Nightwing soars through the city skylines on the alternate cover for Titans United.

Titans United! Comic Book Reviews 9/15

This week, I’m going to do something a little different. You’ll notice that I’ve reviewed fewer books this week, only four, but I go deeper into my feelings on them. I felt that I was just speed reading through them to get my opinions out, but that was a mistake. More people aren’t going to read my reviews or be attracted to them because I get them out before the day’s over. I have to have something to say about books that are relevant. I shouldn’t focus on just the ones I read. So this week I focus on new arrivals like Titans United #1 and I Am Batman #1, plus series closers like Rorshach #12, and emotional trips like The Trial of Magneto #2.

These new books were not only good but the most important ones of the week. Titans United is the only book actually about the Titans right now. I love Teen Titans Academy, but it’s about new characters. That’s a great thing, but we also want a book with Titans we love and that’s Titans United.

I Am Batman is even more important because Tim Fox is finally Batman in a canon continuity. Another group of people can now better see themselves as Batman in a series that’s of high production quality, just as we deserve.

And my love for Tom King stories deserves to be tested as Rorschach tests me this week. I hope what I have to say interests you, and convinces you to consider reading these comics if you haven’t already or don’t plan to.

Titans United #1

Written by: Cavan Scott

Penciling by: Jose Luis

Inking by: Jonas Trindade

Coloring by: Rex Lokus

Lettering by: Carlos M. Mangual

Does this comic only exist because of the show? Yeah.

Does it have an exciting Titans roster, plus Hawk and Dove? Yes.

Do I like it because it has the Red Hood in it? Actually no.

Red Hood being on the team is usually enough to make me like a story. But admitting that, not only is he rather pointless in this issue, he’s the most annoying character in Titans United. He doesn’t actually offer any skill set being that he doesn’t shoot anyone; he never talks to Nightwing, his only emotionally deep relationship on the team; and the villain has nothing to do with him. There’s really no reason for Red Hood to be in Titans United as of yet.

This also means that if you love this otherwise classic roster of Titans, several being my favorites, you may still like this issue. Characterizations are in peak form for everyone but the Red Hood, but he’s also not the star of the show. 

While the plot of Titans United is a simple “stop the out-of-control superpowered guy” story, the story behaves as if the situation puts the Titans in a tough position. Here, they’re all constantly on the back foot, trying to contain the problem without hurting him. By focusing on the heroes saving people, I got to really enjoy their character interactions. Whether it’s Beast Boy quips calming down civilians or Raven risking incredible pain to same the man on fire, some of DC’s greatest heroes are living up to their reputation. The best moments of a story tend to be when the heroes show how kind they are.

This issue even does something really special by giving Superboy a standout moment, nearly sacrificing himself to save the city. I’ll admit, the panels of him falling back to earth, with Starfire and Donna being too slow to catch him, are chilling.

I honestly believe this issue actually would have been better without the Red Hood. He’s just needlessly mean in Titans United. Sure, the Red Hood badgers people, but he’s hostile and mean-spirited for no reason. Unless there’s some rivalry between Red Hood and Superboy I don’t know about, this is incredibly out of character for Jason. 

So, if you’re looking for post-Infinite Frontier Red Hood to bring something new to the Titans dynamic, he doesn’t do it in this issue. If you want to see some classic Titans saving people as they should, you will get that too.

I Am Batman #1

Written by: John Ridley

Art by: Olivier Copiel

Coloring by: Alex Sinclair

Lettering by: ALW’s Troy Peteri

This new start to John Ridley’s tale about Tim Fox becoming Batman fixes a lot of my problems with the original series. He’s finally in the Batsuit, trying to learn how to be Batman, with amazing art from Olivier Copiel. 

Real quick on the art front, Olivier Copiel’s art appears different from his usual work here. Save for a few full-page shots, there’s this more squishy feel that makes the linework appear softer than usual. That’s not to say it’s worse or better than his previous work, it’s just different. It works for this story and character. I would not be surprised if a lot of what I’m noticing has to do with Alex Sinclair’s coloring. Suffice to say, this issue is immaculately crafted.

When it comes to the story, it’s exciting to see Tim finally be Batman. The way he fights is as just as visually interesting as Bruce Wayne but in different ways. He sticks close to the streets rather than flying between gargoyles. There’s this awesome choreography to how he zooms between people, taking them down from his motorcycle rather than from above. The addition of batons to his fighting style also adds variety to his fisticuffs. He isn’t quite Daredevil or Nightwing, being neither a bruiser or an acrobat in how he uses them. Tim Fox feels like someone whose truly trying to disable and mobilize, without being brutal as Bruce can be sometimes.

Batman has been a comic series I go to for action as much as the story. Seeing how this new creative team brings something new to the action as much as they do the storytelling sets a high bar for the rest of the series.

And while I do think the new voice of Batman can be jarring, its jarring in a good way. Tim Fox’s Batman does not sound like Bruce Wayne’s Batman. In no way is someone going to think they’re the same person under the mask. At the same time, he still feels like Batman, having the same moral and heroic values. The big difference is that Tim Fox looks at everything from the ground level, rather than from on high where Bruce sees everything.

This all makes for an excellent new title to join the litany of other Batman titles on the shelves.

Rorschach #12

The main character of Rorschach walks through doors painted with the design of a Rorschach mask.
I’m gonna need a teacher to help me understand this issue.

Written by: Tom King

Art by: Jorge Fornes

Coloring by: Dave Stewart

Lettering by: Clayton Cowles

I don’t get it.

I honest to god don’t understand what happened at the end of this series. Sometimes there are series that are better when binged all at once, and I’m okay with that. Being easier to understand when binged doesn’t make a series worse to me. I’d be a hypocrite considering my favorite comic book series became my favorites after I binged them. 

I don’t think that’s the problem with Rorshach. The problem with Rorshach is that it spends so much time trying to get us in the head of the main character, without ever telling us anything substantial about him. The series has spent so much time getting sidetracked, that when we get to this last chapter, I have no idea what motivations this main character has to justify his actions. 

Does he snap? Has he always been working with the would-be Rorschachs? I don’t know, but I do know and understand the would-be Rorschachs almost intimately. I feel as if I know why they did what they did almost intimately. If the ending were predicated on a lesson to learn from the would-be Rorshachs, it would have been an ending I could understand. It would be one that connects on an emotional level. 

But it’s not. The ending is predicated on the haphazard actions of a character readers barely know. This is one of those moments where we’re supposed to be entertained by how clever the character is, rather than the reasoning behind his actions. A good story entertains by interweaving both, but Rorshach #12 doesn’t do that here. This leaves me believing that Rorshach is Tom King’s weakest book and my least favorite of his by far. Kind of ironic considering Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow is my favorite and they’ve been coming out at the same time.

The Trial of Magneto #2

Magneto tears the armor right off of Iron Man.
Get ’em Magneto! That sounded weird.

Written by: Leah Williams

Art by: Lucas Werneck

Coloring by: Edgar Delgado

Lettering by: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Just to answer Magneto’s question, I am enjoying the view. If you read the issue, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.

Bad jokes aside, the Trial of Magneto continues to feel emotionally intelligent. No one’s acting out of character, and nothing’s happening for the sake of the plot. The tension between the characters is real as they are all in mourning, yet opposed to each other. The X-Men and Krakoa have so much to protect, and the Avengers want to know exactly what it is they protect. There’s this thin line of respect that keeps everything civil and respectful, but it’s so easy for the line to give way. 

This book constantly gives characters the chance to be their worst or best selves. Each time they chose to indulge or restrain themselves, they make decisions completely in character. Whether it’d be Jean Grey’s refusal to wipe the Avenger’s minds, or Emma Frost’s choice to trick them, Captain America’s open mourning, or Quicksilver’s apology; for once, death has brought people to their best self because of respect.

Except for Charles, but who expected that?

Even Magneto, in his own twisted way, is just trying to protect Krakoa. He’s willing to throw himself down at the feet of the people he sees as wolves, to assure that Krakoa is safe from them. This fear is so incredibly human that it’s terrifying to see him try to give himself over to the Avengers.

Yet, it may sound like this issue isn’t about the one their mourning, Wanda Maximoff. In actuality, it’s quite the opposite. Almost every page is about Wanda because nearly every character is mourning her.

While she appears less than she did in the previous issue, her appearances in the space between life and death are more poignant, especially at the end. Honestly, I’m shocked this wasn’t spoiled for me, and I’m thankful for that.

Death and Rebirth in Titans United, I Am Batman, and The Trial of Magneto

For the cover of Titans United, Beast Boy, Raven, Starfire, and somehow Nightwing soar over the water in front of Titans Tower.
The (TV) Titans are back!

I read some banger issues this week, and I hope my deeper, and at times, more emotional opinions about them gave you something interesting to read. Titans United hit me as a fanboy, but I Am Batman and The Trial of Magneto did so even more. I cannot recommend them more and I would be shocked if they don’t become some of my favorite comic books of the year. 

If you want to see my thoughts on the excellent first issue of The Trial of Magneto and the previous adventures of Tim Fox as Batman, keeping reading with Something Central. I hope you enjoy this more selective choice of reviews. I think it’s better than me talking about the same few books I’m reading each week. Especially when they may not appeal to everyone or even anyone.

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