Less than a month and I’m BACK!
Why so soon, you ask? The Teen Titans Annual was just released!! This one is supes special, you guys. It’s the conclusion of a major DC crossover. We’ve got the Teen Titans (duh), the Titans, and Deathstroke. It’s a super power smorgasbord!
It opens to a scene from the past. We’re unsure just how long ago it was, but we do know it takes place in Linthicum Heights, Maryland. We’re introduced to a cast of seemingly unknown characters and soon learn the gang, save one, is ill-intended; to coerce Deathstroke into a partnership, they are exploiting his son, Grant.
If you remember from the last issue, Deathstroke was obsessed with saving his son Grant’s life. That’s the reason why he kidnapped both The Flash and Kid Flash. He harnessed their power and turned it into a speed-time-machine-thingy.
Ok, so now we know Deathstroke is being manipulated. The villain has become the victim. Kinda makes you feel for the guy a little, right?
The scene continues, Grant is injected with something sinister, and we are exposed to the full extent of his transformation. Grant is now a full-blown superhero named Ravager with powers rivaling those of Deathstroke, his father. We also learn that the gang responsible for his metamorphosis is called H.I.V.E. and answers to a group referred to only as the “Masters.”
On a side note, “metamorphosis” is clearly the theme of the series. By the end, we see several characters—Kid Flash, The Flash, and Deathstroke—transform.
Meanwhile, Deathstroke is racing through time, trying to save Grant’s life. (I don’t know much about this backstory; I only know information that’s been presented in the Teen Titans series.) In the next scene, Deathstroke has found Grant and has managed to bring him to his safe house in Vermont.
At first, Grant is beside himself. He’s a huge fan of Deathstroke! But when Deathstroke reveals he is Grant’s father (Grant was unaware, apparently) and that H.I.V.E. is just using him, Grant throws his hands in the air, storms off, and delivers one of the best lines in the entire issue.
“Oh, hell no.”
The two then fight, naturally. Deathstroke has been absent Grant’s whole life, blah blah blah. “You don’t get to call me, son,” blah blah blah. You get the picture. (If you haven’t picked up on it, I’m not a big fan of the “absentee father” trope.) Deathstroke then knocks out Grant, ending the scene.
We learn that this is actually the third time he has intercepted past-Grant. The first two times were as unsuccessful as the third. He focuses his energy and sets his sights for even further into the past.
We then finally cut to our beloved Teen Titans. They are just where we left them (with the Titans in Jersey City)…aghast that Kid Flash gave Deathstroke the power to change time. The energy is high and frantic. They can’t decide what to do. Do they call in the Justice League?
Nightwing wants to go meet the Flash at the old Titans headquarters at Hatton Corners and Robin, being the little stain that he is, makes the decision to leave Kid Flash behind. Jackson Hyde accidentally gets left behind, too.
Our superheroes land on goat island and prepare to meet with The Flash. Robin receives a lot of criticism. The gang is disgusted that he decided to leave Kid Flash behind.
But their disapproval of his leadership skills is quickly overshadowed by the entrance of Jericho, Grant’s brother. (Jericho and Grant share the same dad: Deathstroke.) Using a subvocal processor he is speaking to the team through their own, private communication frequency.
At first, the team is suspicious, but The Flash appears and reassures them Jericho is on their side. Through Jericho, they learn that Deathstroke has entered the Time Stream to try and save his son Grant. Again.
Meanwhile, Kid Flash and Jackson Hyde trek through a stormy Jersey City. Kid Flash tries to contact The Flash (Barry Allen, not the one in this book), but can only reach his voicemail. Kid Flash is dejected and downtrodden…and the artwork really goes for it. His face his tense, his eyes are closed, and his cheek is drenched by either rain or tears. It’s poetically hard to tell, which is awesome.
As another aside, this scene also tells us a little more about Jackson Hyde’s powers. He’s still an unnamed, unclassified superhero (Aqualad? If the Young Justice TV series is anything to go by.) but this scene demonstrates his hydrokinesis ability.
The Titans and Teen Titans have followed The Flash into the Time Stream to find Deathstroke. The Flash makes a cheesy comment about “sticking together,” the gang enters a Time Vortex, Nightwing advises the team to avoid contact with their past selves…
…and BAM! The gang is thrust into the past.
Despite Nightwing’s warnings, The Flash dumps them in front of the past versions of themselves; the original Teen Titans! Robin (Damian, not Past-Dick), not missing a beat, attacks past-Kid Flash, temporarily stopping his heart.
Instantly, we see present-Flash’s image start to waiver. His existence is being erased! Robin’s attack on the younger Flash means the older Flash can’t exist because he’s dead! (This is why I love time travel stories. Plot lines are so complicated!)
This was Robin’s plan all along. If past-Flash dies, he can’t be influenced by Deathstroke. Meaning…he can’t enter the Time Stream! Robin, you brilliant son-of-a-gun, you.
We then cut to Deathstroke’s fourth attempt to save his son, Grant. In the middle of the exchange, Grant starts to disappear. The Time Stream is fading.
Meanwhile, back in Jersey City, Kid Flash and Jackson get a ride from a stranger who seems to know a lot about them. Turns out, he’s a friend of Slade Wilson (aka Deathstroke). He knew Slade back in the Army and says that he suffers from intimacy issues. (Yeah, ya think?)
Kid Flash can relate. His own father was a supervillain, after all. “My dad was a supervillain. I know the type—the wheels turning in their head.” Then he gets real emo and says, “I worry about the wheels turning in my own.” Hmmm, foreshadowing much?!
In the next instant, past-Flash is revived and Kid Flash’s abilities are restored! At the same time, Raven announces the collapse of the Temporal Field. She tells everyone that the past is fading. Moments later, Deathstroke materializes, enraged that his son has been taken from him. Again.
Our superheroes are confused. Why does Deathstroke still have the ability to manipulate time? Nightwing figures it out. Deathstroke has entered the Speed Force.
Jericho tries to follow his father…but he can’t keep up. Deathstroke is approaching Light Speed.
We then learn that entering the Speed Force is a life sentence. Once you’re in, it’s impossible to get out. The Titans and Teen Titans begin to celebrate. They’ve won! But Kid Flash swoops in and changes all that. He thinks abandoning Deathstroke, even though he’s a murderer, is unacceptable. He follows the villain into the Speed Force.
The Flash quickly offers to go in after him. Fortunately, Nightwing has the wherewithal to come up with a plan first…and it involves Lilith’s telepathy. Raven then “hardens the telepathic link with a psychic bond and astrally project into Jericho.”
Whaaaaaaat? Mind. Blown.
Now the Flash can enter the Speed Force without worry because he’s got the strength of the Titans and Teen Titans behind him. He moves at lightening speed…not only to save his protégé but to finally face his nemesis.
Raven’s control begins to wane. Jackson rushes to her side to sooth her, but it’s no use. He beckons for Robin to comfort Raven, and after some push back, he finally caves. For the first time, we see the softer side of Robin. It’s nice.
Just as Raven’s about to collapse, The Flash appears with Kid Flash and Deathstroke in tow. Robin prepares to attack, but Deathstroke surprises everyone. He removes his mask, throws down his weapons, and quits. As Raven comforts Kid Flash, we see their relationship grow. The chemistry is there, y’all and I would be extremely surprised if they don’t become a full-fledged couple within the next episodes.
Maybe Kid Flash was pumped up by Raven’s attention…because he begins to criticize Robin’s leadership. Robin isn’t messing around. He fires Kid Flash.
The issue ends with The Flash sitting in the doctor’s office. His heart is weak. Even with his pacemaker, if he continues to exert himself, his heart will fail him. The Flash is heartbroken, but, ever the hero, as he leaves the office he says, “We won, guys. We beat the bad guy…”
THAT WAS EPIC!!
…But it wasn’t perfect.
I was expecting more time-travel based plot complications. There. I said it. There were ZERO negative ramifications. We know that Deathstroke traveled back through time at least four times yet there are no changes to the present. Whereas some time travel stories over-complicate this theme, The Lazarus Contract Finale oversimplified it.
I also think the reveal of Deathstroke’s “tragic past” was a little weak. Intimacy issues? How original.
Kid Flash’s internal angst is a little dull, too. Foreshadowing is a great literary tool when it comes to this storyline, it’s overdone. If Kid Flash doesn’t turn into a villain, it’ll be a shocker.
But, I still really enjoyed the comic! So many storylines! So many characters! I’m an action-adventure girl and this episode was jam-packed with it! I was entertained from start to finish…just the way I like it.
I’m starting to become a real Teen Titans fangirl. Maybe there’s a little Raven cosplay in my future…
Final Rating: 7/10
Teen Titans Annual: The Lazarus Contract #1
Writers: Christopher Priest, Benjamin Percy, and Dan Abnett
Pencils: Paul Pelletier, Khoi Pam, Bret Booth
Inks: Andrew Hennessy, Wade Von Grawbadger, Norm Rapmund
Colors: Adriano Lucas, Jim Charalampidis, Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Willie Schubert
Images Courtesy Of DC Comics