Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Teen Titans #21 Review and **SPOILERS**

We Bought a Zoo of Mind-Controlled Animals

Written By: Tony Bedard
Art By: Miguel Mendonca, Diana Conesa, Tony Aviña
Letters By: Corey Breen
Cover Price: $2.99
On Sale Date: June 22, 2016


One time I sat around a dinner table with my parents and their first cousins, who are around the same age, listening to them talk about Facebook. I would rather have had bamboo shoots shoved under my fingernails. They half marveled, half complained about its intrusive nature, the seemingly spurious yet eerily targeted advertisements appearing on their feed, and the shocking reveal of their peers’ shitty politics. They simultaneously denounced “stalking” other profiles on Facebook while admitting to doing the same. I swear I was going to jump out the window. What hath Mark Zuckerberg wrought!? And the worst part is, as “in the know” as I think I am, I know there are generations behind mine so adept at computing that what I do has more the effect of a Rube Goldberg machine than anything sensible or efficient. But I have learned from the embarrassment we suffer at Baby Boomers’ constant rumination on this digital world: I’m damn sure not going to complain about it. One thing I will complain about, however, is Teen Titans. But will I do so for issue #21? Read on to find out!

Explain It!

Hey kids! You like internet memes, don’tcha? You know, those incorrectly-named pictures of people or things with wry text in large white letters emblazoned on the top and bottom of the image? Well grandpa’s got a whole mess of ‘em, right here on the front page of this comic book! Actually, these memes aren’t meant to delight and confuse, but to bring us up to speed on what’s happening in Teen Titans, and it does a pretty good job. Kudos for taking a page from the Marvel playbook and executing it fairly well—more like this, please! If you will remember, Monsieur Mallah (the revolutionary talking gorilla) and the Brain (a brain) had taken over the mind of supervillain meme creator Metatroll93 and Cassie “Wonder Girl” Sandsmark, who then turned her fury against Titan leader Tim “Red Robin” Drake. Well, they’ve crashed out of a window and into Central Park Zoo, where Tim radios orders to the rest of the team despite having his life threatened by a demi-goddess. Monsieur Mallah is most distraught at this turn of events, since the zoo brings back his animal instincts, which are essentially to poop wherever he wants. He and the Brain discuss it, and this is definitely the best part of the book: whenever the Brain and Mallah interact. In fact, if this had just switched from Teen Titans to a Mallah + Brain 4Ever miniseries, I would be fine with that.

At Metatroll93’s pad, Raven and Power Girl appear using Raven’s magic, and Raven further uses her powers to dislodge the brain-controlling device implanted by the Brain. Power Girl even asks aloud if Raven knew whether or not it would kill him to yank a GoPro from this kid’s neck, and Raven says it was a lucky guess. A guess? I mean, the kid was just sitting in an easy chair, it’s not like he presented an immediate threat. Maybe someone could have actually looked at the stupid thing before Raven witched it out of him? Just then, the Brain, who by the way is a brain stuffed into a gigantic, self-propelled dildo, flies out of the room and outside to the zoo. At the zoo, Cassie is still fighting Tim, but then Beast Boy flies over as a hawk and yanks it off her head, restoring her to the usual bitchy character. Just then, the Brain flies over and lets loose a bunch of brain-controlling balls, which latch onto sea lions and polar bears at the zoo. The Titans are being attacked by the animal kingdom, with the Brain taunting him from what I assume are speakers on each device. The Titans are overwhelmed and Red Robin suggests they should attack the Brain directly. Meanwhile, Monsieur Mallah stands outside the gate to Central Park Zoo, conflicted about entering and being shamed by his connection to the smelly world of feral animals. Just then, a bunch of brain-controlling devices latch on to several dozen humans hanging around!

Things look bleak for the Titans as mind-controlled animals and humans converge on their position, but then Power Girl and Raven show up, and Raven just pops everyone’s device off with her magic. That’s it. Problem arose and was averted in one page. Now the Titans are all together to tackle the Brain, by which I mean only Wonder Girl flies up and sort of wrestles with the dildo until it can no longer fly and plummets earthward. Mallah is just in time to catch the Brain, but he’s too bummed out by the zoo to fight anymore, so Raven sends them to her hellish home dimension for a while before they can be dropped off at prison. Uh, I would say a couple of hours in hell is probably enough punishment for even fairly heinous crimes. Kind of a spiritual “Scared Straight” program is what I’m picturing. The Teen Titans have saved the day, and Metatroll93 tries to help rehabilitate their images by uploading pictures and video of them restocking the Central Park Zoo, but we know his blog views are probably way down since he stopped mocking supervillains. Negativity sells, folks! In the end, Red Robin has been whisked away to Belle Reve Prison by Amanda Waller and that will kick off yet another arc of this terrible comic book.

Though I must admit I found this issue to be…not horrible. I loved the art, which might be the best I’ve seen since picking up this series for review. I hated pretty much every moment that the Titans were visibly doing something, but I really liked the Brain and Mallah moments. They were equal parts funny and genuinely touching, adding layers to the complicated relationship between a talking gorilla and an evil brain in a giant dildo. This Metatroll93 is a pretty thin character, and his plot to make supervillain memes even thinner, but it proved to be a fairly minor part of the story so I won’t bag on it too much. Since this series will continue until the end of time, and I will therefore review it until the end of time, if it keeps getting incrementally better every ten issues, then we might have a readable Teen Titans in 2052!

Bits and Pieces:

This issue sucked, but less so than the previous issue, so that's a promising trend. The scenes with Monsieur Mallah and the Brain were very entertaining, which only served to highlight the Teen Titans' general bummertude. In the end, we learn that the internet can be used to help, and not just harm people's reputations, which we know is absolute bullshit. Anyone remember the people that started the ALS fundraising stunt the Ice Bucket Challenge? But you'll remember that fat kid who filmed himself flailing a light saber until your dying breath.

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  1. I had fun reading this issue and loved the art. Reggie, perhaps you are too smart for this book. Give it to Eric.

    1. This is bullshit!....... Besides, I passed this book to Jim, who passed it to Reggie. Nobody wants this book. Also I agree with Reggie's score, this book is ridiculous.

    2. have to agree...not good at all!


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