white_tiger: Tigerzord! (Cindy Brady vs Cousin Oliver...!)
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As promised, one of my biggest reviews done in quite a while on a hero's entrance into a team...that I really don't think he belongs on for at least another 3-4 years - if EVER!





Teen Titans #88 introduces us to the team that just keeps on going through member drives like 2-year terms - led by Wonder Girl ever since issue 66 when Tim Drake-then going by the moniker of Robin-stepped down to deal with the crisis happening in Gotham for an undetermined period of time. In real time it's been over a year, and I for one cannot wait until he returns to his friends; maybe not in full leadership capacity, but even as a technical advisor. (Tim is mentioned in this issue once by Cassie, who states that dealing with analysis and DNA samples is really his territory.)

The other members, who are still around since issue 87, are Superboy, Kid Flash, Beast Boy, Raven...and returning/former Titan Ravager, Rose Wilson. (Cassie's reasoning for inviting Rose to come back, even though the two have NEVER seen eye-to-eye on anything, is just-she's a warrior and while the Titans are meant to be a family who depend on each other through good times or bad, and the Tower is a place for inexperienced heroes the team is more than constantly out there on the front lines.)

While they have to deal with regular people who have been stripped of their identities and minds, dulling their sense of pain at the same time, we're given a brief return to Gotham City - enter Batman, former Nightwing and Robin-Dick Grayson who's using his inside voice to allow a brief peek into his head:

(He's got so much anger inside him. He's never known love or compassion. If this is all he experiences in life...thieves, murderers, and assassins...how else is Damian supposed to turn out?)

The real antagonist in this calls himself Mr. Carter during the day, but by nighttime he goes by a different alias-Dr. Caligan. And he's targeted one of his own students for a very dangerous experiment.

Back to the Titans, while the team are dealing with some much needed downtime for a while-Raven doing her best to keep her emotions in check, Beast Boy watching TV, Bart doing his best to multitask-basically write down everything he can remember from his and Conner's brief time in the future before it slips away from his memory; according to him, it's got to do with the current time stream as well as what I've heard of as wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey...-Rose updating information on her mother, Conner and Cassie having a discussion of sorts which might not have ended on a good note if someone hadn't breached the Tower.

According to Kid Flash, the sensors indicated the intruder was in the East Wing...and then the Dark Knight himself corrects him in one of the most surprising-though not much-moves in Titans history. (When this issue of Teen Titans came out, it was the last week of a month of Batman related titles, most notably The Road home where Damian had been involved in at least three separate issues-Batman & Robin, Superman/Batman, talked about briefly in Batgirl and the aforementioned TT ish.)

Part two starts off with Caligan showing his latest protege how he can use his new abilities to use: at a Tech Expo convention center in Silicon Valley. After the 2nd page, we're shown what happens 'earlier,' with the Titans not at all impressed with the Boy Wonder: Damian's first order of 'business' as leader was to eject Beast Boy from the Titans, BB stated that he was just a child. Damian had a pretty damn decent argument, however-Dick led the Titans as Robin, and so did Tim. (The part where he deems himself as more accomplished than either one of them was gets on my nerves, though; Cassie seems to agree.)

"Hey, Bart - what do you call a baby robin? A hatchling?"

"Or a fledgling. Or even simply a chick."

"Yeah, I like that. A chick!"


Much as I enjoyed Rose's snide remarks, Damian was rather sensitive about said remarks and took the fight to her.

"If your PRECIOUS Drake were here, I'd show you who is the BEST Robin! But since he's not, I'll have to SETTLE for teaching you your place!"

Conner prevented Rose from causing any serious harm, and Bart relieved Damian of his own weapons while Wonder Girl and Batman had their own discussion. Dick wanted Damian to be welcomed to the team-not as leader obviously, but still a Titan. Cassie knows that Dick has been a Titan longer than any of them, but he couldn't show up unannounced and drop his dead weight on their door. She said that she wasn't a babysitter; Dick immediately retorts that he isn't dead weight. Cassie corrects herself by calling him a problem child.

"I wouldn't use that term around Damian. He's kind of sensitive about that - if you couldn't tell."

Dick went on to explain that Damian needed the Titans-he needed to learn how to trust people, that his life had been nothing but betrayal and manipulation, that he needed to know what it means to count on someone. Cassie retorted that Damian had to earn their trust, and she didn't care that he was Robin; he wasn't Tim. Not even close. (Go Cassie, go!)

"I know. But he can still be Robin. Give him a chance. For his own sake." (Dammit, Dick...! You and your calm sense of rational Vulcanese emotion!)

Jumping back into the 'now,' we're given a glimpse at an ancient civilization where Cassie's mother, Helena Sandsmark, is at with some friends and we're introduced to a girl who'll have the spotlight on her as of Teen Titans #93-Kiran, otherwise known as Solstice (found out officially as of Wonder Girl #1). Back at Titans Tower, Tim is briefly mentioned again as Red Robin by Superboy-he's told him all about Damian, how he's got the biggest chip on his shoulder. Raven notes that they all came to the team with their own baggage-a polite way of her saying burdens-and if he's so damaged, shouldn't they be trying all the harder to help him? Conner's response?

"Something tells me Damian doesn't want to be helped." Bart added that he doesn't like seeing Damian in a Robin's costume, even if Batman vouches for him.

Speaking of which, he was spending 'time' with Cassie in the Com center while she was speaking to Dr. Mid-nite. While he was eager to familiarize himself with the rest of the Tower, he wasn't hanging out with the other Titans. Cassie brought it up, and Damian noted that 'I got better things to do with my time than play games.'

"It's called unwinding."

"I like being wound up - it gives me an edge."

The Titans soon hear about what's going on in their backyard and go to investigate-they find Barney Venton, the student who had been 'changed' by his teacher. He puts up more of a fight than expected, even with Robin 'leading' the charge and stating that the rest of the team should tend to the weak. Raven almost had convinced him to stand down by taking him to a place of her own design - her safe place, though it was a place of loneliness. And then Robin gives him his official name-Headcase-by blindsiding him and beating up on him. The team is soon blown away as Headcase gets away, while Raven explains that she had him under control. When Cassie asked what happened, Kid Flash comes back with the standard 'let me guess.' quote.

"Way to go, nimrod!"

"What'd I do?" Sure, Rose - make the kid feel twice as guilty, though I can't say I blame her one bit.

Part three takes us back, only with two more pages, to Solstice-which reveals a bit of her powers but not much-and shows that her parents, while going on a nighttime expedition, had vanished. Back at the Tower, Raven and Wonder Girl are discussing their latest threat and how he literally isn't anywhere-no file with the authoritities, federal or local, no posted pictures or social networking profiles. Raven explained that when she connected with him, Barney had a lot of depression, rage, and sadness - all dwarfed by a tidal wave of loneliness. Cassie notes that she thought he'd have reached out in every way possible.

"Perhaps he felt that such tentative connections would only magnify his feelings. Sometimes no matter how many people you surround yourself with...you still feel alone..."

Total connection with Damian, though I'm sure he'd dislike the comparison as well. As the two train together while blowing off steam, Rose deems him via inner voice as a little ball of hate, yet she adds that the rest of the team probably says the same about her. She tries to reach out to him but a retort about lasting one week on the streets of Gotham has her thinking bite me - I tried. (Technically, Rose has lasted on the streets of Gotham, in Robin #166.)

While BB and Conner are talking on the roof about how the latter used to enjoy coming to the Tower and wanted to get away from Smallville but now going to the Tower felt like going to headquarters, and that Smallville was his family too (BB stated that with his speed, he could deal with the commute.), Bart had gone to the San Francisco Library and found a catalog of yearbooks from all the area schools.

"I would have gotten it sooner, but they didn't open until 10."

The Titans go to where the high school is at, Wonder Girl explaining that Barney was just as much a victim here as vulnerable and unstable...but to go easy.

"Kid gloves."

"Was that a slight at me?"

"No..." Cassie added that she didn't want a repeat of last time-if Damian put himself in jeopardy, he'd put them all in jeopardy. Long story short, it didn't take long for the Titans to get thrown into battle underneath a buried school - Bart knocked out by a girl who's skin was like steel, with Wonder Girl taking her on for a time while Raven got Bart to her safe place, Superboy and BB taking on a jock-like guy and Headcase himself, and Ravager and Robin finding the students - all changed into Feral boys like the ones the team had faced back in 88.

The conclusion, which was released last week, starts with a quick 1-page flashback to where Caligan had killed a student in his class by tricking him into drinking some beer he said he could score-which was undoubtedly poisoned-before jumping back into the action with the Titans. Headcase had apparently constructed a machine in the Gym of his school which was now creating a black hole. Raven tried to warn him that he wasn't thinking clearly-once the black hole devoured the school, it would keep going and devour the entire planet.

Ravager and Robin somewhat bonded during their fight, the two wondering who had the more psychotic parent between Deathstroke and Talia al Ghul.

"Perhaps your father is more psychotic than my mother."

"Do I get a prize?"

"If you do, it should be a new costume!"

"Aww - and here I thought we were becoming friends. Then you go and attack my wardrobe."

"You're right. Truce?"

"Sure."

Sudden kick from both to the last two conscious Feral boys behind each other, and then Rose states:

"You've got a strong kick for having such little feet."

"Hey!"

"Sorry. Okay - now truce."

Kid Flash woke up to a horrifying nightmare of how he died back when he was the Flash, with Raven returning to take him back to the others - and the black hole. Bart immediately went into action, running as fast as he could around the hole until he could slow it down. Raven tried one last time to stop Barney, but he tried to absorb her own essence - which was his downfall, as she unleashed her soul self on him and knocked him out while Bart was able to destroy the machine which stopped the black hole. Caligan unfortunately, was able to get away with another victim in his clutches.

Back at the Tower, Cassie realized that the Titans weren't just soldiers battling alongside one another, that they were more than a team. They were a family. If she didn't let them in, if she remained distant, then what was the point of being there? Conner showed up and explained that he knows what she's been going through lately and didn't want to be a burden for her given all the pressure she's been under. He promised that he wasn't going anywhere, he'd always be a Titan and always be there for her, but he sadly broke off their relationship they'd built up since the original Young Justice series. He added that she wanted to focus on leading the team, and he wanted to try having a life that isn't about being Superboy, isn't about being Wonder Girl. He wants a life as Conner too.

The saga ends with Damian and his inside voice commenting on his teammates and how he won't be able to make friends with the Titans-labeling BB as 'a green-skinned misfit with a Peter Pan complex,' Raven as 'a moody introvert,' Kid Flash as 'an inane speedster who could be great in battle if he wasn't a spaz,' Wonder Girl and Superboy not prepared to get the job done. Ravager was deemed as an arrogant, egotistical femme fatale who wasn't so bad, for a Wilson.

Cue an incoming message and the last piece of the puzzle that keys into next month's crossover:

"Drake!"

"Damian, what are you doing there?"

"I...it was Grayson's idea. What happened to you?"

"I need the Titans!"

Date: 2011-02-02 03:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] alanddizzy.livejournal.com
"Misfit with a Peter Pan complex."

You know I love my boy Beastboy but...I can't disagree with this assessment. At least from your description it sounds like he didn't spend half of each issue being whiny or trying to get Raven to take him back.

At least it sounds like I can start buying Titans comics again. I always enjoyed what Rose brought to the team and Damian is becoming my favorite little prick.

Date: 2011-02-02 10:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] http://users.livejournal.com/_red_x/
Not so much - that was briefly covered in #88, where Raven was meditating in her room and felt the emotions from her friends/teammates: if I remember correctly, Bart was feeling a sense of fear, Rose was obviously feeling rage, Conner and BB were both feeling hope and Cassie was feeling a sense of willpower. Inside voice Raven states that not too long ago, BB was feeling love-love for her, but that feeling has since changed. But while her feelings for him haven't changed, she can't act on them.

Rose is a dynamic all on her own, and adding Damian to the mix? Makes me hope that Dick's assessment on his protege needing friends will bear fruit in some way.

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White Tiger

February 2011

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