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Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #2

Posted: Wednesday, June 11, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Judd Winick
Artists: Alé Garza (p), Lary Stucker (i)

Publisher: D.C. Comics

Plot:
The book opens at the San Francisco General Hospital, which is where the various members of the Titans & Young Justice who were injured are being cared for. While most manage to get back on their feet, we see several members remain under care. However, in spite of the severity of the attack that was made upon the group by the cybernetic woman, we see Cyborg is quite adamant that she meant them no harm, and that her attacks were a programmed defense response to what she perceived to be an attack. We then see this robot from the future descends upon the local S.T.A.R. Labs looking for the technology that will be able to carry out the repairs she requires, and her search takes her to a chamber in the lower sub-levels. However, when Superman looks to arrive on the scene we see the situation looks to be under control. We then jump back to the hospital, where the news of the attack of S.T.A.R. Labs has hit the airwaves, and while the news of Superman's presence on scene lessens the sense of urgency, we see Nightwing calls together the members of both groups that are back on their feet, and they head in to investigate. When they find Superman working to repair the robot, and unresponsive to their questions, one of the Titans moves in closer to investigate, and looks to pay a very dear price as the truth about Superman is revealed.

Comments:
The second issue of this miniseries delivers the first of its shocking deaths, and speaking as a lifelong reader of the Titans I have to say I was rather unimpressed by the way this scene was handled. I mean it's one thing to kill a hero while they are doing something noble, such as saving the universe (e.g. Barry Allen), and then there the flip side of the coin in which a character's death acts to deliver an emotional punch (e.g. Gwen Stacy). However, then there's the decidedly less impressive death which stems from a writer's desire to drum up some attention toward his project, and I'm always wary about these deaths as rarely, if ever do they act as anything but a momentary blip on the radar, and most times if the character is popular enough such deaths are reversed. I mean Aquaman is a classic example of such a death, as Jeph Loeb was casting his eye about the DCU looking for a big name kill to add some bite to what was a rather tepid story, and Aquaman quickly became the man of the hour. Now do I expect the character who was killed in this issue to make a return to the DCU? Probably not if only for the simple fact that in my decades as a reader of the Titans I've never really gotten the sense that this character was overly popular, as her power simply didn't lend itself to a combat role. However, this doesn't hide the fact that her death was simply a cry out for attention.

It would also help if the villain of this story was developed beyond a simple killer robot, as while Cyborg seems convinced that her intentions aren't evil, the simple fact of the matter is that she is coming across as little more than a evil robot. Now yes there's a certain appeal to seeing these two groups working together to bring down this threat, and there's still time for Cyborg's claims to be revealed as true, but given she looks to be responsible for the death of a Titan, I can't imagine Judd Winick would suddenly decide to play up the idea that this robot is simply misunderstood. If nothing else this issue's ending one serves to further reinforced the idea that this is an evil robot that needs to be taken down, and hopefully Judd Winick will allow the gathered heroes to put on a more impressive display of their fighting skills than he has. I mean it's one thing to have them caught off guard, and the clashing approaches to dealing with a threat would act to throw both groups off balance. However, if next issue's death results from a poor sense of teamwork, or comes about from an act of sheer stupidity like this issue's death, then Judd Winick is going to work real hard to convince me I shouldn't feel like I've just wasted my time & money on a poorly plotted miniseries, whose sole purpose was to clear away the dead wood from both teams.

Alé Garza is a pretty decent artist, as there's a fair amount of detail of the page, and for the most part the figure work is pretty solid & the material is quite easy to follow. Now the facial work is a bit weak as the stone-faced expressions serve to undersell moments of genuine importance, such as the page where we see the characters reacting to the sudden death of a teammate. However the scene in the hospital is quite strong, as the Impulse fan in me couldn't help but find the panel where he's fighting his doctors to be quite harrowing. The scene where the robot attacker smashes her way through S.T.A.R. Labs is also a visually impressive sequence, as the art delivers some strong impact shots, and the arrival of the mystery weapon has a nice "what the heck" quality to it. Now while the cover to this issue does rob the scene of some of it's surprise, the art does manage to nicely convey the rather abrupt death of a Titan at the hands of a seeming ally. There's also some nice quiet moments like the scene in the stairwell, where Donna Troy has a talk with a scared Wonder Girl, and I also enjoyed the serious, businesslike behavior that we see in both Nightwing & Robin, as they prepare to head for a second rematch (though I don't know if I care much for Robin's battle armor). One does have to love the menace factor conveyed on that final page though.

Final Word:
I want to like this miniseries, I've been an avid Titans fan for my entire comic reading life, and Young Justice was a consistently enjoyable title, with a cast I've become quite fond of. However, the simple fact of the matter is that this miniseries is simply an attempt to make some noise by killing off a few characters, while offering up a paper-thin plot. It also doesn't help that the primary threat is so unimposing that the book looks to drop her in favor of a more impressive opponent in the final pages. Now I'll give the book credit for delivering a fairly shocking moment in the final pages, as we learn something isn't what it appeared to be, and a curious Titan gets herself killed when she moved in to investigate. However, the book is still an unimaginative exercise, where it's clear Judd Winick's main method of handling such a large cast of characters is to have most of them standing around doing little more than watch the plot advance without taking any steps to involve themselves in it (unless of course the material calls for them to be injured, or killed).



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