Monday, January 6, 2014

Teen Titans, Volume 3: Death of the Family

Whoof! Now this is the Scott Lobdell that I know and loathe!

 As my seemingly endless read-through of the DEATH OF THE FAMILY crossover comes to it's merciful end, here's my thoughts on the final book in the series, and the crossover in general....




 First off, TEEN TITANS, VOLUME 3: DEATH OF THE FAMILY is an awful, awful book. Thankfully, it's also a brief book, if you've been keeping up with the rest of the crossover. This volume collects 4 issues of TEN TITANS, 1 issue of RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, and 1 issue of BATMAN. If you've already read RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, VOLUME 3: DEATH OF THE FAMILY, then you've already read the RED HOOD/TEEN TITANS crossover contained herein, and the BATMAN story has been reprinted in every DEATH OF THE FAMILY collection. If you have the RED HOOD collection, you'd probably be better off getting the three issues that are new to this collection in floppy or digital, and potentially saving a buck or two. Or, just save yourself a truly awful read, and skip this one altogether.

 The collection starts with a "New 52" origin for Tim Drake, alias "Red Robin", one of the dopiest names in the history of comic books. Why DC felt the need to drastically shorten Bruce Wayne's timeline as Batman, yet still cling to each and every possible iteration of Robin, aside from Stephanie Brown, is absolutely beyond me. He's been Batman for something like 5 years, but he's already had more kids running around with him than Michael Jackson on his best day. They've pretty much stuck to the "Smart kid figures out who Batman is and forces his way into the cave" outline, but they've added the truly stupid element of Tim's parents going into witness protection. And leaving him behind. To live with Bruce Wayne, who they've never even met. And maybe be Robin. (that last part was very unclear...do they know their kid is going to be risking his life on a daily basis?) I have a four year old son. Going into witness protection and leaving him in the custody of a reclusive billionaire that I've never met? Yeah, OK. (I could make another Michael Jackson joke here, so I hope you appreciate my restraint.) But being Robin is not for Tim...No, he shall become RED ROBIN!!! (Yummmmm.)

 From there, we get the pointless RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS/TEEN TITANS crossover, where they team up to fight Jokerized homeless people. Really.

 Then, after the obligatory BATMAN #17, we close out on a ludicrous issue that sets the stage for future Titans adventures. DC is getting ready to mine the classic Wolfman/Perez Trigon/Raven storyline again, but it'll be different this time, because now Raven has a shitty, ridiculous-looking "New 52" design! Yeah! Awesome!! "The New 52" has got some truly hideous costume designs. Like Image in the 1990's bad.

 There was a really good laugh to be had, though, as Tim uses his credit card to buy the Titans a headquarters. Not a big, giant "T" shaped building on an island, but a yacht that's basically the size of Manhattan. He show the Titans around, and then tells them that, since space is tight, they'll need to SHARE ROOMS!!!! This yacht has, like, 10 stories! They could comfortably house every single homeless person in the Tri-State area, but...space is tight.

 I previously praised Scott Lobdell's work on RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS. Faintly, but still...it was praise. I thought maybe he had grown and honed his craft since his dreadful tenure at Marvel in the 1990's, but, no....he still sucks. And this is an awful, awful book.

 Possibly the worst thing I can say about this book, indeed, about the whole DEATH OF THE FAMILY crossover in particular, and the entire "New 52" in general, is....There's nothing here that makes me want to come back. A well-done crossover should operate under the assumption that people who don't ordinarily read this book might pop in. Make the story accessible, give the new reader an entry point, give them something to want to come back again for. I left this book not knowing who any of the Teen Titans were. I have names and faces...nothing else. Who are they? What are their powers? How did they get their powers...? It doesn't seem like DC really gives a shit, so why should the reader? I've read every DEATH OF THE FAMILY crossover, and not only did they fail to convince me to keep picking up any of the books I wasn't already reading (I would have been tempted to keep reading Peter J. Tomasi's BATMAN AND ROBIN, except...they killed Robin, and he was the only one I really cared about reading.), but I actually dropped one of the two I was already reading, thanks to the stultifying third volume of Gail Simone's BATGIRL. I'll give Scott Snyder's BATMAN one more chance, but I haven't really seen what all of the fuss is about thus far.

 DC Comics provided a review copy.