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‘Titans #27’ (review)

Written by Dan Abnett
Illustrated by Brent Peeples
and Matt Santorelli
Published by DC Comics

“We had a purpose. What the &%$* do we have now?

I’m not exactly sure what to write about this issue, except that I didn’t like it much.

That’s not terribly surprising, given how bleak a lot of it is.

To be fair to writer Dan Abnett, I can’t imagine he wanted to write this follow-up story to Batman #56, after what happened over there to Nightwing.

(And if you haven’t been reading Batman, why on Earth not? Go read it, and then come back here again. If you want. But go read it.)

You have to wonder exactly how long Abnett’s known that his Titans’ team leader was going to be spun right round out of his head with a bullet shot to the brain. (Hey, I told you to go read it.)

Surely, for at least a little while now.

But with all the story and character development, and all the dramatic tension, and just, the simple fact that Nightwing has been the entire lynchpin of this whole latest Titans escapade – learning that he was going to lose Dick Grayson halfway into his opening run must have been a bit like a gut-punch for Abnett.

It meant that he would have to, quite abruptly, find a good rationalization for this team to stay together and soldier on without Nightwing. And honestly, even with a handful of bi-monthly issues under our belt, they’re just… not quite there yet.

I mean given that they’re dealing with a world-wide crisis of epically dire proportions that no one else in the DCU seems capable of giving the time of day to, you’d think that would be good enough to do it. And Abnett definitely does try to sell it with that.

But he must have known that there just hasn’t been enough to come together yet for that to be quite enough. He as much comes out and says so in the character dialogue.

So instead we have a story that goes even further into the bleak and the terrible, doubling down on the tragedy of the hour, as if by giving our ragtag family of heroes a rallying point to hang their hopes and misery on, it will make up for having anything of Dick Grayson himself there to grieve for.

Which doesn’t work. It feels forced, it feels contrived, it feels unnecessary, and as a result a lot of the emotional moments that Abnett is more or less required to set up and hang the issue on, just sort of fall flat.

Too bad Raven doesn’t have her empathic soul-self powers any more. Except… this isn’t Raven. Right? This is… Prince Travesty. ….Right? Who presumably is playing Raven’s role to such a committed degree, it’s actually hard to tell if there really is a subterfuge underway at all, or if instead, we’ve all just missed a chapter somewhere along the way. That’s strange enough, but to have that going on throughout the team coming to terms with Nightwing is really confusing. Now, not only is ‘Raven’ grieving her lack of powers, she’s also grieving her lack of any empathic capacity with which to feel for the loss of her friend. Which she does with rather dramatic agony. I guess to be convincing. Which she sort of is.

It’s just weird.

Of course, then there’s Donna. And, oh right, Wally and Roy. Given the events in Heroes in Crisis #1 (Yes, go read that too), you have to imagine that Donna’s beginning to feel that all her worst fears are coming to pass. Which can’t be good. Gar’s getting ready to explode (probably rather literally), M’gnn is an alienated alien, Steel doesn’t have much emotional motivation herself, Ben Rubel is just wandering around…

But, we soldier on I guess. A painful, awkward issue, and the repercussions of it all will continue I’m sure. (Unless hey, some of that cosmic Source-energy goop can be used to kickstart Dick’s personality back into the foreground of his consciousness…? No? Yeah – that’s too bad.)

Anyway, we won’t have much time to think about it, because other events in the DCU are about to overtake our team in rather spectacular fashion, and at the same time usher in the presence, if not the serenity, of an old friend. Maybe just in time.

Next Issue: Drops in the ocean…

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