Recap of the Titans S2 Ep 11

Titans Season 2, Episode 11 “E.L._.O.”

I really didn’t like the last episode, Fallen, but this one wastes less time and appears to maybe have the show back on track. Or maybe I am an optimistic fool and the show is just preparing to disappoint me again.

Splitting the team up would have worked better if the show had done anything with those characters before splitting them up. This season had done little with any characters outside of Dick and Jason before the last couple of episodes. Those gave us some stuff for Gar and more fully brought Conner into the show. Then the show had Dick’s complete misfire of a trip to prison. Here, the show starts to pull everyone back, hopefully setting up a satisfying conclusion to the season.

Rachel is again having prophetic dreams, dreams about Dick being killed by Deathstroke. So she tries to follow those dreams to find help. Those dreams lead her to Elko, Nevada. Donna goes looking for help to find Rachel, and finds the mess CADMUS left in the tower. She apparently gets a call from Rachel that draws her to Elko. Kory, fully stranded on Earth and mourning the loss of her parents and friend, goes on a bender. Only to hear adds that draw her to Elko. Finally, Dawn, now separated from Hank, heads back to San Francisco, only for engine trouble to have her pull over in . . . Elko. With them drawn together, there is an airing of grievances and the team decides to be a team again. Donna and Dawn go to try to save Gar, leaving Rachel and Kory to try to save Dick.

Dick is being held in solitary, having a pity party and an argument with the imaginary Bruce Wayne in his head. He finally comes to some revelations, including the biggest one of the episode: Jericho is alive and his spirit is inside of Slade. Dick appears to be nearing the end of his journey.

The last, other than some interludes where Gar is being brainwashed by CADMUS, and best, storyline of the episode is Jason and Rose. They ran away to Gotham, and Rose is still working him. She is kind of transparent, even before the reveal that she has been working with Slade the whole time. I do wonder if she is actually Slade’s daughter; I still find it highly suspicious that she was completely absent in all the Jericho flashbacks. But she and Jason appear to forge a genuine connection. He is truly open and vulnerable with her, and they seem to bond. Jason remains one of the best characters on the show, and Rose is a great foil for him. He tries to be abrasive, mostly to be sure that he is not forgotten. He is still kind of a punk, but his actions are clearly defense mechanisms. He pushes people away as preemptive response to his assumed rejection. Rose acts similarly, but she is abrasive to keep anyone from getting close enough to learn her secret that she is working with Slade. The question is where her loyalties will lie when it all blows up. Did she really connect with Jason, or is she still playing him?

Stuff like the Jason and Rose stuff, as well as Kory stuff, is real good. It is why I keep watching the show. It isn’t anything revolutionary; it is just good superhero melodrama. The show spends a lot of time on characters and plotlines that don’t work as well, but the stuff that does work works so well. Hopefully this is the start of a much needed course correction and not a short lived quality bounce for the show.

Recap of the Titans, S 2 Ep 10

Titans Season 2, Episode 10 “Fallen”

Okay, so now Dick is in prison and this is a completely different show. I don’t know why the show is going this route or what Dick is trying to accomplish, but the show is pretty much off the rails at this point, so let’s see where it goes.

After the end of the last episode, Gar is alone in Titans Tower, Dick is in prison, Conner is wandering the streets of San Francisco alone (well, he has Krypto at the start, but he sends him away), and Rachel has run away and is in a homeless shelter.

The best part of the episode is again Gar and Conner. First, Conner sends Krypto away to keep him safe. Krypto, being a good dog and hands down the best character on the show, or in existence, runs back to Titans Tower and gets Gar, who goes to bring Conner back. Krypto is such a good dog. Unfortunately, Conner’s actions have caught the attention of Mercy Graves, and now that she knows that Conner isn’t dead she comes after him again. After seeing what Gar is capable of, Mercy switches her plan from kill to capture. So Conner and Krypto end up back at Cadmus again, this time with Gar in tow. This Cadmus storyline is interesting. I really wish it had been introduced earlier in the season and more time was spent on it than on rehashing the not particularly interesting or revelvatory past of the Titans.

I am not really going into Dick’s prison story, because I really, truly, do not care. That is what takes up the bulk of the episode and I could not care less. In prison, Dick at first refuses to help, but by the end of the episode his heroic instincts kind of kick in. I think the whole sequence exists so Dick can get told the story of the mythical bird who comes in the night and helps people, which I assume will be his inspiration to become Nightwing.

Most of the rest of the gang is absent. There is no Kory, Hank or Dawn. No Rose or Jason. Donna appears briefly and does precisely nothing. There is a brief Rachel storyline, where she tries to help another girl, but appears to lose control of her powers and someone ends up dead. It is something, I guess.

This episode is a real dud. I like the developments with Conner and Gar; that is an interesting storyline that should be pursued. The rest of this nonsense is just mopey, overwrought junk that I was hoping this series was moving past. I really thought the show was posed to really grow into itself over the back half of this season; instead, it feels like it is falling apart. Retreading well worn ground instead of growing into something new. Hopefully the show can pull itself together over the last few episodes.

Recap of the Titans S2 Ep 9

Titans Season 2, Episode 9 “Atonement”

Atonement appears to a tipping point on this season of Titans, as Dick comes clean about exactly what happened to Jericho, leading to most of the team leaving Titans Tower. The old team members; Donna, Dawn, and Hank, are disgusted with his lies and want nothing to do with the team. Rose is upset about the revelations about her brother, and Jason goes with her. Even Rachel decides enough is enough. Gar stays. Kory also leaves, but only because her Tamaranean troubles have cropped back up. Dick then decides to exile himself, leaving only Gar and the unconscious Conner in the tower.

Each of the characters has their own thread the episode follows. Each of these threads could be interesting story hooks, but there just isn’t enough time for any of them. Hank and Dawn try to start over again, but their past catches up with them. Their past from the beginning of the season, when they were running some kind of halfway house. But there wasn’t enough of that for it to really be a storyline and it basically hasn’t been mentioned for seven episodes, so it doesn’t really work here. Kory meets up with Faddei, who tells her that her sister has taken over their planet, and they have to deal with her. Unfortunately, Kory’s sister, Blackfire, manages to possess Faddei. Again, this is a promising storyline, but there really hasn’t been enough done with it to matter. I guess it establishes Blackfire as a potential foe for the (entirely theoretical) team, but that is little.

The best part of the episode is Conner and Gar. At first Gar is alone in the tower as Conner recovers. When he wakes up, instead of calling Bruce like he is supposed to, he and Conner bond over video games and plot out what they will do as superheroes. Even that ends in tragedy, since Conner is essentially superpowered newborn is unable to understand the nuance of something like a man getting arrested. So Conner fights with a bunch of cops. Gar runs off, leaving him alone in the tower and Conner wandering the streets on the run from the authorities.

Dick’s story sees him seeking atonement for getting Jericho killed from Jericho’s mother. It, predictably, goes poorly. For some reason, Dick just takes Slade’s abuse. Like I really need someone to lay out exactly what is going through Dick’s mind, because his actions over this season, and including what I remember of last season, make no sense. The answers don’t actually answer questions, they merely make the questions not make a lot of sense. So he gets himself arrested for . . . some reason.

That problem is broader than Dick. Hank and Dawn have never really fit in, like they are in their own show separate from everyone else. Donna Troy remains a mess. The supposed stars of the show, Kory, Rachel and Gar, have been pretty well sidelined. Everyone’s motivations and character manage to be broad and ill-defined. And the show seems determined not to clear things up. It makes it disappointing, because this show is so good when it is good.

This episode makes me realize that while this season has been building, it has not remotely been building to what I thought it was. All I’ve wanted, essentially since this show started, was to see the team together and in action. Season 1 had an understandably slow build, as they had to put the team together. Here, the team is together, but they just refuse to be a team. Naively, I assumed that all the bickering and bullshit was what the team was working through until they came together for the last part of the season. Now, with time left in the season dwindling, the team has broken up after accomplishing precisely nothing as a team.

Recap of the Titans S2 Ep8

Titans Season 2 Episode 8: “Jericho”

Jericho is an excellently executed episode that is unfortunately largely free of anything surprising or revelatory. That would not be a big deal, but the show has held back telling this portion of the story all season, alluding to the tragedy that happened with the Titans last tangled with Deathstroke, only to reveal to be exactly what one would expect.

Jericho takes place a few years in the past. After Deathstroke killed Aqualad, Dick forged a friendship with Deathstroke’s son, Jericho, to find him. The episode mostly focuses on its namesake, showing how is yearning for friendship brings him to the Titans. He tells his version of the story of who Deathstroke is while bonding with the team. Jericho has been through some stuff, including having his throat slit and being rendered mute. The Titans are uncomfortable using Jericho and are going to cut him loose. Then Dick learns of Jericho’s power. By making eye contact, he can possess another person, gaining complete physical control of them. This leads Dick to come clean with Jericho and invite him to join the Titans. At the same time, Deathstroke learns how the Titans are getting info on him and arranges to meet with his son to make peace. The other big revelation is who Deathstroke’s target was. It wasn’t Aqualad or Donna, but Donna’s Themyscrian protector. It all comes to a head in a rather predictable way that leaves the team completely shattered.

This is an episode where the characters’ motivations are as clear as they have been in some time. All of them want revenge for Aqualad, but their discomfort with deceiving Jericho is clear. As is Jericho’s devastation after learning that he has been lied to, both by the team and about his father.

For once, even Dove makes sense. Dove really has turned into the worst written character on this show. Most of the others have a clearly understandable position and arc. Hank/Hawk is a junkie, and his drug is being a superhero. He wants to do it so bad, but he knows keeping it up will kill him. His struggle is not jumping back into action as he so clearly desires to. Dick wants to save people, but he doesn’t want to be manipulative like Batman. However, acting like Batman is all he knows and he consistently falls short of his own standards. Dawn/Dove, though, is all over the map. Is she a junkie like Hank? Does she want to be a hero or leave that life behind? Who knows; it seems to change every episode. In the last flashback she told Dick to be Batman; in this one she says not to. Dick calls her out on this, but neither the character nor the show has a satisfying explanation. Dove, as originally conceived, was a superhero representing peace. Her arguing caution and peaceful solutions works. Her goading others into action or sneaking out to get some violence in does not. The character is just kind of a mess.

One odd touch is that Rose is not mentioned at all. She has made it clear that she knew her brother, but in none of the scenes featuring the Wilson family is she seen or even mentioned. It was only five years ago; she would have been ten years old. There are several possible explanations for this, from the pathetic, like is the show just decided not to show young Rose as a cost cutting measure because it would have required another actress, to the clever, like a reveal that Rose is not actually Rose Wilson, Deathstroke’s daughter. Maybe it was just a blind spot in the writing. Whatever the reason, it was notable.

I hope this is the end of the flashbacks and side stories. The show seems to have mostly dealt with the past and it has enough new stuff to deal with. It should be gearing up for the stretch run here. I have a feeling there is more to come though. Deathstroke is the big thread to resolve, but I am curious how deeply the show is going to delve into Conner or if it is going to go back to the Starfire thread it started the season with. What I really want to see is a deepening of relationships in the present; with as little time as the season has spent in the here and now, it feels like any sense of interpersonal dynamic on this team, as currently constituted has been lost.

Recap of the Titans S2 Ep 7

Titans Season 2 Episode 7: “Bruce Wayne”

Picking up where last episode, and the one before it, left off, “Bruce Wayne” starts with several problems. Deathstroke has escaped, the older team members are mad at Dick for changing the plan, the younger team members are upset at being left out, Jason is traumatized from almost being killed, and Conner is dying from being shot at the end of last episode.

This episode gives viewers the first good look at Titans’ Bruce Wayne. I’ve heard complaints about him, but I think he works. Iain Glenn does not present as imposing a Batman as we are used to, but that doesn’t mean he can’t make for a good one. In this episode, he comes off as something like an Adam West or Roger Moore as James Bond; a little jokey, jovial. It might not be the right fit for this show, which seems consistently mired in humorlessness, but it worked in this episode, especially as Bruce’s job was to be the voice in Dick’s head. Throughout the episode, Bruce follows Dick, visible only to him, and critiques him on how he is trying to get to Deathstroke. I am curious if we are going to see him for real, either as Bruce Wayne or Batman, but as Dick’s snarky imaginary version of Bruce I thought he was pretty good.

Dick spends most of the episode operating on his own, using his detective skills to try to track down Deathstroke. While he is gone, the team fractures. Jason has some sort of tunnel vision, constantly seeing himself falling. Meanwhile, everyone else is finding remnants of the last old problems left in places to upset them. For reasons I don’t understand, they blame these things on Jason. The only ones not taking part in the blame Jason game are Conner and Kory. Conner because he is dying, Kory because she is busy trying to prevent that.

I am a little confused about parts of the follow up to last episode. Not confused with what happened, but confused why the show decided to sequence things the way it did. In the last episode, Conner left Eve to escape from Mercy and CADMUS. The episode set it up to appear like that was the last we would see of her. She even gave Conner some last minute (terrible) advice. As the episode ended, with Conner shot with Kryptonite bullets, Mercy then managed to recapture Krypto. In this episode, Eve escapes from CADMUS again, with Krypto in tow. So the end of the last episode existed to set things up for one scene this episode in which we really learned nothing. Eve even contradicts her bead advice. She needs to be there to give Kory the information she needs to save Conner.

Judging by the end of this episode and the title of the upcoming one, next is another flashback episode. I hope we finally get fully to the bottom of the Titans/Deathstroke feud. I am not sure I picked a great season of a show to try to do these reviews. Mostly because the only characters that seem to have any sort of ongoing arc are Dick and Jason. And the jumping back and forth between timelines and stories has consistently stalled the development of a lot of the characters. I know that in the comics Deathstroke was something of an arch nemesis for Dick and it makes sense for him to be the focus, but it kind of feels like everyone else is getting lost in the shuffle.

Recap of the Titans S2 Ep 6

Titans Season 2, Episode 6: “Conner”

I think I am just going to have to resign myself to not liking how Titans handles its episode to episode storytelling. Instead of building momentum from one episode to another, this show seems determined to restart after every episode. With some forethought, the flashbacks in Aqualad and scenes from this story with Conner could have been weaved into the previous four episodes, instead of each being quarantined as its own discrete chunk. It is a storytelling choice, but one that I think has hampered the show this season, at least when watching it week to week. It feels like a choice made for a binge model, where the viewer can just blow through the whole season in a weekend.

“Conner,” instead of following up on the end of the last episode, with Jason apparently plummeting to his death, shifts gears completely, introducing eventual Superboy Conner to the mix. As a stand alone episode, “Conner” is pretty great. It starts with Conner escaping from Cadmus Labs along with a dog names Krypto. This episode finally starts to introduce some Superman into a series that has been dominated by Batman so far.

Mercy Graves, Lex Luthor’s chauffeur, bodyguard and aide-de-camp, shows up to the wrecked Cadmus and tasks Dr. Eve Watson with finding Luthor’s escaped experiment. Conner wanders the city like some kind of Frankenstein’s monster. He has the body of a young adult, but the understanding of a child. He is a largely blank slate, but he does have memories of the two men who provided the DNA that mixed to create him, those being Superman and Lex Luthor. Those memories eventually draw him to Smallville and the home of Lionel Luthor. The episode expects the viewer to have a baseline of knowledge of who Lex and Superman are. Assuming you do, it works. The weird mixture of the two in Conner’s head make for some illuminating character work. It does a great job of showing who Lex and Clark are, even though neither of them appear, excluding a picture, in the episode. Conner ends up having dinner with Lex’s elderly father, a kind seeming old man who Conner’s Lex inherited memories reveal as an abusive drunk.

The second half of the episode follows Conner and Eve Watson as they try to escape from Cadmus and Luthor’s goons, while she slowly explains the events that led to Conner’s creation. That culminates in the two of them visiting the lab where Conner was created, and since he is experiment 13 he sees the remains of the other 12 experiments. Then the show finally, finally resolves the cliffhanger from the previous episode, while leaving another in its wake.

This episode introduces the best character on the show so far. No, not Conner. Krypto. Conner saves the dog at the opening, and the two of them are together from then on. Krypto is a good dog. The mid-episode reveal that Krypto has powers is excellent, as he catches an rpg and tosses it back to the man who shot it. He acts as something like Conner’s conscience. He knows not to go to the Luthor farm, his barking pulls Conner back several times when his dark side takes over. He is just a great dog.

I find myself enjoying every episode to one degree or another, so I can’t complain too much. Next episode is titled Bruce Wayne, so it looks like where are going to get some Dick stuff. I assume it will be with the team in the present, but who knows. At least I am caught up now.

Recap of the Titans S2 Ep5

Titans Season 2, Episode 5: “Deathstroke”

“Deathstroke” picks up right where “Ghosts,” episode 3, left off. Jason Todd has been captured by Deathstroke. His is strung up in Deathstroke’s and Dr. Light’s hideout. After getting the better of Dr. Light (really, Jason’s repeated clowning of Dr. Light is making the other Titans look foolish for the difficulty they’ve had dealing with him) Deathstroke stops Jason’s escape attempt.

Back at Titans Tower, the rest of the team learns what has happened to Jason. The older Titans are still not treating the younger members like real members of the team. Rose continues to be a truth telling shit stirrer, able to identify people’s problems, but comments in ways seemingly designed to set people off.

Dr. Light finally gets fed up with working for Deathstroke and decides to take on the team himself, only for Deathstroke to put a pretty definitive end to that plan, and set a trap for the Titans at the same time.

Things start to look up for the team when Starfire finally arrives in San Francisco. She immediately gets to helping Raven deal with her growing powers. She is the calming influence that the rest of the team needs. Especially with the deal that Deathstroke has proposed, trading Jason for Rose. While the older team members debate handing Rose over, Gar, Rose, and Raven listen in. After listening to them debate handing her over to her homicidal father, Rose tries to escape. Eventually, it comes down to a showdown between Raven and Rose, and we get a look at just how powerful Raven is now, as well as a first look at Rose’s powers.

Back with Deathstroke and Jason, the show finally gives a better idea of what Deathstroke’s specific beef with the Titans is. It is hypocritical, which is kind of Deathstroke’s thing. He makes it seem as though Dick is the cause of his enmity, which is the opposite of what we just saw in “Aqualad,” where Deathstroke appeared on his own and started a fight with the Titans.

This episode did have the first instance of me actually liking Hawk. He is as abrasive as ever, but he has a moment of vulnerability that actually works to make the character endearing. As much as he didn’t seem to like him when he was around, he sees something of himself in Jason and can’t rest while Deathstroke has him. Dawn, though, continues to be confounding. A couple of episodes ago she was the one moonlighting in her costume, now she is determined that the Titans are done. She goes after Dick to shut the team down once they finish things off with Deathstroke.

Dick outlines a plan that, while not actually including Raven and Gar at least lets them know what is going on, before a swerve sets up Dick facing off with Deathstroke alone. It ends with a cliffhanger that calls back to Jason Todd’s death in the comics more than thirty years ago.

I love how this show gives its characters a chance to breath, instead of being all plot or action. The problem is that several of its characters are not particularly well drawn or interesting. Hank and Dawn are generally the worst. Donna is mostly a cipher. The show noticeably picks up when Starfire is around. There is chemistry between her and Dick, between her and Raven. Most of the younger characters are fine, though the show needs to give Gar something to do. With the addition of Rose and the next episode apparently introducing Conner Kent, maybe it is time for Hawk and Dove to get that retirement they seem to be looking for.

Recap of the Titans S2 Ep2

Season 2, Episode 2: “Rose”

This feels like the real start to the season. It opens with a time break, beginning three months after the end of the last episode. While the first episode of the season spent its time winding up plots and creating openings for the future, Rose follows what is essentially three plots that actually set up conflicts that will likely take up most of the season.

The first is with Dick, Raven, Beast Boy, and Jason in San Francisco at Titans tower. It mostly feels like a catch up episode with these characters, quickly reminding the viewer who they are and what they are about. It mostly works. You get a glimpse at Dick as the leader and mentor to these younger heroes. The best bit is likely with Jason. Jason was a bit player in the first season, but here he is more closely integrated with the team. Jason is a great character to add to an ensemble because he is such an obnoxious little turd. Not irredeemable, and not always wrong, but he creates friction with everyone. Yet you see Dick pretty expertly manipulate him into buying into the team concept, at least for now.

The other thread the pops up in San Francisco is Rose. She has some criminal misadventures while running from some unknown person or people, which gets her on the news and makes Dick realize that she is just the kind of person he wants the Titans to protect. So he “rescues” her. While Rose determines which is the best path for her, the young Titans do some digging and find out a familial connection for the character that spells trouble. I want to say something about Chelsea Zhang as Rose, but I don’t feel like this episode really had enough to determine anything. She sold the fight scene at the very least. This episode also introduced Michael Mosley as Dr. Light. Mosely is great pretty much everywhere he shows up, but I am not as excited for Dr. Light, a character that is usually either a joke or a gruesome try-hard attempt to prove that the character is not a joke.

The development that seems the least justified is the partnership between Donna Troy and Kory. That is a common pairing from the comics, but I don’t recall them becoming that close last season. Still, their few scenes are effective. They are on a stakeout, looking for a superpowered criminal. Once they get their woman, a figure from Kory’s past shows up and starts another mystery for the season.

The third and easily least effective prong of the episode is Hawk and Dove. They were an awkward fit in season one, and things haven’t really improved much. Hank is out of the game, working to rehabilitate kids with drug problems on a farm, while Dawn pretends to be retired but is sneaking out to fight crime. It would almost be interesting if I was confident that the show was intentionally inverting the usual Hawk and Dove dynamic, with Dove the more violent one to Hawk’s attempts to resolve things peacefully, but it really just reads as kind of muddled. The events of the episode sends the duo back to the team for help, so we’ll see how that develops.

This episode kind of highlights the problem with making the previous seasons finale the premiere episode of the season. That episode was primarily wrap up for last season’s stories, this one is set up for this season’s stories. That makes two episodes that feel a lot like being stuck in place. “Rose” is not unentertaining, and I am excited to see where this season goes, but I am really ready for it to start going there. Maybe I am just spoiled by Netflix’s binge model and now lack the patience to wait a week between episodes.One thing I liked about this episode is that it felt more expansive than any from the first season. Titans season 1 hinted at a wider world of superheroes, of the Titans being a team with a past. This episode feels like it takes place in a world with a history, in a world with other superhero stuff going on. Hopefully the show can use that as a strength going forward.

Recap of the Titans 1

Season 2 Episode 1: Trigon

I am trying something new here. For the next twelve weeks, a new episode of Titans will be hitting the DCUniverse app. I am going to write a review of each one.

‘Trigon’ pick up where things left off almost a year ago. Rachel/Raven’s father, the demon Trigon, has shown up. Donna and Kory are stuck outside the farmhouse where this demon summoning is occurring. Inside, Raven and Gar are on the run from Dick. Dick has turned evil, thanks to the events in the hallucinatory finale last season. As Raven and Gar escape from the demonically controlled Dick, back-up arrives; Hawk and Dove have teamed up with Jason Todd and tracked the team down. Together with Kory and Donna they try to get into the farmhouse to help.

That turns out to be exactly what Trigon wanted. Each member of the team goes through the same thing Dick did; visions that get them to give in to their dark side. There are some interesting ways that happens here. Donna faces the death of her father, Kori finishing her mission to stop Raven from summoning Trigon, etc. It is a good look at characters who maybe didn’t quite get the focus that some of the others did in the last season. It ends with everyone, save Gar, turned to the demonic side. The now evil team then assaults Gar, until he can snap Raven out of her evil trance. Then Raven uses her powers to do the same for Dick. While this was going on, Trigon has assumed his true demon form and killed Raven’s mother. Raven confronts him and pretty summarily defeats him. With Trigon gone, the team goes back to normal.

Then the show moves into wrap up; the various characters go their separate ways. Dick has a little heart to heart with Bruce Wayne and decides to officially bring the Titans back, with Jason, Raven and Gar sticking around to be on the team. Donna, Hawk and Dove go back to their lives, while Kori heads to her home planet.  Meanwhile, Deathstroke the Terminator has heard the Titans are back and decides to come out of retirement to take them on.

There is no getting around this: this episode is not really the first of a new season, it is the finale of last season. I don’t know why DC decided to hold it back for this season; I would guess there were some reshoots at the end once they knew the show was coming back for a second season.  Adding in the bit with Bruce and the final reveal seem like late additions. That makes it hard to dig into, though, because it has been a year since the set ups that this episode pays off.  It took me a while to remember exactly how things left off, especially with characters like Hawk and Dove. Once the show finishes with the Trigon plot, which is fairly well executed horror themed superhero stuff, it does get into setting up the coming season. At least, I hope that is what it was doing. The team goes their separate ways, but other than Hawk and Dove I find it hard to believe they won’t all be back. And I would bet against Hawk and Dove coming back.

While the immediate problem has been solved, the larger problems these damaged teens and no longer teens have issues to sort out. Dick appears to have wrestled with his dark side, for now, and Raven is ready to do something other than run from her devil daddy. The big revelation of this episode is Slade Wilson, i.e. Deathstroke. In the comics, he makes for a much more interesting villain than Trigon, who has never been all that interesting.  Deathstroke manages to be both obviously evil, he is an assassin who spends a lot of his time trying to kill teenagers, but also to have some depth. With Deathstroke working to tear this nascent team apart, I am sure things will get interesting fast.

The other thing that needs to be addressed with the show is the darkness that seemed to kind of doom the show’s reception last year.  A lot of people seem to have written it off from the first trailer, which is really doing what is a very good show a disservice.  There is darkness in this show, but it has only rarely felt out of place. There is darkness inherent is so many of these characters. The first season, and this episode, primarily focused on Raven and Dick. Raven’s story is straight up dark; she is the child of a literal demon. Fighting her demonic heritage is a big part of her character. Dick is a dark character if you really look at it. His parents were murdered by the mob and he was taken in by a billionaire who suffered a similar tragedy and decided to take revenge on the very concept of crime. He has not lead a normal life, or on free of darkness. Now, comic book Dick Grayson is usually notable for how bright a character he is, especially in the context of Batman characters. This show, at least so far, has gone a different direction, but not one that is unheard of. That said, this episode feels like it purged a lot of the remaining overt darkness. I don’t expect the show to be lightness from here on, but I expect the buoyancy that shined in the middle episodes of last season to take over a little more.

That is all for this week, but I am really ready for the actual start of the new season next week.

The DCnU after 6

It has now been six months since the DC relaunch, time enough for the shock and the new car smell to wear off, time to get enough issues out to really assess the quality of all of the books. At this point I am relatively satisfied with DC’s offerings. Some of the books have been disappointing, but those books have been offset by a similar number of positive surprises. Because I hate myself, I guess, I … acquired … and read the first six issues of every single one of the New 52. Then I rated them from best to worst. Actually, I’m going to go over them in the opposite order.

52) Hawk and Dove: This series is a mess. I don’t know what hold Leifeld has over DC that they keep giving him books not just to draw but to write, but they really need to put a stop to it. This is an incoherent, ugly comic with absolutely nothing to recommend about it. The original writer Sterling Gates ducked out early, and it only got worse from its miserable first issue.

51)Batman: The Dark Knight: There are two legitimately good Batman books in the relaunch and even the pedestrian Detective Comics is much better than this pile. It seems to be an artist showcase for David Finch, which is baffling because his art is aggressively terrible. He is also writing, or co-writing later, and the story is a muddle. Avoid.

50) The Savage Hawkman: I’ll give the Savage Hawkman credit for at least having interesting, if not especially good, art. But the story is a jumbled mess and Hawkman is still as big a mess as ever. Continue reading