I’m not sure why any of these characters are following Deathstroke, and from the looks of things, he’s not completely certain, either. Wallace gives the reader a peek into the thoughts of nearly every one of Deathstroke’s “Un-Titans.”
The comic opens with a scene that brings Ray Palmer into the title. From there we meet a guard at Arkham Asylum letting Deathstroke and his merry band of miscreants in so they can complete a mission: liberating one of the inmates. The mission isn’t clearly defined for the reader and appears to be equally muddled for the characters, but the story does allow Wallace to try out some ideas that are as far from cookie-cutter basic as possible. Some of those ideas succeed and offer unexpected surprises, and some of those ideas fail miserably.
The guard presents an aspect and insight of Gotham citizenry that is rarely displayed: logic. Realizing that the number of loonies in Gotham outnumbers (relatively speaking) and dismembers the number of “average Joes,” he realizes he needs to get out. In order to accomplish that, he looks to Deathstroke to provide that big payday that will leave Gotham in the rearview. Sure, corrupt cops are nothing new in Gotham-based comic books, but the motivation this guard uses for his actions is more human than the motivation (“He promised me this, so I’m with him. For now.”) used by most of the characters following Deathstroke.
From there, naturally, all hell breaks loose, at least partially because it’s been nearly half a year since Arkham has been broken into/out of/blown up. The end result is a cover bathed in Batfoes and a story that doesn’t wrap up in this issue. The release of the Arkham inmates allows Osiris to have a confrontation with Killer Croc whom Osiris irrationally identifies as Sobek, the killer of Osiris’ sister, Isis.
Fabrizio Fiorentino and Cliff Richards provide the gritty, lived-in art for this issue. Much of the art has a “reproduced from the pencil art” feel to it, which works in some cases, but just makes the story feel incomplete. The grittiness giveth and the grittiness taketh away. Overall, though, for a comic book featuring some of the most foul characters in the DC Universe, the gritty style is a well-devised fit.
As much as I haven’t enjoyed either “Titans,” or “Teen Titans,” I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this issue of not-“Titans.” The story moves at a nice clip, offers a vast array of characters, and delivers plenty of action.