The Teen Titans and Outsiders books were tied to DC’s Infinite Crisis event from the outset. I didn’t know this when I picked up the Graduation Day miniseries, but as we wound our way through the Countdown to Infinite Crisis (which was one of the best lead-ups to an event I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading), DC put out a small “clip show” trade called Prelude to Infinite Crisis, which published a couple of complete stories as well as “highlights” text pieces with panels showing all of the events and clues that were leading up to or hinting at something big coming, kind of like in one of the old G.I. Joe Yearbooks from the 1980s.
Donna Troy’s death was the beginning point of both the Titans and the road to Infinite Crisis (or at least one of the beginning points), and that series also was the beginning point for another character, Indigo, who was now in the Outsiders book but started as the crazed cyborg that had traveled back in time. Over the course of the series, her story had centered around her acclimating to life on Earth and even striking up a romance with Shift, whom we learned was not Metamorpho, but a piece of Metamorpho that had … well, “morphed” into a son of sorts. This all goes completely out the window with issue #24 of both books, as Indigo is revealed to really be Brainiac 8, and she is out to conquer the world with the help of the Brainiac-Luthor team. Also, Lex Luthor was the “other father” of Superboy (a retcon from the ’90s when Superboy’s “human father” was actually Cadmus director Westfield) and he’d programmed Connor with a trigger word that made him eeeevil and turn on his team.
That’s “The Insiders,” one of the bigger storylines with repercussions all the way into the Infinite Crisis, as Superboy’s efforts to kill his teammates lead to him retreating to Smallville once he comes back to his senses and they move on without him. Shift has to kill Indigo at the end of the storyline and while he’s with the team for another year or so, he spends a lot of time dealing with the grief from all of it. In fact, also dealing with said grief is Nightwing, who still hasn’t gotten over Donna’s death and his insistence that the Outsiders not be a “family” so he doesn’t get any attachments is a character beat for much of his time in the book.
Infinite Crisis swings into full gear with The Return of Donna Troy, a series I reviewed on Pop Culture Affidavit a couple of years ago. Much like JLA/Titans, this book is catnip fanservice for me (and anyone who can make sense of the convoluted history of Donna Troy). It involves the Titans of Myth, is written by Phil Jimenez and has artwork by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (praised be his name) and George Perez. So it’s absolutely gorgeous (and Garcia-Lopez signed my copies … I’m still debating on whether or not I want to sell them).
But the thing about Infinite Crisis is, even though I’ve read it a number of times since it was first published, it’s definitely flawed. I don’t know how much I want to get into it because I think that it might be good fodder for a podcast episode somewhere down the line. I will say, though, that the Donna Troy-centered space battle thing is one of the weaker elements of the saga (like, I kind of get what they’re supposed to be doing there but it feels just as useless as the “fighting different color backgrounds” scenes we saw in Zero Hours). Some of the Infinite Crisis Titans stuff does work, especially the issues that are about Superboy. Issue #32 ties in nicely to the first Superboy/Superboy Prime fight, has a really good Superboy and Nightwing team-up that’s a lead into the fight in Infinite Crisis #6, and while teenage superhero sex isn’t why I read the book, I felt that was handled fairly well in the Teen Titans annual.
The Outsiders’ tie-ins were a little less coherent with the overall Infinite Crisis story, which I guess means that they were there because they had to tie into the crossover somehow. In fact, The Outsiders as a title wouldn’t really recover from this crossover (that seems to be a going thing for Outsiders titles) and would last only about a year and a half before being rebranded as the second volume of Batman and the Outsiders and a new #1 (and even that would only go to about issue #15 before becoming Outsiders again).
I’ll take a look at those Outsiders issues in my next entry before getting back to Teen Titans and where I reach the point where I’m starting to check out.