This review contains spoilers for Teen Titans #35.
Using Djinn’s immense powers, the traitor has systematically captured the entire team. Shackled to the walls of Robin’s prison, the Teen Titans are shocked to learn the identity of their assailant. Now, all that remains is to answer the question, “Why?” Or, perhaps the more important question is, “Will everyone survive?”
“That’s not what heroes do… that’s what bad guys do!”
One of my most significant worries following Roundhouse’s reveal as the traitor was that the surprise would feel unearned. Adam Glass has done a great job of setting the stage for the traitor’s inevitable betrayal. However, I would not say that many clues were dropping regarding his identity. As a result, the success of this reveal would ultimately hinge upon the character’s reasoning. Thankfully, Glass sticks the landing by weaving Roundhouse’s origin into the justification and not drastically altering his characterization.
During the issue, Roundhouse tells a story about Robin’s solo exploits in apprehending the Scarecrow. Throughout the story, Roundhouse highlights Robin’s wanton disregard for collateral damage as his battle causes a chemical explosion in the warehouse. It was the same chemical explosion that gave Roundhouse his powers. Unfortunately, it also caused his sister’s death and the complete collapse of his family. As a result, Roundhouse understandably despises Robin.
To make matters worse, Robin’s direction for the Teen Titans and crime-fighting methodology have only solidified Roundhouse’s already low opinion of the character. This conflict of ethics ultimately led to his betrayal of the team. I think that this was a great choice on Glass’ part. The fact that Roundhouse betrays the team because their methods are a betrayal of traditional ethics feels satisfying. Additionally, this reasoning for his treachery never contradicts his character.
What makes this moment even more satisfying is that we finally have a character who is speaking out against the team’s unethical actions. I know that I have been repeating this same chorus in every review since “The Terminus Agenda.” It was so gratifying to see Roundhouse tell the team that they were acting like bad guys. It has been so exciting to see the characters work through these ethical dilemmas. However, I can’t be the only person who screamed out in agreement when reading those words.
However, this moment is made even more compelling because no one on the team is genuinely innocent. Even Roundhouse, who is trying to take the ethical high ground, falters. When angered by the Boy Wonder’s words, Roundhouse snaps. In his fit of rage, he chooses to punish Robin, and Crush by association, through imprisoning Djinn within her ring “permanently.” Adam Glass makes this title enjoyable to read by interjecting these human emotions and reactions into the superhuman conflict.
“You think you’re a friggin’ hero?!”
Bernard Chang’s artwork with Marcelo Maiolo’s colors is fantastic here. Most of the issue is spent within a prison cell. However, Chang’s artwork does a great job of conveying a wide range of emotions from the team. Additionally, the panel work once Crush goes into a rage does an excellent job of conveying the chaotic and uncontrollable rage she is experiencing. By flashing to critical elements of the scene, Chang can establish the tension surrounding her anger. These panels are among my favorites in the entire book. Especially once that Czarnian bloodlust takes over, and the rest of the panel is bathed in red.
With Teen Titans #35, Adam Glass sticks the landing when revealing the team’s traitor. I would have liked for there to been a bit more foreshadowing in the leadup to the reveal. However, Glass makes a wise choice in tying this reveal to Roundhouse’s origin and never contradicting his character. As a result, Adam Glass can use Roundhouse as the team’s unlikely voice of reason while driving the conflict in a new direction.
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