There are a lot of benefits to saving the world. First and foremost, no matter the threat, the world still exists to be saved again. However, a certain measure of fame and infamy comes with the task as well. In fact, there are so many unique benefits that any consequences may seem worth it. As we learn in TITANS #19, though, sometimes these consequences can tear apart the life you know.
For the last several issues, the Titans have been in the midst of a grand battle with the minions of an Amazon Conqueror named Troia. This warrior traveled back in time to confront her past self, Donna Troy, in order to convert her to the dark side. After a long, arduous battle, where friends died and were reborn, the Titans defeated Troia and captured her minions.
TITANS #19 opens during the aftermath of this battle. The Titans return home. After, they’re confronted by several members of the Justice League. By evaluating the Titans’ battle, the League decides to disband the team until further notice. Maybe it’s due to poor leadership or uncertain power sets. Regardless, the Titans aren’t ready for active duty. Roy Harper is lost and angry over this revelation. So he escapes to New York City. There, he begins an open war against a drug peddling Intergang.
The “Troia” Saga of TITANS has been a hit-and-miss enterprise. On the one hand, the characterization of the core team and most of the villains have been fantastic. Writer Dan Abnett clearly has an understanding of the Titans’ various members. In addition, he carries that across clearly to the readers. Though adults now, the Titans are still prone to mistakes. This fact has led to some fantastic storylines. However, the eventual reveal of Troia and the implications therein were somewhat disappointing. I wanted something tying into the grander mysteries of REBIRTH. Instead, I got a character study of a time-traveling super warrior. In TITANS #19, however, I’m satisfied with this turn of events.
TITANS #19 acts as both a continuation of the previous story arcs as well as a makeshift reset button. After the intensity surrounding the battle with Troia, this issue is fairly laid back. While some readers might not take to the dialogue-heavy nature of this issue, I found it rather refreshing. It feels incredibly satisfying to see Nightwing and Batman butting heads over leadership tactics. Nightwing’s initial reaction is to lash out because he wants to protect his friends’ reputations, but the reality is that they all need a break.
Initially, I felt uncertain about the characterization in this issue. I have come to really care for and respect the Titans in the last eighteen issues, and to call out their flaws in such a concentrated fashion seemed to offend my own sensibilities. I quickly realized that these flaws are what make this team interesting. This is a group of young adults, meaning their emotions, egos, and failures constantly get in the way. They’re a team of human beings, and while together they’re strong, they are fallible. TITANS #19 acts as an analysis of who these heroes are.
Overall, TITANS #19 is a book about characters rather than plot. To that end, it succeeds incredibly well. When it comes to major plot beats, though, I felt a little underwhelmed. The story takes place between two fractured timelines. The first to be introduced is Roy Harper’s drug raids against Intergang, set in the near future. As the story continues, though, it jumps into the past and the League’s evaluation of the Titans. From here, both plots intertwine as Abnett flashes forward and back.
I have two main issues with this storytelling technique. First, it can be very confusing. Both sections held their own inherent interest. However, when Abnett jumps into the past or into the future, the overall plot gets muddled. As a reader, I had to reorient myself every time Roy Harper took the reins of the story back. I personally feel that his sections would have been more powerful and far less confusing if the events occurred in chronological order.
I also felt disappointed whenever we left Titans Tower. The action set pieces in the New York setting were somewhat strong. But the intrigue and events simply didn’t carry enough power on their own. There is so much potential in Roy’s side of the story. The option to push Roy into a situation where he must face and battle his past addictions is nothing short of brilliant. Yet TITANS #19 is obviously about the confrontation in the Tower. Abnett should have waited to give Roy his very own full issue to deal with the Intergang battle. Instead, it was slapped onto the tail end of TITANS #19.
Pelletier Hits the Page
Brett Booth has covered the art for the last several issues of TITANS. His amazing work has helped define the series. Under his pen, TITANS has come across as jovial in stylization but seriousness in the artistry. Paul Pelletier steps into the role for TITANS #19. With this change him comes a nice breath of fresh air. Pelletier’s style is far more realistic in a sense. Clean lines and detailed facial expressions are the focus. While few full body images come across in this issue, Pelletier’s understanding of anatomy is easily on par with Booth’s.
Pelletier’s work fits TITANS #19 because it echoes the serious tone of the events. His artwork seems muted. It is far less bombastic than Booth’s. His characters look more like real people than divine examples of humanity. This provides a deeper, more serious tone to events. This helps push TITANS #19’s character-driven narrative.
Final Thoughts: TITANS #19
Much like previous issues, TITANS #19 has its ups and downs. The story is a bit all over the place. It focuses on two distinctly important points of time without truly giving either the focus it needs. Also, certain fans may shy away from the incredibly dialogue-heavy plot beats. However, TITANS #19 shines through its characterization. It graces readers with an intense analysis of the flaws of its many characters. The new art from Paul Pelletier is definitely worth a look as well. While not perfect, TITANS #19 signals fantastic things to come for the series.