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Location: Lancashire
Member Since: Sat May 17, 2008
Posts: 39,842
Subj: Titans #9 - Flight of the Bumblebee
Posted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 at 11:08:34 am CDT (Viewed 1239 times)

From antipathy to Enthusiastic praise Brett Booth's progress on the Titans has completely changed my perceptions on both his style and his talent as an artist working in comicbook Superhero fiction.
Titans #9 opens with a confrontation with some of the teams oldest and most mercenary foes from yesteryear and sets about posing a familiar but effective question on whether it is possible to reform career criminals and on what principles such a penance could be accepted.
That it falls to Roy Harper to make the distinction to his friends is natural, and while Roy's logic is terribly simplistic the point that underscores that simple judgement is still sound - one does not decide overnight to change course in life and then effortlessly make that transition from corrupt ruthlessness to selfless devotion. A process is first necessary, a long gradual transition as self-examination allows for understanding and then a programme for change.
That Roy's wording on the matter is simple and direct is merely a reflection of the book itself under Dan Abnett; Titans can make no claim to be complex or deep, but its strengths lie in the long history and bonds between the cast and the audiences willingness to embrace the classic superteam formula that powered the great team books of yesteryear. Friendship, trust, and escapism. Those are the three simple ingredients of a successful team book. And yet there is more to it than that. Much like the mercurial qualities of Marvel's Uncanny Avengers for example Dan Abnett's Titans has with it a sense of values and energy that sets it apart from many other such team books, the individual elements within it, as good as they are, would not come to life of their own qualities. It takes a certain love of the series and its contents from the writer and, to some degree, the artist, to actually bring the whole production to such appealing life.

So, in a tale that has the return of a now respectable Fearsome Five, and a Titans group understandably sceptical of such a claim, there also follows a secondary strand that works in tandem with that main plot and follows the moral struggle of Karen and Mal Duncan as they are caught uo within the deceptions of the Fearsome Five and leader Psimon and their own individual guilts and anxieties over what their role in this struggle between right and wrong should be. For Karen the question lies in her willingness to have trusted the word of the charming Psimon and the charge from her semi-friends in the Titans that this is a man deserving of nothing but the most fierce of rejections. That Karen also struggles with her newfound empowerment at Psimon's hands, and the temptation of this sense of power, is what will, in the end, inform her final choice as the suspicious Titans begin to move in on the suddenly legitimate Fearsome Five. And as basic as the plot is Dan Abnett understands that that internal ethical dilemma by which the Duncan's must forge through is the core of the books actual appeal and drama... the rest is merely visual pleasantry. If very enjoyable pleasantry. That he and Brett Booth also delivers the most vibrant, exciting, and by far the most appealing version of The Flash seen in print for many a year cements the considerable appeal of this series. Wally West's return to active service under Abnett and Booth has cast the deficiencies and sheer monotony of Barry Allen's lacklustre presentation into harsh relief, it is no exaggeration when I say that Titans is by far the best Flash book I have read in the last five years. The energy, vibrancy, and strength of character on show here is just that exciting and instantly resonant. \(yes\)

A typical example of a Brett Booth Titans page sees all the elements of which Booth employs to imbue the series with energy and visual pace. Beginning with a shot of The Flash tearing into the panel from the right to report to Nightwing the scene is effortlessly transitioned to the next panel thanks to the use of tight positioning and skewed angling. It's very easy to imagine Dan Abnett's scripting for the page and what another, more conventional, artist would do to visualise it onto the drawn page, but Booth's personal preferences are embedded in the early 1990s comicbook ethic and put flair and energy above mere mundane practicality. The skewed page formatting he uses for this series is therefore entirely appropriate to the superteam-as-best-Friends premise and is wisely broken up by the use of occasional differing panel layout to lend the story a real and convincing momentum that pulls the reader along with the flow of the script and adds real value to the writers blueprinting. The artist is therefore is shown as every bit as valuable a contributor to the storytelling process as the writer, as it should be, and yet often in the superhero genre... isn't.

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