Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Minkyu Jung
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Titans Annual #1 is exactly what an annual is supposed to be, a fun story without a lot of ties to the main book for casual readers but enough continuity for fans of the Titans title. In today’s world of interconnected stories and large overlapping events it is nice to sit down and read an annual that was an entertaining story with a classic villain, a hidden evil, and quality guest stars.
Titans Annual #1 is a classic team-up comic book as the Justice League is as prevalent in the story as the Titans are. The premise is simple as the classic Justice League of America villain the Key kidnaps members of the Titans who are protégés of the Justice League as well as their mentors. So we get two Flash’s (Wally and Barry), Tempest and Aquaman, Donna Troy and Wonder Woman as well as Nightwing and Batman. In classic comic book fashion there’s a level of wariness between mentor and mentees, except for the Flash’s who fall into teaming up easily, which fits with their characterizations over the years. There is some wonderful characterization as the kidnapped victims size each other up, bicker amongst themselves, and try to figure out where they are and why they have been brought there as well as if they can trust one another.
Dan Abnett is such a great writer that he handles all of these characters with a classic feel but is still true to their DC Rebirth status quos as well as the New 52 Donna Troy continuity (which MUST be fixed as it is just god awful). I love that there is tension between the Titans and the Justice Leaguers as no one is sure if they are the real deal or evil doppelgangers. The Key was the perfect choice to be one of the villains of the story as he has an interesting backstory and some devious plots to gain power from other peoples struggles. (Side note: for a great Key story check out Grant Morrison and Oscar Jimenez’s two part alternate reality tale in JLA #8-9. ) The struggles are apparent as every paring, except Wally and Barry, are dripping with tension and some animosity. Tempest has to deals with aligning himself with his teammates even in the face of the wishes of his monarch. Nightwing and Batman fall into their somewhat constant squabbling over Nightwing’s choice in direction and how he is vastly different then his mentor. Then there is outright anger and violence between Donna and Wonder Woman, which is unfortunately linked to the New 52’s making Donna being of magic clay created to kill Wonder Woman. Like I said before, it’s a terrible concept. The Key’s manipulations are fun to watch as he pokes the teams with threats and fears all in the hopes of using their energies to free his unnamed accomplice. I do wish we would have gotten some closure on who the Key was working with as he continually addresses a character off panel but as the Titans regular title is closely linked to the evolving Watchmen threat implied back in DC Rebirth #1 it was somewhat understandable that Abnett keeps the character in the shadows.
Minkyu Jung’s artwork was a nice choice to accompany Abnett’s story. It is a vibrant style as it is realistic with very clean lines and solid action sequences. Jung’s work is very much a departure from Brett Booth’s stick figure style on the main Titans book. I’ve always felt an annual should be different from the main book and choosing Jung was a departure. I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Jung’s work on Titans as it has a nice, charming quality to it that would suit the title well.
Verdict: If you are a fan of a good story and the feel of a classic Annual then Titans Annual #1 is a Buy. Dan Abnett weaves a fun story with excellent characterization while Minkyu Jung’s artwork is realistic and vibrant. Titans Annual #1 is a fun read and would be enjoyed by any fan of the Titans, both Rebirth and Classic versions.