Brother Blood is dead. As the rest of the Teen Titans search for the villain’s murderer, Robin sets his sights on the man who nearly killed Dick Grayson: KGBeast. Will the team stop the Boy Wonder before he crosses the line, or will their investigation prove to be too much of a distraction?
“You’re at some kind of crossroads. Where you decide to go next hasn’t been determined.”
Without a doubt, my favorite theme explored throughout this volume of Teen Titans is self-discovery. Mirroring the choices that everyone must make growing up, each of these super-powered adolescents must decide who they will be as heroes. Thankfully, Robbie Thompson has not ditched this theme for his run on the title. With Teen Titans #43, Thompson expands upon the groundwork laid by Adam Glass.
Despite all of his failures at the ironically named Mercy Hall, Robin has doubled down on his dubious crime-fighting methodology. Citing that he believes fear only works when not used as a half-measure, Damien believes that the Teen Titans have not done enough in their war on crime. Even a visit from Superboy, who does his best Doc Brown impersonation, can’t dissuade the Boy Wonder. With this issue, Robbie Thompson makes it clear that Damien has chosen his path. And it’s one that more closely resembles the League of Assassins than his father.
I think Robin’s choice is particularly interesting as his secret prison and willingness to mindwipe supervillains ultimately led to the band breaking up. Damien’s methods have also been more extreme than his cohorts. Moreover, his resolve in this matter is most definitely the result of his rearing by the League. As much as I don’t want to see the Boy Wonder become a full-fledged villain, this feels like a natural next step for the character. The battle for Damien’s soul has me excited for the future of this series.
“Murder isn’t the answer. I learned that the hard way.”
As excited as I am for the next issue, I have a few problems with characterization and plotting in Teen Titans #43. My first problem is with Crush’s characterization. After discovering that the team was one of Brother Blood’s targets, Crush says, “He wanted revenge. Personally? I’m glad he never got the chance to get it. I just wish it was us who had punched his ticket.” This line of dialogue implies that the half-Czarnian is okay with murdering the supervillain.
However, when the team faces off against Robin, she says, “Killing ain’t justice, Boy Wonder.” When comparing these two lines of dialogue, there is a lack of consistency with Crush’s characterization. One might argue that she isn’t sincere with the first line of dialogue, but there is nothing to indicate that within the issue.
The other moment that nearly took me out of the book was Damien’s villainous monologue. There is an art to this trope. When done well, it can be both thought-provoking and fear-inducing. When done poorly, it just feels like superfluous chit-chat. Although Robin’s diatribe about fear feels true to his character, its overly formal nature makes it slightly groan-inducing.
My only other complaint with the issue is with the inclusion of KGBeast. The character could have easily been replaced with any other villain. A large part of what I loved about the previous issue was Thompson’s inclusion of Alfred’s influence on Damien. The result was a deeply personal story for Damien. With Teen Titans #43, it does make sense that Robin would target someone who harmed a family member. However, the impact of KGBeast’s presence is lessened because Robin’s motive is pure revenge. We’re missing the emotional backbone that might elevate the character’s reveal because there are no scenes connecting Damien to his former mentor.
“Perhaps what you all need to see is what real justice looks like.”
Overall, the artwork is great. Jesus Merino’s pencils, Julio Ferreira’s inks, and Marcelo Maiolo’s colors complement each other well. The team does an excellent job rendering action within Teen Titans #43. My favorite sequence throughout the issue is the two-page spread where Robin is fighting off both the Teen Titans and KGBeast. Maiolo’s colors do an excellent job conveying the darker tone of this issue. My only complaint with the artwork is with the last panel on the opening page. It’s difficult to tell that someone is swooping in to help Damien in that panel, but that is instantly cleared up on the next page.
Ultimately, Thompson’s use of self-discovery is a strength of Teen Titans #43. Unfortunately, some questionable dialogue from Crush and Robin’s monologue hurts this work. Additionally, the inclusion of some scenes with Dick Grayson might have been an emotional selling point for the conflict with KGBeast. However, the artwork does an excellent job rendering each of the action sequences.
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