Friday, October 18, 2019

Year in Review: 2013

This is our 20th Year in Review. Can you believe that? Twenty years of Bart Allen in one form or another — from Impulse to Kid Flash to the Flash and then back to Kid Flash ... it's been quite a journey. He's died (sort of) a couple of times, and has been reimagined for the live action Smallville show, the animated Young Justice series and the New 52 reboot. In 2013, we saw the end of Young Justice (for about five years), the death (sort of) of the Smallville Bart, and the revelation that the New 52 Bart Allen was actually a different character named Bar Torr. So ... it was kind of a rough year for our favorite speedster. Especially when you realize the essence of the real Bart spent the year trapped in his Flash ring in the Speed Force (and he's going to stay there for quite a while).

But 2013 wasn't all doom and gloom. In the world of film, Frozen claimed top spot in the box office at $1.3 billion, followed closely by Iron Man 3, which also was nominated for an Academy Award for best special effects (it lost to Gravity). The Best Picture Oscar went to 12 Years a Slave. Marvel's other offerings, Thor: The Dark World and The Wolverine, were moderate hits. But frankly, none of those three are movies I return to. They're all kind of bleak and mediocre. Same goes for DC's lone offering of the year, Man of Steel. It did barely edge Thor in the box office at $668 million, which I guess meant it made enough for DC to justify creating a shared universe around it. Personally, I think the failure of Green Lantern and the success of Marvel forced DC to move forward with Man of Steel despite its lukewarm reception. Maybe 2013 really was all doom and gloom.

Best Story: Intervention

All-time leaders:
Impulse – 5
Young Justice – 3
Teen Titans/Young Justice: Invasion – 2

For this category, the leaders list is looking at the source of the best story of the year. Naturally, the Impulse series is on top. And it's no surprise that Young Justice: Invasion won its second straight award here. It was a very well done show with a dense, but tightly written story. There wasn't any major competition for this award from the New 52 comics or Smallville: Season Eleven. I know, Bart did heroically sacrifice himself in Smallville, but that story was a bit too vague and scattered for my liking. This award was always going to Young Justice, it was just a matter of deciding which episode was most significant for Bart.

The episode "Intervention" might not have been the best episode of the season, if we're getting technical about it, but it was the most fulfilling for Impulse's arc. It brought everything together, answering all the questions we had about Bart's behavior and his relationship with Blue Beetle. Yeah, I wish the show didn't hide so much essential information off screen, but at the end of the day, this was a very satisfying conclusion to Bart's mission.

Best Writer: Peter David

All=time leaders:
Geoff Johns – 6
Mark Waid/Peter David – 4
Todd Dezago – 3

This is David's second straight award, bringing him into a tie with Impulse creator Mark Waid. And frankly, there wasn't any major competition. Bryan Q. Miller did kill Bart off in Smallville, but it was done in a sloppy, unsatisfying manner. He kept teasing to a larger Flash world, but never got around to actually exploring it. Scott Lobdell was unbearable with the Teen Titans. And Geoff Johns prevented himself from winning a seventh award for his contrived and worthless insertion of the Titans into Forever Evil.

So the award goes to David, writer of "Intervention." And by extension, this goes to all the showrunners and creators of Young Justice, who had a clear vision and nailed the execution. David was the chief architect of the bookends of the compelling Impulse/Blue Beetle dynamic. He set up everything perfectly, and it all paid off just about as well as you could hope. But most importantly, he helped bring the character Impulse to a much wider audience than any comic book ever could.

Best Artist: Jorge Jiménez

All-time leaders:
Todd Nauck – 4
Humberto Ramos – 3
Jorge Jiménez – 2

It's a little strange that only three artists have multiple awards, but I guess that just shows the transient nature of the business. Writers can and will stay entrenched on a title for years, but artists (especially these days) rarely stay on a project for more than six issues. The Teen Titans title is a perfect example of this — I don't think that series had more than two issues with the same art team in 2013.

Francis Manapul very nearly won his second award for his one beautiful issue of The Flash. And as solid as the animation on Young Justice was, I can't quite bring myself to hand this award out to an animation company. None of the rotating artists on Teen Titans did anything worth consideration. So the award goes to Jiménez for his solid work on Bart's death in Smallville: Season Eleven. Jiménez definitely grew more comfortable in his role on that series, finding ways to put in more of his dynamic, almost cartoony style that I loved so much in 2012. He found new and exciting ways to portray Bart's running, and managed to put in just enough emotion to make it an impactful death.

Best Supporting Character: Blue Beetle

All-time leaders:
Max Mercury – 4
Carol Bucklen/Superboy/Brainiac 5/Blue Beetle – 2

These last two categories are extremely fluid, following the ebbs and flows of Bart's career. Poor Superboy was so often the runner-up for this award, but only managed to win it twice. Same with Bart's first (and true) girlfriend, Carol. Bar Torr's current girlfriend is Solstice, but after two years of their relationship, I still have no idea what she sees in him, or what he sees in her — especially after she cheated on him with Red Robin and never apologized. Superman in Smallville was a strong candidate, as he fought side by side with Bart right up until his death.

But the obvious choice here is Blue Beetle for the second straight year. Bart and Jaime were so much fun together. They made a great combination on the battlefield and in the laid-back, goof-around moments. Plus, Blue Beetle's plight was Bart's entire motivation during the season. It was also fitting, and sweet, how Bart never blamed Jaime, even after his betrayal. He always knew what was going on, and managed to successfully keep everything a secret until he could save the world and his best friend. And for bonus measure, we can throw in all the little moments that so many fans used as evidence of a budding romantic relationship between these two.

Best Villain: Black Beetle

All-time leaders:
Inertia – 4
President Thaddeus Thawne/Bedlam/Deathstroke (Jericho)/Superboy-Prime – 2

I was actually very close to giving this award to Bar Torr. His troubled past was the main cause of all of Kid Flash's problems, so I thought I could be a little snarky and justify it. But at the end, I just couldn't resist the delightfully evil Black Beetle. Truthfully, I wish I could have put Trigon here — one of the best of the best — but Lobdell seemed too timid to do anything of consequence with him. Same goes for Psimon, the inaugural winner of this award. He showed up in both the New 52 and Young Justice, but only in minor roles, and never in direct conflict with Bart. I also feel a little bad for not putting in the villain who killed Smallville Bart. But he was so vague — I mean, the comic could never even decide on a name for him. Was he the Black Racer? Black Flash? Just a monstrous representation of the Speed Force itself? Yeah, that's not a very compelling villain.

Black Beetle was everything I want in a villain. Incredibly strong, but not invincible. Smart, confident, and able to provide an actual threat that can only be stopped with a high cost. As tough a fighter Black Beetle was, the most damage he caused was by trying to destroy Earth with all those devices. And Wally West had to die to stop it. That's some pretty effective villain work right there.

Next time, we begin the year 2014, and things are going to slow down for us in a hurry. Without Young Justice and Smallville, we'll have to rely almost exclusively on Bar Torr, and he's not going to be around for the whole year. I think we'll have one or two interesting moments. Hopefully.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Teen Titans #25

A Good Defense

Scott Lobdell: Writer
Scott McDaniel: Breakdowns
Tyler Kirkham: Penciller
Art Thibert: Inker
Arif Prianto: Colorist
Travis Lanham: Letterer
Anthony Marques: Assistant Editor
Mike Cotton: Editor
Eddie Berganza: Group Editor
Superboy created by Jerry Siegel
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family.

Oh no. Last issue I inadvertently found myself missing the consistency of Brett Booth. Yeah, I can't stand his style, but at least he could complete a couple of issues in a row. Well, be careful what you wish for, because Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse are back as the cover artists for this series. The inside artists remain in a perplexing flux — why do we so often have someone do breakdowns and someone else do the pencils? Anyway, this cover is ... fine, I guess. A bit distressing — especially with Kid Flash's eyeballs — but I do find it intriguing that he's been captured and forced to relive moments of his and the Teen Titans' past.

Our story begins with Kid Flash and Solstice still together and still in the future — just a little bit further in the future from when we saw them last. And to make matters interesting, our heroes are surrounded by a bunch of heavily armed thugs. Bar Torr (his last name gained an extra R since we first saw it) seems to vaguely recognize these men, but doesn't quite put it together that they were the ones who tried to pull him through that portal in his room. (See? If Geoff Johns hadn't insisted on clumsily inserting the Teen Titans into Forever Evil, Lobdell could have taken us directly to this scene from issue #22!)

The leader of this gang accuses Bar of betraying their cause, which causes Kid Flash to completely snap. He grabs a spear, knocks down a bunch of the guys, slices the leader's gun in half and holds the point to his neck, saying he can't believe he ever left him in charge. Oddly, when Bar speaks this way, the normal red "lightning" around his speech bubbles turns green. I still don't know what that's supposed to sound like, but it is an interesting effect to illustrate his dramatic change.

We then get a page of Solstice obnoxiously recapping everything that's happened since Forever Evil. Bar, meanwhile, suddenly begins choking and falls to the ground. The leader explains that they've been monitoring Bar since he went into the witness protection program, and they've prepared for this moment by filling the air with a synthetic accelerant that essentially turns Bar's own respiratory system against him the faster he breathes. As Bar struggles for air, the gang regroups and aims their guns back on him, while Solstice steps forward to defend her boyfriend.

A mile across the planet, Raven pulls Red Robin, Wonder Girl and an unconscious Superboy out of a portal. She was using her soul self to track Kid Flash and Solstice, but I guess the closest she could get was a mile away because she's overexerted herself and they're now on a different planet, which effects her powers somehow. Maybe. She's quite unclear on the whole thing, too.

When the rest of the Titans catch up to their teammates, they find Kid Flash and Solstice have quite handily defeated the gang. Apparently that "accelerant" isn't a problem anymore, because Bar is breathing just fine right now and is quite energetic in defeating his enemies. Well, energetic might be the wrong word, as he very nearly beat a man to death before his friends snap him out of his rage. Bar is horrified to see his hands covered in blood, and he suddenly begins screaming. Kid Flash collapses to the ground and weakly says, "Two minds ... one atop the other."

A large spotlight appears over Bar, and a voice orders the Titans to step away from the "witness," by order of Echo Chronal Authority. Red Robin is quite overwhelmed by all this, so he decides to surrender to the emerging troops, led by a green woman with blond hair. She introduces herself as Brain 3, and says her team sent Bar back to the 21st century for his own safety. She also claims they're the good guys, but she has to kill one of her men to prevent him from killing the unconscious Bar Torr.

Brain 3 takes the Teen Titans to her headquarters located between two dying stars. After Solstice chews out Red Robin for not knowing what he's doing, she visits Kid Flash, who's chained up just like on the cover. Kiran vows to get Bar out of here, even if the others won't help. But Bar actually asks her not to, since he finally want to learn who he is, and he believes these people will be able to answer all his questions.

Brain 3 enters the room at that point and explains that Bar made a deal with the Functionary — his total, honest testimony in exchange for his freedom. Bar still worries that too many people in this time want him dead, so Red Robin vows to make sure he safely gets home once they've sorted everything out. So Brain 3 launches the holoprog and brings up one of Bar's most vivid memories. He's wearing a green-and-yellow outfit (like the guy he was fighting on last issue's cover), is covered in blood and surrounded by a field of skulls.

Well, here we are. Twenty-five issues in, and we're finally getting Kid Flash's origin. Of course, we have to wait till next issue for the meat of the story, but, at long last, things are beginning to be revealed. Naturally, this wouldn't be a Lobdell issue without some inconsistencies and forgotten plot points — like that gas or whatever was supposed to be choking Bar? — but there were some intriguing elements here. At this point, I'm going to allow myself to fantasize that this "Bar Torr" is actually the evil clone of Bart Allen, aka Inertia. That would explain the blond hair we saw previously and the creepy bloodlust. Sadly, I know that Lobdell is going to move in a different, less compelling direction.

Channel 52 is actually just a two-page ad for ... Channel 52. It's weird for a house ad to advertise itself and reuse a bunch of old panels like a cheesy clip show. But that's the New 52 for you!

That concludes our review of all major Bart Allen stories from the year 2013. Next time, we'll have our Year in Review before fully diving into Bar Torr's past.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Teen Titans #24

Caught Up in Circles!

Written by Scott Lobdell
Pencils: Angel Unzueta
Inks: Art Thibert
Letters: Travis Lanham
Color: Pete Pantazis
Cover: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira & Pete Pantazis
Assistant Editor: Anthony Marques
Editor: Mike Cotton
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Superboy created by Jerry Siegel
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

Our cover is a nonsensical mess that barely represents this nonsensical mess of a story. Looming in the background is ... evil red Raven? But Raven doesn't turn evil and red in this issue. Quite the opposite, actually. Anyway, in front of her are three random shards of our heroes in different times and places. The only one we care about is Kid Flash battling what appears to be the New 52 version of Inertia. But it's not, which is probably a good thing, for the same reason I'm glad this isn't the real Bart Allen. It would have hurt me too much to have Lobdell mess up another character. So yeah, this cover is boring, poorly executed, and shows two major things that don't happen in this issue.

Our story begins with Lobdell realizing belatedly that he should have set up the whole storyline with Bunker's boyfriend falling in a coma. Before he joined the Teen Titans, Miguel went to a church to pray about his boyfriend, his new powers and to ask for a sign. Right on cue, Red Robin appears in a flash of lightning. He realizes that the Titans are being flung through the timestream as a result of Johnny Quick's attack, and they're appearing randomly at significant moments he dubs "touchstones." Tim tells Miguel how to find him, but insists that Miguel can't ever tell him about this. As soon as Red Robin delivers this message, he's pulled back into the lightning and disappears.

Red Robin then appears in ancient Egypt, where Superboy and Wonder Girl have to defeat an army of red-skinned aliens, like we saw on the cover. And these random events keep happening to our heroes. Of course, the only one we really care about is Kid Flash and Solstice, conveniently ending up together on a spaceship in the future. Kid Flash instantly realizes where they are, and he promptly runs away from his girlfriend, worried about her finding out more about his past than he knows.

Led by his memory, Kid Flash runs right to the bridge and encounters a young man that Kid Flash claims is his past self (even though the boy has blond hair and looks nothing like Kid Flash). The young man is apparently in the process of destroying the ship they're all standing in, and Kid Flash begs his younger self (whom he addresses as "Bart") not to go through with his plan. "Bart" explains that this ship is full of reinforcements, and if it reaches the outer colonies, all of his people will die. And now that he has powers, he refuses to stand by and watch the government stomp on the necks of innocent people. Kid Flash tells "Bart" he's just going to make things worse, and if he carries out his plan, he'll never get to see a girl named Shira again.

Even though Kid Flash has super speed, Solstice was able to catch up fairly quickly. However, she is too shocked to add anything substantial to the conversation. Kid Flash tells "Bart" the soldiers he plans to kill are people, too, and he needs to be better than this. But before he can make a more compelling argument, or do anything of any real consequence, Kid Flash and Solstice are sucked back into the timestream. "Bart" decides that he is better than the soldiers onboard, and proceeds with his plan to liberate a galaxy.

Our issue ends with Raven finally putting an end to the time-hopping (or at least attempting to) by reaching out to the Teen Titans through space and time and grabbing them with her soul-self. Or something like that. I don't know ... Lobdell just needed to find a way to end this issue and set up the annual issue, which involves more time-hopping, but not Kid Flash, so we'll skip it.

So much squandered potential. All the ingredients are here for a killer story, but the writing and artwork have ruined everything. Look, it's pretty basic. If you're going to give us a younger version of Kid Flash, he needs to actually look like him. And maybe some consistency would be helpful. Like, if Kid Flash can suddenly remember this Shira character, why does he still call himself Bart instead of Bar? And, and, and ... ugh ... why should I care about this story? This creative team obviously doesn't care. We haven't had a steady artist on the book since Brett Booth left. And Lobdell's just going through the motions at this point. Well, maybe that's not entirely fair. I mean, Lobdell has never been particularly focused to begin with. The important thing is this story sucks. And it could have been so good. So sad.

Channel 52 seems to back to before Forever Evil, talking about Calendar Man disappearing and the Joker's daughter. This is rather odd, since this issue came out a couple of weeks after Forever Evil #2. But then again, Channel 52 has never had great continuity, either.

Next time: Teen Titans #25.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Forever Evil #2


Geoff Johns Writer
David Finch Penciller
Richard Friend Inker
Sonia Oback Colorist
Carlos M. Mangual Letterer
David Finch, Richard Friend and Sonia Oback Cover
Ethan Van Sciver and Hi-Fi Variant Covers
Kate Stewart Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor

Once again I refuse to track down the variant covers, especially since Ethan Van Sciver is involved. Anyway, our main cover isn't too bad — if you can stomach David Finch's art. It shows three members of the Crime Syndicate — Ultraman, Superwoman and Johnny Quick (not to be confused with the good Johnny Quick of way back when) — standing over the defeated Teen Titans. This is basically what happens, although our heroes don't actually confront Ultraman and Superwoman in this issue.

We pick up with our Teen Titans in San Francisco, which is really cute, because it means Geoff Johns is still operating under the old continuity and hasn't heard yet that the Titans have spent the past two years in New York. On the plus side, Raven has replaced Bunker in this scene. So either our creators got caught up on continuity, or Bunker decided to go visit his boyfriend after the shocking arrival of the Crime Syndicate.

Anyway, Wonder Girl doubts that the Syndicate really killed the Justice League, so Kid Flash asks where they are. Red Robin tells everyone to suit up (even though they already are) and announces they're going to the crashed Watchtower to rescue Nightwing. Superboy asks why the villains who supposedly killed the Justice League haven't already killed Nightwing, so Red Robin reasons that they wouldn't have gone to the trouble of exposing Nightwing's identity just to kill him. He also believes that if there are any other heroes still left, they'll also be heading to the Watchtower to confront the Crime Syndicate. Tim says he's prepared to fight to their dying breath, then follows that dramatic line up with a rather lame concern about their secret identities also being exposed. (Seriously, Tim? That's what you're most worried about?)

I don't know how our heroes journeyed from San Francisco to the Watchtower, which naturally crashed in Happy Harbor, Rhode Island. Of course, I shouldn't be worrying about such things, since the Titans were never supposed to be in San Francisco in the first place. Anyway, they show up to find just Johnny Quick and Atomica holding off a bunch of police officers and soldiers in tanks. Unfortunately, the Teen Titans did not bring their A-game to this battle. Johnny Quick immediately knocks them all down with a whirlwind and Atomica jumps into Wonder Girl's mouth ... but doesn't do anything inside her.

The real interesting part is when Johnny grabs Kid Flash and feels that he's from the future. Somehow, Johnny is able to vibrate Kid Flash and send him back to the future via another whirlwind that conveniently sucks up all the Teen Titans and only the Teen Titans (after Atomica jumps out of Wonder Girl's mouth). Oh, and Raven turned back to Bunker on one the three pages of this fight.

This issue was entirely unnecessary. Johns wanted to create an environment where all the heroes are gone, forcing the villains to unite and save the world. So he had to come up with this goofy way to get rid of the Teen Titans by sending them to the future. Here's the thing, though: Scott Lobdell also wanted to send the Teen Titans to the future, and was in the process of doing just that, when he had to suddenly pull everybody back out of the portal to send the Titans over to this stupid crossover. It would have been so much easier and cleaner to just have somebody say the Teen Titans have also mysteriously disappeared.

Channel 52 talks about various aspects of Forever Evil. We also get a checklist of the event, which surprisingly includes our next issue.

Teen Titans #24: Lost in time, the Titans set out on a mission to not only return to the present, but save Kid Flash from his future!

Forever Evil #1


Geoff Johns Writer
David Finch Penciller
Richard Friend Inker
Sonia Oback Colorist
Rob Leigh Letterer
David Finch, Richard Friend and Sonia Oback Cover
Ivan Reis, Eber Ferreira, Joe Prado, Rod Reis and Tomeu Morey 3-D Variant
Ivan Reis, Eber Ferreira, Joe Prado and Tomeu Morey Villain Variants
Kate Stewart Assistant Editor
Brian Cunningham Senior Editor

There are a bunch of variant covers for this issue, but we're still in the era of DC stingily not including variants in their digital copies — even for the DC Universe app. Since the Teen Titans only appear in two panels in this issue, I'm not going to track down those variants. The main cover is simple, but effective — just a collection of every villain David Finch can cram onto one cover. The only problem is I can't stand Finch's art. It's quite displeasing. Which I guess is the right choice for a story about the villains taking over ... or forced to team up to stop the worse villains ... whatever.

The story details the arrival of the Crime Syndicate from Earth-3. They somehow convince every single villain in the two-year history of the New 52 to come meet them at the wreckage of the crashed Justice League satellite. The Crime Syndicate claims to have killed the Justice League, but they offer very little proof. One random villain named Monocle believes the Crime Syndicate is really the Justice League in disguise, but he's promptly killed for his doubt. Oh, and all this is happening on live TV.

The Teen Titans are naturally watching, along with the rest of the world, and we see Bunker is still with them. Raven and Beast Boy are nowhere in sight, though, which means that either this story takes place before Trigon's invasion, or Geoff Johns and David Finch didn't care about Titans continuity. Take your pick.

Anyway, the Crime Syndicate does provide something tangible. They've captured Nightwing, and reveal his secret identity to the whole world. Red Robin is naturally shocked by this, but we won't see him and the Titans do anything about it till next issue.

The main conceit of this event is a decent one. The Justice League has disappeared, and in their place is their evil doppelgängers from a parallel Earth. The execution wasn't quite that great, though. Finch's artwork is almost unbearable. And a few plot elements are downright ridiculous (I hope Johns learned how eclipses actually work since this story came out).

Next time, we'll see the Teen Titans' response in Forever Evil #2.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Teen Titans #23

Hello, I Must Be Going!

Written by: Scott Lobdell
Pencils by: Robson Rocha
Inks by: Wayne Faucher
Color by: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover: Eddy Barrows, Eber Ferreira & Barbara Ciardo
Assistant Editor: Anthony Marques
Editor: Mike Cotton
Group Editor: Eddie Berganza
Superboy created by Jerry Siegel
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

Our cover is essentially the image we ended last issue on. Except Kid Flash wasn't in his uniform. And the rest of the Teen Titans weren't nearby. And the portal didn't open in the middle of the city, but inside Bart's cabin on the yacht. But other than that, it's the same. All things considered, though, this is actually a fairly haunting image. The look of terror on Kid Flash's face, combined with the way too numerous hands makes things rather creepy.

Our story picks right up where last issue left off, with Kid Flash (not in uniform) being pulled into a portal by a dozen different hands. For whatever reason, he is unable to use his super speed to escape, but he does call out for help. Even though he barricaded his room last issue, and Solstice was literally knocking on the door at the time of the abduction, Wonder Girl is suddenly inside the room, in full costume, and wrapping her lasso around Bar's arm.

But Wonder Girl isn't strong enough to save Kid Flash, so Bunker lends her hand. When he fails, Beast Boy turns into a giant squid and begins pulling Bunker. Solstice finally arrives, but all she does is scream in Gar's ear. Superboy and Red Robin are next to arrive, also having taken the time to put on their uniforms before rushing to their teammate's aid. Red Robin wisely tells Superboy to target the portal itself, and he's able to dismantle it with his tactile telekinesis.

Bar thanks everyone for saving him, admitting he thought they'd be upset by the cheap shot he took at Red Robin just a few minutes ago. Tim admits he deserved to be punched for making out with Solstice and Wonder Girl while under the influence of Trigon. Raven finally arrives (apparently it takes her quite a while to put on those stupid feathers that cover her eyes) and she darkly says that certain grudges are healthy.

Raven does say something useful — that she can sense that portal came from the future. Bar says he knows he did something wrong, but claims he can't remember it. Bunker expresses his belief, but Raven doubts him. At Red Robin's suggestion, everyone changes back out of their uniforms to finally unwind from their lengthy and bizarre encounter with Trigon.

Beast Boy swims with Bunker in the yacht's pool, Superboy and Wonder Girl leave the yacht for a bit to kiss and makeup after Cassie cheated on Kon (but he's totally fine with it), and Red Robin takes Raven to his central computer, showing her all the Titans' secrets. He says he envisions Raven becoming the leader of the team one day, and I sincerely hope he is still being mind-controlled to some extent, because he is acting horrendously stupid right now. At one point, Tim mentions N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and when Raven asks what it stands for, Tim only says, "Honestly? I hate that question." That's right, kids, Scott Lobdell created this a secret organization with a ridiculously long acronym that he never named. Even two years later, he still is unable to come up with something serviceable, and only angrily dismisses those who ask that most basic question.

Anyway, Kid Flash goes out for a run across the water, followed closely by Solstice. Bar tells her about his troubling experiences with Vibe and the Flash, and she gives him a cheesy little speech about how he is a good person no matter what happened in his past. And then Bar kisses Kiran, completely forgetting about being mad at her for cheating on him with Red Robin.

Bunker then gathers the team together to randomly announce that he suddenly has a boyfriend, who just so happened to wake up from a long coma. So Miguel is leaving the team to return to his boyfriend, and for no reason at all, Beast Boy is going to travel with him. Well, the real reason was Lobdell never wanted him on the team and couldn't find a natural way for him to leave.

Anybody remember when Eddy Barrows actually drew an issue of this series? Because I don't. However, it was nice to see longtime Impulse inker Wayne Faucher return, even if he didn't have particularly thrilling pencils to ink. But yeah, this story is just as bland as ever. The romance might be the worst aspect of it. I mean, Kid Flash had a legitimate reason to be angry at Solstice, and now, all of a sudden, he's back to kissing her without even a conversation about what happened. Of course, the only reason this issue stayed on the yacht rather than following Bar Tor to the future is because of the upcoming Forever Evil event. So I do feel a little bad for Lobdell. Just when he finally gets around to revealing Kid Flash's origin, he gets hit with another company-wide crossover.

Instead of Channel 52 this issue, we have two pages showing all the covers for the Villain Month gimmick of Forever Evil. We won't be reviewing any of those issues, but we will take a quick peek at the main Forever Evil series.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Teen Titans #22

Dark Titans

Scott Lobdell Writer
Jesus Merino Finished Art
Eddy Barrows Thumbnails
Pete Pantazis Color
Travis Lanham Letters
Howard Porter Cover
Anthony Marques Asst. Editor
Mike Cotton Editor
Eddie Berganza Group Editor
Superboy created by Jerry Siegel
By special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family

I feel like this series is hanging on by a thread. If Barrows is the regular artist, then why isn't he doing covers anymore? And why are his credits diminishing from penciller to layouts to thumbnails? He still gets his name on the cover, though. At least Lobdell didn't need someone else to write the dialogue for him this time. Anyway, this is actually a pretty decent cover. The Teen Titans don't look too great, but, hey, Trigon! The past couple of covers ignored this, but Trigon is attacking the Teen Titans! That should be a huge deal!

Our story opens in New York City, with Beast Boy as a monkey riding on Red Robin's back, providing an obnoxious recap to this obnoxious story. Trigon showed up, went away, sent his sons, then came back. Beast Boy leaves out the part where he and Raven attacked the Titans, because Lobdell has decided to pretend that didn't happen. He does make a joke, calling out Red Robin's stupid "Project Six" by saying it's time for Project 666.

Even though we didn't see it last issue, Trigon also possessed Solstice along with Kid Flash, Superboy, Wonder Girl and Bunker. Trigon gleefully boasts of how fun it is to possess superheroes, which leads me to question why he didn't do that right off the bat. Red Robin and Beast Boy head straight to Trigon, leaving Raven to take on all the Titans herself. Luckily, she's able to create several "soul self" copies of herself, which can easily subdue the Titans. And I do mean easily.

With Kid Flash, Raven senses an evil that found its way into his soul long before Trigon possessed him. Kid Flash, who has constantly claimed to have known absolutely nothing about his past, oddly says that he did what he did only to protect his family, implying for the first time ever, that he knows exactly what he did in the future.

Anyway, Red Robin ends the fight by shoving his indestructible wings through the back of Trigon's skull and out his eyes. Seriously. This doesn't kill Trigon, but it does seem to hurt him enough that he decides to retreat for the second time this night. Everybody wakes up, free of Trigon's possession, and Solstice talks about how horrifying it was to have that evil inside her. Kid Flash turns the angst up to 11 by saying Trigon's evil felt comforting and familiar.

Suddenly, a group of suits emerges from a portal, led by a black woman who looks like Amanda Waller but isn't? These people claim they've just performed a psi scrub on the area, removing Trigon and the Titans from everyone's memories and causing them to believe the damage was caused by a freak earthquake. They also explain that the two dozen soldiers Psimon killed weren't actually there — it was all an illusion from Trigon. The random mysterious organization takes Psimon away, though, and refuses to explain who they are.

Several hours later, our heroes, including Beast Boy and Raven, are unwinding on Tim's yacht. Raven accepts Tim's offer to join the team, but nobody says anything about Beast Boy staying. Raven explains that Trigon had been tempting Red Robin before his invasion, causing him to force the team on the yacht, get into a pointless battle with the Suicide Squad and make out with Wonder Girl and Solstice. Raven praises Tim for breaking free of Trigon's control, then leaves to have some alone time. And by alone time, I mean reporting to Trigon that she has joined the Titans just as he asked her to.

Once Raven is out of sight, Kid Flash punches Tim five times and barricades himself in his room. Solstice runs to his door, telling him not to blame Red Robin, since he was under the influence of Trigon. Kid Flash says he doesn't blame him, but her, and says he's giving her a few hours to come up with an excuse for making out with Red Robin. Suddenly, a blue portal opens in Kid Flash's room. An obscured figure steps out, calling Kid Flash Bar Tor, saying today he will pay the price for his multitude of crimes. Kid Flash is confused by the familiarity of that name, and the man says his real name is Bar Tor, which he shed when he tried to escape the law by retreating to the past. Bar continues to profess ignorance of all this, but before he can do anything, a whole bunch of hands emerge from the portal and start pulling him in.

Well, it took almost two years, but we've finally found out this character isn't Bart Allen at all, but some punk named Bar Tor. I wonder if this was Lobdell's plan all along, or if the lackluster response to this version of Bart prompted him and/or DC to say he's not really Bart. However it happened, I actually am glad for it. This "Bart" has been a bland, disappointing facsimile of the original Bart Allen we all know and love. So I'm glad that Lobdell hasn't been altering Bart even further than Geoff Johns did.

Of course, I knew all this before I started reviewing this series. If I didn't know that, I probably would have felt betrayed to find out the character I thought I was following for 22 issues is actually someone else. As it stands, I'm only mildly interested in Bar Tor — in the sense that he's one of the alternate versions of Bart Allen, like the kid we saw in Impulse Annual #1. I do have to say, however, that Trace Wyndham is a better name than Bar Tor. In fact, Bar Tor is perhaps the stupidest name we've encountered on this blog.

And as for the rest of this issue? Bleh. What a waste of Trigon. His grand plan immediately falls apart under the slightest bit of scrutiny. And as is the case with all of Lobdell's writing, it feels like he lost interest in the main plot and his countless subplots halfway through. The deus ex machina team cleaning up everything at the end was probably a new low in Lobdell's laziness and lack of focus. Oh well. We'll just keep marching forward through this pile of mediocrity.

Channel 52 talked about my absolute least favorite aspect of the New 52 — the Joker's daughter. Ugh.

Next issue: "The End of a Titan!" (But not the one you think!)