Teen Titans (vol.3) #½ (2004)
Writer – Geoff Johns
Penciller – Ivan Reis
Inker – Marc Campos
Colors – Sno-Cone
Letters – Comicraft
Associate Editor – Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Not gonna be a big preamble today… spent most of the day between the Emergency Pet Hospital and family vet with our Pug. We were afraid he had a stroke which caused him to lose motor function in his hind legs, however, they feel it’s more likely that he slipped a disk. Had some blood drawn to rule out “valley fever”, and will proceed from there. As I sit here typing, he appears to be in high spirits, and is acting more like his old self… though he is clearly annoyed to be locked up in his crate.
Anyhoo… after bumming us all out, let’s take a look at another fabled “one half” issue from our friends at Wizard Magazine.
We open with a flashback some eighteen years ago in Cambodia. We are with Slade Wilson and his team while they attempt to escort a young woman named Lilian into Thailand. As they proceed they walk into a hail of bullets, one of which grazes Slade’s head. The scene then shifts to a quick and dirty history of the Teen Titans, including events such as the original Ravager’s death, the Titans Hunt, the Superboy clone, and Bart Allen being kneecapped by the Terminator.
Next up we join Rose Wilson as she shares a meal with her foster parents. It would seem as though she’s had a pretty rough day at school as her folks received a call informing them she’d been in a(nother) fight. She claims the fella whose arm she broke had it coming for being a pervert. The parents agree, and Rose hugs her mother… who winds up getting shot in the head. A moment later, her dad gets one too.
Turns out Rose has an assassin tracking her. It’s a man using the Ravager name who claims to be Slade Wilson’s brother… Wade. Wait, Wade… Wilson? Nonono, this is Wade DeFarge.
Just then the Teen Titans crash through the wall of the house. Certain members seem to be quite happy in light of the grave situation… lookin’ at you Robin and Kid Flash. They take down the new Ravager with relative ease… all the while destroying Rose’s home, not to mention burying her foster-folks under the debris of their own house. Before the Titans can detain the Ravager, an arrow whizzes into the window in what must be the only wall still standing. The arrow leaks gas, kayoing the Titans.
When the teens come to, they have a somewhat contentious conversation regarding whether or not Rose is worth saving. Superboy is especially adamant against it, claiming that all the Wilsons are beyond help. He then rattles off past members of the team who should never have been recruited, including Raven, Duela Dent, and our old friend Terra. This is a nice little scene, though, c’mon Kon, at this point you’ve been a Titan for about twelve minutes.
We catch up with Rose Wilson as she wakes up on a couch in what looks like a rundown warehouse. Before her stands her father, and her would-be captor is off to the side tied to a chair. Slade hands her a gun, with which he expects her to kill his brother Wade. Rose refuses… well… she refuses to do it with the gun, and instead requests Deathstroke’s sword. Uh oh.
We wrap up with the Titans considering calling off the hunt as they haven’t been able to track Rose down… this scene bleeds into one where Rose and Slade are hugging… and Deathstroke has one helluva satisfied smile on his face.
Now this is more like it. When we discussed the one-half issue of Flash yesterday, I mentioned that I thought it should have been written with at least a bit of an eye toward the new reader… while still moving the story ahead for the seasoned fan. While I feel Flash struggled, Teen Titans excelled. We were able to get a bit of expositional dialogue which would certainly help get a curious Wizard Magazine reader interested in following the monthly exploits of these Teens. For long-time fans such as myself, I feel there was some decent character work here that justified the purchase/sending-away for.
The story is a bit, and I’m not sure if I can make this make sense… shallow. It’s an action bit with some conversational catch-up placed in the background of a Rose/Slade story. I say “shallow” because I feel that while the issue notes that the story within falls between issues #- and #- of the ongoing Titans series, I do not feel like you lose anything if you read it “out of order”. That is to say, even if this mail-away issue arrives after you’ve read the “bookend” issues, you won’t really lose anything. This can be read as having taken place in the present, or the past. I think that’s the best way for a one-half issue to shoehorn itself into a series.
Johns’ dialogue and storytelling is pretty great all throughout. I think most people feel he was born to write Green Lantern, but I’d argue it’s books like this he’s best suited for. His (relatively) contemporary Titans work can stand up among the all-time greats. The art here is pretty great, however, perhaps a bit too “posy” for me… especially in the two-page spread. I’m looking at Kid Flash “making love to the camera” while bursting through a wall of a house wherein Rose Wilson’s foster-family was just shot dead. I don’t think any of the Titans should be smiling at that point… but what do I know. right?
Overall, this is a great “extra” issue of Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans. Ain’t never gonna be anything wrong with that. I’m shocked to find that it is available digitally… and has been collected as part of the Teen Titans omnibus and trade paperback.