Winick’s creations Grace and Thunder are back, and Thunder seems as different–sporting a new costume and more confident attitude–as Grace seems unchanged, at least until we learn the two have started a relationship, and Grace may not be entirely human. They go from reboot to reboot, and relive the same human experiences over and over. When Arsenal lead the Titans, by the by, was when his romance with Donna Troy made sense; here, it’s just been puppy love and banter that never quite won this reader over. A Monitor appears behind the scenes in Nightwing: Love and War, and that meeting is referenced in Supergirl: Identity. Supergirl: Identity takes place before Katana’s costume change in Outsiders: Pay as You Go; the trade also flashes-back to scenes prior to Superman: Up, Up, and Away. The Teen Titans appear in Supergirl: Identity after the events of Teen Titans: Titans Around the World. In the Renegade arc, Nightwing was drawn with the red because of the recent events taking place making him different from the pure blue that the old Nightwing was, and the red signifies that, as it is the color of blood.
It’s the same for these Titans, who got less than 25 issues before they broke up; after Wolfman’s Titans, and Devin Grayson’s, and Judd Winick’s, it’s hard to see the appeal of these childhood friends working together, knowing they’ll eventually split — and different from the League, buffeted by events in their own titles, that the Titans often split for angst-ridden interpersonal differences makes it doubly exhausting. I was trying to think how we got to this Arsenal from Marv Wolfman’s earlier purple-suited government super-spy; Harper became perhaps a little less imposing when he lead the post-Zero Hour team of junior Titans, but it seems to me he became a joke all at once after Cry for Justice, not gradually, and then the wildly different New 52 version just cemented it. But Titans Vol. 4: Titans Apart reads like an expanded story from DC Universe Presents, where Harper got some time in the sun back in the day. Abnett’s Roy Harper skews a little older than Scott Lobdell’s, which is good too, with shades of the Arsenal of old. If your little one wants to travel through the night as Nightwing, you can give them what they want. Both heroes never give up.
With this trade, writer Judd Winick returns to the premise of Outsiders, a team of rogue heroes taking a proactive stance against villains, and the premise works better and feels more natural than it did even when the series started. Outsiders: The Good Fight, the fifth volume of Judd Winick’s Outsiders series, reintroduces the team after jumping a year forward in time as part of DC Comic’s “One Year Later” event. Those aren’t part of the suit. Again, an Arsenal spotlight isn’t the worst thing, and it’s especially nice to see extended work by Paul Pelletier and part of an annual by Tom Grummett. Factor in toys, apparel and any other piece of licensed merchandise and you begin to see why making significant alterations to a character can be bad for business. Begin craftsmen below is another inspirational post for you. The newest tease features the presumably finished project, and as you can see in the post below (via @SkyknightLCG), it’s looking pretty fantastic. But the League trying to shut the Titans down requires a variety of leaps of logic, including that the League has any jurisdiction over the Titans at all, that the League blames the Titans for issues involving Donna Troy that are either no one’s fault or the League’s itself, and also Abnett posits a subservience of Nightwing to Batman that we just don’t see reflected elsewhere.
Donna Troy is prisoner on the Justice League Watchtower for four issues in which it never seems Wonder Woman has a plan (or Abnett has a plan for her) as to how the League will help Donna besides imprisoning her indefinitely. It’s always fun to see the Titans and the Justice League square off, as at the beginning of this book (and points to Adriano Lucas for actually coloring Batman’s cape purple as it should be in the Greg Capullo suit). With Justice League shooting in just a month and a half, we should start learning who will fill out the rest of these costumes soon enough. The second “One Year Later” Outsiders trade explains the fate of Black Lightning prior to Justice League of America: The Tornado’s Path. Though I recognize its incumbent upon Abnett to create drama here, nightwing cosplay that Roy Harper and Donna Troy should be the smartest people in the room amidst the entire Justice League and the other Titans stretches believability indeed. As is the way of soap opera storytelling, the often-impressive Justice League teams of the past thirty years have inevitably dissolved into busyness or infighting ahead of their collapse and relaunch; it makes it tough to get too excited about the “New Justice” era knowing these Leagues too will fall.