Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Mike McKone (p), Marlo Alquiza (i)
As the younger members battle with the Jericho-possessed Deathstroke they soon discover Jericho's ability to jump from body to body, which results in a rather chaotic battle, as the deranged former member of the Teen Titans jumps from host to host. However the arrival of Raven with her plea for help against Brother Blood, before she is pulled away by a circle of flaming hands, brings the battle with Jericho to a rather abrupt end.
A pretty exciting opening half of the issue as the Teen Titans do battle with the Jericho-possessed Deathstroke, and while there are moments where I was a bit annoyed by the little details such as Deathstroke being fast enough to nail Kid Flash (Impulse), or Cyborg tossing a jeep at Superboy while Kid Flash was clinging to his back, there are also several solid moments, such as Wonder Girl's new lasso with its ability to generate a very painful looking attack, and the debut of Superboy's heat vision was also a rather impressive surprise. However, while this battle was a lot of fun it suffers from a rather poor resolution, as instead of having the Teen Titans win, the battle is brought to a close by a second plot that suddenly arrives out of left field, and faster than you can say shifting gears we've moved from a conventional battle, to a completely different plot involving Raven and Brother Blood. Now I realize that the Deathstroke plot had pretty much run its course, and wasn't much gas left in the tank, but having this second plot burst onto the scene to act as the quick fix solution to this crisis left me feeling like Geoff Johns doesn't feel readers are deserving of a proper plot resolution. Either that or he's insecure that readers won't be inclined to join him for the next arc so he's decided to offer us a preview of what we can expect, even if it means having this preview step all over the ending of his opening arc.
As for the art, it's great to see Mike McKone putting on a convincing show of his ability to deliver a monthly title, as this makes five issues in a row that he's provided his highly detailed work, and there's no sign he's struggling with the monthly deadlines (e.g. multiple inkers, missed shipping dates). This issue he's given a bit of help from the writing as I'm sure most artist would enjoy drawing an issue that was two-thirds action, but Mike McKone does show us that he's able to deliver some truly impressive action, with Wonder Girl's lasso attack being the visual highlight of the issue. There's also some solid work on the scene where Raven makes her brief appearance, and the scene where she's pulled away has a nice nightmarish quality to it. I'm not quite sure about his take on out final page guest-hero though, as elements of her costume look a bit off, and it would be nice if the character was actually looking at Cassie when she was talking to her.
On one hand it great to see Geoff John is taking such pains to draw upon elements from the Wolfman/Pérez era, and I can hardly blame him for doing so as there's some great material in those pages that has been languishing in comic limbo for the better part of the past decade. I also have to say that if one has read those issues, and I strongly urge you to do so if you haven't, than you should be having a grand old time with this book, as there's a wealth of surprise twists, and developments that act to remind one how good those old issues truly were. On the other hand, there's also a sense that Geoff Johns is simply walking in the footsteps of those classic issues, and that he's simply following a plot by numbers formula that was a proven success in the past. One also has to feel a bit sorry for the newer fans who are expected to swim in the deep end of Titans continuity, with only quick little toss away bits of exposition to keep them afloat. Still, the book is full of exciting moments, and if not for its awkward ending the Teen Titans/Deathstroke battle that opens this issue would easily be on my best battle of the year list.
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