Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Minkyu Jung
It’s strange to me that all of the books I review are bi-weekly, yet Titans is monthly. It makes me feel as though I’m missing out on something each fortnight while I read through everything else. So when I saw the annual pop up, I was excited, but also a little hesitant. I love the current arc that Abnett is tackling in the main series, but annuals are notorious for telling one-off stories and maybe occasionally tying into the series in some way. This is not the case for Titans Annual #1.
I’ve read some sloppy annuals in the past, and this is not one of them. In fact, I would wager to say that this is the second best annual I have ever read – the first being the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 which introduced the Sinister Six. With the cover advertising the Titans going “face-to-face with the Justice League” I was very intrigued as how this issue might play out. What I got, however, was far from what I was expecting. The premise is something I’m sure you’re familiar with; team wakes up in a large room together – no idea how they got there – someone pulling the strings – tension, tension, tension galore. However, the added element of having the four Titans’ mentors from the League in the room with them made this book amazingly interesting to me.
We see almost from the beginning that a long-time foe of the Justice League is behind the gathering: The Key. Although he isn’t working alone. Who is he working for? Well apparently, we are going to find out in the pages of Titans, which is one of the most exciting aspect of this annual. Backing up to when I said annuals don’t normally tend to tie-in directly to what’s going on – this one does, and it’s the continuity and respect for the current story line while showing us something new that is (potentially) (definitely) going to be a part of the upcoming story is wonderful. This book doesn’t feel like an annual – it feels like a sneak-peak at what’s to come, and I am a sucker for sneak-peaks at what’s to come.
In terms of writing, I have always loved the way Abnett handles this team book. He writes each character with such care and clever craftsmanship that you forget it’s a team book at all – and this annual is no exception. Not only does Abnett tackle the Titans, but the League as well. Quite honestly, his writing of Batman and Nightwing together was some of the best I’ve ever seen. The dialogue between Wally and Barry was heartwarming and made me smile to no end. Diana and Donna reached a new level of connection that gave me chills. Garth and Arthur weren’t really explored in the same sort of way, but their interactions were still spot on. Basically, Abnett nailed it. Absolutely hit the nail right on the head.
Mind you, he didn’t only get the characterizations right. The actual story itself was so much fun to read. It honestly felt like something from a DC animated film or series and that’s a particularly nostalgic vibe for not only me but a whole huge group of people. Along with this, the art from Jung was even better than I remember it. You may recall my love for Jung’s work from his first ever full length debut in Nightwing #15 after “I discovered” his work in the New Talent Showcase #1 from last December. Every single panel felt so personal and detailed and honestly I want Jung to take over as the primary artist on a series because there is some serious talent there that is not being used to the extent of its abilities. If you hadn’t gathered by now, I loved this issue. I could talk forever, but I won’t.
One of the most interesting and engaging stories I’ve read in a while, Abnett and Jung took this book to a whole new level that I didn’t know was possible. While I’m already loving the current arc, this annual has made me incredibly excited for what’s to come! If you read one book this week – this month – this year – make it this one.
Images courtesy of DC Entertainment