Whether you have experienced the excruciating pain of an elderly relative’s grip as it threatens to tear flesh from bone, or endured an eccentric uncle’s alcohol-induced rant that would make Deadpool poop his red pants, one thing is always clear: family reunions kind of suck. (That is why you always wear brown pants, people!) Be it physical or emotional, there is inevitably some trauma involved during these arduous shindigs. However, all of this pales in comparison to a surprise visit from Crush’s homicidal father, the lethal bounty hunter, Lobo. Unfortunately, this long overdue meeting of estranged characters is more business than pleasure. (Isn’t it always both for the Main Man?) Lobo seeks to claim a bounty worth triple his normal asking price that has been placed on Crush and her teammates’ heads. Will she be able to survive this ruinous reunion or will Crush be her father’s latest casualty?
“Daddy’s here to let you down.”
Unlike Lobo’s questionable parenting style, Teen Titans #31 will not let you down. Following the title’s crossover with Deathstroke, this issue is a breath of fresh air. A large part of this is due to the issue’s structure as well as the much-needed humor that a character like Lobo injects into the dialogue.
Whereas Deathstroke served largely as a cerebral villain for the entirety of his arc, Lobo is more of a physical threat for the team. As a result, Adam Glass and Bernard Change structure a large portion of this issue as an extended fight sequence. After several issues of internal conflict regarding the ethical treatment of supervillains, I can honestly say that I have never been so happy to see the characters duke it out with the supervillain. By that, I mean watching Lobo hand the team their asses on a silver platter. Figuratively speaking, of course. This butt-kicking is rightfully deserved as the team was already ethically struggling with Deathstroke’s murder and they are, frankly, out of their league when fighting someone who can regenerate from a drop of blood.
Due to the fact that the majority of the issue is dedicated to the team’s battle with Lobo, Bernard Chang’s artwork with Marcelo Maiolo’s colors do all of the story’s heavy lifting. This fight sequence is expertly rendered by the art team, as Lobo uses everything but the kitchen sink to decimate Crush and the rest of the team. One of my favorite sequences throughout the entire book involves Lobo smashing Crush with a train car and then pursuing her through the rubble. The single page image of the exploding train car landing on Crush is spectacular in its detail as well as how the page literally explodes with shades of red and orange. Additionally, Chang’s panels on the following page cinematically convey this sense of tension as Lobo uncovers his daughter’s body and lifts her by the throat.
“This gig just keeps giving and giving…”
Bernard Chang and Marcelo Maiolo’s visuals are expertly tied together with Adam Glass’ depiction of Lobo. You get the feeling that Lobo revels in the feeling of hatred Crush shows for him as well as the notion of being a bad dad. A lot of his dialogue feels as though it’s a negative play on the things that fathers tell their children. It is Glass’ use of dark humor in the dialogue that gives the issue a sense of fun when things couldn’t be bleaker for the team.
Additionally, Adam Glass uses this conflict to continue further the discussion on their treatment of supervillains. As nearly all of the team does not agree with Red Arrow’s decision to kill Deathstroke, I found it very interesting that Djinn would threaten Lobo with death as it appeared that she was on the opposite side of Robin and Red Arrow. However, after going back and revisiting the previous issues her stance seems pretty clear. She does not agree with Robin’s choice to imprison the supervillains but does not take murder off of the table as she admits, “There are fates worse than death.” I am interested to see how all of this will play out in the next issue.
One of the largest concerns that I had with such an action-packed issue was that it would lack depth. Although murder for money will always be a valid modus operandi for Lobo, it does feel like the conflict is missing something thematically, beyond the familial conflict, that could give it more meat. (Maybe, it was a distinct lack of space dolphins.) However, this is hardly noticeable as the use of dark humor is completely the right call when you’re dealing with Lobo. Ultimately, Glass and Chang use Teen Titans #31 to breathe some fresh life into the series with action, humor and exciting visuals.