Teen Titans: Life and Death

Teen Titans: Life and Death

By Johns, Willingham, Daniel & McDaniel (DC Comics)
ISBN 1-84576-297-5

As DC’s Infinite Crisis loomed, it impacted on all the titles then being published by the company. As well as being a little hard and unforgiving for new readers it also played hob with narrative structure when simply trying to tell a story in a collected edition, but if you’re willing to read ‘em then I’m game to try and explain the mess.

Collecting Teen Titans #29-33, Teen Titans Annual #1, Robin #146-147 and more-or-less pertinent extracts from Infinite Crisis #5-6, this fraught and angst-ridden story begins with the return of previously dead members of the team who reveal that the doors between Life and Death are breaking down. When deceased villain Brother Blood turns up leading an army of corpses including a team of dead Titans, it takes a desperate trip to the Great Beyond to set things right.

But this is mere prelude to the catastrophic battle between the recuperating modern Superboy (see Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders, ISBN: 1-84576-247-9) and the deranged Superboy Prime, one of the survivors of the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths and a key instigator of the even greater Infinite Crisis. In a cataclysmic battle that involves an army of super-folk the young hero is grievously injured, and Robin leads a team to Luthor’s Lair in search of a cure for his injuries (this sequence, scripted by Bill Willingham, is a beacon of quality in an otherwise pedestrian and workmanlike affair).

Superboy recovers just in time to team up with Batman’s original sidekick Nightwing for one last Grand Hurrah before meeting a final fate which sadly is all too predictable.

Despite the best efforts of a huge number of quality creators such as writers Geoff Johns, Bill Williams, Marv Wolfman and the aforementioned Willingham, eight pencillers, sixteen inkers and five colourists, not to mention four letterers, this histrionic tale doesn’t fare well read alone, yet is actually all but lost in the greater cacophony of the main event. If you want to read this you will definitely need a large pile of other Crisis tie-in volumes for anything even approaching the full story.

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