Teen Titans #68

I've given up even trying to guess what's going to happen in an issue of "Teen Titans" these days. Every time there's a fun, upbeat issue, it seems to be followed almost instantly by something grim and extremely violent. Who knew a comic book series could be subject to mood swings? With the newest issue of "Teen Titans," we're given hope once more as Sean McKeever sets aside the Brother Blood story in favor of finally addressing Red Devil's soul being promised to Neron, and what that really means.

I'll admit that last month, the idea of a story starring Red Devil and Kid Eternity set in Hell seemed like a pretty bad idea, that it would probably be another downbeat, depressing story. What McKeever actually gives us, though, is a more or less satisfactory conclusion to Red Devil's story that Geoff Johns began several years ago. It's certainly not the obvious ending that was set up way back when, but at the same time it's a moment that feels right, a rare triumph for some of the characters in "Teen Titans." And while Kid Eternity feels like a strange addition to the book, McKeever does a good job in this issue of showing us just how he'd fit into the greater context of the series and it seems like something that would work.

It is more than a little odd, though, that it feels almost like "Teen Titans" #67 and #68 were written by two entirely different people. All of the guest-stars (both villains and aspiring new team members) have vanished in-between issues, and it doesn't look like any of them will be back next month either. It's a very odd sudden shift of plans, but then again, "Teen Titans" over the past year and a half could probably be summed up as a lot of sudden shifts of plans and tone. Hopefully this latest one will stick, but at the same time I can't help but be a little worried if everything will change yet again in a month or two.

Eddy Barrows's art is at its strongest yet here, and his work on "Teen Titans" will certainly be missed, although the jump to "Action Comics" next month is certainly a prestigious shift for him. It's easy to see why Barrows was offered "Action Comics" when you look at these pages; full of detail and beautifully expressive, he's able to make the scenes in Hell look both beautiful and terrifying without ever changing his style. On the other hand, Ed Benes' art in the "Origins & Omens" back-up feature comes across looking a bit rushed and dark. I'm not a big fan of Benes' art, but he's normally better than this.

It's too bad that there's a big crossover with "Titans" and "Vigilante" around the corner, because "Teen Titans" hasn't felt terribly stable for a while now, and this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to gain a new status quo. Hopefully things will calm down soon and we can get a cheerful, fun "Teen Titans" again. There are glimmers of it just lurking below the surface here; only time will tell if that's what we're finally receiving.

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