Eric Wallace continues to present the tales of Deathstroke’s villainous team in this month’s Titans “The Fate We Make.” I find it amusing that this is yet another book where the characters in it never use the name on the cover, like the Birds of Prey until recently, the Gotham City Sirens, and various other books. At any rate, the not-Titans were all gathered by Slade Wilson with various promises which he’s finally started keeping.+Continue Reading
The Titans title continues its fight in Arkham and finishes assassinating the character who used to be Roy Harper in issue #30, “Family Reunions Part Three.” The riot rages through the building as one of the guards tries to persuade Dr. Sinner (really, who names these people?) that the situation is out of hand, and she insists they can take care of it themselves. Elsewhere, Slade explains to Allegra that he was hired by her actual father, a former villain named Wavelength, who she had been told was dead.+Continue Reading
“Family Reunions” is the title of this week’s Titans issue, as Deathstroke and company face off against the freed inmates of Arkham and the man who put about all of them there- the Batman. Much of the issue is dominated by the Deathstroke vs Batman fight, which is even more interesting considering that Batman is now Dick Grayson, who has fought Slade for years. They seem fairly even matched throughout. In one interlude, Ray Palmer continues to investigate Ryan Choi’s disappearance, finding blood when he goes down to the microscopic scale.+Continue Reading
The all-new, all villainous incarnation of the Titans moves along with issue 27, “Lost and Found.”+Continue Reading
In honor of Father’s Day, I thought it might be nice to take a look at some of the finest – and not so fine – specimens of fatherhood in the comic universe. I chose five of each, in no particular order. So, onto the dads. Worst first!
Titans: Villains For Hire Special Review
With practically all the Titans jumping ship to join the JLA, the book is being overhauled into something called Titans: Villains for Hire. This week, a special was released for the new book, written by Wallace Fiorentino, a name I personally don’t recognize. This gives us the new line up, and how they were recruited.
Entitled “The Best Laid Plans,” this issue features a lot of “Now” and “Earlier” jumping around, which is a plot device I’m getting a bit tired of. After a one page opening of Slade Wilson, Deathstroke, seemingly musing into his sword blade, we see the Ryan Choi Atom fighting a foe of from Ray Palmer’s rogues gallery, the Floronic Man. Ryan beats him handily, but one quibble- part of what he uses to do it is a cigarette lighter- not a disposable plastic one, but a good metal one. When did he start carrying that around? Last I knew, he couldn’t do Hank Pym’s (or Iota’s) trick of shrinking objects for storage.
Ryan goes over his life for synopsis purposes, and then goes home, walking in his front door to see Deathstroke pointing a shotgun at him saying “Sorry, kid, it’s not personal. It’s business.” Ryan, wisely, shrinks and runs, trying to get to his JLA signal device. In the kitchen he runs afoul of a gorgeously drawn Cheshire, who pulls a sword on him. Again, when did she start using that? We then flashback to Romania, where Cheshire is fighting some foes, sloppily for her. Deathstroke steps in, saves her, says she’s lost her edge since Lian died (in the somewhat controversial conclusion of Cry for Justice), and he can help her.
Choi fights Cheshire well, using his powers for an edge, and again tries to flee, this time stopped by the current Tattooed Man. Even in the midst of fighting for his life, Choi notices that Deathstroke is watching, not fighting. Smart man, Ryan Choi. Again, we do the flashback recruitment, this time following up on the Final Crisis Ink series. I didn’t get that one, but apparently Tattooed Man’s son died in this, as we see him at the funeral, and his wife blaming him for the death. Slade again pops up, says he knows what it’s like to lose a child, and offers to help track down Slipknot, who evidently killed the boy.
The Atom fights valiantly, but when he tries to shrink away, Deathstroke hits him with some kind of sonic weapon, forcing him back to normal size. The newest player, a first timer as far as I know called Cinder, then destroys Ryan’s “Bang Stick,” a combination weapon/vehicle he used in his own book. You guessed it, we see her recruitment, which was kinda odd and wrong. She went to bed with a guy and THEN turned on her fire powers to kill him. Ick. She hints that her victim likes little girls, and Slade uses the “I can help you get monsters you can’t reach, politicians, cardinals, kings” approach, then tells her she can’t burn them away no matter how hard she tries.” Clearly, some reference to an as yet unknown back story.
The next scene shows that Deathstroke has some actual morals and class, at least at times. Atom’s girlfriend comes knocking on the door, the others are about to use her for a hostage, and Slade commands them to stand down, and allows Ryan to send her away. There’s a great exchange of Ryan “I don’t get it” looking very puzzled and Slade “I told you. It’s just business.” After she’s gone, Ryan thanks Slade, who says she wasn’t the mission, killing him was. The floor is destroyed under Ryan as someone reaches up and pulls him down.
Formulaically, the new team mate is Osiris, who we see Slade get to join by promising to help him restore Black Adam and Isis, still trapped as statues as seen in the JSA book a while back. Osiris reflects that he died and came back, and doesn’t know why, and Slade offers to help find out.
The assembled team attacks, with one very nicely done double page spread of Atom being surrounded by them, his JLA device not working, evidently jammed by Slade. Even after taking a brutal beating, Ryan fights on, grabbing Slade and shrinking them both (again, can he do that?). Ryan thought he’d have the edge that way, but as Slade explains “I fought Ray Palmer, which means I know moves you haven’t even thought of.” Slade beats him, somehow forces them back to normal size, and runs Ryan through with his sword. Ryan dies, defiant to the end.
The next day, Slade delivers Ryan’s corpse, in a matchbox, to the latest Atom’s foe, Dwarfstar (oddly, now appearing in Secret Six). I don’t know if this was Slade being clever or an artist error, but I note the body did NOT have the size changing belt anymore. Still later, the team is at a meeting table (when did it become mandatory for teams, good and bad, to sit around in a board room?) with Slade telling them it took too long to kill him. He calls them Titans, and when asked, says the name is personal. The issue ends with a to be continued in Titans 24.
What I liked and what I didn’t:
The art was good. Slade being more than a one dimensional “I will kill you now” bad guy was nice to see, like his differing approaches for his recruits, and his allowing Ryan to save his girlfriend. Also, Slade is using his blasting staff again, which was a constant feature of his arsenal in his early appearances, and hasn’t been around in a while. I liked that. Ryan Choi was shown as a determined, skilled hero, who was simply outmatched. In his defense, that particular team striking as a surprise could likely drop most foes, and possibly several teams.
What I didn’t: a few too many “Hey, since when…” Like Ryan and the lighter, Cheshire and the sword, Ryan shrinking others. Cinder apparently runs around naked in combat, using her fire/lava transformation to prevent her from making it an adult book. As in the Rise of Arsenal book, Cheshire, the mistress of poisons, gets in a good shot with her claws, drawing blood, but it doesn’t kill him. I don’t know if this is some new editorial edict, but each time a character pops up for the first time, both here and in Birds of Prey this week, there is a bit about codename and powers. Slade’s misses his healing and immortality, Cheshire neglects her triple jointedness (but lists her martial arts, where Slade’s said nothing about his skills). Tattooed Man’s flashback shows Slipknot with two arms, although one was blown off way back in Suicide Squad. Cinder’s bedroom scene had the magically disappearing bra, which was a bit odd. Deathstroke’s mask has an eye cover that is randomly see through or not throughout the issue. And once again, it’s “Hey, I know… let’s kill a hero currently not really being used to show how tough our bad guys are.” Did DC forget how to do other stories? I hope we at least see a funeral for Ryan down the road. I’m going to get the next issue, but mostly out of curiosity.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|some good history and characterizations||art glitches, OOC abilities and weapons, very formulaic story|
Roll Call: Deathstroke, Ravager IV
Villains: various Black Lantern Ravagers and others (this is your spoiler warning)
Titled “A Family Affair,” this is a rather odd issue in many respects. None of the current Teen Titans actually show up in the issue for one thing, and the cover is my nomination for most misleading of the year, as no one pictured on it shows up, either. This issue is all about Deathstroke and his supporting cast. But wait, you may be saying, about everyone close to him is dead. True, but this is also a Blackest Night tie-in. As seems to be par for the course for many of these tie ins, the issue starts with the reflections of a character being brought back by the Black Lantern rings, reliving their life through the “memory download.” In this case, it’s Wintergreen, Slade’s former friend/butler. Actually, I always thought the Slade/Wintergreen relationship was about the closest the “bad guys” had to a Bruce/Alfred dynamic, but that’s another story. We see Wintergreen’s take on the highlights and lowlights of their time together, and then he is commanded to “Rise!” like the various other Black Lanterns throughout the DCU of late.
We then cut to what looks like it could be the Addams’ Family house, but it seems to be one of Slade’s many safehouses. He’s sitting in a chair by the fire, reading Wintergreen’s journal, going over his death at Slade’s possessed hands. Slade goes to the window and, in the flicker of lightning from the mandatory mood setting storm, he sees Ravager (Rose) outside, staring at him. Of course, they fight, with the usual guilt trips, recriminations, excuses, and justifications we seem to get whenever these two get together. He tells her she’s in danger, the dead are rising and he figures some are coming for him. Just as she finally beats him, standing over him with a gun she managed to get off him, an off panel voice says “If you’re really planning on killing Slade, you’d better get in line.” Enter BL Ravager I, Slade’s oldest son Grant, who died WAY back in New Teen Titans 2 and recently reappeared in one of Booster Gold’s fix the past missions. Grant, like the other BL’s, can regenerate rapidly from nearly any damage, making it hard for two fighters with normal weapons, no matter how good they are, to do anything to him. Rose stops fighting for a time, almost letting Grant kill Slade before stepping in on his side. Rose then gets attacked by Wade, yet another dead Ravager (III, Slade’s half brother).
As Rose and Wade fight yet another Battle of the Ravagers, Slade is intercepted by Wintergreen and Slade’s ex-wife, Adeline Kane in all their Black Lantern glory. They don’t physically attack him, but mount a fantastic psychological attack, saying their deaths were not his fault, they were adults, they made their choices, but Rose is too young. He hasn’t been able to shield her from all the ugliness of his life, and the only way to really get away from her is to die. Rose fights Wade, each with their own agendas- Rose killed Wade after Wade killed Rose’s mother Lili. Rose manages to use the gas lines in the house to burn Wade to a cinder, and he doesn’t seem to regenerate from this. Grant then attacks again, and Rose tries burning him, too. Grant screams in pain from the flames, surprising Rose a bit, and he says of course he can feel pain, he’s alive, as suddenly Jericho/Joey, Slade’s other son/Rose’s brother, emerges from the fire with odd glowing green eyes, and we end on what can be story telling’s most frustrating three words- To be continued.
What I liked- Deathstroke is a favorite of mine, so I almost always like seeing him in action. His rich history was used well, and Rose almost letting him get killed and then stepping in was well done. Also, Wintergreen and Adeline could never fight him in life, so their BL versions are smart enough to try and psyche him out instead, which I could see them doing.
What I didn’t- I am really tired of Rose’s on again, off again vendetta against her father. She’s officially abandoned it only to return to it a few times now, and it’s getting old. I also don’t like Jericho as evil bad guy. I really think they should have left him dead. I”m hoping they will explain how he suddenly seems to have switched places with Grant during the fight, and how he has new glowing green eyes. If they are supposed to be Black Lantern versions of his eyeballs, I may well have to drive to New York to slap the entire editorial staff. The artwork was odd, and it took me awhile to figure out what I didn’t like. Rose was drawn well, and the Black Lanterns were suitably grotesque. It was Slade I didn’t like. He seems to have been drawn kind of blocky, not the lean mean fighting machine we’ve seen so much of, and elements are missing from his costume. If he’s planning on a major fight with zombies, for example, why is his almost always present chest bandolier missing? Wouldn’t you want MORE ammo in that situation, not less? I also don’t like the entirely misleading cover and the lack of the current team, as I mentioned above. And, to be honest, this whole Blackest Night thing isn’t doing much for me, and I’d be just as happy if it had confined itself to the specials and limited series and stayed out of my mainstream titles.
My prediction- this is set-up for Slade taking over the Titans book in the near future, and a possible reconciliation (again) with Rose, who may be joining, as there is still no word on who Slade’s team will consist of, just rumor and speculation on the DC boards. Just my guess. What’s yours?
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Deathstroke as the star||odd art, more Rose/Slade soap opera, more evil Jericho|