If you’re a fan of Damian Wayne, you will need to read Teen Titans Annual #2. This extra-sized annual issue directly follows Teen Titans #44, picking up with Batman confronting the team and demanding they retire. The characters kill, Robin wants to kill, and it’s not going to work for Batman, but who is he to tell them to stop? Damian Wayne is going down a new road. Some might call it growth, but can the team handle it?
Written by Robbie Thompson with pencils by Javier Fernandez and inks by Eduardo Pansica, this is a boisterous, in-your-face comic book. It’s extra-sized and maximizes the action and full-page fight sequences. There are five full-page spreads (seven if you count two that have a few small panels overlaid on them), a full double-page spread, and a few double-page layouts for good measure. This is a lot for a single comic, even for an annual that has extra pages, but in many ways, it enhances the weight of what we’re seeing. Robin is rejecting his father and that hurts both of them, which you can see in their anguish. The blows being traded are impactful and the art shows that. I do think the number of full-page spreads stretches out the book — not a lot happens in the book itself, but it’s an example of how good comics can feel very big.
The main crux of the book is that Damian is still reeling from seeing Alfred get his neck snapped by Bane. He’s angry and wants to use that anger to kill bad guys rather than put them in jail like his father. The team is suffering from this anger though, be it regret for killing a villain, or how Robin is selfishly dragging them along through these dangers. The confrontation with Batman that opens the book leads to some close calls with the main villain that shows how far Robin is willing to go with killing. Thompson makes me believe with full certainty Damian is now capable of killing to enact justice.
This leads to a great final fight that not only reminds us Batman and Damian have deep issues to work out, but that their relationship as father and son is soon to be very rocky. I’m not sure how long it will last — how long does anything last in comics? — but the heart of the moment is filled with anger and feels genuine.
The plot of this book is pretty simple, however, and not a lot happens. The confrontation with the supervillain is a bit empty, too, since it ends in a way we’ve seen a thousand times. There is a lot to be done as far as showing us where this team is at mentally and how Robin fits in with them. By the end, it seems like there’s a lot left on the table that could have been explored. As single issues go, there’s in-your-face action here, but only three confrontations taking place over a few minutes. That reduces the impact of the book.
The art looks great, and extreme close-ups and full-page splashes do their job to put us in awe of the Batman more than once. Since a lot of the art is of characters punching in a street, or jumping down, the highlight is on the clothing which all looks quite realistic. Wrinkles in the cape and details on a buckle all add to the realism of the moment. This of course enhances the emotion of a scene, since it looks so real. There’s a range of emotions too, like doubt and fear, or anger and regret, that get translated well on the characters’ faces.
I liked Teen Titans Annual #2, but I felt like it could have done a bit more with its page count. The art certainly makes the book feel big and important, however, as we see Robin rage and Batman do his best to let him. If this is a turning point for Robin, this book will make you believe it and then some.
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