WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Titans #28 by Dan Abnett, Clayton Henry, Marcelo Maiolo and Dave Sharpe, on sale now.
With the DC Universe rocked by the recent events of Drowned Earth, all hands are needed on deck. The Justice League has accidentally released the cosmic Sea Gods, a cabal known as the Triumvirate whom the Atlanteans and Amazons fought off centuries prior. As a result, a great flood is washing over the Earth, mutating anyone it touches into mindless, violent sea creatures.
One team stepping up to the challenge is the Titans, but as much as they want to help, their new leader makes them more of a liability than anything. With the team rocked by the loss of Nightwing, the person who's taken charge turns out to be the worst candidate for the job.
Tempest, or Garth as most fans know him, was Aquaman's sidekick for years. Aqualad, the moniker he took back then, patrolled the seas with the king of Atlantis, honing his trade and learning what it meant to be a superhero. He'd then go on to help form the Titans when he realized he outgrew his duty with his king. Since then, he's had quite a testy relationship with Aquaman, often butting heads over politics, the women in their life, and how they should coexist with the surface world. Though it all, the Titans has been Garth's true north and moral compass. Thankfully, after DC Rebirth, Garth wasn't retconned out as a founding member of the Titans, a vision he shared alongside iconic leader Dick Grayson, Roy Harper (Arsenal), Donna Troy, Lilith Clay and Wally West.
In Titans #28, Garth's back, ready to turn the tide against the invading army sent by the Triumvirate. But with Nightwing recovering from a serious injury, and Roy and Wally dead due to Heroes in Crisis, Garth forcibly assumes command of the team from Donna, thinking he knows what's best for the mission. With Aquaman missing too, his grief is all-too apparent, and he takes his anger out on the team's less experienced members: Beast Boy, Raven, Miss Martian and Steel.
They're skeptical of his rash decisions, but Donna vouches for Garth, even as she sees his stubborn nature endangering everyone else in the field. Deep down, she knows this isn't the Garth she's used to, as he's never been someone to bully the team into a plan. In this case, invading one of the Triumvirate's ships ironically ends up turning into the kind of disaster the Titans were assembled to prevent.
On the ship, Garth insists they explore, even as the Titans warn him going in blind is a mistake. Just as they feared, they end up facing a Sea God known as Drogue, who's more powerful than their entire unit combined. Garth realizes his error, and he tries to buy the Titans time to escape, only for Drogue to boot him off the ship and into the ocean -- which means he'll be mutated soon enough. The team's left with no choice but to teleport blindly on the final page, using experimental boom tube technology, which as Steel indicates, means they could end up lost anywhere in the galaxy.
Letting Garth run amok like this is also a stark indictment on Donna's leadership, as the League expected her to take control in Nightwing's absence. It's now painfully obvious she's not up to the task, which we got hints of earlier in this run when we saw her hiding alcoholic tendencies. It's also very disappointing to see Garth disregard whatever leadership qualities he learned from Aquaman as well by treating his teammates like pawns.
Garth's botched leadership exposes another major issue with the Titans, though. We're slowly seeing they may not be as capable in handling large-scale threats as the League thought they would be. Without the ever-reliable Nightwing, they're coming apart at the seams, and sadly, the Titans might need a bigger overhaul than first assumed, starting from the top down.