Over the years many people have wanted to know who put the arse in Arsenal. So if you really want to know, here, check out the following comic book created by Dan Abnett, Paul Pelletier, and published by DC Comics. It’s May, 2018, and trust me, it’s time for another bum-wiping review.

TO QUOTE Marilyn Monroe: 'Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world'.

Monsieur Mallah has recently created a venomous drug named Bliss in order to transform whoever takes it into a walking, talking, virtual hub. Yeah. I’m not kidding. He’s actually developed this drug because once digested it will allow his partner, The Brain, to tap into these people’s minds and then use them as a storage facility, so to speak, with the intent of gaining more neurological power and using it to control the entire planet. 

So far he’s managed to use some of this power to gain access to the global weather network and cause major havoc on multiple fronts, such as America, Sri Lanka, Rome, the Alps, as well as the Indian Ocean, doing so despite the best efforts of the Justice League trying to stop him. 

But it isn’t enough, not by a long shot, and that is why Donna Troy swiftly breaks free from her confinement and heads towards the only person who can turn things around, namely, Roy Harper, the ex-drug addict, the ex-Titan, and the not so ex-punching bag. Want to know more? Then please pick up issue 22 of the Titans today. In the meantime though, here, check this out... 

Part One) HE SAID WHAT:   A few issues ago, I explained how I wasn’t too keen on Dan Abnett’s depiction of the League, saying so because he made some of them seem like arrogant jerks who were too quick to pass judgment. Honestly, every time one of them had something to say it reminded me of a kitsch family drama from the 1950s, where Mama and Papa Madeupname would reprimand little Billy-Joe-Bob for doing something wrong, or incorrect, before sending him off to his bedroom, without any dinner. But come on! This isn’t like the Justice League! Not like them at all. By and large, they’re generally a more open-minded set of individuals and have a much better understanding of the world around them. In this book though, well, they come across like a selection of flat two-dimensional overbearing characters, almost as if someone managed to replace their personalities with a bowl of boiled cabbage soup. 

Now a good example of this can be seen halfway through issue 22, when Batman is left stranded on the Watchtower after sending each League member off to fight their respective battles. After a while, he’s approached by Donna Troy, who’s currently in their care, and she tells him that she may be able to help them with their hazardous situation. So what does he do? Does he listen to her? Try to use her in another capacity? Or does he do something else of this ilk? No. I’m afraid not. He’d rather treat her like a small child and dismisses her completely, before sending her off to her living quarters!

I mean, does that sound like Batman to you? Because it doesn’t to me; and goes to show that Dan isn’t able to write the League properly. Plus, to some extent, I can say exactly the same thing about his depiction of the Titans too, especially Roy Harper, AKA Arsenal, who last month was able to beat-up two of his oldest friends, Wally and Dick, whereas this month he struggled against a couple of generic henchmen who were trying to take him down. Again, this didn’t feel quite right, not right at all; and kind of made this issue feel fairly inconsistent and out of character.

Part Two) SLAP HAPPY:   Something else about this book I wasn’t too thrilled with would have to be the visual tone of Paul Pelletier’s artwork. From the way it looked on the page, some of his stuff seemed fairly upbeat and vibrant by design, despite it sometimes needing to be dark, hazardous, and full of suspense. Heck, even when certain characters were arguing amongst themselves, they still seemed somewhat happy, polite, and full of vigor. Tonally at least, if not aesthetically,  plus it didn’t help that Adriano Lucas’s vivid color palette uplifted his work as if they were featured in a Saturday morning cartoon

Having said that though, I do like Paul's brand of brave and bold visuals and appreciated the way he drew Batman, The Fabled Dark Knight, as it kind of reminded me of how Alan Davis once drew him back in the day: Like a slim-lined version of the character with a more malleable facial mask.

Along similar lines, I have to also applaud the way he choreographed certain action scenes, like the final one between Roy, Cheshire, and Donna. I personally feel that he choreographed it in order to highlight Roy's flexible flow of movements, from a punch to a kick to a final arrow toss (if you catch my gist). Which kind of confused me, up to a point, because I generally feel that he’s more at home illustrating an intimate scene between a small collection of people, normally one or two, rather than a dramatic action sequence jam-packed with explosions, punches, and jabs! I mean, just take a look at the way Paul drew those poetic moments, such as the aforementioned one between Batman and Donna, as well as those dialogue-heavy sequences featuring Monsieur Mallah and The Brain, and then compare them to the way he drew those dreadful looking automated robots. One was well paced and full of emotion, whereas the other one looked too cartoonish to be taken very seriously. 

Part Three) MONKEY LOVE:   The first time I saw Monsieur Mallah and the Brain I honestly thought they were a silly little joke, both visually as well as characters in their own right. It was during a previous incarnation of this series, circa 1990, when the two of them were members of the Brotherhood of Evil. Even though I'm not entirely sure what the story was all about, what I do remember wondering was what type of person could come up with such a bombastic idea, especially since one of them was a sentient brain floating around in a glass jar, while the other was a French monkey wearing a hat and sporting a gun. 

Now though, well, now I know a lot better than I did before. Not only do I know that the two of them were created by Arnold Drake (writer) and Bruno Premiani (artist) for the Doom Patrol comic book series, circa 1964, but in addition to this, I also know that they’re smart, pretty well rounded, and have a lot going on behind the scenes. After all, how many major villains do you know that can construct a multi-layered plan so smart, so cunning, and so perversely complex, that it almost made me — a comic book reader for over 20 years — stunned and confused as soon as it was revealed? There’s not many. For that I’m sure.

Well, let’s face it, the whole idea behind using drug addicts to take a drug which, once digested, allows these villains to gain more power via their cerebral cortex, is just so dastardly I don’t honestly know where to begin! It’s wrong, completely wrong, and very evil as well. So evil, in fact, that I’m not completely certain how it can work as a stand-alone concept! Can someone out there understand how this works? Because I can’t! Not totally, anyway. As the only thing I can comprehend is that these drugs can turn people into hard disks, which... which... uhhh... The Brain can save stuff onto and, yeah, something like that. Although how that process can help them gain access and take control of the weather? Errrr... I think I’ll pass on that point. Hopefully, it will be better explained next month or maybe one of you can tell me what you think in the comment section below? Either way, all in all, this was a good, conventional comic book, but with quite a few fundamental flaws! 

Now I know this might sound somewhat strange, but whenever I saw all of those different versions of the Brain, popping up, all over the place, I saw them as if they were being accompanied by the following piece of music. It’s from the film, ‘Terminator 2’.

Something else that might sound somewhat strange would have to be my current perception of Monsieur Mallah and the Brain. Or as I like to call them, Pinky and the Brain!

Comparison Made. 

At the end of this issue, Roy Harper manages to shoot Cheshire with a special type of arrow. So, out of the following eight options, let's see if you can guess what type of arrow he shoots her with? Could it be...

  • A Boxing Glove Arrow.
  • A Love Arrow.
  • A Look There’s A Sparrow Arrow.
  • A Stun Arrow.
  • A Marrow Arrow.
  • A Kiss and Put On Some Make-Up Arrow.
  • A Mia Farrow Arrow. 
  • A Cardigan Arrow.
Nuff said. 

TITANS #22 TITANS #22 Reviewed by David Andrews on May 01, 2018 Rating: 5

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