Teen Titans #19 Review

Story Title: Titans Tomorrow – Part 3: East Meets West (from the interior) or Running Out of Time (from the cover)

Written by: Geoff Johns
Penciled by: Mike McKone
Inked by: Marlo Alquiza
Colored by: Jeromy Cox
Lettered by: Comicraft
Associate Editor: Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC

DC’s Solicitation

The 3-part “Titans Tomorrow” concludes! The Teen Titans continue their desperate attempt to return home ten years in the past, where they’ve made a frightening decision about the future. But to protect this future, Batman, Superman and the other adult Titans are willing to sacrifice everything!

The Review

The Story

This was very much a “fanboy” arc. If you love comic super-heroes, this is a story you’ll like. Geoff Johns indulges in comic cliches here, and in the current issue of Green Lantern Rebirth (#3), BUT turns it on its head and delivers a solid yarn. This story has the 3 D’s that are essential for a super-hero story to be great: Depth, Daring-do, and Developments.

These type of cross-time capers are usually about younger selves meeting their older counterparts plus lots of action and daring-do. This is the case here. However, the Titans Tomorrow arc also adds a layer of depth and really explores how and what has made the characters that we know today evolve (or devolve) mentally and morally into their older jaded selves.

There are clear contrasts between young and old and its interesting to see who has stayed on the straight and narrow over the decade that transpired in this arc. The DC icons, Robin, Superboy and Wonder Girl, have inherited the mantles of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman in name-only. They are very much grim, gritty and amoral with some others from Titans of olde and soon-to-be’s at their sides. These are the future’s Titans West.

Their adversaries are, for lack of a better word, led by “just” one Titans icon, Cyborg 2.0, the man that Victor Stone (sans “2.0”) grows to be. He’s joined by a ragtag group of Titans B-Listers like Terra and Bumblebee plus more interesting DC luminaries like Fred Freeman, DC’s newest Captain Marvel (no “Jr.”) and a Batwoman (quoi?). Just what is her tie to the Titans mythology? Pick up this issue to find out. There are a handful of others too who all make up the future’s Titans East

There are little things revealed in passing in this issue like the previous / future (… ughn… head spinning from time paradoxes…) love triangle between Captain Marvel (Jr.?) and Wonder Woman (Girl?) and Superman (boy?).

Another intriguing bit? That the Batman Tim Drake grows to be has no reservations about torture or using handguns. His gun of choice? The gun used to kill Thomas and Martha Wayne, the parents of Bruce Wayne, DC’s first and greatest Batman.

Seeing the Titans of today try to understand or even rationalize what they become is very compelling.

We also see, as the arc resolves, foreshadowing with regards to some ongoing back burner plot lines like Superboy and his ongoing struggle with his nefarious Lex Luthor side. Will his Superman side be supplanted? Is the future of Titans Tomorrow cast?

Also, the depth of commitment between the modern day Tim Drake and Kon-el grows. Does this lead to the pact of their future selves in Titans Tomorrow? Does it set the ball in motion or the events that will negate the time of Titans Tomorrow?

The depth and developments in this action-packed arc are enthralling and pulled me in.

The Art

Penciller McKone can do next to no wrong on the art side. Sadly, this may very well be his last issue on Teen Titans as he has signed an exclusive contract with DC’s marvelous competitor.

He is a strong storyteller. The action is fluid and dynamic at the same time. As well as sober and frenetic. Its a balance not many pencillers can deliver, but McKone can since he’s a years-in-the-business “over-night” sensation (like fellow former Valiant Comics penciller and new “it” penciller Rags Morales).

McKone’s pencils will be missed. He makes the Titans look like teens not smaller adults as many of his contemporaries. Plus, he really delivers the emotion and iconic feel of the fanboy battles in this issue: Robin vs. Batman, Superboy vs. Superman, Superman vs. Captain Marvel, and others. They are tempered with equally emotion-infused subdued moments like those that involve Robin and Batwoman, and Flash and his younger Kid Flash self.

There is one nitpick on McKone’s work in this issue though: he makes the adult woman (future) Ravager on page 8 look like a man. Other than that, its another stellar McKone outing.

Thank you for your fine work on the Teen Titans Mr. Mike McKone. You will be missed.

As always, Marlo Alquiza inks enhance McKone’s pencils and the coloring of Jeromy Cox is vibrant, rich, and is noticeably gorgeous, but in a complementary not distracting way. Brilliant.

The art on this issue, from pencils to lettering, are typically solid.

Who replaces McKone permanently on pencils for this series will be key to continuing the energetic momentum of the series.

So…

While I think this whole issue and the arc were relatively well executed, and recommended for readers, I feel that the payoff could have been more bold. I was hoping that with the cover of the adult Bart Allen Flash with the Teen Titans that one of the future Titans would get “stuck” in the past when the teens inevitably returned home (that’s not a real spoiler since we knew they were going to get back somehow). Maybe Kid Flash could have been trapped in the future?

There is a virtual reset button at the end of this issue where things go back to the way they were… sorta. I just feel that when you deliver on a comic cliche like time travel stories, in the superb way that Geoff Johns did, that there should be a lasting impact or one that sets up a future story line at least, i.e. Titans Tomorrow II or whatever.

That aside, and this likely being penciller Mike McKone’s last issue of Teen Titans, you owe it to yourself, if you LOVE super hero comics, to pick up this issue and the two preceding ones and experience the superb collaboration of Geoff Johns and McKone in particular. We won’t see it for some time again.

Pick it up. Enjoy the ride.

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