Sunday Slugfest – Teen Titans #16

A comic review article by: Craig Johnson, Keith Dallas, Shawn Hill, Shaun Manning, James Redington, Jason Sacks
“Superboy and the Legion”

Keith Dallas

Teen Titans #16 offers a very engrossing cover: Superboy, Kid Flash and Wonder Girl grapple with The Persuader over his atomic axe in a mock World War II Iwo Jima pose. The cover certainly catches the eye and demands attention.

I bought Teen Titans #16 because I am an avid Legion of Super-Heroes reader, and this issue (as well as next week’s Teen Titans/Legion Special #1) anticipates the Mark Waid/Barry Kitson re-boot of Legion of Super-Heroes in December. I have minimal familiarity with the Teen Titans: its characters, its storylines, or its themes. I have no idea what has occurred in Teen Titans over its first 15 issues. Despite this, I found the opening pages featuring a date between Superboy and Wonder Girl charming. The issue then progresses to an entertaining full-out fisticuffs between the Persuader and the Titans before shifting to the 31st century where the Legion recruits the Titans to help them fend off a monumental attack on Earth (which occurs on a monthly basis in DC’s 31st century). Some humorous banter gets exchanged between the teams (particularly between Beast Boy and Chameleon), and the final page should hook the reader to buy next week’s Teen Titans/Legion Special.

I, however, am not hooked to buy more issues of Teen Titans. Half way through the issue I feel the Legion of Super-Heroes appropriated the title from the Titans, so from this issue alone, I really don’t get a complete understanding of the Titans characters or what is typically involved in a Titans story (which is to be expected since the purpose of the issue is to team-up the Titans with the Legion as quickly as possible). I wondered if regular Titans readers felt like the title had been taken away from them for this one issue, but judging from their message board comments, they enjoyed the issue, celebrated the return of penciller Mike McKone, and had no problem with the Legionnaires’ control of the second half of the issue. (Interestingly enough, Legion fans, as is their wont, have appraised the issue quite negatively on the message boards. Some even complained that the issue focuses too much on the Titan characters, which is a bizarre complaint since the title of the comic book is Teen Titans. ) Conveniently, a Teen Titans story arc just ended with their issue #15, and this side-track to the 31st century will initiate a new story arc. So rather than interrupting the Teen Titans title, this team-up with the Legion seamlessly moves the Titans onto their next adventure.

If the goal of Teen Titans #16 is to spark interest in next week’s Teen Titans/Legion Special #1, then I say it sufficiently accomplishes that goal in an entertaining fashion.

Shawn Hill

Daring war homage on the cover aside, those Titans are trying to wrest the atomic axe away from the Persuader. Yep, it’s the teens of two millennia meeting at last!

Well, it’s a first for these two versions of each team, anyway. And it’s interesting that, months later, we finally get a reflection of Superboy’s trying stay in the future from the perspective of the past. All of that took place, apparently, between bites during his first dinner date with Wonder Girl, which forms the opening scene of the issue and is a real nicely understated scene until all the time traveling.

The Persuader follows Kon back from the future, and it’s fun to see him carve a swath through the Titans, who aren’t aware he’s a world-killer. They do manage to route him, and then it’s back to the future to see the other side of this tale.

It’s a real pleasure to have McKone’s fresh art back, as his distinctive takes on these young heroes are a large part of the success of this title. There’s some inventiveness in the first battle with the Persuader, and he nails the appearances of almost all the Legionnaires when his cast triples mid-story, too.

Deputizing the teens from the past with flight rings with no fanfare, and the spooky look McKone imbues to Nura as she has one of her spooky visions.

Not happy with Legion World being blown up so soon after the demise of the title, I don’t want to see too much slate-clearing in this run prior to Waid’s restart of the team. Let him do that dirty work, all the last transitional series added was two needless deaths to DC’s Hall of Shamefully Murdered Women. Well, Indigo’s semi-funny.

Still interesting:
This is high concept, but it’s a good one, and I’ve got my fingers crossed about the upcoming special. This Superboy is finally starting to live up to his name.

Shaun Manning

Ah, young love. When a super boy meets a wonder girl, fantabulous things are bound to happen. Like time travel. That’s right. While readers of the now-defunct Legion know that Superboy has spent a good amount of time in the 31st century, he hadn’t yet reached that point in his life in present-day continuity. Until now. Yanked from an X-ray vision fantasy into the far future and returned a relative second later, a beaten and blue-clad Superboy hauls himself back to Titans Tower in time to watch the team get blown up by the Persuader. Recovering, Superboy hands out Legion flight rings like candy and follows the villain Back to the Future. There, the Titans meet the Legion, but the latter’s planet-sized fortress is forfeit, and the Earth may be next.

It’s strange that the next Legion series should be launching out of Teen Titans, as my feelings towards each series’ tag line was the same. For the Titans, DC asked, “What do teen super heroes do on the weekend?” I didn’t really care, but I gave it a shot since Geoff Johns was on as writer. I’ve been very pleased. Now, for Legion, DC is asking us to get excited about a future that is Utopian but dull until teen superheroes shake things up. Again, no interest on that account, but Mark Waid and Barry Kitson have made magic before, so why not.

The Titans/Legion crossover is off to a promising start, and now that the “We’re from the future, so we know what you’ll do when you’re old” introductions are out of the way some really powerful things could happen. Dreamer has a premonition that no-one’s going home “after this,” which we already know is true since the next Titans arc is a nearer-future-body-displacement story and the Legion relaunch probably does not take place in the DnA-established timeline. Still, it opens some interesting possibilities, and leaves lots of beloved characters available as cannon fodder.

Superboy’s time with the Legion of Super Heroes is established in this issue as about five months. Judging by the change in his physical appearance after the time warp, it looks as though he didn’t eat for the entire duration of his stay. This is not strictly Titans artist Mike McKone’s fault, as Superboy-Blue’s future physique had already been established in Legion, but it was bothersome in that book, as well. Never mind the hair.

Teen Titans is one of the most consistently exciting superhero books on the market. The characters are fresh and vibrant, and have their own little crises without someone getting killed every issue. The most recent incarnation of the Legion also matched this description. While the cover fibs a little in promising “Superboy’s Destiny Revealed!,” a little hyperbole never hurt anybody, and two-part crossovers are a healthy way to launch a new series. Next week’s Titans/Legion special should be a ride.

James Redington

Finally some answers regarding Superboy’s appearance in the Legion. If you don’t know anything about the last year of the Legion series then this issue neatly sums up Superboy’s trip to the 30th century and sets up things well for the crossover that ends the current Legion run before the new team takes over in a few months time.

The issue plays out well, bringing us to speed quicker than the Flash, but it’s a shame as it cuts short a nice little scene between Superboy and Wonder Girl on their first date – from here on in it’s all action and fast paced panels.

I found this quite a quick read, although not as quick the last 5 issues of the JLA read one after another. A quick read (i.e. one that is over in less than a minute) usually indicates a waste of money that it is not the case here though. I am eagerly awaiting the next part now, so the comic has done its job in drawing me in.

Geoff Johns does a good job here of setting up the plot and putting the pieces into what I hope will be a fine crossover – nothing is special but it is solid writing and characterizations. One thing that did bug me however was Tim Drake walking back in as Robin with little reasoning or point. Ah well, John’s Superboy has been the highlight of this series to date, his relationships with Robin and Wonder Girl are building up fine along with his new powers and tweaked origins. I would be quite happy to buy a comic featuring him in Smallville, although I would be one of few who would actually buy it. It is a shame as the clone of steel has potential that so far, in previous series’, has not been fulfilled.

The panel where Superboy comes back from the future was the highlight for me, nice bold pencils and inks and contrasting colours. The cover is also nice, but nothing to write home about – the titans all look good, but I though for a second they were all trying to put up a flag pole, not fight off a big guy with an axe.

A solid issue and introduction to the Titans/Legion crossover, buy if you are interested in either.

Jason Sacks

Under the guidance of Geoff Johns and Mike McKone, Teen Titans has been a completely solid super-hero comic. Issue 16 is another example of their talents: the book is consistently fun and interesting, with nice little sparks thrown in on virtually every page. These creators obviously love their characters, and lavish their love on every panel.

This issue is also the first part of a preview of the new relaunch of the venerable Legion of Super-Heroes franchise, and shows how badly the series needs the reboot. The current version of the Legion has become intensely complex. We meet fifteen Legionaries on pages 14 and 15, and there is talk of "at least a dozen" injured Legionaires", Legion recruits and a Legion World. The amount of backstory implied with the Legion in this book seems dauntingly complex to a casual reader. Still, Johns and McKone do a good job of trying to make things clear, and the last page of the issue is an exciting cliffhanger.

This is a quality super-hero comic. I'm anxious to see where the story leads.

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