Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Sergio Davila, Vicente Cifuentes, Brent Peeples, Brian Ching, Nicola Scott, Ben Oliver
Colorist: Luis Guerrero, Marcelo Maiolo, Michael Atiyeh
Lettering: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Brandon Peterson
Publisher: DC Comics
Coming off the heels of Justice League: No Justice, Titans Special #1 is a typical and ultimately underwhelming preview of what’s to come for the Titans. Although interspersed with some bits of action, the comic is far more interested in setting up stories in the future than it is in actually telling an engaging one itself.
This kind of preview storytelling is a deeply troubling trend that I personally wish would stop, and it seems to be an industry wide problem too. Tell me a story in this issue; don’t promise me better stories if I just hang around and tolerate boring stuff first. In Titans Special #1, writer Dan Abnett basically follows Nightwing as he puts his team together. We are then treated to several mini-vignettes of fan favorites like Raven and Beast Boy. Of these snack-sized action bits, only Raven’s and perhaps Nightwing’s intro are engaging. Particularly unforgivable is a conversation between Nightwing and Donna Troy where they basically just stand around doing nothing for five pages.
What I find especially irritating behind this comic’s frame-tale is that it alludes to several interesting stories, each one of which could have been its own interesting comic. Nightwing starts the issue off chasing a girl who has just developed superpowers due to the events of No Justice. The drama and action taking place here was something I wanted to read, but it’s over too quickly so that the comic can rush on and tell a story about how these characters, who pretty much know each other already, meet up…again. It’s not a good thing when you’re paying for a comic that feels like it’s just going through the motions (though that could be said towards much of the industry nowadays).
Similarly, Raven’s vignette alludes to a very interesting battle that she’s having, another consequence of the Source Wall leaking energy and making everything crazy. Again, an interesting action sequence is given no weight and resolved with almost no tension. Towards the end of the issue, A monster basically gets tossed into the mix just so Miss Martian can show up and defeat it effortlessly. The action of the comic has no stakes and is just thrown in to break up the monotony of endless talking. Yes, the comic alludes to major threats of incredible importance to come, but as a reader, I don’t just care about the future, I want my time to used well in the present.
The art, like much DC art, is good. Even though the issue has a large art team, it’s difficult to tell when one artist’s work ends and another’s begins. This point might seem minor, but it’s always distracting when a book’s art wildly changes throughout, and DC seems to better at handling cohesive art direction better than Marvel does at least. The extra space provided by the length of this book allows this title to avoid the overstuffed feeling plaguing much of DC comics.
I have a few more minor quibbles as well, but they’re mostly personal. Firstly, Beast Boy suddenly cannot control his powers for some reason. Its stated that this has to do with No Justice, but I don’t remember anything happening in that series that would affect him and no one else who participated in that event. It feels like a plot hole. Secondly, the new Steel character feels like a carbon copy of Riri Williams from Marvel’s Iron Man series. I am not a fan of either character. “Chrome Me” is not an acceptable catchphrase. You can do better, DC.
What else is there to say? This issue, as pretty as it is at times, is just an advertisement for other comics. An advertisement you pay money for.
Pros-Art is nice.
Cons-Comic feels like an advertisement. Action takes backseat to endless talking. “Chrome Me.”