Warning: Spoilers for Deathstroke #43 ahead.
With Deathstroke’s fresh blood painting Mercy Hall’s rooftop a wonderful shade of crimson, and the Boy Wonder’s personal Guantanamo Bay revealed to the team, Robin, Red Arrow and Kid Flash must answer for their heinous deception. Additionally, the near implementation of Robin’s deadly Terminus Protocol hasn’t placed the hero in his teammates’ good graces. Will Djinn, Roundhouse and Crush find a way to reconcile with their friends or is this the end of the Teen Titans?
“What you’ve done to these people… it is disgusting. Inhumane. It is one thing to take a life, but to take someone’s freedom… that is evil.”
Following the events of Deathstroke #43, Teen Titans #30 finds the heroes dealing with the immediate fallout of not only Emiko’s decision to put an arrow in Deathstroke’s patched eye but also the reveal of Robin’s secret prison. Whereas Deathstroke #43 was concerned with the build up to Red Arrow’s decision to cross the line and the reaffirmation that Robin would not do the same, Teen Titans #30 focuses on the emotional toll these decisions have taken on the team. None of this story would have as much impact without Adam Glass’s grasp on each character and Bernard Chang’s artwork.
Although a majority of characters behave in way that one might predict, one of my favorite things about this issue is Adam Glass’s work with characterization. This is in large part due to his work with dialogue. Each of the characters has a distinct voice and that helps to separate each of their personalities. Additionally, each character is given ample opportunity to explain their perspective with all of the finger wagging going on throughout the issue. Having lived and breathed Batman comics for years, it’s hard not to intellectually agree with Damien’s methods for dealing with super villains. Arkham Asylum has a revolving door. The villains are never rehabilitated and they always break out to terrorize the city. However, Robin’s crime fighting methods raise too many ethical dilemmas.
It is during these conversations Djinn really steals the spotlight. Having experienced the loss of freedom firsthand, she is capable of empathizing with the villains and providing a perspective that the others may lack. Despite being called naïve by Robin for her beliefs, she goes on to condemn his actions as cruel and evil. Only someone who has experienced the complete loss of freedom can truly understand how this is a fate worse than death. My hope is that this theme is further explored in upcoming issues. Perhaps this perspective will help the others to change their ways, as Robin and Red Arrow are acting like the true villains of this story.
Bernard Chang’s artwork is a selling point for this issue. Chang’s work with facial expressions help sell each of the characters’ emotions. Additionally, once a fight breaks out within the team, Chang’s artwork does an excellent job conveying the action. One of my favorite pages throughout the issue involves the heroes fighting each other as they fall from one floor to the next in Mercy Hall. The action is easy and entertaining to follow in these pages. Additionally, Chang’s framing in many of these pages is wonderful; in one instance, he uses Djinn, Roundhouse and Crush to frame the right side of the pages and Red Arrow, Robin and Flash frame the left side of their pages throughout the conversation. This visually represents a divide in the team through their physical placement. Additionally, each character’s body language does an excellent job depicting the emotions they are experiencing throughout the discussion.
“And for someone who claims to fight for good… you are impressively cruel.”
One of the largest frustrations that I have with this issue is that it doesn’t truly provide a resolution of the team’s conflict before introducing the next threat. Although a great deal of the issue is spent exploring different characters’ perspective, Lobo’s return completely interrupts the battle and discussion before a true answer can be presented. Perhaps this is for the best, because, as with Priest’s discussion of Arkham Asylum in Deathstroke, there is no clear cut answer to such dense questions. As a result, it is probably for the best that Adam Glass doesn’t prescribe a solution to this revolving door, but rather allows us to draw our own conclusions. However, I think it is quite clear that he sides with Djinn in the team’s need to release the prisoners. I can’t help but do the same.
Teen Titans #30 is a fitting end to “The Terminus Protocol.” Glass’s great character work and Chang’s excellent artwork help to elevate the dialogue heavy issue as the team discusses dense, ethical questions. Unfortunately, there is no true resolution to the team’s inner conflict before the next threat is introduced.
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