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Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #1

Posted: Friday, May 23, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Alé Garza (p), Trevor Scott (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with Donna Troy having a dream in which she is fighting alongside the Greek gods against a host of demons, and she isn't exactly turned off by the prospect of leaving the earthly plane to fight in this nightmarish war. We then look in on a cybernetic woman who has arrived on Earth in a damaged state, and in a bid to repair herself she is paying a visit to various cybernetic life-forms in the DCU. When the Metal Men prove to be too low tech to suit her needs we see she expands her scans. The book then looks in on the Titans who have been called to the West Coast by a company that would like to provide the team with financial support, and their only motivation would seem to be that they can spin this support into positive public relations, not to mention a generous tax reduction. As Nightwing turns down the offer flat, much to the annoyance of some of his teammates, they discover that this same offer is being made to Young Justice. Needless to say bringing so many heroes together in a single location acts as a trouble magnet, and the teams soon find themselves under attack from the robotic woman we were introduced to earlier, as she is looking to use Cyborg to repair her damage. As the issue ends we see neither team manages to fair all that well, and unconscious bodies litter the ground before they are able to drive the mystery attacker off.

Comments:
To tell the truth the opening issue of this miniseries feels a bit like a low rent version of the "JLA vs. the Titans" miniseries that kicked off the previous Titans relaunch, and while the involvement of Young Justice does put a different spin on it, and I'm sure Judd Winick has something up his sleeve, the simple fact of the matter is that this book has the teams battling a robotic threat from outer space. Now we do get a rather interesting side plot that draws the two teams together, as we see both groups are tempted with the brass ring that is corporate sponsorship, and in a surprising twist we see that the business making this offer is not driven by a villainous ulterior motive. Now I'm not sure any company would want to link themselves to a team of super-heroes, as the battles they become involve in do a ridiculous amount of damage, and by linking one's company to this group, one would automatically become a target for a steady stream of lawsuits from people & businesses looking to recoup their losses. I mean a super-hero team could easily bankrupt a Fortune 500 company within a year once the lawyers took note of the big piggy bank the team was now attached to. Still, even with the idea having some bugs to work out, I do like the idea that there are members on both groups who are willing to listen to the offer being made.

The one thing I don't like about this miniseries is that its big draw is that it's going to kill off characters. I mean it's one thing to offer up a story where the stakes are so high that characters have to sacrifice themselves, as there's a reason why Barry Allen & the original Supergirl's deaths are still held up as benchmark moments in DC history. On the other side of the equation there are deaths and shocking moments that are obviously designed to garner fan interest, such as Hal Jordan wiping out the Green Lantern Corps, Superman's death at the hands of Doomsday & Batman's broken back. Now I realize sales make the world go round, and that it's silly to think the DC advertising department would sit on the fact that this miniseries is going to feature the deaths of several characters. However, speaking as a fan of both titles I have to say I'm a little disappointed by the almost celebratory tone that has been offered up, as one almost gets the sense that the only reason this miniseries exists is to kill off some characters. There's also the fact that one can pretty much use the advertisements for the upcoming titles to tell which characters have their heads on the chopping block, and the question then becomes how many will he kill off. In the end the entire affair has a rather unsettling sales driven feel to it, especially since Judd Winick had nothing to do with these characters before this miniseries came along.

First off one has to love the idea that when one becomes involved in a heated conflict with an army of demons the ideal choice of attire is going to be a skimpy bikini. I do believe this is called the "most of our readers are adolescent boys" rule, and it one of the many endearing contributions that one can thank the 1990s for. However, while the rest of the book is largely free of cheesecake posing, Alé Garza's work is hardly the most impressive to come down the block, and frankly I feel it looks strikingly similar to the new wave of artists who are cashing in on a new look, where figure work & facial detailing are no longer a priority. I mean there's nothing terribly wrong with the work as it's fairly easy to follow what's going on, and I can't deny that there are some very exciting visual to be found in this issue (e.g. Impulse & his bleeding eyes on page 15), I find have trouble getting too excited by this art. There's also a rather worrisome display of artistic continuity, as we see a shoulder flip looks to have been enough to rendered Superboy unconscious, and in some panels, details of characters costume completely disappears (e.g. Donna Troy belt). In the end the art delivers some pretty solid action, but there's nothing about it that really sets it apart from the work of about a dozen other artists who have descended upon the industry with work that is almost impossible to tell apart.

Final Word:
I'm always a bit wary of projects that act as a bridge between a canceled series, and a relaunched one, as most times the sole objective tends to be to offer up an attention grabbing show that will hopefully attract more readers to the relaunched title than were supporting the canceled book. Now I don't have a problem with pomp and circumstance, as "nothing will ever be the same" stories can inject some much needed life into a series, and this book has been handed an even more impressive task of placating two groups of fans who are feeling dejected by the cancellation of their favorite books, while also acting as a launching point for two new series. However, in the midst of this firework show, most times the event itself becomes more important to the story, and Judd Winick certainly does very little to prove me wrong, with a rather unimpressive start that has the Titans & Young Justice doing battle against a cybernetic opponent who makes both groups look like rank amateurs who would have trouble taking out a malfunctioning toaster, let alone save the world.



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