Titans has had its best arc and it all came about because the team broke up. Who would’ve thought that breaking up the team would be the best thing to happen to the Titans? This final arc for this version of the team is all led by Arsenal, who has transformed into one of the most interesting characters in this series during the course of this arc. Now with this story arc wrapping up in an Annual issue Dan Abnett will have more room to wrap things up before No Justice shakes up the DC Universe. Let’s take a look at how Abnett wraps things up with Titans Annual #2 now.
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Tom Grummett and Tom Derenick
Inker: Cam Smith, Mick Gray, Trevor Scott
Colorist: Adriano Lucas
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Monsieur Mallah hesitantly congratulates Brain on what he has done with his cognition level raised by 96%.
Around the world the Justice League are doing what they can to save people from various disasters and Brain’s army of robots around the world.
Brain tells Mallah to deal with two threats that have made their way to their base. Mallah shows concern at how Brain is acting but the Brain says he has everything in control since the world is his to operate.
Elsewhere, Arsenal and Donna Troy have made it to Brain and Mallah’s HQ and fight off an army of Brain’s robots. The two fight desperately against the wave of robots but eventually the numbers get to them.
Just as they say their goodbyes to one another Nightwing and Flash (Wally West) provide the back-up the pair needs. Now with the four Titans together they are able to fight off the Brain’s robots. During the fight Nightwing and Flash apologize to Arsenal for not believing him.
In their control room, Mallah sees what is happening but Brain says there is nothing to be concerned with now that he can see the whole universe and bend creation to his will. Brain mentions that Mallah is not smart enough to grasp what is happening.
Mallah reminds Brain that he will join Brain in becoming just as smart but they need to deal with the Titans first. As Brain says he is near transcending everything Mallah goes to deal with the Titans.
Back at the warehouse the Titans continue fighting the Brain’s robot army. During that time Arsenal calls out Nightwing for only being there because he wants to prove something to the Justice League.
After finishing off the Brain’s robot army Donna and Flash tell Nightwing to talk to Arsenal. Nightwing hesitates at first trying to focus on the mission but finally admits he is there not to prove something to others but because all the Titans are friends and they are past proving anything to each other. Arsenal accepts what Nightwing means by that.
When Flash goes to scope out the rest of the area Mallah appears out of nowhere to attack the Titans. The Titans are able to quickly turn things around thanks to their numbers advantage. Mallah tries to call Brain for help but gets no answer.
Mallah looks at his device and notices that Brain is at 98% in his process and has completely lost touch with all organic life. Mallah breaks down believing he lost the one he cares for most.
The Titans say that they will stop Brain. When Mallah questions them on why the Titans say they continue to fight together because they are friends. This causes Mallah to remember all the time he spent with the Brain and how they create Bliss to enhance the minds of its user.
Remembering this and seeing the Brain is at 99% into the process he agrees to team up with the Titans.
Suddenly the room around them starts shifting around due to the Brain. Nightwing questions Mallah and what the Brain’s endgame is. Mallah says the Brain wants to reconfigure reality to suit him. Nightwing tells Mallah to try to reach out to what is left of the past Brain.
Mallah does so and pleads with the Brain to allow him to say goodbye before transcending. This reaches Brain for a second to stop what is going on. The Brain ends up going back to his current unfeeling nature and says he won’t miss Mallah.
Seeing the chance Arsenal hits Brain with an explosive arrow that causes a massive explosion.
At the Watchtower Batman continues to try to contact the rest of the Justice League. Wonder Woman tells Batman that everything has become stable.
Back at the Brain’s HQ Mallah holds a defeated Brain in his arms while the Titans stand around him. Mallah says he will fix the Brain after everything that happen.
Nightwing gets a call from the Watchtower. Donna says she wants to take the call. Donna tells Batman about how the Titans saved the day together. End of issue.
The Good: Titans Annual #2 accomplishes what Dan Abnett set out to do with the final story arc of this incarnation of the team. We got to see a resolution of the core members of the Titans. Along the way Abnett was able to bring back a big Titans villain back into the fold while providing Arsenal with his best character arc.
If anything else, this story arc showed the good and bad of Arsenal’s character. As a hero you do admite how he does not give up in trying to save the day, even when he is being stubborn about it. At the end of the day Arsenal is a good guy trying to do what is right while also looking out for his friends. Unfortunately Arsenal is also a guy that can’t help but put his foot in own mouth when those around him are trying to help him out. The grudges he holds does make him hard to work with even in saving the world scenarios.
Arsenal’s lines in Titans Annual #2 made it more understandable how everyone else around him acted around him. With Donna Troy and Flash, both characters were all for apologizing and wanted to back Arsenal up. That is something that is inline with who these two are and have been during Abnett’s run. Placing Donna and Flash in this position helped make their mediator roles as Arsenal and Nightwing didn’t want to be the one to apologize for what happened even better.
Seeing Donna and Flash actually get through Nightwing helped once again show how close the core four Titans are with one another. Being friends for so long it is hard to see them give up on each other. Donna and Flash pushing that helped make Arsenal and Nightwing’s heart-to-heart come off even better. Nightwing being the one to apologize was appropriate not only because he did doubt Arsenal but also because he is still seen as the leader of the team. It is something he needed to do for them all to move pass how this incarnation of the Titans broke.
Resolving this before Monsieur Mallah attacked them made how this fight got resolved even stronger. Abnett did a good job in paralleling both the Titans broken and slowly repaired friendship with how Mallah continued to lose Brain during the course of this story arc. Abnett did a great job showing us how much Mallah’s heart was breaking when he saw what the process was doing to Brain. At the same time because of their relationship Mallah wanted to do his best to support Brain even if it hurt him emotionally to do so.
Showing that bond made it so when the Titans did speak about friends not turning their backs on each other it really hit Mallah hard. The honesty their made it so Mallah could end up still being his previous self while also being the team’s biggest ally against Brain. All that ended up made it so you wanted to see Brain be stopped, on top of all the great disasters he was causing. The ending also leaves the room open for Brain and Mallah to return at an elevated level then before as the process is sure to have some aftereffect on both of them.
The ending of Titans Annual #2 was also a good tone setter for what the team will be after No Justice. While Donna still has some things to sort out with Wonder Woman and the Justice League she is now at least back in a position where she has regained some of her confidence. On the other end this arc showed that while Arsenal is a good character he does not work well long-term in a team environment at this point in his life. For Nightwing we do get hints that, as Arsenal said, he does want to prove himself to the Justice League but more than anything he wants to prove he can be a strong leader again. And for Flash since Wally will be busy with the upcoming Flash War it’ll be very interesting to see where he ends up since he isn’t in the Titans or Justice League line-ups for the time being.
The artwork for Titans Annual #2 was solid throughout the issue. Given the extra page count having two similarly styled artist in Tom Grummett and Tom Derenick helped maintain the tone of the story. Both delivered when it came to the frenetic action going on and hit the right notes with the various character moments. Derenick’s artwork in particular stood out as he closed out the issue by amplifying the hope for the future of the team that Abnett tried to get across.
The Bad: Titans Annual #2 was a very good issue. The only thing that will slightly go against this arc as a whole is that it just made Tempest, Omen and Bumbleebee look like unnecessary members to the series moving forward. As the other core members of the Titans during this series their absence was noticible in the fact that their presence was not missed. Seeing Nightwing, Donna Troy, Flash and Arsenal together to reestablish their friendships showed how they are really the four important members of the Titans. The others, while founding members, just ended up being easily forgotten.
Overall: Titans Annual #2 is a great conclusion to the final story arc for this incarnation of the Titans team. Dan Abnett delivered an ending that paid off on all the character development Nightwing, Donna Troy, Flash and Arsenal have gone through up to this point. The resolution leaves these core members of the Titans in a great spot moving forward. Hopefully that momentum is carried over to the new version of the Titans in the post-No Justice DC Universe.