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Subj: Titans #13 - Check the Plot.
Posted: Sun Jul 16, 2017 at 12:31:46 pm EDT (Viewed 290 times)
Some things are inescapable in Superhero comics, what motifs and tics the genre was founded upon is largely what the genre continues to adhere to, perhaps not as rote' as it did back in the days of news-stand mass distribution when the medium was aimed at pre-teens and early teens, but yes, some things remain constant, despite the shifting audience range and a general upscaling of the contents angst/violence ratio.
And so arrived issue #13 of Dan Abnett's Titans revival, and a near 20 page fight scene that opens with DC comics' superhero answer to FRIENDS playing out 'Superhero book Plot #2' - the good old crash-the Super-Villain-groups-hidden-base-and-beat-a-path-to-Mr Big, where-the-problems-really-start.
It isn't a criticism of this issue by the way. Recycling plots and situations is all part and parcel of the genre after all, and what counts is whether the writer can inject a sufficient amount of incident and tension to make this latest adventure something readable and enjoyable when taken on those terms. And so comes forth from Dan Abnett a very conventional and thoroughly unambitious slice of Superhero 101; bashing their way into a typically hi-tech villain base the Titans are apparently searching for Karen Duncan's missing "stolen memory engram", Dick Grayson actually opens the book up by saying that, and with a completely admirable straight face with accompanying stoicness his is the authority leading the Titans on this race to recover Karen's errant select memories. Why this is so vitally important, and why she is so threatened by the loss of a memory or two is never convincingly spelled out however.
The last man standing in Hive Base is an unassuming scientist, who may or may not be intended as being a ludicrous figure in mandatory white lab coat and glasses, but rapidly reveals himself to be anything but as he explodes into unlikely action and proves far more than the gathered Titans ever expected from their face-value initial assessment. What ensues is an issue-long fight with the man and Dan Abnett using the hit-me/hit-you nature of it all to bring forth character beats and developing sub-plots between the old friends and original Titans here.
Titans #13 is a thoroughly unambitious production, let me repeat that, make it perfectly clear, and move on. As while there is nothing herein but Superhero 101 conventions and an achingly cliche finale that has Nightwing grimly addressing the assembled team with the eye-rolling "One of Us is a Traitor" line, the book does still deliver something of entertainment value. The appeal of Titans #13 isn't in the plot, that much has to be obvious by now, instead its appeal lies in the strength of its central characters and the unique history that informs them, and keeps them together as beyond the bonds of friendship they share almost none of them has anywhere else to actually belong to.
When Roy Harper realises that Wally and Donna are moving beyond friendship the moment is presented as melodramatic soap yes, but also a demonstration of the compassion and loneliness the two embody and how that shared ache can fill the void both feel due to their disconnection from the world that has struggled to find a place for them. When Wally struggles against a dangerous and private health concern it isn't hubris or ego that compels him, it is the love and concern for his friends wellbeing as they struggle to subdue and survive an unexpectedly formidable foe. Even Mal Duncan, happy to be outside of this Titans madness, shows a concern for his wife who is at the centre of the teams endeavour and a pressing desire to run to hers and the groups aid forthwith. Out of obvious concern over his Wife yes, but like the of the Titans Mal's is inherantly a thoroughly decent and compassionate urge to do well for his friends and show solidarity when the time demands such an urgency.
And so it works as a production, despite the lack of originality or desire to rethink ancient overdone situations. Titans is very much a deliberate attempt at producing a rote' Superteam series, one offering the sort of antics and melodrama you would have seen in any 90s X-Men or Teen Titans series. In fact given he was the guiding force behind the revival of The Legion circa 1999 I have no doubt at all that Abnett was very familiar indeed with Devin Grayson and Mark Buckingham's own revival of The Titans this series focuses on. And to any who recall that previous revival it will be evident that Abnett's obvious affection and approach for these characters likely owes good deal to that series that lasted fifty issues.... may Abnett's series too last so long.
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