I still don't like the fact that this - how did Giffen label it in the latest "Doom Patrol"? "Sugar-coated gore whammies," I think -- flies under the title of "Titans," but there's no denying that this title is packing in a lot of story. The art is dusty and gritty, so much so that I almost expect the paper to feel like sandpaper, but it doesn't.
To this point, Deathstroke has strung his team along, dangling promises out in front of them, goading them into serving him. This issue gives Richards a chance to claim his vengeance, and he does so, in Deathstroke's name. Richards' struggles, both internal and against Slipknot, is painted up against Osiris' quest to bring his sister back to life.
Fiorentino's art is realistic under a brutally rough coating, but is given a great deal of latitude to play in the world around these "Titans." Fiorentino depicts the story of Mark Richards and his living tattoos. The emotion that Fiorentino filters through his characters comes through and Tattooed Man's rage is nearly palpable as he unleashes his fury against Slipknot. The gritty realism of Fiorentino's work is countered by that of Philip Tan, brought on this issue to render the struggles of Osiris. The finish - the pencil shading and wash inks - holds a similar weight to the Tattooed Man's tale, but Tan makes his story louder and flashier. This, naturally, is boosted by the fact that Osiris' powers are lightning-based and derived. Both artists pack some neat, atypical (for comics) imagery into this issue and both successfully communicate the brutality their characters are prone to.
Brutality seems to be the key word here. Tattooed Man shows no mercy in his battle with Slipknot. Osiris doesn't even comprehend mercy in his battle with would-be thieves. Deathstroke is merely testing his "team," ensuring that they still have the stomach to serve his vile purposes. It's the brutality of this story that keeps any of these characters from being worthy of sympathy. These characters may have all clung to humanity at one point, but in this issue Wallace washes that humanity away. He does so in a manner that's not for the squeamish, as this issue contains at least a pair of dismemberments.
"Titans" is no more worthy of the title following this issue than it was before, but this run of "Titans" certainly has a theme it is running with. I still find no redeeming qualities to any of these characters, but given the final page reveal and the stories set in motion here, I am growing more intrigued by this series with each issue. I just wish it weren't so gory.