By: J.T. Krul (writer), Nicola Scott (penciller), Doug Hazlewood (inker), Jason Wright (colorist)

The Story: Who cares how many there are?  You’ve seen one demon, you’ve seen ‘em all.

The Review: If you’re going to dislike a certain writer’s style, it’s probably a good idea to be clear about what turns you off about their work, and an especially good idea if you’re reviewing their pieces for public view.  By now you’ve probably caught on to the fact that I don’t really care for Krul’s writing, and since we’re on the final chapter of his opening story arc on this title, now seems a good time as any for me to get into some specifics.

The man can’t let an issue go by without inserting at least one pontificating homily on whatever theme he has going on in the story.  Readers should be free to infer whatever theme they can get out of the writing, and certainly it doesn’t need to be shoved under our noses.  And can there be a less engaging opener than a preachy monologue?  Red Robin: “…confidence has a lot to do with being a good leader.  But that confidence is not about believing in your own ability.  It’s about believing in your team.”  No one likes a high-minded goody-goody, Tim.

At best, Krul’s dialogue veers between cliché and corny; other times, he simple makes some terrible choices about the lines that come out of the characters’ mouths.  Ravager, though no longer replaced by an imposter, still sounds completely out of character enthusing, “You show ‘im, Wonder Girl!”  You know, because Rose is such a spunky team player like that.  Superboy’s curse, “Damn you, demons,” just comes across melodramatic and, frankly, redundant.  Demons are, by definition, already damned.  Hardly seems necessary to say as much.

Krul also has the habit of latching onto a characterization idea and pounding it over and over until he wears its novelty out completely.  Raven has become unforgivably, possibly irrevocably one-note: “My emotions are tornDrawn to the demons. Repulsed by the light of Solstice.  It is as if I am fighting my very being to save my friends.”  Not only does Krul write this as if it’s her first time ever being in this situation (instead of the—what?—twentieth time), she comes off less sympathetic and more like a quivering-lipped drama queen.

Not only do characters suffer from narrow, repetitive portrayals, so do plots under Krul’s hand.  The introduction of Solstice and the use of Rankor and Hindu myth as the basis for this story arc was a perfectly fine premise, but he made the parallels so obvious that you already know the end game long before it arrives.  Red Robin, talking about Solstice’s musings about who can be Rama in this modern-day portrayal of the myth, states, “But she never considered herself.”  Well, all of us did, but only because Krul hinted as much about a thousand or so times.

Scott, you have been missed, and very dearly too.  Absolutely no one can deliver art that can even begin to make us consider taking Krul’s script seriously than your rich, detailed lines, your expressive character depictions, and especially your explosive action panels.  That double-paged spread of the Titans versus Rankor and his demonic horde…well, you can’t beat that.  Every Titan gets something to do and has prominence, despite the multitude of characters and activity.  It takes someone very special to accomplish that, and Scott is indeed quite special.

Conclusion: Seeing how the team will go through a more substantial reboot in a couple months, and how the current title has lost most of its readability (save Scott’s always striking art), I may as well save myself an issue’s worth of moolah and send this series to the Dropped List.

Grade: C-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – Between episodes of Young Justice and here, I’m starting to feel like we never see Superboy with a shirt on anymore.  He may as well gig as an Abercombie and Fitch model.  I’m just saying.