation made him uniquely connected to Tyler’s fate. And while the resolution that the team comes up ends up failing at the end Beast Boy is able to grow through this in a small way.
Through Beast Boy’s concerns we also got to get some solid character work for Steel as well. Up until now she has been just the tech specialist and muscle when needed member of the group. Putting her in spot where she tried to comfort Beast Boy gave us the opportunity to learn more about who Natasha Irons is behind her armor. More scenes like this will do her wonders since she is the one member on the team that Titans fans aren’t familiar with.
The one that got the most help in Nightwing’s absence in terms of gaining interest in her sub-plot was Raven. Up until now Raven’s arc involving the loss of her soul-self was going nowhere. All it did was make her a background character in recent issues. Through Raven admitting to Donna what its been like to be an emotionless shell we now have a greater understanding of the ramifications of Raven lacking her soul-self. And like Donna character arc, this character development provides the spark that Raven’s sub-plot needed to catch the reader’s interest.
Brent Peeples turned in some of his best work on this series so far with Titans #27. With this being a dialogue heavy issue Peeples stepped up his artwork to deliver on the emotions in Abnett’s script. And given how each character dealt with everything so differently Peeples was able to showcase a good handling of matching his artwork to the dialogue written for each character.
The Bad: With so much of this issues focus being on what happened to Nightwing and Roy Harper it was odd that Wally West fate was left out. Though this is likely not Abnett’s fault and more editorial for whatever is going on in Heroes In Crisis it was noticeable that Wally was never brought up. Titans is one of the titles that Wally has the deepest connections to. So for his fate to be left out was a questionable omission given how both Nightwing and Roy’s fates were talked about or shown.
The ending involving Tempest also left a lot to be desired. Tempest was the least developed character in the previous incarnations of the Titans. Seeing him on the final panel of the issue screamed editorial mandate rather than a natural kick off point for the next story arc. Titans #27 would’ve been better off having it end with Beast Boy doing the Hulk-like walk to hit that final emotional note this issue was building to ending on.
Overall: Titans #27 was one of the strongest issues to date for this series. Dan Abnett did a great job using recent events surrounding Nightwing and Roy Harper’s fates to deliver solid character work for this incarnation of the Titans. All the character work done in Titans #27 will make future issues even stronger, something that should be exciting for fans of this series.