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Teen Titans #4

Posted: Friday, October 17, 2003
By: Shawn Hill



"Breaking the Rules"

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Mike McKone and Marlo Alquiza

Publisher: DC

Plot:
Jericho's personality and Deathstroke's skills continue to prove a formidable combination against Cyborg (who is grievously injured) and the ever-intrepid Robin. Help comes from an unexpected source, however, due to a surprisingly speedy recovery.

Comments:
Now this is more like it. This title is finally living up to its promise, putting different groups of the players (if not always together) into action, jumping from scene to scene and plot to plot with finesse. None of the events that occur are really the most likely, if you parse them out, but Johns strains credibility without breaking it to deliver a story with both character showpieces and an array of successive shocks and surprises.

Kory is perhaps understandably livid about the behaviour of the junior team; I hope Johns doesn't drop that thread, since she's not seen again this issue. Robin's skills are formidable, but having a detective's mind doesn't make him the best leader at all times. The thread of Ares seduction of Cassie crops up again, but playing out in a refreshingly unusual way. The points he makes about her powers and her past experiences with the gods and Amazons are valid, and if Johns is picking up on the more modernized look at the gods currently appearing in Rucka's Wonder Woman, I'm all for it. Why shouldn't Ares have multiple sides, aspects and goals?

We also get a glimpse at someone who may be Raven as well; this issue is packed with culminating threads, but there's definitely a sense of urgency as perspectives shift, not least given by the new and improved Impulse. I'm not sure if Johns is playing too loose with the ways the speed force works, but Bart's abilities here are truly amazing. In an unlikely twist, Johns avoids having the team's powerhouses (Konner and Cassie) directly face Jeri-stroke, and instead depicts him non-violently overwhelmed against the newly unstoppable and self-educated Bart.

McKone is doing his best work on this title, and those climactic scenes are perfectly captured in all their shock and gore. I can't imagine Johns could find a better match to get his stories across, and I'm happy to see this title finally get down to business and move on from troubling notions about motivations and other obligations. Robin puts the younger set's ethos into words all too succinctly: he doesn't like anyone "telling us who we are. I chose to become Robin, nobody picked me." As Konner responds, "I hear that."



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