Friday, May 17, 2019

Teen Titans #86

Miss Martian's Wyld

Felicia D. Henderson Writer
José Luís Penciller
Mariah Benes Inker
Marcelo Maiolo Colorist
Sal Cipriano Letterer
Joe Prado with Rod Reis Cover
Rachel Gluckstern Editor

Our cover brings a hasty end to the stint of Luís drawing his own covers. This image by Prado finally puts Raven front and center — remember, she's the whole focus of this story, right? However, I can't tell if Raven is saving her teammates or causing them to writhe in pain. Of course, it wouldn't be a Teen Titans cover without some errors. Bombshell is still in the belly of a beast at the bottom of the sea and Miss Martian is back in Titans Tower. And, frankly, I don't think any of these characters look that good. They all seem a little off.

Our 75th anniversary cover by Michael Allred honors the original Teen Titans in all their glorious campiness of the 1960s. It's a cute, bright change of pace from this dark and dour journey to rescue Raven from the Wyld.

Our story picks up where we left off, with Miss Martian falling under control of the Wyld in Titans Tower. Although last issue clearly showed that Doctors Rochelle and Vincent Barnes were also possessed, in this issue, they are completely in control of their own faculties. The Wyld, for some reason, demands to have the helmet taken of Megan's head. Megan regains control, saying she always knew the Wyld was inside of her, which is why she didn't join the search for Raven. She then warns the doctors that she can't hold off the Wyld much longer. But instead of running, the doctors pull the helmet off Megan, at which point the Wyld takes control once again.

The Wyld promptly picks up Vincent by the throat, and when Rochelle tries to tranquilize Megan from behind, she drops Vincent and knocks down Rochelle in one smooth motion. Before Rochelle can get back on her feet, the Wyld jabs Vincent in the chest, killing him instantly. The Wyld then turns on Rochelle, who defends herself with a strange, green light that we can't clearly see. The Wyld is shocked by this power and notes that Rochelle isn't human. Rochelle says, "Guess that makes two of us," as Miss Martian collapses to the ground unconscious. Rochelle then drags her husband's corpse away, asking him to forgive her.

When Megan wakes up, she conveniently has no memory of her time under the Wyld's control. Rochelle chooses to lie to Megan, saying their first attempt with the helmet merely knocked her out, so they decided to take a quick break. Rochelle also unconvincingly says that Vincent suddenly had to go back to Cadmus. Luckily for her, Megan is too distracted to pick up on this obvious lie, and demands to put the helmet back on immediately. Rochelle secretly believes her little green energy stunt "blasted the Wyld back to its world for good," so she agrees to put the helmet back on Megan, only half-heartedly reminding her of the dangers involved.

This time, the helmet works perfectly, and Miss Martian is quickly able to locate Aquagirl and Bombshell inside the massive sea serpent. Sending out her astral-self, Megan uses her psychic powers to tell the monster to vomit out Aquagirl and Bombshell then go away. Our heroes then reopen the keyhole to enable Miss Martian's astral-self to journey to the Wyld's world. As she takes off, Bombshell reports that her armor has begun to crack under the strain of being under too much pressure for too long, which means her radioactive energies have likely poisoned Aquagirl, too. So Rochelle arranges for Cadmus to rescue them and get them the necessary medical treatment.

Miss Martian's astral-self soon arrives in the Wyld's world, where she promptly engages in a vague psychic battle with the Wyld. Megan calls out to Wonder Girl and tells her about the eclipse. Cassie smashes out of some rocks and rescues Superboy first and they share a romantic kiss. They then rescue Kid Flash, and Conner jokes about how Bart's always cranky after being knocked out. Beast Boy is fine, but Virgil is also still unconscious. So Megan wakes up Static and Bart, and Cassie tells them they have a time limit on rescuing Raven.

We're then given a rather unclear image of an impending eclipse. Is this the moon moving in front of the sun on Earth? Or on the Wyld's world? Nobody says.

Static Shock and Kid Flash hop onto the back of the pteranodon Beast Boy, and they all begin flying toward Raven. Beast Boy begs Wonder Girl and Superboy to fly on ahead, but Cassie insists on staying all together. Suddenly, everyone is ensnared in giant spider webs, and Gar can't help but say they should have listened to him. And once again, the elements of this world have a dampening effect on our heroes' powers — Bart can't vibrate free of the webs, and Static can't even generate a spark.

We then finally check in with Raven, who is buried up to her neck in rocks. Megan wakes her up, just in time for Raven to see essentially a male version of herself walking toward her. Naturally, this is the Wyld, who ominously greets Raven with a "Hi, Mom."

I feel like Felicia D. Henderson wrote herself into a corner last issue and she only got out of that corner this issue by merely ignoring the problems she introduced. The doctors and Miss Martian are possessed?! Never mind, only Miss Martian is possessed. The tower has lost all contact with the outside world?! Never mind, we can call up Cadmus and the Titans on the radio just fine now. And how do we free Miss Martian from the Wyld's control? By doing something incredibly vague and magical just off panel that will never be explained. I'm serious. There's a 99% chance we will never find out what was going on with Dr. Rochelle Barnes.

The bit about the eclipse is too underdeveloped to add any real tension to this story. But it does serve the purpose of explaining why the Wyld hasn't killed Raven yet. Sort of. I mean, I don't know exactly how the eclipse is supposed to make the Wyld any stronger, but there you go. At this point, everything has become incredibly tedious, and I'm more than ready for it to end.

Next: Family issues!

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Action Comics #892

A Look at Things to Come in ... Superboy

Jeff Lemire – Writer
Pier Gallo – Artist
Jamie Grant – Colorist
Rob Leigh – Letterer
Wil Moss – Asst. Editor
Matt Idelson – Editor

Our cover by David Finch shows Lex Luthor battling Deathstroke. Yeah ... Action Comics has kind of become Luthor's book for the time being. Anyway, it's a decent enough cover, but we only care about the little note at the bottom teasing the Superboy Second Feature.

We also have a variant cover by Ivan Reis to commemorate DC's 75th anniversary. This is an update of Carmine Infantino's famous Flash vs. Superman race from 1967. Ironically, though, that cover wasn't from Action Comics, but Superman #199. It's a nice homage, although it has nothing to do with the main story or backup story in this issue.

Our backup story is actually just a preview of the upcoming Superboy series. You'd think such a preview would be placed in Adventure Comics, which was his home for the past year, but I guess once he got kicked out, he was never allowed back. Anyway, this story drops us right in the middle of the action, showing events that won't actually happen for a few issues in Superboy's new series.

We open on Smallville being attacked by a bunch of large mud monsters. Joining Superboy are Beast Boy, Raven (guess she will be rescued from the Wyld), Kid Flash and a couple of new heroes from Conner's high school class. Our heroes struggle with the monsters, as they appear impervious to pain and constantly reform whenever broken apart. Bart's mission was to find Lori Luthor (Lex's niece), but he's come up empty, even after searching the whole town three times. Eventually, Superboy loses his patience and smashes every mud monster in about two seconds flat, ending with a heroic landing.

Bart calls that stunt "awesome," but Conner's friend, Simon, points out that the monsters still will be able to reform. While they try to come up with a plan, Raven makes a shocking discovery. Superboy's attack opened up a secret tunnel, revealing Lori tied up next to another boy and surrounded by grotesque pig monsters. Lori calls for help, but before anyone can react, the Phantom Stranger suddenly appears and says that if Superboy goes into that tunnel then Smallville will die.

Mud monsters, pig creatures and the Phantom Stranger? It doesn't get more wild than that. I'm not a fan of this art style, but otherwise this was an exciting preview for a new series. And I appreciate the ingenuity of not merely showing the first few pages of the first issue, but taking us right to a shocking, exciting scene halfway through the opening arc.

Next time, we'll return to the unbearable Wyld story in Teen Titans #86.

Teen Titans #85

First, Do No Harm

Felicia D. Henderson Writer
José Luís Penciller
Mariah Benes Inker
Marcelo Maiolo Colorist
Sal Cipriano Letterer
Luís and Benes with Maiolo Cover
Rachel Gluckstern Editor

Our cover puts Kid Flash front and center, showing him ensnared by a twisting tentacle of dirt and rock. All his teammates behind him are battling actual monsters, which would be fine, if any of this actually happened in the story we're about to read. Bombshell and Aquagirl got swallowed by a giant sea monster last issue — back on Earth, not on the Wyld's world. Miss Martian also stayed behind on Earth and shouldn't be here, either. Superboy shouldn't be using heat vision, but ice vision (don't ask me why, but that's what previous issues established). And there aren't any actual monsters for the Teen Titans to battle on this world. Also, the sky isn't red. But beyond all that, the cover's fine. If nothing else, I am glad that the issue's artists also did the cover so readers at least know what the art inside is going to look like.

Our story picks up with Miss Martian telling Doctors Rochelle and Vincent Barnes that she needs to help her friends fight the Wyld, claiming she now knows how this monster thinks. But the doctors tell Miss Martian there really isn't anything they can do right now, as they'd need Aquagirl and Bombshell to activate the keyhole to send Miss Martian to the Wyld's dimension, but those two heroes aren't responding to their communicators right now. And we see that Aquagirl and Bombshell are still alive and well inside the belly of the beast that swallowed them, but they are having a rather difficult time trying to get out.

Back on the Wyld's world, all our heroes are being electrocuted and have collapsed to the ground. Static Shock manages to soak up the electrical field, but it takes a lot out of him, and he also collapses. Bart complains that he's experiencing his first migraine, and Superboy checks on him before immediately springing to Wonder Girl's side. She asks how Static is, and Kon says he can hear his heartbeat. Beast Boy once again complains that he's the only one who's worried about Raven, but Bart's optimistic that their little "radio" stunt gave Superboy a read on Raven's location. Luckily, Kon confirms that this is true.

Later, in Titans Tower, Vincent reports that the tower's security has been countermanded, locking them out of circuitry, satellite and mobile tower — somehow. Miss Martian scans the doctor's minds and tells them it's time for them to build the device they've secretly been working on. She also reports that the Wyld is unable to rule this world until Raven is dead, and it can't kill Raven until there's a full eclipse.

Meanwhile, in the world of the Wyld, Cassie, Bart and the still unconscious Virgil are riding on the elephant Beast Boy, as Superboy leads the way to Raven. They soon run into a couple of trees, and although Beast Boy easily smashes through the branches, the trees form together one large humanoid shape. Cassie tells Gar to get Static to safety and asks Bart to create a diversion to help her battle the tree monster. Bart starts running around the feet of the monster, but that doesn't seem to do anything, as it easily grabs hold of Kon and Cassie. Superboy is unable to tell if he's actually weaker on this world or if the monster is just that strong.

Beast Boy turns into a T-rex and grabs hold of the tree monster. Superboy and Wonder Girl are both freed from the monster's grasp, and they thank Kid Flash, although I'm not exactly sure what Bart actually did to help. Regardless, Cassie is able to get her lasso around the monster and Superboy smashes its head off.

Our heroes continue their journey to the cave that holds Raven captive, with the pteranodon Beast Boy carrying Bart and Virgil. Kon and Cassie are flying side-by-side up ahead. Kon asks if she's OK, and she stoically says that as team leader, she always has to be all right, even for the guy she loves. Superboy tells himself not to respond to this, for fear of proving he's "whipped." Static finally wakes up and Bart advises him to take it easy after absorbing so much of the Wyld's electricity.

Cassie thanks Virgil for his help back there, although she admits she doesn't know how he did it (or even what he did, if we're being honest with ourselves). Our heroes finally reach the cave, but they're immediately hit by a blast from a fiery geyser. Everyone starts to fall, and Superboy calls out to Cassie and Gar, while Cassie only calls Conner's name. The blast turned Gar back into his human form, and he immediately plays the role of a martyr, begging his teammates to save Raven no matter what. Static asks Kid Flash to shoot a wind tunnel at him before he falls into a pool of lava, but Bart is buried under a pile of rocks and unable to move his legs.

Meanwhile, at Titans Tower, the doctors complete their secret device, after having the requisite conversation about how dangerous it is and how doctors should strive to "do no harm." The device turns out to be a helmet to amplify Miss Martian's telepathic ability, which might allow her to contact her teammates. But as soon as puts the helmet on, Miss Martian becomes possessed by the Wyld, who says the Teen Titans are doomed and he will soon be invincible. The doctors' eyes also turn white, indicating they may also be possessed by the Wyld.

This story is a nonsensical fever dream. Everything is disjointed and completely random. The action scenes are impossible to follow and the awkward dialogue does not match the art. Throw in some clunky exposition and a truly boring plot, and you've got one extremely disappointing comic. I can't wait for this story to end.

Next time, we'll take a welcome break from this fever dream with Action Comics #892.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Teen Titans #84

It's a Wyld Wyld World

Felicia D. Henderson Writer
José Luís Penciller
Mariah Benes Inker
Marcelo Maiolo Colorist
Sal Cipriano Letterer
Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson with Maiolo Cover
Rachel Gluckstern Editor

Our cover shows Aquagirl and Bombshell about to be eaten by a giant sea monster. But Superboy, Miss Martian and Blue Beetle are there to save them. Unfortunately, this is our second consecutive cover that really gives us a misleading idea of what happens in this issue. Yes, Aquagirl and Bombshell will battle a sea monster, but they'll do so on Earth, not a different dimension with a red sky. Superboy, though, will be in another dimension, while Miss Martian will continue to recover in the Teen Titans tower. And Blue Beetle isn't even a member of the team anymore. Also, when we get to the other dimension, the sky will not be red, as the previous two covers indicated. There's either a serious lack of communication going on between our creators, or a lot of last-minute changes. The end result is a rather frustrating read for me.

Our story opens with Dr. Vincent Barnes taking Aquagirl and Bombshell out in a helicopter to the South Atlantic, near West Africa, while Dr. Rochelle Barnes takes Superboy, Beast Boy, Kid Flash, Static Shock and Wonder Girl to the North Pacific, near East Asia. (Apparently these scientists are also accomplished pilots.) Equipped with a scuba suit, Bombshell dives into the water with Aquagirl, and sure enough, they had to fight their way past a bunch of mutated fish to get to the portal, which Aquagirl unlocks by stabbing it with a trident.

The rest of our heroes faced no dangers on their abandoned island, and casually walked through the portal when it opened up. They emerge on the Wyld's world, which is a gray, desolate place. They immediately position themselves in a circle and make sure the coast is clear before Beast Boy transforms into a dog to pick up Raven's scent. Cassie reminds everyone that the physics of this dimension could work very differently, and Bart says he hopes to get Raven and get out of this "creepy" place as quickly as possible.

Suddenly, the ground beneath our heroes turns into quicksand. And this isn't ordinary quicksand — Superboy and Wonder Girl can't escape it, and Beast Boy can't even transform. Bart decides to try moving the sand from the inside, by vibrating himself. He eventually works his momentum into a full-blown whirlwind, which carries away all the sand. Bart almost gets carried away with this stunt, but his friends call him back — with Virgil dubbing him "Hurricane Bart."

Once our heroes are free, Beat Boy tries again to find Raven's scent, but has no luck. Suddenly, a bunch of razor-sharp tumbleweeds surround everybody. Cassie gets cut, and when Superboy asks if she's OK, she angrily tells him to quit treating her like his girlfriend. Superboy tries to blast the tumbleweeds with his heat vision, but surprisingly finds he now has freeze vision instead. And Static is shocked to see his lightning is now yellow. At Wonder Girl's order, Kid Flash digs a trench around everybody, then uses mini-tornadoes to join the others in fighting off the tumbleweeds.

Eventually, the coast the clear, and Beast Boy offers to try to find Raven's scent again, but Wonder Girl believes that won't work. Kid Flash suggests scouting the area ahead at hyper speed, but Cassie's worried he'd run into obstacles too tough to manage. Gar thinks the risk is worth it for Raven's sake, but Kon shuts him down. Superboy then flies up high in the sky, hoping his super hearing can pick something up. Sadly, he reports no sounds — not even radio. But this gives Static an idea. He asks Bart to "give him enough speed" to send out a radio wave — reasoning that since they're not native to this dimension, they must have distinctive radio pings. So Bart ... uh ... gives Virgil some speed.

Inexplicably, this nonsensical plan actually starts to work. Superboy says he can hear their "radio pings," with Cassie's ping being the loudest. So Static decides to increase the wave to cover the whole dimension, which, for some reason, require Bart to now run circles around him. Superboy starts to hear something, but suddenly he and all the others are struck by lightning.

Meanwhile, Aquagirl and Bombshell are forced to wait at the bottom of the sea to reactivate the keyhole when it's time to bring the search party home. But while waiting, they are swallowed by the giant sea monster we saw on the cover. And in Titans Tower, Miss Martian is warning the scientists that they need to send her to the Wyld's dimension now or her teammates may never come back.

This story is getting worse by the issue. First of all, the idea of Raven being kidnapped is not an entirely new one for this series. Secondly, it was rather conveniently cliché to shoehorn in an underwater mission just to find something for Aquagirl to do. And thirdly, Cassie's attitude toward Conner is unjustified and very tiresome by now. But all of those things wouldn't be that big of a problem if the story itself just made sense. I'm perfectly fine with the Wyld's dimension being a desolate place that defends itself. But why did Superboy's heat vision turn to freeze vision? If this is supposed to be a bizarro world, then how come no one else got different powers? Truthfully, this story would be a lot more interesting if our heroes had to adapt to new (or no) powers on the fly. But instead, we're stuck with this half-formed, inconsistent idea. And I doubt anyone can adequately explain to me what was going on with Static's "radio pings."

To be continued!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Teen Titans #83

A Rift in a Haystack

Felicia D. Henderson – Writer
José Luís – Penciller
Mariah Benes – Inker
Marcelo Maiolo – Colorist
Travis Lanham – Letterer
Rachel Gluckstern – Editor
Joe Bennett & Jack Jadson with Rod Reis – Cover

Our cover shows several of our heroes in what appears to be another dimension, trying to save Raven from ... her soul-self? I don't know — it's rather confusing. And nothing at all like this happens in this issue. I don't think this is a particularly good cover, but I am happy, at least, that Bart has brown hair. Far too many artists decided he needed red hair once he became Kid Flash.

Our story picks up where we left off last issue with all our heroes falling out of the crashing T-jet. Last issue showed Bombshell flying and holding Cyborg, but in this issue, our creators remembered that she can't fly, so now she's riding on a bit of shrapnel with Static Shock, while Beast Boy has turned from a fire-breathing dragon into an enormous condor to carry Cyborg. Blue Beetle is carrying Aquagirl, Superboy is carrying Kid Flash, and Wonder Girl is carrying Miss Martian, who still seems injured after the fiery fight with Holocaust.

Anyway, the important matter, over the Missouri plains, is that the dimensional rift has closed up right after the fat man took Raven through it. Beast Boy begins shouting that they need to find her, but Superboy displays a cooler head, saying they need to regroup and come up with a plan. Kon and Bart also are the only two who decide it might be a good idea to catch the T-jet before it crashes into the ground. Bart cushions its descent with a whirlwind and Kon grabs hold of the plane's nose before it hits the ground. Cyborg examines the damage and says they should be able to patch things up well enough to get them back to San Francisco. Beast Boy doesn't want to leave, but Static points out that Raven is now in another dimension. He also identifies Raven's kidnapper as the Wyld.

So our team patches up the jet, with Bart cooling off the freshly melted metal. They quickly make it back to San Francisco, but Cyborg immediately takes off on another jet to New York, saying he's going to help look for Raven from his lab. He also cryptically says it'll be just like he's here, watching his former teammates' backs. Our heroes make their way into the tower, but they hear someone in the east corridor. Believing this to be a burglar, Wonder Girl tells Bombshell to protect the injured Miss Martian, while she, Kon and Bart put on very serious, angry faces.

But it turns out the "burglar" was just two scientists from Cadmus, sent there by Cyborg. Bombshell is understandably upset that Cyborg didn't tell them about this, but Kon can at least vouch for one of the scientists, remembering her from his old Cadmus days. Beast Boy immediately asks them to get to work on finding Raven, but Wonder Girl says they also need to figure out what's wrong with Miss Martian. So the scientists split up and Wonder Girl tells everyone to get some rest, noting these two projects are going to take a while.

So, everybody just settles in. Bart takes a shower and emerges, wearing only a towel, to talk to Kon about his confusing relationship with Cassie. Bart suggests simply asking Cassie what's going on, but Kon says if she doesn't want to be with him, then she should just say so. Jaime Reyes asks Virgil Hawkins if he'd like to go get something to eat, but when Jaime sees Virgil talking to his mom on the phone, he suddenly gets homesick. In the infirmary, Dr. Rochelle Barnes tells Cassie that Miss Martian is suffering from a kind of neural degeneration she's never seen before, although she's hopeful M'gann will be able to recover with some rest. Barnes' husband, Dr. Vincent Barnes, tells Beast Boy that even though he's isolated the Wyld's extradimensional energy signature, actually tracking that signature to another dimension is like trying to find a needle in a thousand haystacks.

That night, Cassie visits Kon in his room. She begins talking about how hard it is being the leader of the Teen Titans, so he suddenly stands up and gives her a kiss. He asks, "That make it better?" Cassie responds, "No ... make it harder." I don't know if she meant to say "makes it harder" or if she was asking him to ... uh, kiss her harder. In any case, this steamy scene is suddenly interrupted by Rochelle reporting that Miss Martian is now awake.

Everybody runs down to see her, and they're all surprised to learn that Miss Martian doesn't remember Raven being kidnapped. Curiously, though, M'gann does seem to know that Vincent is looking for the Wyld in the wrong way. M'gann advises Vincent to check for ley lines — veins of mystical power that run through the body of existence. This helps Vincent make a minor breakthrough, and he optimistically says this will shorten his search time from several months to just a few weeks or even days.

Virgil visits Jaime's room to take him up on his offer for dinner, but he finds Jaime packing his things. Blue Beetle admits he's pretty rattled after the fight with Holocaust and is not too keen about traveling to another dimension to find Raven. So he's going home. Virgil is supportive of Jaime's decision and casually saunters down to the gym to find someone who also wants to get Chinese food. He finds Bombshell, who agrees to eat with him and discuss the confusing predicament of Miss Martian.

Kon reports back to Bart about his interrupted kiss with Cassie, and Bart tells him not to worry, noting that Cassie is hot and "carries around her own rope," so they'll get together again. Right on cue, Cassie walks through the door and is suddenly furious again. She pulls Kon out in the hall and lays into him, saying the team's never going to respect her as a leader with Kon sharing her business like that. Kon apologizes, but Cassie angrily says, "And that helps me how?"

Naturally, this doesn't go over well with Kon and he promptly flies off into the night. Aquagirl sees this and decides to tell the first person she sees — Bart, who is currently raiding the Titans fridge. Bart says Superboy always leaves fast, and that things between Kon and Cassie are "complicated." Bart adds that he's complicated, too, but 100% available. But Aquagirl is too disgusted by Bart's enormous appetite to feel any attraction toward him.

Back in the lab, Rochelle has joined her husband, while Beast Boy continues to obnoxiously hover over them. Bombshell checks on Miss Martian, who has fallen back asleep. Amy says she doesn't completely trust M'gann for reasons she can't fully explain. M'gann suddenly wakes up again, saying she had a nightmare, but it wasn't her dream — it was the Wyld's. Amy goes to Cassie's room to tell her this latest development, hypothesizing that M'gann has become some kind of transmitter, relating intel without even knowing it. Amy also reports that Superboy flew away last night (which means we've suddenly jumped ahead to the next day). Cassie darkly says that Conner is in a position to act as impulsively as he likes.

We get a quick glimpse of Conner flying high up in the atmosphere, telling himself not quit letting Cassie mess with his head. Back in the lab, the professors make another small breakthrough, saying they've narrowed down their "thousand haystacks" to just 10 haystacks. But the overtaxed equipment somehow literally catches on fire. Inexplicably, Beast Boy turns into a chimpanzee and offers to repair the machinery, provided the professors talk him through it.

Meanwhile, Superboy returns to the tower, stopping by the outdoor pool, where Aquagirl is swimming laps. He asks for an update on Miss Martian and Raven, and relates with Aquagirl's drive to go swimming (or flying) to be alone and think. For some reason, this observation makes both of them laugh, which does not look too good for Cassie, who's spying on them from the monitor room.

Meanwhile, Static Shock suddenly got an idea of how he can help, and he tells the doctors to hook him up to their equipment to give it a power boost. So they put Static in a sort of electric chair, which somehow, someway, boosts the computer's power levels by 400%. Later, everybody gathers in the conference room to hear the doctors' report. Apparently, they have isolated the dimension where Raven was taken, but in order to get to and from that dimension, they need to access a corresponding vibrational coefficient, in what is essentially the dimension's keyhole. The keyhole lies at the bottom of the ocean, deep in a trench with pressures too extreme for any sea craft. The door to the dimension is on a deserted island, which may be littered with old Russian nukes. Bart optimistically says this sounds like a piece of cake.

Naturally, Aquagirl is the best pick to swim to the keyhole to open the breach. The doctors do warn, however, that every time the Wyld has entered this dimension, it has activated extradimensional energies that have likely mutated nearby sea creatures. This means that Aquagirl's task of opening the keyhole to allow the search party to go through the door and reopening it to bring them back has just become more dangerous. Also, the doctors add that in the other dimension, the Wyld is likely to have god-like powers, meaning the search party needs to be pretty powerful.

So Wonder Girl tells Bombshell to go with Aquagirl to the keyhole, noting her armored skin should protect her from the ocean's pressure. Everybody else will be on the search party, except for Blue Beetle because Jaime didn't answer his phone when Cassie tried calling him. Miss Martian is up and about now, but says she'll stay home, worrying that she's no longer trustworthy. Cassie agrees, and then insanely says that she can feel the Wyld worming around in her brain, and that her presence would put them all in jeopardy, but she can show everybody what they're up against. Cassie then has everybody hold hands as she leads them in a kind of psychic seance to show them the Wyld. (I'm 99% sure Miss Martian was supposed to be saying those last few lines — not Cassie.)

Anyway, the Wyld's story began on another dimension that looked a lot like the African savanna. One day, Raven passed through on a search for her father, but in her distressed state, she inadvertently left behind a residue of aggressive extradimensional energy. Somehow, this energy fused a bunch of random animals together, creating the Wyld. Cassie (or Miss Martian) explains that only the energy that created the Wyld — i.e., Raven — can destroy it. She also says the Wyld was weakened by being in this dimension, so it returned home to regain its full strength and devour Raven to become powerful enough to destroy the Earth. Cassie then vows that they will not allow the Wyld to accomplish its goal and courageously shouts, "Titans together!"

What a mess. First, the Cassie/M'gann thing. It makes absolutely no sense for Cassie to suddenly have a psychic link with the Wyld, let alone have the ability to share this vision with the rest of the team. Part of the problem was letterer Travis Lanham didn't separate some of Cassie's lines from M'gann's, making it all one big, nonsensical dialogue from Cassie. The other part of the problem was penciller José Luís drew M'gann to look exactly like Cassie. Same hairstyle, same face shape, same tank top (everyone wears a tank top in this issue, by the way — kinda annoying). So when colorist Marcelo Maiolo came in, he couldn't tell who was supposed to be who. And we ended up with a very confusing and frustrating ending that was supposed to be the big explanation to set up our next adventure. Sadly, I have to put a lot of the blame for this on editor Rachel Gluckstern. We've seen her before on this blog, and unfortunately, she hasn't been associated with the best comics.

As for the rest of the story, it was just short of an incoherent mess. The pacing is out of control, with so many quick jumps in between scenes. And all of a sudden somebody refers to "last night." When was last night? How long have you guys been chilling in your rooms? How come Cassie had to be told that Superboy flew away? How come nobody made a big deal of Blue Beetle leaving the team? Why didn't Cyborg simply tell the team he'd asked two scientists to help them out? And, seriously, what is going on with Cassie? She has become completely unbearable.

As for Bart? Well, I'm glad that he and Superboy have so far proven themselves two of the more experienced members out in the field. They were invaluable in the fight against Holocaust, and they were the only ones who thought to save the T-jet from crashing into the ground. Life in the tower will take some getting used to for them. It's fitting that Bart is the only one Kon can turn to for advice with Cassie (even if talking to an undressed Bart was slightly awkward). And I kind of liked seeing Bart eating a large amount of food. Comics rarely mention the fact that speedsters need to eat a lot, and they show it even less.

All in all, this was a rough and frustrating read, leaving me with way too many questions. And I'm not talking about the mysteries of Raven and Miss Martian. I'm talking about the basic logistics of the organization of the team right now. Geoff Johns neatly set up the Teen Titans as a weekend-only club for our young heroes. Is that what's happening now? Does this whole issue just take place over the weekend? Will Bart go back home (wherever that is) after Raven is found? Or does he just live at the tower permanently now? Sadly, I suspect these questions will never be answered.

The new backup feature is called Coven of Three, and it has nothing to do with Bart, so we'll skip it. Next: Let the battle begin!

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Red Robin #12

Collision: The Conclusion

Christopher Yost (Writer)
Marcus To (Penciller)
Ray McCarthy (Inker)
Guy Major (Colorist)
Sal Cipriano (Letterer)
Janelle Siegel (Assistant Editor)
Mike Marts (Editor)
To & McCarthy (Cover)

Our cover shows our old friend Tim Drake (now going as the stupidly named Red Robin) at the mercy of one of Batman's greatest foes, Ra's al Ghul. It's a pretty dramatic cover with the bleeding Batman symbol in the background. Sometimes I might call something like this over the top, but I kind of like it here — mainly because I enjoy Marcus To's style.

Our story picks up at the conclusion of a massive battle between Tim and Ra's. Apparently, Ra's had sought to coerce Tim by sending teams of ninjas out to kill several members of the extended Bat family. But Tim had previously gained access to al Ghul's computer systems and subsequently prepared for this event by calling in some friends. Superboy was sent to protect Alfred, Wonder Girl was asked to help Barbara Gordon (but Barbara took care of the ninjas by herself), and Kid Flash was sent to save Catwoman. Bart reported back to Tim that Selina Kyle is "super-fine" and that this might be the best day of his life.

So that just leaves Tim to fight Ra's one on one. Fittingly, Ra's does win the duel, beating the snot out of Tim before shoving him out a window. Luckily, Nightwing was there to catch him and bring him back to the Batcave. But this was not a defeat for Tim, as his true victory was behind the scenes, thwarting al Ghul's attempts to take control of Wayne Enterprises.

While tim recovers in the Batcave, the new Robin, Damian Wayne, complains that the Teen Titans "riffraff" are going through his father's kitchen upstairs. But that's the last mention of Kon, Bart and Cassie. And at the end of this story, we learn this whole battle was actually Ra's al Ghul testing Tim to see if he'd be a worthy heir. And Tim passed the test.

The obvious joke here is that Bart's calling this the best day of his life because he's in a bedroom with a beautiful woman. But I like to think he might also be referring to the fact that he, Kon and Cassie are finally working with Tim again. We never really got a proper reunion of the four Young Justice holdovers. They had a nice little fireside chat about Superboy's fight with Lex Luthor. Then we had Blackest Night and Superboy and Kid Flash re-joined the Teen Titans. But we haven't had an actual discussion about why Tim isn't with them anymore. At the very least, it is nice to see that Tim's friends will respond to his calls.

Next time, we'll return to Teen Titans #83.

Monday, April 22, 2019

DC Super Friends #27

Double Trouble

Sholly Fisch -- Writer
J. Bone -- Artist
Travis Lanham -- Letterer
Heroic Age -- Colorist
Rachel Gluckstern -- Editor

Our cover by Bone shows the John Stewart Green Lantern battling Sinestro, while the Wally West Flash faces off against the Reverse-Flash. Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Superman and Batman (oddly in a bubble) are looking on with worried faces. I'm not a fan of Bone's style, but I do understand the necessity of making large, simplistic figures that could easily be replicated as toys, if desired.

Our story, as you can probably guess, involves Flash and Green Lantern fighting two of their greatest enemies. And that's a real shame, because this fight interrupted Flash's plans to throw a surprise party for Green Lantern's birthday, as well as Green Lantern's plans to throw a surprise party for Flash (they both have a birthday on the same week). What follows is a cute, wacky adventure, suitable for all ages. Unfortunately, Bart doesn't show up until the big combined birthday party at the end.

I think it's safe to call this iteration of Bart a new version of Impulse. Sadly, we don't have a clear view of his costume — just a red sleeve and yellow glove, which is quite unique compared to other versions of Impulse we've seen. Anyway, this was a fun comic, and I have to say I enjoy this series more than Tiny Titans. True, I do appreciate the art of Tiny Titans a lot more than this art, but in terms of introducing these characters to young readers, I think it's better to show the heroes as their adult selves actually battling villains (in a light-hearted way) rather than turning the heroes into little kids and putting them in school. Not that the school setting isn't fun, I just think it's best to see superheroes being superheroes.

Next time, we'll return to the main DC Universe, where Bart has rejoined Kon and Cassie with the Teen Titans. But what about Tim? Let's check in on him with Red Robin #12.