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Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #3

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



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

Publisher: DC

Plot:
Still in shock over the murder of Lilith, we see the gathered heroes of the Titans & Young Justice aren't exactly in their best form as they attempt to take down the rampaging Superman robot. It also doesn't help that several members of the group have allowed their emotions to get the better of them, so the attacks that are made on the killer robot aren't coordinated, and with the raw power that the robot commands, the two groups need to work together. However, what follows is a series of solo efforts that all have the same result, as Impulse is knocked out cold, while Arsenal receives a serious burn to his upper right arm from the robot's heat beams. However, when Donna Troy slams into the robot at full force we finally see a display of power that might stand a chance against this robot. While the heavy-hitters of both teams move in we see Robin & Arsenal busy themselves trying to repair the female robot, as they believe once she's repaired the Superman robot's aggressive actions will cease. Back at the battle we see Donna Troy has given into her inner rage as she isn't holding anything back, and it would appear that she has battered the robot into submission. However one last attack by the robot has it drilling a hole clean through the center of Donna's chest, and she apparently drops dead from this attack.

Comments:
Where does one start on an issue like this. I mean in the aftermath of writing like this one does have to seriously question the ability of the writer involved, and what makes it worse is that one simply can't dismiss Judd Winick as a bad writer as he's produced comics that are extremely well written, and as such one can only assume that the awkward, unpolished quality of this project was the result of his having to race to clock to get this project finished in time, so he simply didn't have the time to make it better. The other explanation is that this was a largely editorial driven exercise, and as such he simply didn't have the inclination to make it any better. However, the simple fact of the matter is that this is a poorly written issue that I would encourage people to avoid, as if nothing else it would be nice to send a message to DC that if you're going to kill off a character, it might help if you didn't have the writing engaging in what is basically an outright copy of what was arguably your most famous battle to the death. Yes this issue is an accelerated imitation of the infamous Superman versus Doomsday bout, as our evil villain tears through a group of heroes before running up against the main contender, and the two spend trade a serious of devastating blows before they both collapse the ground seemingly dead. It wasn't that much fun the first time round, so this return visit was hardly a welcome sight.

Now speaking as a life long Titans fan I have to say I wasn't completely crushed by the death that this issue offers up as its big dramatic finish, as the preview material displayed a positively gleeful delight in its announcement that this miniseries would kill off at least two characters, and it became a simple case of taking notice of which characters were slated to be members of the new Titans & Outsider lineups, and the first issue of this miniseries wasn't exactly all that subtle when it came to forecasting this character's impending demise. Still I've been reading comics for long enough not to recognize a death that a future writer can reverse, and this character is popular enough that I think it's a safe bet she'll be back. The question I was left with was why was no attempt made to save her, as even if it looked to be a lost cause, in the DCU there's lazarus pits, purple rays & magic healing spells that one could attempt to make use of. I mean the placement of the shot that tore its way through her was high enough that it would've missed her internal organs, and it's too close to the center of her body to have struck her heart. Heck if they had made an effort to stem the blood loss, I'm sure even an ordinary hospital would've been able to keep her alive. Then again having her friends make every effort to save her life would've been asking a bit too much of this miniseries, where the simplest plot devices seem to be the preferred course.

First off one would think that it's simple logic that if one wants to surprise readers with a death of a major character, perhaps a cover that shows us a teammate holding the dead body of this character with the cover text "You fail...you die!" might not be the best approach to take. However, there's very little about this issue that I would consider all that impressive, as even the art looks to have taken a serious downturn in this final issue. Now sure there's some solid impact shots, as the book opens with a fairly exciting visual that has Tempest getting knocked free of the battle, and the opening shot of the Superman robot, with its death grip on Impulse's throat caught my eye. However the art also offers up some downright confusing moments, like the panels where the bubbling pile of goo suddenly seems important to the story, but it isn't until five pages later that we are shown why these panels were important, and by then the connection between the two is hardly established, so this character seemingly looks to have just shown up in the story out of the blue. Considering he doesn't actually do anything though, I guess this scene isn't exactly key to the issue. The death scene was also a bit weak, as the art needed to sell the idea that the injury this character suffered was so grievous that there was no chance of survival, and the panel simply didn't convince me of this fact. There's also the funeral scene where the art seems to have trouble conveying the idea that these characters are supposed to be sad.

Final Word:
As I moved around online earlier today I noticed that a couple people rather enjoyed this final issue, and to a certain extent I can see how they were tricked into thinking this was a quality product, as on the surface this looks like a no holds barred battle where a brave hero fights their last fight. However, I've spent my comic reading life eagerly anticipating battles like this, and I've enjoyed enough to recognize when the writer is simply going through the motions. There's a big difference between a battle where the heroes are involved in a fight where they're the clear cut underdogs, and one where the writing calls for them to act like incompetent fools who get their heads handed to them, and based on my review of this issue, you can pretty well guess which category I would place this battle. I also didn't help matters that Donna's big death scene was so poorly handled as having her turn into a raging psychopath before she is taken down displays a poor understanding of the character, as is the newfound lust for combat that is supposed to act as our happy ending for the character.



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