Like I said in my last post, DC’s books jumped ahead one year in their stories after Infinite Crisis with 52 filling in the gap. A year after that we got Countdown, which was later retitled Countdown to Final Crisis, which was not as self-contained as its predecessor and I think was meant to be a “backbone” of DCU stories for the entire year of 2007-2008. I bring this up because as I was reading through this stack of issues, I could see where Countdown was a serious problem for the books.
I’ll get to that in a minute but I’ll start with the “One Year Later” stuff, which was more solid than The Outsiders. I think that’s because even though we didn’t get a full story of what happened during the missing year, issue #34 opened with various flashes of the year via Cyborg, who was in a sort of stasis and occasionally recorded one of the other team members coming to him for advice. It seems that during that year, the team was in complete disarray. Superboy’s death had shaken them more or less to the core and that led to several people coming and leaving over the course of several months. When we open, it seems like we have a much smaller roster of Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Devil, Ravager, and Cyborg. Plus, we have Marvin and Wendy–yes, the Super Friends characters–being the “tech whiz teens” in Titans Tower.
The main conflict for the first year or so of stories is within the team because one of the people who joined the team for a very short time is a traitor. This, of course, is the seed for a bigger thing, and that’s the return of Deathstroke and his assembling Titans East, which is comprised of some villains, former Titans, and Cassandra Cain (whom he’s drugging like he had his daughter). That team’s first appearance was actually one that I was missing (and forgot that I was missing for some reason), probably because I missed it when it came out and was then going for an enormous amount of money. Well, not enormous, but more than I was willing to pay for at the time. I might track it down anyway just for the sake of completion (we’ll see).
Once the Titans East story is done, we have Jericho back in the form of “Match,” a Bizarro Superboy whom he has possessed (I think that the Justice League did something like this with L-Ron and Despero back in the 1990s), and there’s running subplots involving Robin and Wonder Girl possibly having a romance, Rose Wilson and whether or not she can be trusted, and Kid Devil being … well, a “sidekick” of sorts who is this immature kid who made a deal with Neron for powers.
When we hit issue #50, Geoff Johns ends his run by having the team mourn Bart Allen, who died not in Teen Titans but in the Flash title that he’d taken over. At another point, we mourned Duela Dent, who was killed in the pages of Countdown. And Wonder Girl is sort of on the run due to the events of Amazons Attack!
And therein lies the problem. Things happen outside the title that affect the title and we don’t really see them (even in a flashback). We’re just told. Plus, so much of this bounces in and out of Countdown that I felt like I was only getting part of the story. In the very least, we have some Wolfman-Perez pages in issue #50 that have a Wally West flashback, and that issue ends with Sean McKeever taking the writing and bringing back the Titans of Tomorrow for a sequel to what I assume was one of the better received storylines.
I honestly can’t remember what I felt about these issues at the time. I might have been pretty excited about the Titans of Tomorrow returning because I enjoyed the original story, and even though I was reading Countdown and Amazons Attack, the bloom came off those roses pretty quickly and I wound up only finishing the series out of obligation (and selling them later). When would I wind up with the same attitude toward the Titans? I think that’s coming soon.