DC Spinner Rack: Teen Titans #89, Batman, Incorporated #1, Booster Gold #38, Tiny Titans/Little Archie #2

Teen Titans #89

Teen Titans #89

Writer: J.T. Krul
Penciller: Nicola Scott
Inker: Doug Hazlewood

I really need to give up on DC’s team books. With so many characters, they wind up being the repository for all kinds of continuity flotsam, washing up in the book regardless of whether it matters to the story or not.

Now, one might say that the presence of a Robin in the Teen Titans is a bit more relevant than some other plot point, but much of what we’re supposed to understand about his character and the team’s resentment requires knowledge of the recent Batman changes, items I don’t care about. For that reason, about half this comic is irrelevant to me, as characters argue about whether or not Damian Robin should be on the team. In between, there’s some abused kid bad guy whose abilities, purpose, or motivation aren’t fully explained. At least the characters are visually attractive and heroic-looking; too bad their behavior doesn’t match their appearance.

A pointless, unpleasant issue. I’m only bothering to mention it because I’m flabbergasted at how far the craft of serial comic storytelling has declined. By the end of this book, we’ve seen destruction, in-fighting among heroes, and what are we left with as a cliffhanger? Robin screwing up and letting the bad guy (temporarily, I’m sure) take the upper hand. This isn’t a satisfying stopping point, nor does it provide any kind of entertainment value in this issue as a package. It’s a chapter incapable of standing alone, and although it’s now only $3 instead of $4, it’s still not worth it.

Batman, Incorporated #1

Batman, Incorporated #1

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Yanick Paquette
Inker: Michel Lacombe

On the other hand, this starting point was a lot of fun. Not $4 worth, as they’re asking for it, but still fun. You may want to try it beginning with #3, when the price drops to where it should be.

Batman and Catwoman are running around on capers together, and the whole thing is quite playful — so long as you ignore the guy maimed by acid on the first page. Bruce and Selina are in Tokyo to recruit Mr. Unknown, who operates under a comic shop, to become the Japanese Batman, since the title is a franchise now. There’s a bit more fighting than I care for, making the overall story feel lighter (thus my opening comment), but I appreciate the humor.

The thing that made me a fan of the series was the cliffhanger. The panels are separated by black borders with questions to the reader, encouraging them to return to found out what happens. I saw them as a laughing homage to the old TV show. The light tone helps keep the ridiculous amounts of violence and torture from seeming so morbid, and the idea of a Batman who enjoys fighting crime and righting wrongs, complete with a well-chosen partner, I can get behind. Bravo to Morrison for remembering what superhero comics should be like.

Booster Gold #38

Booster Gold #38

Writers: Keith Giffen & J.M. DeMatteis
Art: Chris Batista & Rich Perrotta

OK, enough talking about price now, since everything else I’m going to talk about is at the now-standard price point of $2.99. This is another fun story, remembering the history of the character in a welcoming fashion with a sense of humor and enough of a story that the issue is satisfying in itself.

Booster has found himself guardian of a young girl, who as this story has opened, has stolen a time bubble and run away to World War II. This allows for the return of General Glory. Even if you don’t recall his glory days, during Booster’s time in the Justice League, he works as a parody of an idiotically patriotic hero. His sidekick Ernie also allows for lots of jokes about child endangerment.

The writing’s amusing, putting character first, but there’s still plenty of action in the meantimes. It’s just part of the story, not the focus for its own sake (which I find tiring and childish). Everything’s going a mile a minute, and the result is a packed book that feels like a substantial, worthwhile read. Booster even gets to be clever! The art keeps up with whatever’s required, whether star-spangled action, cast-interaction humor, or childlike fear.

The girl’s motive is unexpected but sensible, from a twisted perspective suitable to her age. I find myself wondering if she’s named Rani as an homage to Doctor Who.

Tiny Titans/Little Archie #2

Tiny Titans/Little Archie #2

Writers: Art Baltazar & Franco
Artist: Art Baltazar

Simply charming. The Tiny Titans Pet Club, due to a misunderstanding, invite Josie and her Pussycats to join. Everyone is adorable in the little people/big head style. I was particularly impressed by how right they got Melody’s voice. As a dumb blonde character, lots of people think they can write her, but it takes a certain skill to get her internal logic consistent and create the right kind of humor.

We also get to see (as one might expect if one thought about it, but this series is most fun if you don’t think, just experience) Little Archie and his buddies in their superhero identities.

Two Quick Bits

I’m still very much enjoying Batgirl, and you’re probably already heard about the comical opening pages of issue #15, where she sums up recent Batman events in a lovely cartoony way by new artist Dustin Nguyen, who’s also quite capable of illustrating the action. Stephanie’s college years are in danger as someone calling themselves the Grey Ghost involves her in a student’s murder. I’m ready for the next issue already!

I don’t really know if many Americans get Knight and Squire, as it seems to be layering on Britishisms with a trowel. Issue #2 makes much of village class distinctions and Morris Men, a kind of re-enactor of folk tradition. Is its foreignness its source of appeal? There are translation and cultural notes from writer Paul Cornell at the back, which help, and artist Jimmy Broxton has a nice clean line and a pleasurable willingness to draw background and setting. If you want to see the funniest page in the issue, go to this review and scroll down.

12 Responses to “DC Spinner Rack: Teen Titans #89, Batman, Incorporated #1, Booster Gold #38, Tiny Titans/Little Archie #2”

  1. Grant Says:

    I agree with you on Batman Inc. I hadn’t picked up a Batman comic in probably a decade at least and thought this would be a good jumping on point. I thought it was surprisingly entertaining and the “Mr. Unknown” character was fun. As was the interplay between Bruce and Selina. Great cover and interior art as well.

    I also picked up the Batgirl one shot and that led me to purchase iss 15, which was a lot of fun. I’ll also say that I doubt I would have picked up any of these titles had it not been for the 2.99 price tag.

    I also thought the Batman/Catwoman one shot by Howard Chaykin was pretty good.

  2. James Schee Says:

    Yeah Morrison does realize you can have fun, his Superman All Star series was a good example of that. Im looking forward to trying this series.

    Damian is annoying, to me and I just don’t see why the other characters in Titans would want to hang with him. Not sure why, other than writer’s whim he would be a part of that team.

    I haven’t tried Booster in a while, I should give it a look.

  3. Johanna Says:

    Glad you’re enjoying Batgirl, Grant! Issue 15’s opening had all the explanation that I thought Teen Titans should have had — and much more entertaining, too.

    James, Batman (whom I think is who I used to call “Nightwing”) thinks it would be good for Damian to learn to trust. I’m not sure how you make that happen by forcing together people who don’t like each other, but as you said, writer’s whim. And history — there’s always a Robin in the Teen Titans.

  4. Dwight Williams Says:

    “Batman-Gotham” is indeed Dick Grayson, the original Robin and later Nightwing…and he may be written as letting his own experiences cloud his judgment here re: Damian and the Teen Titans.

  5. James Schee Says:

    Odd, Grayson has nothing to do with any of these other Titans on the team. (I’m not sure I’ve even read a story where he teamed with any of them)

    Gotta wonder at going “hey you young 16 to 17 year olds, that I’ve never had any dealings with. Here’s a snobbish 10 year old(I think? that’s what he seemed like in Morrison’s first Batman stories) for you to hang out with. It’ll be good for him!”

    On a related note, I’m curious to see how the Young Justice animated series first ep is tonight when I watch it on my DVR.

    Have they collected any of Batgirl series yet? I picked up the issues where she first teamed with Wendy and the one with Supergirl and her vs Dracula. They were a lot of fun.

  6. Grant Says:

    They do have one trade out called Batgirl Rising. I’m not sure how many issues it compiles but at 144 pages I’m assuming the first five.

    Supergirl is something I’ve been trying to get into, but the writing and art are so darn inconsistant. Couple good ones, then a few duds. Makes it hard to be dedicated.

    I just watched Young Justice. I really enjoyed the animation, kind of reminded me of Aeon Flux a bit. The story was okay. However, that new Avengers series is the toon to beat in my opinion. Especially if you’re a fan of silver age Avengers and Peter David era Hulk, which I certainly am. I just wish the comics were as good as the cartoon.

  7. Johanna Says:

    James, it’s putting the importance of the Titans franchise over the members — just like DC does! Good observation.

    Grant, thanks for that info. Batgirl Rising contains #1-7, but according to Amazon, it’s out of print. And I agree with you about Supergirl. The latest issue, #58, has some really intriguing relationships, but it’s also got over-amped stereotypical motivations. Has the creative team changed over yet, or is that still coming?

    I’m looking forward to trying Young Justice — it’s waiting on the TiVo.

  8. Charles Knight Says:

    Anyone know what’s happening with Batgirl? While the writers of that series seem to have their own direction, Batman: The Return seems to set up an entirely different status quo for the character – now if Morrison needs that status quo for part of the payoff of one of his wider stories, are the writers coming to have to bend to that?

  9. Jim Perreault Says:

    Aren’t Changeling and Raven on the current Titan’s team. Dick’s been with both for a long time. But it would be out of character to order him on the team.

  10. Jim Perreault Says:

    Running a bit behind here, but I finally got around to reading Teen Titans 89 and wanted to comment on it.

    I have a slightly different viewpoint then Johanna.

    While it could have a used a bit more exposition, I felt they did a good job of introducing Damian to the team. I have no prior exposure to the character (I didn’t realize they introduced a new Robin ; I thought “Batman and Robin” was an All-Star book featuring Bruce and Dick) and feel I now have a good handle on the character, his abilities, and what motivates him. And I like the fact that he is basically on the team as a favor to Dick, and that the rest of the Titans don’t like him because he is not Tim.

    And while the ending was a bit predictable, it was very much an out growth of the characters and was a satisfying ending. Imagine, stories driven by characterization and not senseless violence! Titans has not been this readable in ages.

    That said, my overall reaction to the issue was quite similar to yours. The book is mostly filled with new characters that I have no particular attachment to. So I have a hard time caring about what happens to them. And the few characters that I do have an emotional attachment to, such as the former Impulse, have changed so much as to be unrecognizable. It is a real barrier to getting into the book. I’d be interested if fans of Kesel’s Superboy have similar reactions.

    (Speaking of Kesel characters, I have the same problem with Dove in Birds of Prey. She bears almost no resemblance to the original character. It’s almost painful to read. Why bring back the character if you’re going to de-power her? )

    Getting back to Titans, I think if I stuck with the book and if participation in company wide crossovers is limited, the characters would probably grow on me. But I already get my teen superhero fix in Avengers Academy, so I’m not likely to pick up another title.

  11. Johanna Says:

    Oh, neat, thanks for sharing your review of the issue. And I agree with your final conclusion — there are other teen books that satisfy me as a reader better without the baggage and confusion of this one.

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