Titans: Villains for Hire Special #1, #24-38, Annual 1, Convergence: Titans

Oh man, where do I start?

I actually had to order one of these books online so that I could complete the series, and thank God I had a credit from the site I ordered from, so all I had to pay was shipping. Because this series? Just … ugh.

After the reunited Titans crashed and burned then headed off to the Justice League and the Teen Titans, Deathstroke decides to get a bunch of villains together for some sort of mysterious purpose and they take on a series of mercenary jobs. Arsenal, who is now hooked on heroin again, joins as well, although his motivation is to double-cross Slade and kill him. Along the way, Deathstroke murders Ryan Choi (aka The Atom), there’s a long storyline involving the Shazam characters Osiris and Isis that ties into Brightest Day, and the group fights the Justice League at one point. The final storyline involves Deathstroke’s ultimate plan: the regeneration of Jericho’s body through some sort of monstrous machine built by Dr. Sivana. He loses, of course, as Roy Harper comes to his senses and helps destroy the machine. So we’re left with Roy heading back to a more heroic turn and Deathstroke vowing double dog revenge on all the superheroes.

Now, I used to really like Deathstroke. I first encountered him on the last page of New Titans #71 and was a fan (and subscriber) to his first ongoing series back in the 1990s. But for me his last great appearance was in Identity Crisis. Otherwise, he’s become an overused character whose motivation for revenge on the Titans and other heroes makes him seem more unhinged and crazy supervillain than a cool-headed mercenary. When it comes to Arsenal, I always enjoyed his story arc of fighting and kicking addiction and then finding work as a government agent while also working as Speedy. But as the 1990s and 2000s wore on, the character’s being a complete horndog was a schtick that got annoying, especially when it overshadowed what made him a great character, which was his being a father.

The idea that he would fall back into drugs as he was simultaneously dealing with the death of his daughter and the loss of his arm is fairly realistic and I could see how that would lead him to make the wrong choices, especially since his ex (and Lian’s mom), Cheshire, is on the team. In fact, she actually lures him onto the team as part of a plan to betray Slade. But it’s all written completely without nuance. Even Slade’s whole character and story is poorly written.

And the art not only doesn’t work, but there’s a lot of really unnecessary graphic violence. Now, I’m not a prude and have certainly owned and read comics with their fair share of gore, but the number of amputations and decapitations just … turned me off. I literally finished this book a couple of hours ago and don’t have much to say about it except that I’m glad I am offloading it.

As for Convergence? I remember that event and also remember thinking it was going to be a lot more fun than it actually was. Some of the crossovers were kind of cool, but for the most part it’s pretty forgettable. On the bright side, Fabian Nicieza gave us some attempt to right the wrongs done in “Cry for Justice” by bringing Lian back and giving Roy some sort of redemption and closure. In that story, Roy is living in Gotham and has started a children’s home and shelter in honor of his daughter. He’s offered a Faustian bargain to get Lian back–he’ll have to betray his friends–but winds up tricking the villain (named Dreamslayer) in order to have Lian and stay virtuous. It’s not the best story and the art by Ron Wagner leaves something to be desired, but after all of what I had to read through for this, it’s the least I could have hoped for.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s