Review Brew: Teen Titans Special: The Lazarus Contract #1
Writers: Christopher Priest, Dan Abnett, and Ben Percy.
Artists: Paul Pelletier, Brett Booth, Khoi Pham, Andrew Hennessy, Adriano Lucas, Wade Von Grawbadger, Jim Charlampidis, Norm Rapmund, and Andrew Dalhouse.
Cover: Mike McKone.
The ending of The Lazarus Contract was, for the most part, as great as the prior issues leading up to it. While superhero crossovers tend to be a roll of the dice, having a small group involved led to a great deal more quality control, and Christopher Priest’s style has meshed well with the styles of Benjamin Percy and Dan Abnett’s Titans book.
However, there’s always a fly in the ointment and it shows itself here in the aftermath. Deathstroke having speed powers wouldn’t be a workable long-term status quo for obvious reasons, but the comic puts a great deal of energy turning such a plot point into something a great deal more exciting than what you just saw. However, it carries over some of the issues Titans has had with keeping characters that are locked in a perpetual state of youth and one character in particular bears the most of the problems with that approach.
The comic itself does a great job of wrapping up the fight between both generations of Titans and Deathstroke. As always, Deathstroke’s own unwillingness to work with other people costs him dearly, including his one chance to save his son. It also goes a long way to make both sets of Titans credible threats to what he wants, as well as to make them his credible opposites as a family unit vs his single-minded isolation. As far as Deathstroke writers go, Priest has understood that, and the build-up to this story effectively pays off with a broken Slade Wilson giving up after his mistakes pile up too deeply for him to continue on as Deathstroke. Paul Pelletier brings a great energy to the issue as well. While it’s not the same as the style of any of the books, it’s a great intersection of the type of energy a big finale like this needs, with everything from time travel, to great fight sequences being covered in the gamut.
Where the story stumbles however, is with the aftermath for the other books. Both Titans and Teen Titans have been a bit of an awkward read for me, largely due to their treatment of present Flash and former Kid Flash, Wally West. The story opts for a couple of bizarre decisions that stem all the way back to the very beginning of Rebirth.
For the sake of avoiding spoilers, I won’t dig too deeply, but Lazarus Contract is the culmination of those problems with these two characters. Wally has felt like somewhat of an ancillary character, and while Lazarus Contract has paid respect to him as the Flash, Abnett’s treatment of him in the backup feels like a retread of old Kid Flash stories, rather than something you’d do with a character who had their own book for over twenty years. While it’s a bit pedantic to complain about a line-wide decision in one review, it’s indicative of what’s dragged some of these books down. While Rebirth as a whole has managed to get back to basics in a decent way, it’s had an issue with attempting to appease characters by returning them to a “default” state that they believe fans like, rather than doing something with it. Which is a shame, since the Annual as a whole is well-constructed. That being said, the movement for these books as a whole is looking good, and there’s plenty of reasons to check this annual out as a capstone to a great story.
3 Speed Forces out of 5