Put Out the Light!
The Teen Titans' traitor stands revealed! And it's... ROUNDHOUSE?! Easily defeating the team by stealing Djinn's ring and using her against them, the corpulent blue hero passionately explains his reasons for betrayal... and they all go back to his long-shrouded origin and the tragic death of his sister!
Subversion of expectations is an important writing component for drumming up tension in a story. I’ve been pretty critical of Teen Titans writer Adam Glass in the last six months or so for failing to accomplish this: instead of subverting expectations, he’s leaned right into them instead, telegraphing his punches a mile off and thus diluting any sense of surprise or suspense from his story turns.
Not so with this issue and the last: as the long(ish)-simmering subplot of the team’s traitor comes to a head, culminating with the least likely suspect: Roundhouse! The team’s well-meaning but clumsy, naive, happy-go-lucky answer to The Goonies‘ Chunk has, from the jump, been something of an enigma: nobody knew much about his backstory, or even how he got his powers. (Or even what they are, and their full extent, for that matter.) But his laid-back, uber-chill personality belied any suspicion anyone may have had about him.
It’s a good thing, then, that Glass is a canny enough writer that he knows not to have Roundhouse go full heel-turn. Roundhouse is motivated not by revenge or some one-dimensional heretofore-unseen “evil persona,” but rather, a very misguided notion of trying to do good. For a well-intended – but way over his head – kid like Roundhouse, it makes sense. Especially when it comes to his reasons for disliking Robin – honestly, they’re justified. Roundhouse’s motivations here are completely justified, even if he does wind up taking it too far.
My only real complaint this issue is Bernard Chang’s art. Usually quite consistent, some of his characters – Robin in particular – look off-model. Not really sure what happened here, but Marcelo Maiolo’s coloring couldn’t quite pull it up to snuff.
If there’s one thing Adam Glass’s Teen Titans run has been good it, its showing that actions have consequences. There’s not an issue that goes by that somebody’s poor behavior isn’t met with highly a meaningful reaction – putting the teen back into the book’s emphasis. These kids aren’t perfect, they make selfish decisions, the make bad decisions – but ultimately, they keep coming back together because they all know that’s what teenagers do. They’re maybe about as real a team of super-teens we’ve seen in awhile. And for better or worse, superhero books are better for their inclusion.
This book truly returns to form this issue, layering on the drama and unpredictability that its earlier issues were so great at. These may not be your dad's Teen Titans, but they're without a doubt the best iteration of the team since the halcyon Geoff Johns days.
Teen Titans #35: Fox in the Henhouse
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8/108/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 6/106/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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