A few weeks back, I praised the Rebirth one-shot of the new Titans series as one of the best issues of DC’s latest reboot. Writer Dan Abnett and penciller Brett Booth delivered a beautifully-constructed issue that simultaneously introduced a bunch of characters and established the stakes in a fun and meaningful way. This first official issue of the series is enough to make you forget all that. Disjointed and possibly containing the reboot’s lamest villain reveal to date, it reminds you that Rebirth should really be called “Get Your Girlfriends Back.”
2011’s New 52 reboot broke up or completely erased a lot of longstanding relationships from continuity. Green Arrow and Black Canary had never even met. Lois Lane was uninterested in Clark Kent and he ended up dating Wonder Woman instead. Fandom complained–as it is wont to do–and a major part of Rebirth has been walking back all that change, giving those who grew up with certain character relationships exactly what they want.
In the case of Titans, readers not only lost Wally West and Linda Park, they lost Wally altogether when he was erased from the timeline. Now, Wally’s back and while his first priority should be trying to find and punish the being who literally has the power to alter reality, he’s too distracted by thoughts of Linda to give his fellow Titans any actionable intel. While the good-natured ribbing they give him emphasizes how much these characters like each other, it still seems a little ridiculous given the stakes. That’s also true of the somewhat bizarre flash we get of what Linda’s doing right in the middle of the issue. Certainly, it’s legitimate to wonder what her reaction was to having some lighting being appear out of nowhere, declare his love and then disappear, but the interlude feels misplaced.
Frankly, much of the issue feels like an almost random collection of plot points and character development with little to no connection between them. On their own, some of these interludes are actually interesting. The conversation Donna and Roy have about his past drug addiction and the effect losing their memories had on both is a nice bit of character work that both leaves the reader interested to hear more and dangles the possibility of romance between them. Lilith’s attempts to learn more about who altered time, however, feel like page filler. Still, they do eventually lead to finally revealing who the enemy is.
While there’s some comfort in the fact that the villain isn’t yet another Watchmen character, that he turns out to be some two-bit magician called Abra Kadabra isn’t much better. And yes, I know that’s a big ol’ spoiler, but maybe if you know that the issue ends so poorly, it’ll be easier to appreciate what works about it. Because while this issue may not be the best showcase, Titans has potential and it’s worth sticking around for a few more issues to see if it lives up to it.