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‘Teen Titans #36’ (review)

Written by Adam Glass 
Art by Bernard Chang
Published by DC Comics

 

“I wish I could take it back… I truly do.”

 

But you can’t Billy. And unfortunately for you, you’re dealing with a team of kids who… don’t do well with betrayal.

Last issue we learned the surprising fact that Roundhouse is not, in fact, secretly The Other – the shadowy criminal mastermind responsible for coordinating a wide swath of supervillain activity, and at least one of the reasons (apparently) that Robin brought together his latest team of Titans in the first place.

In fact, it seems that Billy Wu isn’t even really all that much of a bad guy after all. Only sort of a bad guy.

See, Billy’s misunderstood. And in pain. With a few remarkably glaring blind spots around the ethics of deceit, manipulation and coercion apparently.

The one real saving grace for Billy is that he wasn’t wrong. Damian Wayne has indeed managed to co-opt his teammates into a disturbingly draconian control fantasy of his very own – using Djinn’s power to rewrite the basic personality of their captured villains. Whether they want it or not.

So, it’s not like anyone is blameless at this point.

No getting around the fact though, that Roundhouse’s methods were brutal, with… severe consequences. And no matter how contrite he may manage to sound now, it’s hard to get past the knowledge that not only has he proven himself to be an exceptional dissembler, he’s also apparently just effing brilliant in most every other thing he applies himself to as well. No one to trifle with, in other words.

So now Billy is locked down in the team’s old dungeon, wearing chains that shouldn’t really hold him, working his angles with anyone who comes into earshot.

It’s not a good look for Roundhouse. In part because at this point it’s just a little hard to know what to believe. Or what could possibly redeem him.

Unfortunately for the rest of the team, Roundhouse isn’t their only member who’s gone off the rails. Crush is on a rampage, thanks to big daddy Lobo who now has complete control over his daughter thanks to their common DNA and the fiendish gifts of Lex Luthor.

Brrr. Yuck. Sorry, but that’s severely creepy.

And, speaking of consequences, it’s also very bad for the team. Because apparently Lobo still has a contract on the kids to fulfill. The one he took from The Other.

But… that’s good for us! Because finally we ourselves are introduced to The Other on these very pages for the very first time.

It’s a splendidly creepy take on dark and malevolent mystery of DC’s newest face of evil courtesy of Bernard Chang. The only thing better is the spread of three separate, truly excellent covers for the issue this month, each featuring some version of Lobo and Crush, which makes me appreciate the design of Crush’s costume even more than before.

So, despite last month’s head fake, (Adam Glass appears to be good at those), it appears now that things are going to come to head after all, and fairly quickly. In fact, we’re told that next month the identity of The Other will finally be revealed.

Who could it be? I guess the usual suspects are all accounted for at this point. So, who does that leave? Well it could be someone with no ties whatsoever to the team.

But this is the Titans, so what are the chances of that?

Nope, far more likely there’s some family ties here. And right now, which ties exactly, are anyone’s guess.

Still just off the top, I can think of at least two fathers (maybe three), two mothers, and at least one brother that could easily fit the bill. That’s a lot of people. Any one of whom could be behind the mask on The Other’s face.

Match that with the oriental feudal stronghold the kids have been delivered to, and, well, the possibilities narrow down pretty quickly to a few very interesting possibilities.

Each of which come with significant consequences for Damian Wayne and his dysfunctional team of superkids.

Next Issue: Retributions, all the way down.

 

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