The Titans have been disbanded, but the war on crime goes on. At least, it does for Roy “Arsenal” Harper who is still taking the fight to the drug dealers of New York City despite not having any of his former teammates to back him up.
Foolish? Certainly. But it also keeps Roy’s mind off of the woman he loves – Donna Troy – who is currently under house arrest on the Justice League Watchtower due to their fears about her apparent destiny to become the murderous being known as Troia. Yet Roy is also the only member of the team trying to stay in touch with Donna while she is in exile.
A chance encounter gives Roy an unexpected ally in his fight – Cheshire, a poison-wielding, killer-for-hire whom Roy briefly dated once upon a time. It seems she’s been hired by some powerful people who would like to see a dent put in the drug trade and, for once, their purposes coincide.
Roy needs the help, but impulse control has never been his strong point. Can he remain true to what he think he has with Donna with a warm, willing Cheshire right here, right now? And could it be that Roy’s love for Donna is the only thing stopping her transformation in the here and now?
Apart from a brief interlude which shows Dick Grayson helping Wally West to move into his new apartment in Keystone City, the focus of Titans #20 is entirely on Roy Harper and Donna Troy. This addresses one of the key problems with Titans in past issues, which has been Dan Abnett’s ability to balance the large ensemble cast. Unfortunately, Donna, Roy, Dick and Wally are probably the four characters least in need of an issue to focus on their character development, given Donna and Roy’s romance has been one of the book’s better developed subplots and Dick and Wally are prominent enough in other series that they don’t need a spotlight here. That being said, the script for this issue is a brilliant bit of work that gives Roy his best character moments since the Arsenal-focused issues of Benjamin Percy’s Green Arrow.
The artwork is also greatly improved from recent issues. Artist Paul Pelletier is a tremendous talent when it comes to blocking a fight between panels and he varies up the character designs so that each character has a distinctive face. This is a pleasant change from previous artists who drew Roy Harper and Wally West as exactly the same, save for Roy’s perpetual five-o’clock-shadow. Andrew Hennessy’s inks find the perfect balance between shading and enhancing Pelletier’s pencils. Adriano Lucas’ colors offer up the perfect finishes to the artwork and Carlos M. Mangual provides clear, readable lettering that does not cover-up the artwork any more than it has to.
Bottom Line: If you haven’t given Titans a try and you like what you see above, this is a good issue to start with.
Titans #20 will be avaialble on February 14, 2018.