Titans Season 1 (DC Universe)

  • Series Title: Titans
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 11
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Teagan Croft, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

This review includes spoilers for the first season of Titans.

One thing that I demand from films, especially films adapted from other media is that they should be able to stand on their own – the audience should not have to “pull knowledge” from other sources to understand the film. For television series, this “rule” can be relaxed a bit since there is more time for the plot and characters to develop and if the audience is patient, everything will eventually make sense. I found that with Titans, even though I liked the show, it really depends on “outside knowledge” – it helps a lot if you’ve read at least some of the Titans (or Teen Titans) graphic novels (or soft books) or at the very least watched the animated series Teen Titans. The series begins with Rachel Roth (Raven) experiencing “weird stuff” and having no idea what’s going on, and Kory Anders waking up after a car accident having no memories at all. And Dick Grayson has quit being Robin and is a police officer in Detroit. So you have a character who has no idea what is happening to her, an amnesiac, and a guy who no longer wants to be a superhero because he’s disgusted with it – leading a superhero series. That would be confusing for some viewers, and others might not like the “but they aren’t acting like superheroes” thing. I found it an intriguing premise, plus the show does move along extremely quickly and there is a lot of development in the plot and characters over the short length of the show. This is a graphic novel for TV.

The first episode focuses on Rachel and to a lesser extent, Kory. Rachel seems to be developing some type of powers, something she doesn’t understand, and something that terrifies her mother. When her mother is murdered in front of her, Rachel runs away and ends up on the streets in Detroit. A homeless food kitchen offers to take her to a youth shelter, but she is spooked and throws a rock at a police car. This gets her arrested and she’s introduced to Detective Dick Grayson. Dick tries to help her, but Rachel, for perfectly understandable reasons – is suspicious. Dick’s called away and while he’s gone, another cop kidnaps Rachel.

Meanwhile, Kory wakes up after a car accident with no memory. The driver of the car is dead, and no sooner does she wake up than another car shows up, and shoots up the crashed car. Kory out of instinct raises her hand and burns the shooters up with bursts of light and heat from her hand. Kory doesn’t understand this but finds a hotel key in her purse. She goes to the hotel and finds out she has the entire penthouse. Slowly Kory starts to figure out a few things, and she realizes she needs to find Rachel, to protect her.

Dick realizes that Rachel’s been kidnapped and goes to rescue her. Kory also arrives and helps. they rescue Rachel and try to figure out what’s going on, including visiting Rachel’s home in Traverse City, Michigan, Dick finds out Rachel’s mom was murdered, something she had mentioned in her initial interview. Dick, Kory, and Rachel discover some mysterious organization is after Rachel. Dick then takes Rachel to his friends Hawk and Dove (Hank Hall and Dawn Granger) a couple who are superheroes and old friends of Dick’s. Hank, however, is suffering from the physical effects of his previous football career and being a superhero. Dawn is trying to get him to retire. They are meant to stop one last gang – gun runners, then move to Minnesota to retire. The Organization sends “Nuclear Family” after Rachel. During the fight, Dawn is tossed off a roof. Rachel also thinks Dick was going to abandon her with Dawn and Hank. Kory leaves with Rachel. Dawn ends up in a coma in intensive care. Hank, understandably, isn’t happy about this.

Kory and Rachel leave, and at a skating ring Rachel meets Gar and they form an immediate friendship. Dick arrives too and they get four motel rooms. But when the Nuclear Family attacks again Rachel simply runs into the woods. She runs into Gar and finds out he can transform himself into a tiger. He introduces her to the Doom Patrol. But when their head scientist wants to do experiments on Rachel, Gar stands up to him. Rachel’s powers start to get out of control, but Dick and Kory arrive. They leave the Doom Patrol’s mansion, and Gar joins the team. Personally, I felt this episode was more an introduction to the Doom Patrol, another DC Universe series, than really an episode of Titans. It didn’t seem to be a backdoor pilot because it was clear the Doom Patrol had been operating for a while, but on the other hand, it was definitely meant to get the audience to watch the next series on DC Universe, which happened to be Doom Patrol.

After the Doom Patrol incident, Dick, Kory, Rachel, and Gar form a solid team. Dick is able to find the “head” of the Organization, Dr. Anderson, when the capture the Nuclear Family after one of their attacks. The Nuclear Family literally has their heads blown-up by Dr. Anderson. But Anderson says he and Dick will be killed by the Organization. Dick fights off a team of fighters well, and Jason Todd shows up, dressed as Robin, to help him out. They go to a safe house and catch up on family business. Dick has Kory bring Rachel to the safe house. Dick also has “rescued” Dr. Anderson and preventing him from killing himself. They try interviewing him and he insists he will only talk to Rachel. Dick is hesitant but finally relents. Dr. Anderson tells Rachel her mom – her real mother is still alive and is being held at a private asylum. The team debates what to do.

Rachel and Gar run off to rescue her mom. They are captured. Dick and Kory discover Rachel and Gar are missing and head to the asylum to rescue them. They are also captured. Dick, Kory, and Gar are tortured, while Dr. Anderson “interviews” Rachel and tries to convince her that her powers can be used for good. Rachel, to her credit, realizes he’s lying. But earlier he had cut his own throat and Rachel had used her powers to heal him – she takes it back and he dies. She takes keys and goes to rescue her friends and her mother – having seeing the torture of her team on Dr. Anderson’s monitors. Rachel with help from her team as she rescues them one by one, succeeds, but at a high cost. Kory because of the torture starts to remember who she is and her mission. Gar during his rescue turns in to a tiger and attacks and bites the man in a lab coat who was torturing him with whips and electric shocks. He’s shocked that he bit someone (mauled and bit them to death). Dick is put through drug-induced psychological torture – when they are leaving his fights with security guards are considerably more violent than they need to be. Dick also has Kory blow-up the building. They do rescue Rachel’s mother though.

Rachel’s mother has a house in Ohio and says they can stay there. Dick decides to return to his job as a police officer in Detroit. At first, everything seems OK in Ohio, but then strange things begin to happen. Soon we find out Rachel’s birth mother isn’t the innocent she pretends and she’s working for Trigon (Seamus Dever) though the series doesn’t quite tell you who he is. Kory’s memory returns and she takes Dick to her invisible space ship. They use it’s computer banks to find out who Kory is and her mission. She is Koriand’r from Tamaran. Her planet names Rachel or Raven the “destroyer of worlds” stating she will be the door that allows a being from another dimension to return. This being will destroy Earth and continue on destroying worlds until it reaches Tamaran and covers Kory’s home in darkness. Kory was sent to kill Raven to prevent this disaster from happening.

Dick and Kory head back by car to the house to talk to Raven, when the car dies. They try to get back to the house, but it’s hidden by a force field. Also, all phone communication is down. Dick runs at the force field and gets through. Meanwhile, Rachel’s mom has poisoned Gar, but she tells Rachel he’s sick, and she needs to use her powers to heal him. Gar is coughing up blood. When Rachel can’t cure him, her mom convinces her to bring her father across because his powers will cure Gar. He does, but he’s also very dangerous. Dick gets into the house but is immediately overtaken by a hallucination. Unfortunately for Dick, he never seems to realize that everything he is experiencing is a hallucination and he gives in to his darker nature – he’s overtaken by Trigon. The series ends on a cliffhanger of Dick being in Trigon’s thrall. There is a tag scene in the ending credits, wait for it!

I did like Titans a lot. It is a good show, with great acting. The series moves quickly. I was glad I’d been reading the Titans Rebirth series and that I’d seen some of the animated series because I was familiar with the characters and knew who they were and their basic plots. One episode I didn’t mention was “Hank and Dawn” which fills in the background of Hawk and Dove as Hank thinks back on his own history while observing Dawn in her coma. Also, Raven tries to psychically contact Dawn during her coma, which does eventually wake her up. When Dawn awakes – she tells Hank they have to find Jason Todd. Hank’s answer is: Who’s Jason Todd?

I liked Titans and I plan on getting the second season whenever it’s available as well as watching the other DC Universe series (Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, and Young Justice). But I don’t like that the series is on yet another streaming-only channel. This means I can’t get it. I live in a rural area with satellite internet and it is physically impossible to do streaming. The satellite TV system blocks all streaming services by capping data downloads. The nickel-and-diming effect of subscribing to half a dozen streaming services is also a concern for a lot of people I know who are getting tired of literally having to pay a streaming service fee for every show (service) they want to watch. I just end up waiting for the shows produced by any streaming service to show up on DVD or Blu-ray eventually which is usually a 12-18 month wait or more. However, I liked Titans and I will be waiting for the Blu-Ray set for Season 2. I also highly recommend this series. It has a fair amount of violence and some off-screen implied sex, so I’d classify it an Age 15+ series.

 

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Book Review – Bombshells vol. 6: War Stories

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 6: War Stories
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Aneke, Laura Braga, Carmen Carnero, Sandy Jarrell, Richard Ortiz, Wendy Broome (Colors), Kelly Fitzpatrick (Colors) J. Nanjan (Colors), Sandra Molina (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: (Poison) Ivy, Harley Quinn, Supergirl, Power Girl, Raven, Zatanna, John Constantine, Lois Lane, Reaper (Andrea Gruenwald), Lt. Francine Charles, Batgirl (Vampire Barbara Gourdan), Enchantress, Ravager, Hugo Strange, Faora Hu-Ul, Ed Nygma, Swamp Thing, Trigon
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/02/2019

**Spoiler Alert** The final volume in the Bombshells series, volume 6 War Stories brings the series to a satisfactory conclusion, although there will be a sequel series called, Bombshells United. This volume largely takes place during the Seige of Leningrad, though there are different areas of the battle. There are also a few flashbacks that largely work.

However, the first story in Volume 6 is largely unconnected. The Suicide Squad (Barbara Gourdan), Ravager, Enchantress, Killer Croc, and Lt. Frankie Charles) sneak aboard a German U-boat commanded by Edward Nygma. They’ve come to rescue Luc Fuchs, an engineer and close friend of Barbara’s. They discover the sub is a ship of tribute to the King Beneath the Black. The Suicide Squad rescues the engineer, foils Nygma’s plot, and escapes.

A flashback introduces Faora Hu-Ul, a Kryptonian, who is the real power behind Joker’s Daughter, the Baroness, Killer Frost, and Hugo Strange. She was hidden in an Egyptian tomb explored by Lt. Charles. Charles hears the warning about Faora, and it is instrumental in her joining the Suicide Squad under Amanda Waller.

But the introduction of Faora Hu-Ul, and the adventure with Nygma are mere prologue – the rest of the book is the final conflict between good and evil during the Seige of Leningrad. This includes magical conflicts. Zatanna and John Constantine are looking for Raven. Raven is looking for her father, Trigon. Supergirl hopes to see her adoptive parents again. The theme of parents, children, and family is strong.

When Raven finds Trigon and confronts him, she is angry that he never took responsibility for the harm he did. Raven is also upset he joined the Nazis. But when Trigon is killed – Raven loses control of her magic. With help from Zatanna and John, she learns to control it. Constantine meets Abigel Kholland who is leading Russia’s magical creatures that escaped the Nazis, including Swamp Thing.

Reaper finds Hugo Strange and kills him because he murdered her family but she is then killed in turn by Killer Frost. Killer Frost is then captured by Lois Lane.

Faora tells Kara (Supergirl) about Krypton and tries to recruit her in her plan to create a Kryptonian Empire on Earth. Supergirl refuses because she’s shocked that Faora destroyed Krypton. Kara feels it is better to work within the system to improve and fix it, rather than to destroy everything. As Raven rejected Trigon, Kara rejects Foara. She even uses Kryptonite to capture Faora, who had become Doomsday, inside Swamp Thing. Kara is also reunited with her foster parents and her sister, Stargirl’s biological father. The reunion doesn’t last, because they sacrifice themselves in the spell to bind Faora.

I really enjoyed the Bombshells series. Volume 6 War Stories rushes to a conclusion but it is still a good read. I felt including a Kryptonian who turns into Doomsday using magic and Raven’s blood was unnecessary. But, on the other hand, Joker’s Daughter and the Baroness had already been defeated. Killer Frost is defeated in this volume, but not before doing a lot of damage. There are also some great panels in this volume (I loved seeing John transform himself into a hare again.) And the art is stunning. And I loved seeing both Supergirl and Raven confront their evil parental figures, rather than just agreeing with them out of hand. However, this volume could have used more character development (there’s some – but it’s mostly a series of battles, including magical ones.) I recommend the series and this volume in particular.

Book Review – Teen Titans Raven

  • Title: Teen Titans Raven
  • Author: Kami Garcia
  • Artists: Gabriel Picolo (Artist), Jon Sommariva (Artist), Emma Kubert (Artist) David Calderon (Colorist), Tom Napolitano (Letterer)
  • Line: DC Ink
  • Characters: Rachel “Raven” Roth, Natalia Navarro, Max(ine) Navarro
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/26/2019

**Spoiler Alert** DC Comics Ink Series presents graphic novels that are meant for teen readers, especially young women. Teen Titans Raven is an origin story about Raven of the Teen Titans, but it takes entirely before she joins the Titans, or even before she is a superhero. The story opens with Raven and her foster mother having an intense discussion in a car, the foster mother is talking about finally signing the adoption papers – when they are in a car accident. Her mother is killed, and Raven physically recovers quickly but she has lost her memory. She has practical knowledge: how to do a math equation or to use an ATM, but she doesn’t know anything personal – her favorite song, her fashion preferences, what type of candy bar is her favorite. Raven is, in many ways, a blank slate.

She is sent by Social Services to New Orleans to her foster mother’s sister, Natalia, and becomes friends with Natalia’s daughter, Max.

Much of the book is about Raven’s experiences in high school with Max and her friends. Raven realizes she can hear other people’s thoughts, and she tells Max she is overwhelmed by the constant noise of the school. Max gives her noise-canceling headphones to help. Raven is haunted by an evil voice in her head. Sometimes when she thinks something bad about someone (such as hoping the school bully trips) it happens. Raven also keeps seeing a bird shadow in her dreams.

In order to help, Max also takes Raven to a local Tarot card reader and teaches her how to build a psychic shield to help protect herself and block out other people’s thoughts. The Tarot reader says Raven is an empath.

School continues – and everything comes to a head at the prom. Raven’s date is working for Slade Wilson, who wants to recruit Raven. Trigon the demon, who has haunted Raven throughout the story, attacks her. Natalie receives a warning from her dead sister and tries to protect Raven and fight off Trigon, including calling souls to form a binding circle around Trigon. Max is also Soulstorm who can speak to souls and harness their power. Max, Natalie, and the female souls of New Orleans help – but it’s Raven who rejects Trigon and traps him in her crystal necklace. The next morning, Raven gets a note from Slade. She decides to try to find him. Max offers to go with her, but Raven says she will do this on her own.

I enjoyed Teen Titans Raven the art is gorgeous and Raven is an engaging hero. I also liked Max, Natalie, and the friends Raven makes at Max’s school. The end of the graphic novel felt a bit incomplete. Slade Wilson usually isn’t a nice guy, so just what is he offering Raven? We never know. I’d like a sequel to this story. The book includes a preview chapter of Teen Titans Beast Boy which I am going to have to look for. I highly recommend Teen Titans Raven.

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 5: The Death of Illusion

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 5: The Death of Illusion
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Elsa Charrettier, Carmen Carnero, Richard Ortiz, Rachael Stott, Aneke, Wendy Broome (colors), J. Nanjan (colors), Sandra Molina (colors), Hi-Fi (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: Miriam (Captain Marvel/Shazam), (Poison) Ivy, Harley Quinn, Supergirl, Power Girl, Raven, Zatanna, John Constantine, Lois Lane, Reaper (Andrea Gruenwald), Lt. Francine Charles, Batgirl (Vampire Barbara Gourdan), Enchantress, Ravager, Hugo Strange, Steve Trevor, Alexander Luthor
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 07/23/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Bombshells is DC Comics’ alternate history series set in World War II and starring a female superhero team. Volume 5 is much more coherent than the previous volume and starts with a song being sung by Captain Marvel, Miriam, aka Shazam. She catches the reader up on everything that has been happening with all the major players from the last volume and a few we haven’t seen for a while, and she does it in song – or at least rhyme. This review really helps orient the reader.

The novel opens formally on Atlantis, with Ivy and Harley Quinn, and Raven, Zatanna, and Constantine. Ivy has been using her talents with plants to provide food for Miriam’s refugees. She sees a headline about starvation in Leningrad, Russia, due in part to the Nazi’s siege of the city and in part to the Russian Winter. Ivy decides she cannot let people starve when she can provide them food. She talks to Mera, explaining the seeds she leaves behind will provide food for the entire city of Atlantis. Ivy and Harley and a stowaway take Mera’s gift of a flying manta ray named Fawkes and head for Russia. Meanwhile, John Constantine and Zatanna are trying to help Raven learn to control and use her magic. Raven, though, keeps having nightmares. She decides she must find her father, Trigon the Demon, last seen in Russia. Raven doesn’t ask John or Zatanna for help or permission – she stows away on Fawkes. In Russia, Fawkes is attacked in the air, and Raven panics and cannot focus enough to use her magic. Ivy saves them from being destroyed. They meet a circus that is being attacked by magical forces and Nazis. Ivy, Harley, and Raven join with the now freed circus people and animals to save Leningrad.

Meanwhile, Kara (Supergirl) and Steve Trevor are on a train, traveling from Turkey to Russia. Kara is also hoping to find the little family she has left – her father, who, last she heard was in a Russian Gulag. On the train, they are attacked by Alexander Luthor, a Russian spy, and a German SS agent. But Supergirl somehow reverses time. Again, she is attacked but this time at least the train isn’t destroyed killing all aboard. Supergirl is taken to the secret genetics lab run near Leningrad by Hugo Strange.

Meanwhile, Lois Lane, Reaper (Andrea Gruenwald), and Killer Frost are heading to Russia by plane in hot pursuit of Hugo Strange. Killer Frost reveals she isn’t as tame as she let everyone think, she’s also considerably stronger than she let on, and she’s determined to find and kill Strange. Frost crashes the plane, escaping on an ice trail. But Lois and Andrea are rescued by Ivy, Harley, and their circus. All of them, plus Dr. October, whom Ivy has run into, go off to both help the starving people of Leningrad, and to find out about Hugo Strange’s new superweapon. Ivy is shocked by the conditions in Leningrad – she uses her affinity with plants to bring the people food. This costs her a lot of energy, but she will recover.

Supergirl wakes up in a cage, being held by Hugo Strange. She resists, and he introduces her to his superweapon – Power Girl, a clone of Supergirl. Initially, Power Girl is Strange’s stooge, a weapon more than a person. But Supergirl is able to win over her clone, and they both fight Strange after Power Girl rescues Steve Trevor. As they are about to just leave, Lois Lane arrives to rescue Kara. Kara, however, no longer needs rescuing. Lois mentions a third heat signature, and Power Girl leads them to Superman, another of Hugo Strange’s genetic clones. They are attacked by Strange’s genetic monsters but escape.

The last story is a bit separate. Amanda Waller recruits Lt. Francine Charles out of West Point and sends her to Louisana to find Barbara Gourdon. Barbara was born in France in 1896, she fought in World War I as a flying ace but fell in love with the Flying Fox. She disappeared after his “death”. Francine finds Killer Croc, Vampire Barbara, Enchantress, and Ravager. The other three women form a coven, but won’t leave their swamp due to a prophecy. Francine reveals that the Flying Fox is still alive and also they are missing the last two important lines of the prophecy. The four join her and she takes them to Amanda Waller, who introduces them to the other Bombshells as her new “Suicide Squad” unit.

I really enjoy Bombshells it’s a great take on alternate views of a large number of great female characters in the DC Universe. Some of these characters, like Zatanna, are very much the same as the characters we know and love – others like Barbara Gordan (Gourdan) are very different, and some, like Miriam (Shazam) are gender-flipped (though there was at one point a Mary Marvel in the Marvel family). Volume 5 was much more coherent than volume 4, and using rhyming songs to open and close the story added something unique. There are also some flashbacks in the story, such as filling in Lois’s background and the loss of her mother to Hugo Strange, but the flashbacks support the story and do not distract from it. This volume is highly recommended.

Book Review – Bombshells vol. 3: Uprising

  • Title: Bombshells vol. 3: Uprising
  • Author: Marguerite Bennett
  • Artists: Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Sandy Jarrell, Pasqualle Qualano, J. Nanjan (colors), Wendy Broome (colors), Kelly Fitzpatrick (colors), Wes Abbott (letters)
  • Characters: Batwoman (Kate Kane), Mera (Aqua Woman), Zatanna, John Constantine, Raven, Renee Montoya (The Question)
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 09/15/2018

Bombshells is a graphic novel series that was originally based on a series of World War II pin-up style statues of female DC Comics heroes. However, the series has been developed by author Marguerite Bennett into a strong female-led superhero team in a World War II slightly different than the one we know.

This volume begins with the Batgirls, teen heroines inspired by Batwoman Kate Kane to defend their city of Gotham and help the innocent, especially immigrants, Jews, and others who are persecuted by Conservatives and the Right. The book opens with Harper, Cullen, and Felicity breaking up Kate Kane’s poker game with the news that they have found the man who agreed to buy art, jewels, and other priceless artifacts stolen from the Jews that the Wilmot brothers turned over to the Nazis. The Batgirls respond and find Penguin is behind the art thefts, taken from numerous black marketeers and thieves as well as the Wilmot Brothers. They find Penguin at his Iceberg Lounge, but he escapes and the Batgirls find the young want-to-be reporter, Lois Lane, who because of her age, gender, and ethnic background as a Puerto Rican, has been unable to get a reporting job. Undaunted, she has determined to find and write a big story that will be her ticket into her preferred career. Penguin, however, convinces Mayor Harvey Dent that the Batgirls are a threat and uses the media – magazines, books, radio, etc., to paint the heroines as villains. Still, the Batgirls investigate and Lois starts her own newspaper, to put their story out there for all to read and understand. The Batgirls discover that Penguin is working with Hugo Strange who is hypnotizing and drugging Dent into doing what Penguin wants so the crime lord can make as much money as possible off others suffering. The Batgirls and the police rescue Dent from Penguin and Strange, but both villains escape. Maggie Sawyer offers the Batgirls use of one of the abandoned apartments in Kate’s building as their new Batcave.

In Ireland, in the ocean near Arthur Curry’s lighthouse, Arthur rescues Mera – who has lost all her special abilities including the ability to break under water. He cares for her, cures her ills, and takes her to the village on the island. But all isn’t simple romance. Priest and Red Cardinal Hagen of Atlantis return and accuse Mera of abandoning her people. Considering that her sister’s husband convinced Atlantis to abandon its centuries-long tradition of having the most qualified crowned as new ruler when the old one dies or abdicates her throne, and then said husband and now King-Consort threatened to kill Mera’s sister if Mera didn’t leave Atlantis never to return, and then to top it off the husband was the one behind Atlantis’s alliance with the Tenebrae and Nazis – this really is not Mera’s fault. Hagen leads Mera to Atlantis. They discover Hila, Mera’s sister has killed her husband and taken the Atlantean throne under the name, Siren Queen. Siren proves to be very jealous of her sister still. However, Mera expresses her love and concern for her sister. She and Hila become allies and promise to help Mera’s friends, the Bombshells.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Bombshells and main characters are drawn to the Jewish Ghetto in Berlin. Ivy and Harley Quinn are looking for the Joker (aka “Mistah J”) but only find Joker’s daughter. Harley fills in Ivy on her backstory with Mistah J – how the two became bank robbers who gave to “whoever” and caused chaos – only to have Joker’s increasing reliance on illegal alcohol and ethanol to cause him to become cruel. When Joker goes into the swamp – Harley realizes she must leave. Joker’s daughter seems to have some of Elizabeth Moone’s Enchantress powers – carrying a crescent moon staff and having glowing green powers. She even conjures the ghost of Mistah J to confront Harley.

Batwoman, Kate Kane, drops by parachute into Berlin and meets Selina and Renee Montoya. Selina’s knocked out a room full of high-powered Nazis to turn over to the Zambezi for cash for the rebellion. Kate and Renee have a past – having been lovers in Spain before the Spanish Civil War crashed their plans and they ended up fighting the Fascists. Ivy and Harley wait at The Cat’s Cradle basement. Zatanna and John Constantine head there, and run into Raven – another magic user and former prisoner of the Joker’s Daughter – well, they think she’s a former prisoner. Raven’s background as the daughter of a human woman and the demon, Das Trigon, is beautifully and quickly rendered. Raven is initially suspicious of Harley and Ivy but they work it out – and they are joined by Selina, Kate, and Renee. The Huntress meets them at the Cat’s Cradle, bringing her Swing Kids. She tells Batwoman her background as a German youth and a woman – who knows her country is wrong for what it is doing and is trying to help Jews escape. Helena’s story, her determination to fight, and her willingness to face being tried as a traitor by the Germans, her countrymen, is well-told. We also see Kate is upset not merely by who Helena is but by the recent loss of Stargirl, and the loss, in Spain, of young red-capped Jason who died in the war. The final panel of that backstory mirrors that of the famous panel of Batman holding the beaten and battered body of Jason Todd from A Death in the Family. Kate tells Helena to survive, above all. It is Helena who takes all the Bombshells to the Resistance and they finalize their plans to free the ghetto.

All of the characters: Poison Ivy who alters the ph. of sacramental wine so it will burn, Harley Quinn, who makes Molotov Cocktails, a priest who brought the wine, the Swing Kids, Kate Kane, Huntress, Renee Montoya (also known by the nom de guerre The Question), Zatanna, Constantine, and Raven – work together on their plan. During the battle, it’s revealed that Raven is under complete control of the Joker’s daughter. She’s revealed the rebels’ plan to the Nazis who far from being surprised – are ready for them. Meanwhile, several Jewish children are hidden in a basement. The oldest girl, Miri, (also a friend of Kate’s), reads to the children the stories of heroic Jewish women, such as Esther and Shiphrah, Huldah, Zipporah, Abigail, Asenath, and Miriam. As she repeats the names: Shiphrah, Huldah, Abigail, Zipporah, Asenath, and Miriam – Miri is transformed into Shazam. As the new Captain Marvel (aka Shazam, because: copyright) she and Zatanna confront Raven who is under the control of Joker’s daughter – and has grown to gigantic size. But Miri and Zatanna manage to break the Joker’s Daughter’s conditioning of Raven. She comes to her senses and helps the rebels. Kate and Constantine lead the rebellion anyway – as ordinary citizens come from all over Berlin to help after hearing the signal on the radio. Breaking Joker’s Daughter’s control of Raven also frees Zatanna who gets her magic back. Miri, as Shazam has considerable power – she rescues everyone taking them to a haven. They appear in France – but it is Nazi-occupied France. Joker’s Daughter thinks she’s won. Then Atlantis appears. Mera and Hila are now partners and co-Queens. They offer Atlantis as a haven and home for all refugees from the war. Zatanna attacks the Nazis with her magic – clearing a path to the sea-bound refuge. Harley and Ivy join the fight. Zatanna is able to use her magic to end Joker’s tracking spell on her. Everyone will take refuge in Atlantis, though the Bombshells will no doubt soon go out to fight again, especially as Queen Mari of Zambesi, aka Vixen, wants their help in the next arena.

Bombshells is an excellent alternate-reality historical “Golden Age” graphic novel series. The female leads are strong, and their backstories are well-told (sometimes very different than the ones we know and sometimes very slightly changed if at all). The art in this book is amazing. I liked the colored tile borders for the backstory of Renee, Kate, and Jason in Spain – the red thorny vines for Ivy’s tales, and the other details for other characters. The sepia tones for scenes showing the characters past histories were also well done. The Story of Arthur and Mera, though a well-known romance, had new twists and turns to it – making it work within the larger story. I especially liked that rather than making her sister a villain – Mera and Hila ended-up co-operating together. And Hila cutting off her traitorous husband’s head was an awesome way of showing her independence (this was picked up in one of the tales of Jewish Biblical Heroines that Miri (Miriam) tells Kate or the children when she talks of her pride in being who she is.

I highly recommend DC Comics Bombshells – not only to comics fans but to anyone who likes stories about strong, capable women.

Teen Titans Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Teen Titans
  • Season: 2
  • Date:  2004
  • Episodes: 13
  • Discs: 2
  • Cast: Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton, Tara Strong, Ashley Johnson, Ron Perlman
  • Original Network:  Cartoon Network
  • Production Network:  Warner Brothers Animation

The second season of Teen Titans consists of two discs that have very different attitudes to the story presentation. Disc 1 has the characters one at a time dealing with typical teenaged stuff: fitting in with others, being themselves, teenaged bodily changes, finding time for friends, etc. Killer Moth even threatens the Teen Titans unless Robin brings his bratty daughter, Kitten, to her Junior Prom (only for everyone to discover the spider-headed villain the Titans were fighting at the beginning of the episode is her boyfriend). The style of these episodes is also very much like traditional cartoons, rather than realistic animation – when characters are surprised their eyes literally bug out, a character in love has hearts in his eyes, confused characters have question marks over their heads, etc. And every episode has a major fight scene.

The second disc is done in a more realistic animation style, and in general the stories are more serious, or not focused on teen issues for the most part. The series introduces Terra, the ill-fated teen hero who can manipulate the Earth. When she arrives Terra is not in control of her powers, however, the Titans aren’t quick enough to offer to help her – and she leaves. Terra falls under the influence of Deathstroke who teaches her to control her powers. When Terra returns she quickly becomes friends with the Titans – especially Beast Boy who falls in love with her. In the season finale, though, she proves to be working with Deathstroke and gets the Titans to separate (they go after various villains who have appeared before and whom she and Deathstroke released) so she can defeat them. The Titans know Deathstroke is controlling Terra but in a bit of a double-standard, only Beast Boy believes they should help her anyway, after all the same thing happened to Robin the previous year. The rest of the Titans feel too betrayed to trust Terra and to try to help her.

In the end, the Titans work together to defeat Deathstroke. They convince Terra to come back to them. But as the fight in Deathstroke’s underground liar has stirred up a volcano – Terra stays behind to stop it. She’s turned into a stone statute. The Titans vow to find a way to release her from her stone prison and lay a stone at her feet calling her a true Titan and a true friend.

The scenes of Deathstroke controlling Terra are actually truly terrible though: he offers her something she truly wants – to learn to control her powers. But he also continuously tells her she has no friends, that no one cares about her, that she’s alone – and only Deathstroke would even dare to work with her. His manipulation is very abusive. He also constantly tells her the Titans aren’t her friends and don’t care about her. Deathstroke isolates Terra – then tells her no one wants her. He’s the classic abusive “boyfriend”. And he uses her power for his own gains. Deathstroke even electronically controls her “Slade suit” and has her wear an earpiece to be in her ear and her head all the time. The manipulation and abuse is terrifying.

Overall, even with the inconsistencies, Teen Titans Season 2 is pretty good. There are some interesting concepts and episodes (I loved the green, alien, talking dog). Recommended.

Please read my Teen Titans Season 1 Review.

Book Review – Teen Titans vol. 1: Damian Knows Best

  • Title: Teen Titans vol. 1: Damian Knows Best
  • Author: Benjamin Percy
  • Artists: Khoi Pham, Jonboy Meyers, Diógenes Neves, Wade Von Grawbadger, Ruy José, Sean Parsons, Jim Charalampidis, John Kalisz, Corey Breen
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Damian Wayne (Robin), Beast Boy, Starfire, Raven, Kid Flash (Wally West mark II), R’as al Ghul, Batman, Talia al Ghul
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 09/01/2017

This graphic novel re-introduces Teen Titans as part of DC Comics’ Rebirth. Rebirth also has a Titans book, with older heroes from the former Teen Titans. The Titans in this book are: Beast Boy, Starfire, Raven, and Kid Flash, and it brings in Damian Wayne as Robin. But this isn’t really a team book – it’s Damian’s story that the other Teen Titans almost guest star in. The book opens with each of the Titans being knocked out by a mysterious figure. They wake up, in restraints, and meet their attacker and the person holding them captive – Robin. But the team is still reeling from the death of their Robin, Tim Drake (in Rebirth’s Detective Comics).

The Titans pull together as a team, and break out of their restraints. Robin uses this to prove his point – they are stronger together, as a team. He tells them a team of assassins has been sent after them, then Damian tries to appoint himself leader of the New Teen Titans. This doesn’t go over well, and when the assassins show up almost immediately – the Titans are quickly defeated. Robin disappears but returns with a stolen Bat-plane and rescues them.

However, the team doesn’t really pull together or gel – and soon Damian leaves again, making his way to R’as al Ghul’s island fortress to offer himself in return for the other Titans’ lives being spared. R’as pits Damian in a fight against his cousin, a girl he’s always managed to defeat before. But she’s learned a few things. In their first fight, she defeats Damian but doesn’t kill him.

The Titans follow Damian and try to rescue him. In the end, they defeat the team of assassins not in a fight, but with the truth – exposing R’as al Ghul’s lies about their families willingly abandoning them. Damian is able to escape and the threat against the team is neutralized. The Teen Titans agree to accept Damian into their ranks. Damian, however, has to face his father – Batman.

This really is a Damian story, more than a team book – though the team is definitely there. I also personally preferred the older team of Titans. But, considering the book is about Damian and his history, as well as how he spends his thirteenth birthday, it’s about Damian becoming part of the team – though not in the typical way. The story at times is very cold, because Damian is a cold character (and oddly suited to the warmer team – even this slightly older version of Raven).

Still, it’s a good book, and a good story. It’s interesting to see Damian choosing Bruce and Batman over Talia and his grandfather. Recommended.