My very first thought when I saw the cover of this trade: Why the hell is Batman with the Teen Titans?? Well, as I read the comic I was given a surprising and rather unexpected answer: that’s Batman alright, but it’s not Bruce Wayne. It’s Tim Drake.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: friggin’ comics.
The first story arc in this trade finds the Titans thrust into the future, a mere ten years from the present day (which, given that this comic came out in 2004, means that all of this, even the “future” events, already happened). The Titans meet the older, more hardened versions of themselves, and find that they haven’t quite lived up to their own expectations. The world is a grim place, and the Titans have adopted a rougher objective: keep people safe by any means necessary.
As the Titans battle themselves in an effort to get home, they try to avoid details about their own futures. They can’t help but ask questions, and some believe the Titans must split up in order to prevent this future from ever happening.
Future Cyborg informs present-day Superboy that the Titans must stay together, and that their breaking up is what lead to this twisted future. Although they find it difficult to reconcile these future selves with the morals they currently uphold, they all seem to agree that Cyborg’s advice is sound, and that they’re better off together. As the Titans find their way back to their own time, they seem more determined than ever to make their team work.
The second half of the trade tied into the continuity a bit more, with one storyline in particular being continued. The events of Identity Crisis were shocking, and I wondered how other comics would keep those events as part of continuity without forcing their own titles to delve into exceedingly mature subject matter. Teen Titans provided the answer. In a rather fitting continuation, Dr. Light’s next appearance after Identity Crisis is in this trade (since , after all, he’s always been a regular foe of the Titans). Of course, this Doctor Light isn’t the same villain the Titans remember. He’s no longer the bumbling fool of old, but a cold, calculated opponent who has his sights on destroying the Titans.
This was a natural progression for the storyline begun in Identity Crisis, and while I’m still digesting the events of that trade, I was interested to see how this would play out. There would undoubtedly be fallout from all that occurred in that story, and here we see the first inkling of just how far-reaching it is.
While certain factions are being split up by the news, the Titans seem to become stronger. They know their fellow heroes have made mistakes, but they also know that they must trust one another if they hope to overpower their enemies. Cyborg seems to be the voice of reason throughout the trade, providing guidance and stability to the team when they need it most.
Titans old and new gather to defeat Doctor Light, in a battle that is anything but easy. They capture him and turn him over to Batman, who turns out to be Deadshot in disguise (how Robin, an incredibly astute detective, didn’t realize this guy wasn’t Batman is beyond me, but whatever.) Clearly Doctor Light’s story isn’t over, and I can only imagine what Deadshot is planning. The significance of this fight, however, isn’t overlooked.
Cyborg confronts Green Lantern directly about the issue in question. With the Titans now aware of what their mentors did, they will surely have doubts. When your heroes fall from the pedestal you’ve placed them on, you must create an entirely new image of them in your mind, and this will definitely be difficult for the Titans. They have held these JLA members in such high regard for so long that to realize they are less than perfect must be incredibly tough. I’m curious to see how the dynamic between the groups changes as this information becomes more public. Surely there will be a division amongst the heroes, with those understanding and in support of wiping enemies’ minds, and those who believe it is entirely wrong. For some, like Superman or Captain Marvel, it’s easy to guess which side they’ll choose. Others are a bit murkier, and could side with either faction.
I’m unsure at this point if the fallout of Identity Crisis will lead to a major split between teams. If this Teen Titans trade is any indication, it’s at least clear that those events will not be soon forgotten. It’s clear their significance has yet to be fully felt.