The Titans are given a dire message via a possessed Beast Boy: Mother Blood is plotting to take over the Red, the force that binds all organic life together!
We then flash back some months ago, where a young illegal immigrant named Sonya is being chased down by law enforcement officials (they aren't named, but it's clearly I.C.E.). Just as she's about to be arrested, the officers are brutally slain by the minions of none other than Brother Blood, who is recruiting for his ranks by indoctrinating vulnerable immigrants.
Though protected, Sonya finds herself less than impressed by the thinly-veiled cult. Though grateful to Blood for saving her life, she eventually plots her escape. But as she runs away, she is bathed in a mysterious light, which imbues her with a wealth of secrets of the multiverse!
Her experience takes Sonya and her small group away from the rest of Brother Blood's cult, which itself gets taken down by the Titans during their absence. Sonya, now calling herself Mother Blood, takes over her predecessor's mission, but with a far greater goal in mind: domination of ALL life throughout the multiverse, using the Bleed as a catalyst!
Where’s Andy Lanning when you need him?
Dan Abnett’s erstwhile writing partner is sorely missed in outings like this, which takes about a third of an issue’s worth of story and pads it out, interminably, for an entire comic. It might not even be quite such a big deal if Mother Blood’s backstory were even remotely interesting, but everything involved is so by-the-numbers I have a difficult time imagining what it would even look like. There’s a attempt at capturing the zeitgeist by referencing illegal immigrants and I.C.E. at the beginning of her backstory, but Abnett fails to do anything meaningful with it.
He also finds himself weirdly obsessed with blood-themed wordplay throughout the entire story:
There’s nothing really all that fascinating – or original – about Mother Blood’s plan, either: she wants to take over all organic life by using the Bleed (admittedly a nice callback to Warren Ellis’s Authority and a reminder that elements of Wildstorm are still a part of the DCU) and the Red in tandem, which on the one hand makes for a nice dovetail but on the other hand feels forced by virtue of, you guessed it, both being blood-themed.
Brother Blood is a classic Titans villain, and the idea of someone new taking up his mantle and pushing his cult to new extremes is a decent one, but unfortunately there just isn’t anything compelling about Mother Blood. She is, at the end of the day, a gender-twisted stock version of an established villain .
Unfortunately, Clayton Henry’s art fails to rise to the occasion, too. He vacillates between being extremely basic and just plain amateurish:
The entire package winds up being far, far less than the sum of its parts, which is a strange thing to say given Dan Abnett’s impressive resume. All writers are entitled to the occasional bad issue, and I don’t want to indict the writer of the wonderful, recently-wrapped Aquaman run, so I’ll chalk this one up to simply being a swing and a miss by an otherwise-talented author.
An unfortunate misstep from a usually-reliable writer, this issue plays it far too safe to be compelling. There are some hints of good things to come, but readers will at least need to wait until next issue to discover them.
Titans #32: Reign in Blood
- Writing - 3/103/10
- Storyline - 3.5/103.5/10
- Art - 5/105/10
- Color - 6/106/10
- Cover Art - 4/104/10
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