The Teen Titans have joined the group of digital-exclusive comics that DC Comics has been publishing with Titans: Titans Together. The first issue of this series set-up well how the well-known team of Nightwing, Donna Troy, Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy work when you have Jason Todd as Red Hood join the group. The dynamic with this version of the team did get put over in the first issue. Now it will be up to Phil Hester and Scott Koblish to continue that momentum from the first issue with Titans: Titans Together #2. Let’s find out if they can do it.
Writer: Phil Hester
Artist: Scott Koblish
Colorist: John Kalisz
Story Rating: 2 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On a rooftop Red Hood is the last one standing after Deathstroke knocked out the rest of the Titans.
It is shown that this battle with Deathstroke happened in the past as Brother Blood, with Rose Wilson by his side, is having one of his acolytes Agnetta tap into Jason Todd’s memories so they can discover all of the Titans identities.
Flashing back to the past, after a back and forth battle Red Hood is able to wrap rope around Deathstroke’s neck. Deathstroke reveals that Brother Blood has been running a fake college to recruit kids into his cult so he sent Ravager, his daughter, to take care of Brother Blood. Unfortunately Rose never came back. Deathstroke pleads with Red Hood to help him.
Red Hood doesn’t believe Deathstroke and gets some cuffs out to arrest him. This brief opening is all Deathstroke needed to shock Red Hood with taser in his suit. Deathstroke then prepares Red Hood and Titans to be part of his plan
In the present, Brother Blood learns about Deathstroke’s plan to infiltrate his cult. Brother Blood tells Agnetta to prepare the others for Deathstroke while he has other plans for Jason and the Titans. While Rose wants to kill Jason immediately Brother Blood says they need to get ready for their wedding, which Rose agrees with.
After Brother Blood and the others leave Beast Boy, who transformed himself into a tiny bug, transforms into a gorilla and breaks Red Hood free. Red Hood tells Beast Boy they need to help free the kids. Beast Boy agrees but says they need to free the other Titans first so they can have back up. Red Hood decides to go with his own plan and goes to free all the kids under Brother Blood’s control.
When Beast Boy is about to chase after him Raven’s projection appears to show him where the other Titans are.
Beast Boy gets to the lab that Nightwing, Starfire, Donna Troy and Raven are locked in. Beast Boy wakes up Starfire, who is able to use her powers to break herself and the other Titans out of confinement.
Brother Blood’s Bloodborne creations suddenly appear that the Titans begin to fight before they can go look for Red Hood and the kids.
Elsewhere Brother Blood prepares the wedding ceremony for himself and Rose with all of his followers assembled to witness. Just as Red Hood shows up Deathstroke activates a device he implanted in Rose’s eye to shock her back to normal. Brother Blood gets pissed off and goes right after Deathstroke.
As they fight the rest of the Titans appear to help fight Brother Blood and the Bloodborne.
While all the others fight Rose gets Jason to help her disarm the mind-control device that Brother Blood is using to place all the kids under his control. Rose is able to disarm the device by removing the special crystal powering the device. She then tells Red Hood she plans to sell the crystal and live on a private island. Red Hood tries to stop her.
As that happens the Titans continue fighting the Bloodborne while Deathstroke fights Brother Blood. Deathstroke is able to stab Brother Blood in the gut with his sword. This causes the Bloodborne to vanish and all of Brother Blood’s followers to break free from the mind-control.
This all causes the church they are in to start crumbling. The Titans quickly act to get everyone to safety.
At the same time, Red Hood is trying to convince Rose that she is better than her dad, talking about he can relate about how she is feeling given his own past experience with father-figures goals for them. Rose does not listen and kick Red Hood to the side.
Deathstroke then appears and asks Rose to hand over the crystal so they can split the earnings. Rose throws the crystal into the fire and then runs off, leaving both Deathstroke and Red Hood behind. Deathstroke promises to make Red Hood pay for what he did the next time they meet. End of issue.
The Good: Titans: Titans Together #2 follows the blueprint set by the other digital titles like Superman: Man of Tomorrow and Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace by having a quick one-and-done story. While this issue follows that blueprint it does quickly lose itself in trying to tap into what has made this type of storytelling work so well with other DC Comics other digital comics.
Before getting into that I will give Phil Hester credit for understanding how to write the voice of each character in this issue. Even though the focus of Titans: Titans Together #2 was on Red Hood, Deathstroke, Rose Wilson, and Brother Blood the brief amount of dialogue other Titans get was well done. It very much follows the way Hester established where each of the Titans are at the point where we find them in this series. A better setting will hopefully help highlight Hester’s strength in this category.
Scott Koblish’s artwork was solid throughout Titans: Titans Together #2. With the chaotic setting of Brother Blood’s unique demonic church, he got over how terrifying of a setting it is. There was a sense that some sort of danger was around every corner. That created a greater sense of urgency for the Titans to defeat Brother Blood before he fully executed his mind-control plan.
The Bad: Though I understand what Hester was going within having Brother Blood as the main antagonist for Titans: Titans Together #2 it just did not work. This was simply a case of going too big, too soon. Throughout this issue, you could sense how rushed the entire story was. And it wasn’t because of a sense of urgency to defeat Brother Blood. Instead, it was a rush as the page count started to tick down. That rush to the final page was detrimental to the overall impact of this story.
This rushed pacing turned into a major turn off as Hester was using continuity in a bad way. Rather than using iconic continuity to enhance his story, like writers for the Aquaman, Wonder Woman and Superman digital titles have done, it was actually a turnoff. You are reminded that we have not spent that much time with getting to know this version of the Titans roster. Especially with how these Walmart/digital titles are supposed to help bring in a new audience the direction Hester took with using continuity just does not work to help make that happen.
Being reminded of that makes a lot of the character moments fall flat. This is especially the case when it comes to Jason Todd’s arc in this story. Having Jason take center stage this soon into the Titans: Titans Together series was just a bad move. We haven’t had too much of a chance to get to know this version of Jason with the Titans. Hester simply relies on the reader to know who Jason is and his backstory to drive the interest. The problem is that Jason is not a character that has had close ties to the Teen Titans franchise.
Even as someone who has become a fan of Jason’s character since he became Red Hood his arc here just fell flat. Everything from the way he talks throughout this issue felt off. There was never a point that it felt like I was reading Jason Todd. Instead, it was more of Dick Grayson-lite, which has been a past problem with how other writers have written Jason.
This problem with how Jason was positioned as the lead character for Titans: Titans Together #2 falls back to Hester just going to big too soon. The threat of Brother Blood should’ve been saved for a later issue in this series after Hester built up the chemistry between this version of the Titans. That would’ve made Brother Blood come across as bigger deal. But in rushing to use such a big threat like Brother Blood, Hester loses control of how big he wants to go. It would’ve been better for all involved if Hester used villains like the Fearsome Five, Doctor Light, Mad Mod, or the Calculator for this second issue.
Hester did not help the pacing of this story by putting us right in the middle of the story by beginning with Deathstroke defeating most of the Titans. It immediately threw off the pacing of this story, especially considering how quickly we see Red Hood get the advantage of Deathstroke by himself. It all tonally felt off because of this first decision of how to start Titans: Titans Together #2. This ended up hurting the overall impact of the arc Hester was giving for Rose Wilson, which felt unearned even as she was given the big moment to close out this issue.
Overall: Titans: Titans Together #2 was a big swing and miss by Phil Hester. The story just got out of control from the start and it never gained a focus the deeper into the story we got into. Hester just did not balance using the Titans continuity in a way that brings in fans both new and old into this story. Hopefully, things work out better in the next issue of Titans: Titans Together #2.
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