TITANS ANNUAL #2

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[ CASH GRAB
There once was a man named Chris, who unfortunately was addicted to Bliss. Yet little did he know, this drug wasn't like blow, because it perpetually kept on taking the piss. Want to know more? Then please check out the following story created By Dan Abnett, Tom Grummett, Tom Derenick, and published by DC Comics in May, 2018.

TO QUOTE Stephen Hawking: 'We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain'. 

THE REVIEW:
After all these many months of making plans, setting up deals, and developing strategies, they’ve done it, they’ve finally done it: Monsieur Mallah and The Brain have finally defeated the Justice League and taken over the entire planet, doing so by increasing The Brains mental capabilities to such an extent that he can now control and manipulate weather, time, and even technology. 

The one thing he can’t control, however, would be the remaining members of The Titans, namely: Roy, Donna, Dick, and Wally, who aptly jump into action and try to take down these two villains before they attempt to impose their will throughout the galaxy.

But can they do this? And if they can, will Roy be able to forgive Dick and Wally for attacking him previously? Also, now that The Brain is an all-powerful entity, seemingly a God, will he lose his humanity as well as his love for his shaggy-haired partner? Want to know more? Then please pick up this Titans Annual today. In the meantime though, here, check this out…

Part One) DO YOU WANT TO FIGHT:   Have you ever been involved in a fight? And I do mean a real fight, where fists fly, heads slam, and legs break! If you have, then I’m sure you must know how draining the overall experience can be. After all, you have to defend yourself without having to overexert yourself, while trying your best to avoid wasting a lot of time and energy by standing around and talk, talk, talking, about one thing or another.

Now the main reason why I bring this point up is because that is precisely what two of the characters featured in this adventure actually do: They mope around and moan about the people they’re associated with, rather than focusing on the task at hand and resolving it once and for all.

Unfortunately, the biggest culprit in this department was none other than Roy Harper, otherwise known as the Titan, Arsenal, as he spends so much time moaning about his previous encounter with Dick and Wally, that it gradually becomes more and more annoying the more he talks about it. It was too annoying; if truth be told, especially since he’s supposed to be a hero who’s fighting against an earth-shattering disaster, not a five-year-old schoolboy who’s more concerned about proving his friends wrong while proving himself right! I mean, he’s an expert, right? A professional! Not a kid crying over his cornflakes. 

Regrettably, the second biggest culprit was Monsieur Mallah, one of the main villains, who basically came across like a hormonal teenage girl by weeping his way throughout the entire book, complaining about how ‘His man’ is constantly ignoring him. As a matter of fact, he does this so often that after a while it becomes pretty damn obvious what he’s going to do when this adventure reaches its climax. Admittedly, up to a point, I could sympathize with his coquettish and emotional situation, but in the same breath, too much was too much, and just like Roy, the more he spoke about his feelings towards The Brain, the more it became obvious what he was eventually going to do.

But then again, how else was Dan Abnett going to get these chunks of exposition across? Particularly since a good portion of this narrative, this textual narrative, revolved around the interpersonal relationships shared between some of the central characters, mainly, how they have to come to terms with those people who surround them. That said, however, in this instance, it did slow down some of the action and make things very-very apparent. So much so, that it actually turned this story from a climactic conclusion into a pretty predictable plot.

Part Two) NEW FOR OLD:   Don’t worry, though, because this adventure did have some redeeming features. Not many, mind you, but some, starting with the one thing it successfully accomplished: That being to conclude a grand and epic adventure that showcased multiple characters and multiple plot-lines, doing so while acknowledging the fact that this story will lead into another one further down the line.

Well, as some of you may know, in the month of June this series is going to be rebranded by DC Comics. Initially, this will involve the members of this team joining the ‘No Justice’ saga before moving on to there very own ‘Titans Special’. Then during this one-off, we should be presented with a new roster of heroes that will include: Nightwing, Red Robin, Beast Boy, Raven, Steel, Miss Martian, and touch wood, fingers crossed, Donna Troy. By all accounts, this new book sounds like it’s heading in an exciting new direction, much more exciting than the one we’ve currently received. Heck, when this series first began, I was hoping that Dan would be able to make it into something special, something relevant, and something that would be able to pay homage to the past while acknowledging the future. But unfortunately, no, we never really got that, did we? What we got instead was a number of fairly okay-ish storylines that showcased and re-interpreted certain characters that on occasion became lost in translation.

Take this present storyline for instance, 'The Great Brain Robbery', which basically took two cheesy villains from the 1960s, Monsieur Mallah and The Brain, and then tried to make them more relevant and menacing than they were in the past. While this was going on there was also a subplot that touched upon Roy Harper’s addictions as well as his love life, specifically, the love he has for his fellow team-mate, Donna Troy, along with his lover, Cheshire. In doing so, however, the tone of the overall adventure was lacking a certain edge normally required for this type of personal yet elaborate melodrama. An edge, I hasten to add, that felt even more obtuse because Roy came across like a man with a chip on his shoulder; Monsieur Mallah came across like a coquettish jealous schoolgirl; and The Brain came across like a frigid plank of wood. Or in other words, these characters showed no personality, no charisma, and no pizzazz, which was something I was hoping we’d get from a grand and epic adventure that showcased multiple characters and multiple plot-lines.

Part Three) TALE OF THE TWO TOMS:   The first time I ever picked up a Titans comic book it was drawn by one of the two artists assigned to illustrate this annual: Tom Grummett. Now if I remember rightly it was at the start of the now famous ‘Titans Hunt’ saga, circa 1990, issue 71, which featured the Wildebeest Society teaming-up with the evil forces of Azarath and Deathstroke in order to take down the New Titans (Please note, I said ‘New Titans’, emphasis on ‘New’). This was obviously the first part of a much larger story-arc which has since gone on to become a classic tale that has been very difficult to imitate or top, largely due to the writing of Marv Wolfman as well as the artwork of Tom Grummett.

Well, just take a look at some of the artwork provided and see for yourself how good he really is. I personally appreciate the amount of detail he instills into each of his characters as it gives them a bold and clean-cut demeanor that’s bursting with life. Tom also has a very refined way of composing the flow of his action sequences so they're very easy to follow, be it with a punch, be it with a kick, or be it with a hop, skip, and jump. In fact, his artwork is so nice, so bold, and so vivid to look at, that when Tom Derenick jumps on board by page 18, well, I’m afraid to say that the jolt in styles felt rather jarring, to say the least.

Now don’t get me wrong, folks, as I’m not trying to say that Derenick’s style of art is totally rubbish: Because it’s not, no, not in the slightest. If anything, you can tell that he’s putting in some effort so he can keep up with Grummett’s style of panel layouts and character compositions. Unfortunately for him, though, no, it doesn’t always work out, because as the story then progresses you’ll notice that his style is a lot less polished in comparison and lacks a certain consistency in its tone and grace. 

Still, never mind, eh? At the end of the day, everyone involved completed the job they set out to accomplish. After all, an adventure was told, a conclusion took place, and as push comes to shove, all in all, job-done, and well done.

THE MUSIC:
For this month’s musical match-up I’d like to partner this annual with the Eminem song, ‘Brain Damage’, simply because this ailment would help you enjoy reading it. Also, it has the word Brain in it, so there’s that too.




THE COMPARISON:
In very loose terms this adventure is about certain characters coming to terms with those people who surround them. You know, just like those silly sods featured in a daytime soap opera.

Comparison made.

THE CONCLUSION:
At the end of this episode, Monsieur Mallah picks up The Brain and notices that there’s something different about him. So, out of the following eight options, let’s see if you can guess what that something is? Could it be…

  • That he’s now a kettle.
  • That he’s now made out of tin. 
  • That he’s now dented.
  • That he’s now the new head of Lucas Film.
  • That he's now married to a bidet. 
  • That he now looks good on a shelf.
  • That he now would make a great paperweight.
  • That he now smells of piss. 
Nuff said.

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