Teen Titans (vol.3) #89 (2011)

Teen Titans (vol.3) #89 (January, 2011)
“Bruised Egos”
Writer – J.T. Krul
Penciller – Nicola Scott
Inker – Doug Hazlewood
Letterer – Sal Cipriano
Colorist – Jason Wright
Editor – Rachel Gluckstern
Cover Price : $2.99

So, ya say Damian is in charge of the Teen Titans?  Nah… never happen.

Today we’re gonna discuss an issue from such a bright time in Titan’s history… from the criminally short-lived J.T. Krul run.  One of the worst casualties of The New 52! initiative.  Ever since Geoff Johns left this title, thirty-some-odd issues in, the Teen Titans were put through the wringer.  The team routinely fell apart… team members routinely died, sometimes gruesomely bloody deaths… the book just really turned to garbage.  J.T. Krul’s arrival was like stumbling upon an oasis in the desert.  The addition of the ridiculously talented Nicola Scott… and dammit, you’ve got an awesome Titans run goin’.

Anyhoo… this is the tail end of the pre-Flashpoint Titans where Batman (who is currently Dick Grayson) decides it may behoove young Damian to spend some time with folks closer to his own age.  Let’s hit it and git it…

We open at the Silicon Valley Tech Expo.  There is a young man with a hoodie… and strange circular burn marks on his head.  He is joined by a man in a suit, who appears to be his handler.  At one of the exhibits, a man is giving a demonstration on robotics… which, for whatever reason seems to rub our hoodie-wearing friend the wrong way.  He grabs him by the wrist… which somehow allows him to make the robo-pieces levitate… and the man falls limp.

Meanwhile at Titans Tower… the gang meets, the new boss?  Batman, who is now Dick Grayson, has decided to drop off his new Robin, Damian Wayne so that he can learn both the value of being a hero… and working as a member of a team.  He, of course, assumes he’s there to lead the team… which is great.  Right out the gate, he threatens to “fire” Beast Boy… unless he ever comes across the need for a talking chipmunk, that is!

It should go without saying that Damian is something of an unwelcome presence at the Tower this day.  Kid Flash and Ravager joke about his diminutive stature… which nearly causes an all-out brawl.  The tension is only diffused when Bart nyoinks his Robin-a-rang away.

Cassie pulls Batman out into the hallway to “talk”.  She really isn’t feeling this new team member, and… perhaps projecting a bit… claims not to be the Bat-babysitter.  Dick pleads his case… which, honestly… shouldn’t even be necessary.  I mean, if Dick Grayson talks to you about Titans business… you kinda just take him at his word, right?  Cassie ultimately relents, and Dick drops the tot… much to Damian’s dismay.  He feels as though he’s being punished for something or another… though Dick assures him this is all in his best interest.  Ravager overhears the exchange, and razzes the Boy Wonder a bit for it.

What follows is a brief cameo introducing an incoming character.  Seems there’s something of a tradition among Titans creators, where they get to introduce new members.  For Krul it’s Solstice. She actually makes it into The New 52! version, although she hardly resembles this bright, shiny, hopeful version.

Back at the Tower, the Titans are engaging in a bit of R ‘n R… all except Cassie and Damian.  Cassie is busy following up on some research with the help of the Justice Society of America’s Dr. Mid-Nite, and Damian is… ya know, brooding.

Brooding, until he notices a bit of a hub-bub going down at a nearby Silicon Valley convention center.  Wondy gathers the troops, and Raven ‘ports them into the thick of things… but not before we have an interesting exchange on parentage between Robin and Ravager.  Their dynamic during this era is a ton of fun.

At the Tech Expo, the Titans confront their spotty-headed man.  Robin runs directly at him without thinking… and almost gets splatted on the floor for his impetuousness.  Gar shifts into a pterodactyl and pulls who we believes to be an innocent bystander out of harm’s way… but we astute readers will recognize him as the hoody-guy’s handler.

The baddie unleashes a burst of energy.  He then uses his powers to form all of the wreckage robotage into a swarm of insects.  

This manages to keep the Titans busy for a bit… however, the distraction is enough for Raven to sneak up behind the baddie and ‘port him to her “safe place”.

While there, they have a bit of a heart to heart.  The young man introduces himself as Barney.  Raven assures him he has no need to fear, and that he doesn’t need to be alone ever again… finally earning his trust.  So of course, when they return to the real world… Robin socks him right in the mush.

Which proves to be a pretty bad idea indeed… Barney bursts with energy before fleeing into the San Francisco sky.

When the dust settles, the Titans stand around Damian with “Smooth moves, ex-lax” looks on their face, while the lad looks bewildered.  To be continued…

I get so mad reading these issues… just knowing that we are less than a year away from DC flushing it all down the turlet.  This was such a great time for the Titans!  We had an amazing creative team in Krul and Scott, and… man, we had the history.  The characters had bonds to one another… there was lineage… inter-connectivity… just a great cohesive little corner of the DC Universe.

When this initially came out, I was still a bit on the fence about our young Damian Wayne.  It wasn’t until I saw him jawing with the Titans that I really got him.  I love his back and forth with his new teammates here… threatening to toss Beast Boy off the team, and telling Ravager he’ll take her other eye… so good!  The very fact that he walks into Titans Tower and just assumes he’s there to lead the team is amazing.  The big “reveal” that Damian would join the team (in Teen Titans #88) was great as well.  Maybe I’ll get to that one someday.

Upon rereading this, I was a bit disappointed when the team jumped into action.  I was hoping for more of the interpersonal stuff at the Tower… however, the action half of this book is absolutely vital to setting the stage for Damian’s learning a thing or three about what it’s like to be a part of a team.  Loved the ending!

Actually… strike that… loved the entire thing!  This really felt as though it was going to be a Titans Renaissance… and honestly, if not for The New 52!, I bet it would have been.  Krul’s writing here is spot-on, and Nicola Scott… c’mon, she’s just a gift.  Definitely among my top comics artists going today.  Criminally cut short… but immensely enjoyable while it lasted.  Definitely recommended.

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