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‘Titans #34’ (review)

Written by Dan Abnett
Illustrated by Bruno Redondo
Published by DC Comics

 

“You really are a piece of work Travesty.”

 

What a mess.

Looks like the Titans are in way over their heads.

Steel and Kyle Rayner have been taken prisoner, leaving Donna, Beast Boy, Miss Martian, and Raven alone to fend off an unending slathering horde of Unearth defenders. They’ve lost Ben Rubels on comms, along with his ace-in-the-hole navigational assistance.

And Mother Blood is monologuing.

That’s because her Master Plan has almost come to fruition.

The one in which Green Lantern’s first-hand knowledge of the Source, and Steel’s quantum navigational computing capabilities, are being literally bled from them (somehow) into a complete map of the multiverse, which – despite being bonded intimately with the Red that suffuses all organic life throughout the multiverse – Mother Blood apparently needs, in order to spread her influence across the whole of universal inter-dimensionaility.

Realizing, finally, her glorious dream of brutal multiversal conquest and domination.

Yeesh.

Talk about your bloodthirsty. Or your bloodlust. Poor Sonya Tarinka really does seem to have become a crazed homicidal maniac of utterly biblical proportions, due to her infusion of Source energy.

Really, all this errant Source energy sure has created a lot of problems. Someone oughta fix that hole in the Source Wall before things get any worse….

It remains a bit unclear yet exactly how Unearth itself will factor into Mother Blood’s Master Plan – other than as a lure for the Titans, apparently – though we’ve heard the term ‘sacrificial altar’ thrown around some, first by Mother Blood several issues ago, and now, strangely, by Donna Troy herself, who seems in her own POV narration to have somehow figured out the exact nature of the trap that Mother Blood has set for the Titans… without any discernible way of doing so.

So that’s weird.

Thankfully we do at last learn what’s happened to Raven and her Soul-self.

It’s…complicated. But you probably know that by now.

Apparently, Lord Travesty, in order to travel freely to Earth from his own realm, needed a proxy soul to stay behind in his, and that’s why Raven’s Soul-self remained trapped in Unearth after the team’s first visit there. Since then however, things became even more confusing as somehow Raven’s fully autonomous soul was then split into two separate aspects, each, again, embodied as another separate version of Raven.

The first embodied soul aspect is the ‘good and pure’ part of raven’s Soul-self, which for some reason is completely powerless on her own, and remains chained in Travesty’s custody for whatever warped torturous purposes we are only left to surmise by her evident distress.

The second part of Raven’s Soul-self however is the one in sync with her ‘demonic’ side. And not only does this side retain all the power and agency that the good part does not embody, but somehow Raven’s demonic soul has gone full schizo-split personality and now fashions herself as the cruel Commander Lenore, operating in full fealty to Travesty and Mother Blood, with no apparent recognition of her better half, even when their connection is revealed and explained right in front of her.

Also weird.

Thankfully Maker Ernest, the humble creator of Unearth (and nigh-omnipotent while in the realm of his own imagination) is getting wise to Mother Blood. Less understandable is just how much trust he chooses to place in Lord Travesty. Who after all, is performing exactly as he is written…

Make what you want of how all this crazy is finally coming to a head, it is worth reflecting that the broad strokes of this whole Titans run is, conceptually at least, rather brilliantly conceived, with much to be said for the sheer imaginative chops brought to bear by author Dan Abnett.

In practice, though, that hasn’t always panned out, creating a very uneven run, that has suffered from any number of production frustrations, not the least of which has been the very inconsistent artwork that never quite settled on a defining style for our team.

(And that continues this issue, unfortunately. Literally the best take on the team I’ve seen to date – including the best rendition of Gar’s most beastial side – is that of Tyler Kirkham and Arif Prianto, in this month’s variant cover. (The actual cover, by Mico Suayan and Blond isn’t half bad, mind you… even if it does appear to have been slapped on entirely the wrong issue…))

Perhaps it is for these reason that, sadly, the flagship title of the mature Titans team is coming to an end shortly.

Although with the Source Wall being obliterated over in Justice League recently, it does take away the team’s primary rationale – or overwhelms it beyond reason – so maybe this has been in the works all along.

Hard to say, but now that everything is crashing to a conclusion, it does feel almost as if Abnett himself is eager to just be done with the run, and moving on to greener pastures (…IN SPACE!! – see upcoming issues of Justice League Odyssey if that interests you as much as it does me), where he can stretch his legs and start anew. He even makes a sly little mea culpa to that effect, so we know it’s not all been to his liking.

Whatever the case, the result this month is a script that feels a little rushed and perfunctory, for all that it is chock-full of the big reveals, and a building crescendo of utter disaster for our team.

I’ll give Abnett this. Things look really bad. Like subjugation of the whole of Reality bad. As far as ‘Go big or go home’, this book surely delivers. Hard to see how the team’s going to get out of this one and save the day. For all of multiversal Reality.

Seriously, if there was ever a time to level up one wild card ace-in-the-hole, now would have to be it.

Next Issue: Raven takes back her time. (I hope.)

 

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