Teen Titans: Life and Death

“Infinite Crisis Week” Day 4!

Sure, some of these comics don’t all tie into Infinite Crisis as directly as others, but they’re all a lead-up to that event, and therefore deserve an honorable mention.  That being said, this comic puts us in the thick of things.  Teen Titans: Life and Death focuses on everyone’s favorite teen superhero team as they deal with the aftermath of Superboy’s attack.  Relegated to the Kents’ farm in Kansas, Connor is out of action for a bulk of the trade while the rest of the Titans are facing the most imminent danger: the OMACs, sleeper agents who have begun attacking meta-humans who have been deemed a threat to society.

Of course, this isn’t the only problem the Titans are facing. Early on in the comics, Tim Drake is confronted and attacked by none other than Jason Todd, who is upset that he seems to have been forgotten by the Titans and replaced by someone else.  He challenges Tim to a fight and beats him senseless, leaving a message for the group on the wall, written in Tim’s blood.

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This scene was really well done, and helps show why these recent comics are so great. Everything is connected.  It would have been easy for the Under the Red Hood storyline to remain rooted in Batman, but here we see Red Hood cross over into Teen Titans to confront his replacement. It’s a realistic inclusion that helps the comics feel more real, with interactions across a number of titles, rather than keeping characters relegated to a single comic.

This scene is quickly overshadowed by the larger story arc though. At this point I was jumping around between trades constantly, with post-its guiding my journey through the comics so I wasn’t facing spoilers within a single trade.  I learned of character reappearances in Infinite Crisis, a story that carries over into this trade as Conner is attacked by Superboy-Prime.

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Superboy-Prime, having watched this Earth from afar, believes he was robbed of his true life, and that Conner is making a mockery of the title of Superboy.  Prime attacks Conner, beating him senseless and fighting anyone who gets in his way, even killing a handful of heroes.

The Flashes unite to banish Superboy-Prime, but Conner is in pretty bad shape.  The Titans band together to seek out a cure to Conner’s ailment, and with the help of Luthor they actually succeed (Luthor wanting Conner alive for his own dastardly plans).

Conner returns to the fight and engages in a fairly epic battle. Unfortunately, Prime returns as well, and as the two battle, the very existence of Earth is at stake. Conner ultimately triumphs, repairing the damage that’s been done and uniting the split universe once more.  Unfortunately, it’s at a terrible cost.

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Conner, the conflicted Superboy who constantly felt torn between the good and evil within himself, is dead.  He died a hero though, saving his world from complete annihilation.  It was difficult to read about Conner’s death, especially because he’s been Superboy for so long and just seemed like a staple character at this point.  I also couldn’t help but notice that in the throes of these crises, Superman always seems to be the one who loses someone.  First Kara in Crisis on Infinite Earths, now Conner.  It’s a heartfelt tragedy, and the fact that Superman can continue to fight and hold out hope in the wake of such losses speaks lengths to his character.

Teen Titans: Life and Death was easily the most poignant and moving trade in the Infinite Crisis lead-up so far.  As a sendoff to Conner it was wonderfully done, reminding readers of his strengths and insecurities as he finally saves the world with the ultimate sacrifice.  Conner’s death saved the world, but the repercussions of the events that led up to his death have yet to be felt.  I’m sure they will be widespread, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the Titans will have to adjust how they operate without Superboy by their side.

-Jess    

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