January 31, 2013

This Joker Will Be The Death of…Someone…But Who? (Review of Teen Titans #16)

Category: Reviews — By @ 6:43 pm

Teen Titans #16 CoverThis issue of Teen Titans continues the “Death of the Family” story arc that has hit the Bat-titles with the Joker’s return to Gotham after a year’s absence.  He is creepier and more dangerous than ever before.  The Outlaws and Titans have begun to work together to stop the Joker’s attacks, but as we start this issue, Red Robin has been captured by the Joker and finds himself waking up next to Jason Todd!  As noted in the solicits, this issue also brings us the return of…Raven!

SOME MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD – PLEASE READ THE ISSUE BEFORE CONTINUING HERE!

The Joker has a terrible (and brilliant) plan to pit Jason and Tim against each other in a fight to the death, and much of this issue contains a fantastic battle between the two former partners of Batman.  The Joker believes he has left the former Robins (okay, a former Robin and a present Red Robin) no choice but to kill each other.  But, just as everyone has seemingly underestimated the Joker in this arc, the Joker has also underestimated at least one of the combatants here – possibly both?  Telling how it ends would be simply spoilering too much here, but it is a terrific fight.

Elsewhere in the Titans’ world…Solstice has noted that both her power levels and those of Kid Flash were recently boosted, meaning that Kurt Lance has been hanging around nearby.  One note here – that’s about all we see of Bart in this issue.  Some earlier issues of Teen Titans have centered on Bart, and I’m sure we will see more from him again before long.  But as with most team titles, there are times that different characters fade to the background and that is certainly the case for Kid Flash this issue.  As for Lance…

We find Lance trying to watch out for the Titans from a distance, only to find himself in a fight with Basilisk – a fight that doesn’t appear to end well for Lance.  And, in a cameo appearance we are introduced to a VERY different looking New52 Raven.  She is still Trigon’s daughter, and her costume still makes it tough to see her face…but for a very different reason than in the pre-Flashpoint DCU.  This design is certain to spark a lot of conversation among fans of the Titans, although it remains to be seen if this will be her permanent New52 look. 

In the end, this issue is meant to be a tie between Red Robin and the “Death of the Family” arc…and it does an excellent job of moving this terrific story line forward.  You may not have to read this particular issue to stay up-to-date with the main story line, but it would be a real shame to miss this part of the arc.  I have never been as totally creeped out by the Joker as I have been through this story line, and the resolution to “Death of the Family” will certainly have huge repercussions for all the Bat-family for some time to come. 

Scott Lobdell did the plotting for this issue, with dialog supplied by Fabian Nicieza.   A lot of the issue centers on the interior monologue of Tim Drake, and it is most effective in adding drama without taking away from the excellent artwork.

Speaking of the artwork, I’m a fan of Brett Booth’s work, and he doesn’t disappoint here.  Norm Rampund handled the inks and Andrew Dalhouse took on the colors for this issue.  They convey the Joker’s insanity and the heat of the battle between Tim and Jason in a way that was gripping from beginning to end.

SUMMARY: Overall, this was an excellent read.  Yes, it was much more a “Red Robin” issue than a true “Teen Titans” mag, but this was the most logical title in the New52 to tie Tim Drake into the overall story arc, and it works very nicely (if that word fits with such a creepy story arc).  And not to forget, with the re-introduction of Raven (even in this cameo appearance), Teen Titans #16 will certainly have a special place in the New52 Titans lore.  It is well worth the read!

About the reviewer: Ed Garrett is a long time Flash fan, having collected The Flash and other comics since the 1960′s (when they were only 12 cents).  He is a fan of Jay, Barry, Wally, Bart, and all the other speedsters who have graced the pages of DC Comics over the years.  Ed uses the handle xBarryxAllenx as the administrator of The Fastest Forum Alive, a Flash fan forum.