Don't Underestimate Your Dear Old Mom
Teen Titans #9
"Blood of the Manta, Part One"
Script: Benjamin Percy
Layouts: Phil Hester
Pencils: Khoi Pham
Inks: Trevor Scott, Craig Yeung
Colors: Jim Charalampidis
Letters: Corey Breen
Cover Price: $3.99
On Sale Date: June 28, 2017
It's always strange coming off a crossover... especially one that only interrupted our flow for a single month. It feels like it's been forever since we last discussed a "regular" issue of Teen Titans... though, maybe that's more of an indictment on how much I enjoyed the Lazarus Contract.
Either way, it's good to be back!
How good? Let's find out.
After the relative hiccup that was The Lazarus Contract, Kid Flash has been excised from our line-up. Robin has taken to riding newcomer the not-yet Aqualad, Jackson Hyde rather hard, likely in a case of misdirected anger and frustration about how things went down with Wally. He can't yell at the kid he fired... so, Jackson's the next best thing.
Speaking of ol' Squirt Gun, it turns out his mother noticed him on the news with the Titans following the kerfuffle with King Shark and Chonnie Cung. It isn't long before she's Frisco-bound to confront her son. It's during their reconciliation that we learn that Jackson's mother has some aquatic tricks of her own... which is the reason they called a relatively arid environment home for so long.
Even though Wally's been canned, he still receives a fair amount of panel-time here. He chats with Raven about an offer he received
We do get a smidge of actual action when Starfire and Beast Boy take out a couple of bank robbers... unfortunately, we had to listen to Gar talk about his social media celebrity status all throughout the scene. Other than informing us of Gar's pending "Interweb stardom", this scene allowed us to see Jackson show up late for the call.
I'd say I don't want to spoil the ending... but, c'mon... it's a story with Black Manta on the periphery, and the story is called "Blood of the Manta"... it's pretty clear who our threat is. It feels like every third issue of Aquaman ends with a similar page!
What I Dug?
Jackson's water swords looked really cool... and they also serve a function in helping him hone his powers. I thought this was a great wrinkle to add to the character, as otherwise, he would've appeared to have wandered out of the New Mexico desert fully prepared to fight crime with his powers.
The reveal that Jackson's powers aren't all a result of his father was an interesting turn of events. Having Jackson's mother exhibit powers not only provides added intrigue, but also gives us a reason why they were living in New Mexico. We've mentioned in Earlier Issues how strange it was for a water-based superhero to live in the desert... now, we know why!
I appreciated the art here more than in earlier issues, despite it still looking like Damian spends his days chasing parked cars. Looking now, I'm not sure if that has anything to do with Phil Hester's layouts, but something here definitely clicked for me art-wise.
What I Didn't?
Wally's whining. I dunno, maybe I'm no longer cut out to read a comic about whiny teen-agers. Things like this never stood out to me while reading older volumes of Teen Titans, or even Marvel's New Mutants and Generation X. Here though... it's not even angst, it's just whining about the same things over and over.
Perhaps another indictment that I'm getting too old to read about teen-agers (besides my Haney-esque insistence to hyphenate the word, that is), I could really do without Gar talking about his "Interweb" celebrity status. That kind of talk annoys the hell out of me in real-life, I damn sure don't wanna read it.
Bits & Pieces:
Definitely a step-up from the slog that was The Lazarus Contract, however still feels like it's missing something. The Jackson Hyde bits are hitting all the right notes, however, the team feels just so soul-less... and the stakes feel lesser with every issue.