Blackest Night: Titans #1 – 3 Review

Someone’s going to look at the cover below and make a Beast Boy necrophilia joke aren’t they?

Written by J.T. Krul and drawn by Ed Benes, Blackest Night: Titans is the Teen Titans tie-in to the Blackest Night event, with a select number of the team dealing with Black Lantern versions of their old friends. And Terra.

The Teen Titans (Well, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Starfire, Hawk and Dove, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Geo-Force and Donna Tory)  gather at Titans Tower in San Francisco to celebrate Heroes Day (Which I assume, if one is to believe Blackest Night: Superman, happens on Memorial Day), when they remember their fallen comrades in the room that has statues of them.

Wonder Girl wise, we learn that when Kid Flash and Superboy returned from the dead, Wonder Girl started to believe that anything is possible as she used to think death was it. But during this story, we find out, via the Black Lanterns manipulations, that Wonder Girl is afraid that she isn’t a true Amazon like Donna Troy and she is divided by her feelings for Tim Drake, and her feelings for Superboy.

As for Donna Troy, she has cheated death more times than she cares to remember, but knows that for most people, death is the end. Something that’s made worse by the fact that her husband Terry and her son Robert died in a random car accident. This has led her to believe that if Death can work like a two-way street for people like them, it could do the same for their loved ones.

Thus, Donna Troy then confronted by Black Lantern versions of Robert and Terry, with Robert bitting her and infecting her with the Black Lantern’s power (Which is all sorted out in the main Blackest Night story). And now, because of the events of this story, every memory Donna had of Terry and Robert has been poisoned as she will never be able to think of them and not remember this night, and having to destroy their bodies.

We also learn that that is still trouble among some of the more long-term members of the Teen Titans over what happened with Terra. For example, Starfire (Who never liked Terra anyway) doesn’t know why Terra’s statue is still up there, as she was a traitor, and believes that Beast Boy should face the truth and stop deluding himself about his non-existent relationship with her.

Then again, Black Lantern Lilth reveals Starfire still loves Dick Grayson to the point that her vision of true happiness is marrying him, but believes that because she’s a warrior, she can never be in a happy relationship or something mildly sexist. So Starfire comes off slightly hypocritical here.

Cyborg, like Starfire, also has his doubts about Terra, and knows that beast Boy knows the truth, yet believes Beast Boy is an optimist that just picked the wrong girl to believe in. We also see via Black Lantern Lilth that Cyborg’s vision of true happiness is being whole again, and via the other Black Lanterns that Cyborg is constantly confronted by the fact that many Titans have died and he feels responsible for it. So maybe there is a little bit of guilt there with Terra (Though not likely considering how The Judas Contract was actually written).

And finally, Beast Boy who, despite what Starfire thinks about her still thinks that Terra was a Teen Titan, and would have made a great one given the chance. That said, Beast Boy has always known what everyone thought about Terra, but choose to believe that Terra deep down was a good person. Furthermore, he quite correctly notes that Ravager had her mind poisoned by Deathstroke, and but after Tim Drake saved her, she became now one of the Teen Titans.

However, despite having always wanted to be with Terra, during the story, Beast Boy is confronted by Black Lantern Terra, being forced to deal with a version of her that seems to live up to what Starfire claimed she was. And in the end, having confronted this version of Terra, Beast Boy is finally able to admit to himself that he knew that Terra was a horrible person, and everything that she was and he saw in her was all made up in his head, and none of it was real. However, Beast Boy will still always love her.

And finally Hawk and Dove (Holly and Dawn Granger), who confront a Black Lantern Hawk and have things go very badly for them. We see that, as you would expect, Dove still cares for Hank Hall (The original Hawk). True, Hall was seen to be smug, pompous, egotistical, and sexist, which Holly believes, especially since he ended up as a bad guy, but Dove believes that no one saw that Hank’s persona was just an armour and this creates friction between the two.

We also see further friction between the two as Holly disagrees with Dove wanting her to go to college again, she believes Dove wants her to be like her, by doing something that will help her get into social work. However, Dove is doing this because being an Avatar of War caused Hank to become a bad guy, as Hank though he was stronger than the rage when he wasn’t, and she doesn’t want Holly turn out that way.

It’s a shame that Hawk and Dove are confronted by Black Lantern Hawk who kills Hawk and turns her into a Black Lantern. Something that really traumatises Dove (Asides from the fact that she just witnessed her sister get brutally murdered), Holly was Dove’s only sister and while she never knew her while growing up, when she did meet her, they became fast friends.

During the mini-series, we also learn that Don Hall, the original Dove, is unable to be turned into a Black Lantern because of his status as a champion of peace, something that Dove also has. And in the end, Dove’s powers of peace destroy the Black Lanterns and server their connection to their rings, but also give her a vision of Don Hall asking her to save Black Lantern Hawk who escapes the battle with Black Lantern Terra and Garth.

We also learn how other members of the Teen Titans, or in one case, their villains, deal with grief. Basically, Deathstroke deals with his grief by just focusing on those responsible and getting revenge. Hence why, at the beginning of the story, we see that Deathstroke kills a member of HIVE every year on Grant Wilson’s grave as he believes that HIVE should never have hired him to go after the Titans due to the fact it got him killed, and because of that, the Titans and HIVE are still paying for that mistake. Red Star, as Donna Troy notes, deals with grief head-on, clinging onto the memories of his dead friends because that’s all he has of them. And Ravager, as Donna Troy notes, is incapable of coping with grief and thus just does her best to ignore it altogether. Mostly by sleeping with random men and threatening to cut off certain parts of their body if they don’t quickly leave.

This mini-series, considering Teen Titans stories in recent years, isn’t bad actually. Teen Titans continuity is notoriously complicated and, to be honest, this story is really for the hardcore Teen Titans fans, and it’s not that accessible to new fans.  And yeah, that does also mean we do get a lot of exposition a lot of the team. Plus, it probably needed a smaller cast as well, as really, Cyborg and Starfire aren’t that well used here.

But the mini-series feels a bit more important to the Blackest Night event that other Blackest Night mini-series do, but at the same time it’s pretty self-contained. All you really need to know is heroes are being resurrected as evil Hannibal Lector-like super-zombies. And away you go.

During the mini-series, there are some interesting and really sympathetic conflicts for the characters here, and like Blackest Night: Batman, the mini-series does play up to its horror genre theme really well. This isn’t a comfortable story to read, especially when you remember one scene involves a mother, tearfully, having to crush her own zombie-baby to death. Plus, the mystery about Dove is an interesting one that seems like it could be important to the main Blackest Night plot (Yeah, at the time of writing, I still haven’t read it).

The art by Ed Benes though is okay. It’s a bit Liefeld-esque for its own good, and during this mini-series Benes is joined by numerous inkers, a fact that is noticeable when reading the comic. Plus, it’s a bit too sleek for a horror comic. That said, it’s a superhero-horror story, so I guess you can get away with it. Just. That said, it’s not a bad looking comic at all, just not as good as Benes’ other work.

In the end, Blackest Night: Titans is an enjoyable mini-series and Blackest Night tie-in, but one that will probably more enjoyable to long-term fans of the Teen Titans.

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