With the end of the year settling in, it seems as though DC is cleaning out the inventory drawers. Between “Green Lantern/Plastic Man: Weapons of Mass Deception,” the 80-page Giants, the late launching miniseries such as “Batman: Orphans,” and this issue, there are no shortage of “continuity-lite” comics available for the casual fan or even for the fan who wants to be a little more casual in the reads that round out the year.
A quick page count reveals that this issue was paced to possibly work out as two issues, maybe as a fill-in during the unsteady, erratic recent past of “Teen Titans.” If that’s the case, or if this story was designed as a tryout for a team that never quite had a chance to congeal, then shame on DC. This is one of the most enjoyable “Teen Titans” stories I’ve read in a while. I find it odd that DC would choose now to release this story, with the current “Teen Titans” team of Krul and Scott just gaining traction.
Nonetheless, Sable’s story – although a reflection of times past – is spirited and fits nicely between panels and covers of the recent past. The story is narrated from Robin’s point of view, but it occurs during a time when Robin’s thoughts couldn’t be more tangled, after his father had died and his best friend had sacrificed himself in battle. Sable manages to jam in a throng of Flash’s Rogues (but no Flash) and Deathstroke, as well.
Murphy’s art has been properly praised elsewhere, and, I’m certain has received critique elsewhere as well, but in this story, in the tale of the Rogues and the Titans, Murphy’s art is vibrant and bouncy, filled with subtle details (like the poster in Robin’s room, or the logo on Ravager’s whale tail) Murphy builds a cartoony world that eludes our grasp, just beyond the paper of this comic. These characters fill that world nicely, bouncing through it and living in it. Murphy makes great framing choices, such as the staggered pan down Captain Cold from head to toe, accenting story points along the way.
Murphy doesn’t stop with detail and framing selections, choosing to forsake detail on some pages in favor of emotion, ambiance, or action. The spread of Kid Devil and Ravager – two Titans I had little patience for before this issue – leaping into action is stunning in both composition and juxtaposition. There are two panels that take up the entire page, one jammed with detail, the other limited to stark silhouette and orange highlights. In a glimpse, this one spread summarizes the entirety of this issue, Murphy’s line, Anderson’s color, Sable’s story. It’s a good read, one I suspect that will be overlooked, but most certainly shouldn’t. For fans of the “One Year Later” crew of “Teen Titans;” fans of Sable, Murphy, or Anderson; or fans of good comics in general, this book is most definitely worth a look.