"The New Teen Titans: Part 4"
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Tony S. Daniels (p), Kevin Conrad and Norm Rapmund (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
Plot: The Teen Titans and the Doom Patrol confront Mallah, the Brain (in a newly cloned body) and the rest of the Brotherhood. During the battle, the Brain reveals how Dr. Caulder had triggered an explosion that destroyed his original body when the two worked together, adding that Robotman's first body was designed for him. The Doom Patrol refuses to believe him and during the melee the Brain's new body begins to break down. The Brain and Mallah escape and Dr. Caulder tries to recruit Kid Devil into the Doom Patrol.
Commentary: There was a lot to like about this issue. Geoff Johns has not only established the "new" Teen Titans but the Doom Patrol as well. John Byrne's recent attempt wasn't terrible, but the concept that it was a new team that had never appeared before just bothered the crap out of me, so I could never really get into it. Geoff has conceived a Doom Patrol that has complex character interaction all based on the fact that Dr. Caulder is a manipulative bastard. Getting two teams off the ground at the same time isn't an easy task, but Johns managed to do it, albeit with a hiccup or two.
The revelation that the Brain was once a colleague of Dr. Caulder who the not-so-good Doctor blew up real good and then stuck in a jar was unexpected, but it works. It could be a lie but given how Geoff has written Caulder, it is just plausible enough for it to be the truth. Of course, it was designed that way but to me that is just good storytelling. I also dug the fact that Geoff also kept the somewhat unsettling relationship between the Brain and Mallah.
Don't look at me like that. I'm all for two people finding each other in this crazy world, but we're talking about an ape and a brain, for God's sake. It may not be wrong, but it is certainly disturbing.
With all of the Doom Patrol madness, it is a wonder that the Titans didn't get lost in their own book. This is a testament to Geoff's skill as a writer. I like the new line-up. I like it a lot. I admit I was put off when Superboy and Kid Flash were taken out, but the new members have so much dramatic potential that while I will miss the old dynamic, I look forward to the new one. Kid Devil and Ravager are great additions to the team, and with Cyborg and Wonder Girl back as official members, the team has really come together. Geoff reinforced how important Cyborg is to the team, and I liked the video snippets he watched at the end. More than that, I liked the scene between Robin and Wonder Girl and how real it felt. The fact that Robin came clean to what he was doing was surprising, but the explanation that with all of the people he's lost he wanted to bring one back worked for me.
And then there was the kiss. Here's another unexpected moment that makes perfect sense for the situation, and even if it doesn't lead anywhere, it was a great moment.
I did have two problems with this issue, and both involved pacing. This final chapter had so much going on that it felt a bit rushed. Not horribly so but enough to raise a flag, which ties into my second quibble: As much as Steve Dayton stepping up to the plate and being the man was great on a personal level (I like Gar and wanted things to work out between him, his Mom and his Dad), it sort of came out of nowhere. It was dramatic and visceral, especially that threat, but it also came out of nowhere. One moment he's in his room writing novel after novel, and now he's seemingly back to normal. On one hand, I can see it, but at the same time it kind of bugs me.
Oh well, I can't be happy with everything.
In The End: Despite those minor points, I am very pleased at the "One Year Later" Teen Titans. This book has been a favorite of mine since its debut in 2003, and three years later, I still look forward to it. It's also nice to see the Doom Patrol back in a likable form, and I hope something is done with them in the future. Tony Daniel and crew provided the right emotional tone in their artwork, and I continue to enjoy their efforts.
What did you think of this book?
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