Poor “Teen Titans.” For a book that should be energetic and fun — something that the early issues of the comic had with Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth — the book now goes from one grim moment to the next. And with the announcement that the title is shutting down at the end of April (no doubt to be replaced with something new), it’s a moment where it’s hard to keep from giving off a sigh of relief. “Teen Titans” #27 is in many ways an example of everything that’s going wrong with the title as of late.
The current “Teen Titans” storyline involves the trial of Kid Flash, as he is revealed to be a bit of a terrorist in his fight against the government. With his snarling lines and his lack of respect for the lives of others, it’s hard to find a connection between the current Kid Flash and the one introduced in the earliest issue of the comic. It feels like this is an attempt to make the character unusable for the future; write him into such a corner that any future desire for a Kid Flash will have to be with someone entirely different. (Perhaps not coincidentally, DC Comics recently announced that Wally West will be making his debut in the New 52 line of comics later this year.)
But in the end, this is hardly an isolated incident with “Teen Titans.” Lobdell’s been proverbially salting the earth here, as one by one the characters become toxic. Raven’s sole goal is to destroy the team, Superboy’s been replaced with a mad killer, and now Kid Flash is a character who screams, “Kill them all!” What audience, exactly, is this supposed to attract? It’s all the more mind-boggling when you remember that there’s a popular, light-hearted “Teen Titans Go!” show on Cartoon Network right now. While there’s a tie-in title for younger to check out, it’s hard to reconcile the two comics with one another. If anything, it makes the need to end this title and start over with something fresh all the more apparent.
I feel bad for Kirkham, Scott McDaniel and Art Thibert here, who are doing their best with a bad situation. Kirkham’s depiction of Solstice — someone that hasn’t ever looked quite right after Booth left the title — is about the closest the title’s gotten to another artist being able to really capture the look of the character. He’s managed to pull off both the smoky plume of her hair and the strange cracks on her body, and her distressed look on her face as she and Robin discuss what’s happened to Kid Flash works well. Likewise, when we first see Kid Flash in this issue, there’s such a nasty look of malice radiating off of the page that it goes a long way towards explaining why he’s so reprehensible. There’s so much hate and disdain in his eyes and the tilt of his jaw that I feel that Kirkham and company, at least, are following along with the script they’ve been given.
Lobdell’s narration for “Teen Titans” #27 explains the idea of the team early on and then notes, “It can be argued, lately, they’ve lost the plot.” Truer words were never written. This title, pre-“The Harvest,” was fun. Hopefully a new creative team can come along later this year and find that once more.