WARNING: This article contains spoilers for Titans #26 by Dan Abnett, Brent Peeples, Matt Santorelli, Hi-Fi and Dave Sharpe, on sale now.
As much as the Justice League is viewed as DC’s premier team of superheroes, the Titans are proving to be just as critical to the safety of Earth — and the entire multiverse — following the events of No Justice. That’s because Nightwing’s team has been trying to repel the cosmic energy that’s been seeping into the planet since the Source Wall broke.
Come Titans #26, we find out it’s not just about residual energy being sought out and mopped up. The Titans have found themselves running up against a familiar group of DC villains and, more importantly, a cult that’s managed to weaponize this energy and use it to raise an army of lethal proportions.
This group is none other than the Church of Blood, which is now going by the name “the Blood Cult.” This time, it’s no longer run by Brother Blood, but is instead led by Mother Mayhem. On a mission in Norway, Nightwing leads Donna Troy, Beast Boy and Miss Martian on a quest to investigate a village where they’re picking up energy signatures, only for blood-covered creatures to attack them.
These entities are fast, they regenerate and they also use psychic powers on the heroes, leaving them scrambling for cover. However, the Titans quickly discern that these monsters are driven by a unique radio signal and they track the source. Rubel, the resident genius and tech junkie Nightwing brought along, locates the device and Steel follows up the prodigy’s findings by smashing the transmitter to pieces.
However, as the signal is destroyed, the creatures fall and their true nature is exposed, revealing they were actually the Norwegian townsfolk. The Titans realize, via the ritualistic marks on the bodies, they were sacrificed by the Blood Cult and used as offerings to be mutated into these new monsters. Donna figured out part of the cult’s plan in the last issue and we finally see the extent to which they’ll go, merging science and dark magic in an attempt to take over the planet.
The Titans may have escaped Mother Mayhem’s schemes on this occasion, but barely so, as Miss Martian is scarred from the mental attacks and the rest of the squad is visibly shaken from the fight. They can’t even bank on Raven, who’s literally not herself these days and isn’t fully ready for the field. In other words, the Titans may have bitten off more than they can chew this time around.
The heroes are shocked at how innocent victims have been turned into blood zombies, causing Nightwing to ponder the next step forward as he knows deep down his unit is out-manned here. The Church of Blood worshipped Trigon (ironically Raven’s demonic father) in the past, and now with Brother Blood (the man who wanted to use his followers to achieve immortality and passed the mantle down over the ages) gone, it’s uncertain which version of Mother Mayhem this is. In the DC Rebirth era, the cult’s personnel, just like its name, could have been upgraded in ways we don’t know yet and the old legacy may truly be gone. This Mother Mayhem may not even be Brother Blood’s wife anymore.
It’s odd that these villains haven’t gone after Raven yet, as she has been one of their usual targets in the past, further hinting this iteration has new ambitions and is focused on consolidating power. With the change in the cult’s modus operandi still to be fully explained, one can hope the Titans have an ace or two up their sleeves, because with the League wrapped up in the drama of the Totality, Nightwing’s charges may be the only available force to foil Mother Mayhem’s plot in the near-future. And as it stands, unfortunately, they don’t seem presently equipped to mount this counterattack.
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