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‘Teen Titans #18’ (review)

Written by Benjamin Percy 
Illustrated by Alisson Borges 
Published by DC Comics

 

“What is it? What is the matter?”
“… Everything.”

And you wouldn’t think so. Not after this issue.

Because maybe not everything is to everyone’s liking. But a lot of good things seem to happen. Connection. Confidences. Trust.

The things you want to believe in. The things that make a difference.

Take Roundhouse. He’s got his BFF-KF (Kid Flash) over for dinner. And that’s a big deal.

Because in all the incongruous ways that make Billy Wu such an appealing character, he seems more terrified of his mother than most of the super-villains he’s encountered.

But things go well. And as a result, the friendship between Roundhouse and Kid Flash gets a little more real – and we get just a little bit more about the Billy Wu story. Albeit not too much. Not yet…

And there’s Crush and Red Arrow. Who share a common bond called rage, one that Crush is having a pretty hard time with right now, since she’s become aware of just how much of Djinn’s headspace seems to be occupied with Robin all the time.

If anything can spark Emiko’s compassion though, maybe Crush’s restless fury can do it. And so, we have a moment of shared understanding between these two very different, yet very similar, girls. The kind that forges bonds, however hesitant and awkward…

And then, of course, there’s Damian and Djinn. After the damage Robin suffered at the hands of his Bat-brother Jason Todd, the Red Hood, in last month’s Teen Titan’s Annual, Damian needs help. And unsurprisingly, there Djinn is, ready to give him everything he needs.

Only one catch. She needs his trust to do it.

Because… that’s how the magic works, she says.

And of course, trust is its own kind of magic. One that author Adam Glass understands well. It’s why his scripting, even in the down-time between action sequences, play so well. He knows what he’s doing. He knows that building these connections between his characters happens when defenses are down, and friendship is offered, and trust is built.

That’s been hard for Damian Wayne. It’s just not his style. But he’s hurting as bad as he’s ever been hurt, his confidence is shaken, and Djinn sees her chance.

But Damian needs more than this to prompt his willingness. So Djinn tells him a story. One very much like a fairy tale…

Getting the origin story of our magical genie princess is very satisfying after all this time, and indeed the tragedy and the peril of the tale she tells fits with everything that has come before – why she is reluctant to share her story, why she is beholden to a magic ring, why she cannot always use her power at full force. It’s a good story, one with lots of future storytelling potential.

And it works. Even Damian Wayne, it seems, is not immune to the romance of the Arabian tale we hear. And the result is both surprising, and a very heartening thing to see in our angry Boy Wonder.

I mean, usually. Usually it would be.

I just wish I didn’t have this bad, bad feeling.

I want to believe Djinn. I really do. And maybe everything we see this issue is everything it appears to be. Maybe she’s the sincere, good-hearted, and rather perilously victimized adolescent super-being she presents herself to be.

But then I think of her trip to the Batcave. And her confrontation with Emiko. And how easily she has gotten herself into the good graces of everyone else on the team. Even Crush, who is only peeved now, due to a mistake beyond Djinn’s control. One she has since taken very definitive care of…

I mean, maybe I’m misplacing my suspicions. Emiko is hardly above reproach herself. And it certainly is odd that she’s become a sudden hobbyist of carrier pigeons, of all things…X

It’s just… something smells… fishy.

Ah, maybe I’m being paranoid. Maybe I’m just cynical. Maybe I’m the one who needs a hug.

On the other hand, when suddenly ‘everything is wrong’, and that everything is named Deathstroke, well… let’s just say, I’m hoping that what’s about to happen, doesn’t fall into the category of ‘the past is prologue’ and ‘everything old is new again’.

Because Deathstroke has a very distinct, and very particular, history with the Titans.

One that has rarely ended well, for trusting souls…

Next Issue: Terminus take… Three? Four? What’s your agenda this time, Wilson?

 

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