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Monday, March 11, 2013

Review: Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders

Do clones have souls?

That's what Superboy of the Teen Titans wants to know. After learning that the secret that he, a half-human clone of Superman, has the human DNA of Lex Luthor, Superman's archenemy, Superboy is overwhelmed with melancholy. But just as he is prepared to unveil his secret to his fellow Titans, Lex Luthor somehow bends Superboy to do his will, turning him against the Teen Titans and going on a rampage. Meanwhile, at the headquarters of the Outsiders, the group is suddenly attacked by one of their own- the android known as Indigo. Calling herself Braniac 8, she attacks the Outsiders and flees to join up with her grandfather, the infamous Braniac 5. Together, the Teen Titans and the Outsiders must fight to save Superboy from Luthor's evil influence, and stop the nefarious plans of Braniac 5.

This trade paperback poses as an interruption of my list of comics to read. After discovering that I hadn't quite read all of the Teen Titans trade paperbacks, I decided to punctuate my usual reading with the rest of the Teen Titans trades. By the end of the next cycle, I should have them all done.

This collection is a good example of a team crossover. It helps that there are two A-list writers on it; Geoff Johns for the Teen Titans and Judd Winick for the Outsiders. While both of these authors have their flaws, their work still shines here. The Teen Titans work well with the Outsiders, because they are at heart both younger generations of heroes. It's like the Teen Titans are High School, and the Outsiders are college, and the Justice League are the professional world. But what really sells this book is the character study of Superboy. Following the chaos, there's an issue devoted to examining the mindset of Superboy after the chaos, and how he's adjusting to it. Indigo doesn't get much screen time in that regard, other than her relationship with Outsiders member Shift, because she is apparently an android programmed to be evil, and her Indigo personality was a cover. It's easy to feel sympathy for the Teen Titans, as Superboy is their friend who they know very well. With the Outsiders, it was a co-worker who turned evil. The Outsiders issue that follows up on how the Outsiders are dealing with the fallout of their battle with Indigo was pretty heartfelt, with Shift agonizing over his fateful decision and Thunder and Grace talking about what they thought of Indigo.

On the other hand, this book doesn't really have a memorable conclusion. One of Geoff Johns' flaws that I've read about is that he sometimes writes big build ups with little payoff. That said, the payoff here wasn't great, as it was basically Superboy somehow gaining control of himself after seeing Luthor pummel Wonder Girl. Indigo's fate had a bit more emotional weight to it, but Braniac 5's defeat rang a bit hollow for me. This trade makes up for this through the issues examining the fallout from the main events, but it still could of had a bit more to it.

Furthermore, not all of the Teen Titans in get to shine. Mostly its Superboy, Robin, Wonder Girl, and Raven in the last Teen Titans issue. With the Outsiders, since their fallout issue focuses on the whole team, and not just one particular member, this wasn't so. All of the characters on the Outsiders got their fair share of screen time, with the exception of Arsenal and Jade, but it's still alright.

Other things that I'll warn about in this trade is a bed scene between between Shift and Indigo, and another one in between Nightwing and Starfire. There's nothing graphic shown, but there's still a lot of skin on display.

All in all, this wasn't a great trade, but it was a pretty good one. The only thing wrong with it is it's length. It could easily have been combined with the next Teen Titans/Outsiders trade paperback into one big shebang. I'm also curious about how Robin's broken arm magically healed up in the middle of a fight. He's literally out there fighting with his right arm in a cast one panel, and in the next it's gone. I also take issue (no pun intended) with the fact that the Outsiders issues skip a few issues from issue 25 to 28, and I'm not sure why. Oh well.

RATING: 8/10

Image courtesy of dccomics.com