It’s that time of year when annual issues start to sprout up, which should make fair weather fans and comic addicts alike giddy; that’s partly because annuals allow readers to get one self contained story with a definitive conclusion at the end. They also typically harbor details that will be explored in future issues. We check out Titans Annual #1 and answer the question, is it good?
Titans Annual #1 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The official summary reads:
When Dick, Wally, Donna and Garth awaken in an unfamiliar place, they find themselves face-to-face with their mentors: Batman, The Flash, Wonder Woman and Aquaman! Allied together against a common foe, the mentors and protégés must race against the clock to unlock the secret of their current predicament and save the planet from an alien invasion!
Why does this book matter?
Titans has been a rollicking good time; the series is quite good at capturing the fun and spirit of a superhero team book and it’s still developing its characters since they only got together a few months ago.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Flash, meet flash!
Dan Abnett writes a solid issue from beginning to end with no filler or boring bits to drag the page count up. The characters are brought into a situation they can’t explain as they’re trapped in some kind of underground tunnel and need to use their wits to figure out how to get out. The beauty of this issue lies in the dynamics of the characters. As the cover implies, each hero has a match, which seems to be a major factor in why they’re there: Batman and Nightwing, Flash and Flash, Donna Troy and Wonder Woman are a few of the duos that are matched up and as the characters attempt to think their way out of this prison they realize maybe they’re there to test each other. It’s a clever plot the villain sets up and it ends up reaping character changing results.
While Abnett works in the character work as the heroes play off each other, there’s some good action too. Trapped and attempting to find a way out, the villain thrusts baddies in the heroes’ way to punch and kick through; it’s a way to raise the temperature so to speak so that they’ll eventually crack. Under the surface of it all, there’s a diabolical scheme to psychologically weaken the heroes as well. This ends up giving the entire book a bit more purpose (and an interesting cliffhanger), but also allow their characters to shine through.
Minkyu Jung draws this issue with colorist Adriano Lucas backing him up. Facial expressions are where it’s at in this issue with the characters shining through very well. Even Batman’s smug and flat expressions help imbue a sense of distrust that flows through the issue. The Flash’s expressions are particularly intriguing since they respect each other so much and that shines through well. There’s a dark moodiness to the issue too, due to the ink work and use of shadow, which helps the brooding distrust shine through when the characters are simply standing around. The action looks great too: a four page fighting montage is kicked off with a fantastic double page layout of the heroes slugging away and teaming up to beat the crap out of the villains. In one page, three panels run vertically up the page to showcase some fantastic dynamic angles as the heroes beat away.
Nightwing’s knees are going to be shot by the age of 30.
It can’t be perfect can it?
My only gripe is how a character takes some new information. I won’t name names to avoid spoilers, but they break down so quickly into tears it’s a bit much. Given the information, I’d be upset too, but they’re so over the top with their emotions it seemed less believable.
Is It Good?
This is an excellent annual that’s well worth your dime. Dan Abnett writes character so damn well and this issue has plenty of it along with a big revelation. On top of all that, the art is sharp and moody perfect for a comic where superheroes distrust each other.