Channel Awesome
The Culling, Part 1: Teen Titans Annual #1

At4w the culling part 1 teen titans annual 1 by mtc studios-d6hf31i-768x339.png

August 12, 2013
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Not many stories manage to fail so spectacularly in every department, but behold one of the finest examples of doing so.

(On a black screen, the word "WARNING" is shown in red)

Announcer: Warning: The following review contains a lot of ranting from Linkara concerning the 2011 DC reboot. If you enjoy said reboot, Linkara respects your opinion. However, he dislikes the reboot and wishes to express his displeasure. If that upsets you, you may want to skip the next few weeks' worth of episodes. Still, I would not worry. I'm sure Linkara will be fair and balanced about it.

(Cut to Linkara seated on his futon and looking quite furious)


(AT4W theme song plays, and the title card has Rednex's rendition of "Cotton-Eyed Joe" playing in the background)

Linkara: Hello, and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. It's finally time for me to review a comic from the DC relaunch of 2011, or the (makes "air quotes") "New 52", as it is called, despite the fact that the number of comics being published and being given time in the company varies, so it's not really "52" and it is no longer new. Don't you just love it when a company is unable to count?

(The cover for "Red Hood and the Outlaws #1" is shown)

Linkara (v/o): Some of you may be surprised that this is the first comic I'm looking at for the reboot instead of "Red Hood and the Outlaws", which I have complained about more than once, to the point where many said the book got better in later issues and I should give it another chance. I took them up on it and read up to issue 8 or 9. It did not in fact get better. In fact, I felt it was getting worse with every successive issue. I don't feel I'm ready yet to tackle that one, especially since every comic reviewer out there has already deconstructed "Red Hood and the Outlaws" and pointed out how sucky it is.

Linkara: And really, my biggest contribution has been pointing out how stupid Roy Harper's trucker hat looks.

Linkara (v/o): But because this year, we've taken several looks at the Teen Titans, particularly their entire history up until the early 2000s, analyzing a specific crossover storyline in this book and the reboot as a whole.

Linkara: And of course, I know there are people out there who do enjoy "The New 52", and there are also people out there who want to know if I hate everything about it, or if there are books I can recommend from it. Well, the good news is that I do enjoy several series in it, and here are some of them.

(A montage of images of the books in question are shown)

Linkara (v/o): "Demon Knights"...

(The word "CANCELLED" appears)

Linkara (v/o): ..."Batwing"...

(The following phrase pops up: "Stopped reading when it became about Lucius Fox's son instead instead of David Zavimbe.")

Linkara (v/o): ..."Justice League International"...

(The word "CANCELLED" appears)

Linkara (v/o): ..."World's Finest"...

(The following pops up: "Everyone hated Power Girl's new costume so they changed it back to the original. Personally, I like the version on this cover. I also thought the personality was fine, unlike others.")

Linkara (v/o): ..."Earth 2"...

(The following pops up: "Enjoying it, but I'm very sick of 'government doesn't trust superheroes' crap.")

Linkara (v/o): ..."Batgirl"...

(The following pops up: "Gail Simone fired over e-mail, then rehired due to immense amount of backlash. Seriously, what the hell, DC?")

Linkara (v/o): ..."Batman" by Scott Snyder...

(The following pops up: "Enjoying it, but 'Death of the Family' was unnecessary and rather bleh.")

Linkara (v/o): ..."Nightwing"...

(The following pops up: "I miss the blue on his outfit. Seriously, what happened to the color blue in DC?")

Linkara (v/o): ..."All Star Western"...

(The following pops up: "Teetering on the edge of being cancelled.")

Linkara (v/o): ...the Green Lantern books...

(The following pops up: "Still really good, but 'Wrath of the First Lantern' was too long and not an interesting premise.")

Linkara (v/o): ...and "Deadpool".

(The words "Not DC" pop up)

Linkara: And before anyone asks, I have no opinion regarding "Trinity War" because I'm not reading "Trinity War". All it did when I first heard about it was raise my hopes that the old universe might return, and instead it's just a crossover of all the Justice League books that I didn't like to begin with. (flatly) Whoopee.

Linkara (v/o): Speaking of crossovers, that brings us to the comic we'll be looking at for the next four weeks: "The Culling". And this is our first problem with the storyline, which is subsequently a complaint I have with the reboot: the crossovers. When this story was released, the books hadn't even been out for a year yet, and they were already doing a crossover! I've said it before, and I'll say it again: you need to have a status quo before you can shake it up. And it's not like the story of this crossover was so complex that you needed it to be a crossover. At best, it's a Hunger Games ripoff.

Linkara: No, I don't care if "Battle Royale" came first! Hunger Games was what was popular, so they were ripping off that!

(To a ding, the following message pops up on the bottom of the screen: "The Hunger Games films came out two months before the comic, which is insufficient time to finish it before it was printed and shipped." Linkara stares at the message, then pushes it aside while looking around shiftily)

Linkara (v/o): This is still a problem with these books: if you want to attract new readers to comics, making long crossover events that interrupt other storylines is not the way to do it. You can't expect new readers to jump on the crossover bandwagon right away. Give it a year or two, let the readers get adjusted to the setting and these characters, then you can do your big crossover event where most of the characters aren't actually involved in most of the action, but they get a temporary sales boost.

Linkara: (massaging his forehead in frustration) Sorry, sorry, um... we had a point here, didn't we? Oh, yeah, as you can tell, I'm a bit opinionated about the state of affairs of my favorite company and my favorite team. I know, a comic fan on the Internet whose opinionated. A shocking development, to be sure.

Linkara (v/o): Let's talk backstory now, though, to get you primed for this four-parter. You know all that history of the Teen Titans I spent, like, two-and-a-half hours yapping about? You can throw it all away. It has nothing to do with this comic. There were no Teen Titans before this group, except for when it was first printed, and there totally were.

Linkara: You know how some businesses have, like, a gift shop in the lobby? DC has a retcon shop. Buy one, get one free on Wednesdays. The problem is that the retcons are sometimes spilling into each other and you don't know which is which.

Linkara (v/o): Here's the basic premise: Red Robin, AKA Robin, AKA Tim Drake, is hunting after a secret organization called N.O.W.H.E.R.E., because, as I've stated, secret organizations like their dopey acronyms to sound mysterious when it just makes them looks like dorks. N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is hunting down teenage metahumans for some reason and kidnapping them. Robin decides to take them down and recruits a bunch of other teenagers to fight them, including Cassie Sandsmark, who has mystical armor that imbues her with super-strength and flight and is called Wonder Girl. N.O.W.H.E.R.E. also has a young clone of Superman named, well, Superboy, that is unleashed to take on Robin, but he instead decides to join up with him. Other members include Kid Flash, a teenager from the future with super-speed; Solstice, a teenage girl from India, who, in the revised continuity, can shoot out blasts of light, but thanks to N.O.W.H.E.R.E., now has the appearance of someone encased in black smoke with cracks of light showing through.

Linkara: She's actually a fairly new character from the last few years, and when they introduced her, she wore bright clothing and had like a golden radiance. You know, that kinda thing. Gotta love how the reboot completely missed the damn point and made her as black and dark as possible.

Linkara (v/o): Next up is Bunker, a gay Latino teenager with the ability to create limited purple energy constructs. He's actually one of the more optimistic members of the group, despite having absolutely no reason to be happy in this book. And finally, there's Skitter. And that's enough about Skitter, because she disappeared from the book during this storyline and has not been seen since. One of the positives I'll give to this team is that it's a very diverse group, with unique powers, ethnicities and backgrounds. The downside to that is that the general color scheme of this team is just... BLEH! Red, yellow, black and purple. Rinse and repeat. They all just start blending into each other. Oh, and by the way, I know this cover looks like they're all fighting during the daytime, but don't get your hopes up. It seems one of the many victims of "The New 52" was actually the friggin' sun! I went back and checked the first ten issues of this run again. Scenes outside take place either at night or at sunset. You might be able to argue a few spots, but the sky still looks pretty orange or dark in those places. The only time I've seen normal light is on some mysterious island they end up on after this storyline.

Linkara: An island that's apparently shaped like a question mark and doesn't make any sense in the eyes of the Titans. So as far as they know, sunlight is as alien and mysterious to them as it is to the creative team of this book.

Linkara (v/o): Okay, so right before this crossover, the Titans broke into N.O.W.H.E.R.E.'s headquarters to free Superboy, but were captured by this asshole named Harvest and his cronies, Leash and Omen... Yeah, because that's what we wanted, to turn a character previously a hero into a villain. ...and were put into stupid glowing outfits that make it even harder to tell the characters apart, probably because they thought Tron Legacy had the best outfits evar!

Linkara: And while this episode may end up going a bit long, trust me, it's not because of stuff that actually happens in this thing. Let's dig into (holds up today's comic) "Titans Annual #1" and the beginning of "The Culling".

Linkara (v/o): I know that I normally don't review the covers, but, well, the cover for "Titans Annual #1" is the same as the cover for the trade, so, mmm, might as well go ahead. The cover is meh. The Titans in their stupid black and glowing colored Tron outfits are fighting against members of the Legion of Superheroes in their classic Tron-inspired outfits. It's like some kind of cosplayer war. Oh, yeah, and they don't actually state on the cover that "The Culling" is a crossover with the book "Legion Lost".

Linkara: If you want me to give backstory there on "Legion Lost" and the Legion of Superheroes in general, well, sorry, but I know very little about them in this book. The point is, superheroes from the 30th century in present time, looking for someone who went back in time... I think. Not that it matters, as you'll see.

Linkara (v/o): Also, I just noticed that Superboy's head is on fire. Or maybe there's just a sparkler glued to his head.

(The comic opens to the first page)

Linkara (v/o): We open with Robin laying on the ground with someone [Artemis]'s foot on his chest, threatening to murder him if he even tries to blink.

Linkara: A rare glimpse into the writers' meeting, when the higher-ups said that they were doing this reboot.

Artemis: You've got a sense of humor. That'll do nothing for you here in the colony.

Linkara: (as Artemis) Goodwill and joy are the enemies of superheroes! Haven't you seen Man of Steel?

(Cut to black, with the word "WARNING" written in big red letters on the screen, while pleasant music plays in the background)

Announcer: Warning: If you enjoyed Man of Steel, you are entitled to that opinion. However, Linkara felt it was either that or he had another joke about how he doesn't like the reboot. Take your pick.

(Cut back to the comic)

Artemis: My name is Artemis.

Linkara (v/o): And those of you familiar with the Young Justice cartoon are probably quite a bit happy about that, since Artemis was a new character invented for that show, and this is her first appearance in the DC Universe. And that's a great thing! Having the comics and the TV show synchronize like that is actually a good thing. It means it's easier to appeal to fans if they want to check out the comics themselves. Sure, it's irritating when there's a costume change just for that, but if you want to get new readers, this is a perfect way to do it.

Linkara: Fans of both Young Justice and Artemis, prepare to be disappointed. And pissed off.

Artemis: The iceberg there is called Lightning...

Linkara (v/o): "Iceberg"? Is she calling her that because she's not smiling? Nobody in this scene has smiled so far. Or is it because she has blue hair? By that logic, I should call half of all anime characters "Iceberg".

Artemis: --and her brother is named Thunder.

Linkara (v/o): Yep, reinventions of the minor Titans supporting characters, Thunder and Lightning. And what do they have to say?

Lightning: Stop telling him everything. He wears the colors of Harvest--we would be foolish to trust him.

Linkara: Yeah, and I mean, your outfit is completely different from his because... (stops short and blinks as he tries to come up with a valid argument) You're both wearing the same damn outfit. What the hell?

Linkara (v/o): The only real difference I can spot, aside from the pop-o-matics on your arms and chest, are the giant, visible zippers around your crotches! Why the hell was that necessary? Nobody else has those! Robin frees himself from Artemis and grabs her in a way to make it clear that he could kill her any time he wanted, and that they're not their enemies. Also, just take a moment to enjoy the surroundings, everyone. I hope you like the color red because that's what you're gonna be seeing throughout this crossover.

Linkara: Although, personally, I can't really tell the difference. When I have to read stuff like "Marville" or anything by Frank Miller or Rob Liefeld, I see red for weeks at a time.

Linkara (v/o): I don't even know how to describe this place. It is simultaneously over-detailed and yet not detailed enough. I see, like, floating islands, kinda like Avatar, except they're on jets or something, some kinda mountain range, a few people standing on some rocks, and in the distance, everything's glowing... It's just a mess. Artemis says that someone with his [Robin's] skills will be useful when the Culling begins. Robin naturally inquires what the hell that is.

Artemis: When Harvest feels the time is right, he pits us all against each other in a battle royal.

Linkara (v/o): Now, before anyone once again wants to point out the battle royale connection, I would just mention that the term "battle royal" actually dates back to the time of the Romans and is not just the realm of that one franchise.

Linkara: And now that we're over the calm bit, we can start yelling about the fact, well, that's the plot of the issues. (scowls) IT'S A FOUR-ISSUE FIGHT SCENE. And I hate to break it to ya, but they can't make it interesting enough for one issue, let alone (holds up four fingers) four!

Linkara (v/o): And by the way, we're only on the fourth page, and already this entire premise falls apart.

Artemis: The winners become his faithful Ravagers. The losers become dead.

Linkara (v/o): Harvest set up the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. organization – or possibly supplanted it, I can't remember, but I'm sure we'll find out in the following issues – to grab hundreds of metahuman teenagers and force them to fight each other to the death to join his super-awesome army of assholes. As we progress through this crossover, we will point out all the ways this premise is stupid, starting with, why the hell anyone who wins would want to join up with this jackass?! The guy kidnapped you, stuck you in a place where you had to fight and kill to stay alive, and makes you wear stupid clothes sometimes, and then your prize is to be his personal lapdog?! Oh, and here's a bit of a kicker: he's kidnapping ordinary people, too! Artemis explains that she was pre-med before she was taken, and she has no powers. Others are infected with some kind of virus that transforms them into metahumans, or at least some kind of mutation? WHY?! You have actual people with superpowers, so why are you grabbing normal, untrained TEENAGERS?! Ugh! They come across a jerk named Fist Point... Yeah, I've got a fist for you. ...who says they need to "pay Fist Point's toll".

Linkara: (incredulously) A toll? What the hell good is money around here?! Why would any of you still have any money on you?!

Linkara (v/o): And if it's for food or something, why would they carry all of that around with them? Robin points out the obvious, that they should all be uniting to escape and take on Harvest, but Punch Knob says he doesn't want to, because...

Fist Point: I'm in my element here.

Linkara (v/o): Dude has cybernetic parts and a single robot eye. What element is that, exactly? Starving in a squalid, continuously red underground prison? Artemis is having none of this and knocks the guy on his ass, threatening to kill him if he doesn't knock his stupidity off. Robin wonders how the hell they can live like this.

Artemis: One day at a time.

Linkara: (as Artemis) Some day, even you will put tribal war paint on your face for absolutely no reason. In fact, where the hell did I even get war paint?

Linkara (v/o): They find the other Titans, including Superboy, who's apparently having issues because of stuff going on in his solo book when he first arrived in "the colony". Solstice is trying to convince him to join up with the Titans so they can all work together to get out of here.

Solstice: Open your heart, Superboy. Even for all your power--tamped down as it is by the technology that runs through this place-- you will not survive this night if you try to fight alone.

Linkara (v/o): So, okay, Superboy's powers are being restricted? How? Because of all the red? Is it acting like red sunlight? Or is it the suit that's doing that. Because if the suits are restricting their powers, they'd actually have a reason for existing... EXCEPT THAT JUST RAISES A WHOLE CRAP-TON OF QUESTIONS!! For starters, why does nobody else aside from Thunder and Lightning have them? We see other people who clearly have powers, but no suits. Why don't the Titans try to remove them? If Harvest can control their powers, why go through the trouble of the Culling at all? If they get uppity, just restrict their powers and movement or whatever. If the idea of the Culling is to make the strongest of them become his agents, why bother restricting their powers? Is it to force them to think strategically without their powers? But then why does Robin have one of these suits when he doesn't have any powers and you actually went out of your way to recreate his flight wings, giving him an advantage over others?! Does Harvest just have some kind of fetish for these outfits? Is that why he put the teenagers in them?!

(Linkara having asked a lot of questions, cut to the obligatory clip of Batman Forever)

Bruce Wayne (Val Kilmer): It just raises too many questions.

(Back to the comic again)

Linkara (v/o): To be fair, at the end of the comic, there is actually behind the scenes information that says that there are cybernetic implants and restraining devices that dampen powers, except since we have no idea who the hell half of these people are, we wouldn't be able to tell that anyway.

Linkara: And the bigger sin here is that I had to read supplementary material to get that information! If it was told in the pages of "Legion Lost" or "Superboy", fine, I can get that. But the extras are meant to be just that: extra! I shouldn't need to read those to learn about details like that!

Linkara (v/o): And even then, it doesn't answer any of my questions about the damn Tron clothes, just that some of the inhabitants of the Colony are wearing "N.O.W.H.E.R.E.-provided clothing". Yeah, because the collection of people in dirty rags really shows how much Harvest cares about clothing them. And again, if these clothes are restricting their powers, TAKE THEM OFF! Thunder and Lightning have huge-ass zippers on their outfits! Or hell, just cut the damn things so you still have modesty, but they won't have whatever is keeping them from restricting your powers!

Linkara: Every level of this story makes less sense the more you think about it! And I would remind you that we have barely begun this story!

Linkara (v/o): Anyway, Robin says that he has a plan. Spoilers: if he did, we never see it. Some of the Titans are distrustful of each other after what's happened in previous issues, not that it will really get developed outside of some narration captions, and they otherwise act like they work together anyway for the rest of the story. We cut over to another part of the Colony, where the Legion Lost is actually being portrayed productive and attempting to escape. They find a force field that they can't penetrate.

Narrator: --Trapped within an ever-changing environment...

Linkara: Could it change to something a little more colorful at least? Although, I'm actually really surprised that this panel lets us see anything aside from red!

(Cut to a man with an Australian accent, played by Lewis (almost like Mick Dundee from Crocodile Dundee) walking past the comic shelf, holding a bow and arrow)

Aussie Guy: PUSH THAT CART! (sees camera) Oh, we'll be right back. (walks off) THE CART'S MOVING THE WRONG WAY, YOU BLOODY WANKERS!

(The AT4W logo appears in the corner as we go to commercial; upon return, the sound of blood spurting is heard, and the Aussie guy returns)

Aussie: Ha! Not so smart with your brains outside your head! (sees camera) Uh, we're back now.

(He leaves, laughing, as the AT4W logo appears in the corner. Cut back to the comic as the review resumes)

Linkara (v/o): The behind-the-scenes states that the teens who have been here for months... Months? Yeah, that'll encourage them to join your army, Harvest. ...are supposed to be experiencing a representation of Hell: lava, fire, redness, caves, etc. That makes even less sense as we learn Harvest's motivations and abilities, but whatever. Chameleon Girl, a shapeshifter, makes an attempt to escape through the lava. Oh, and by the by, kids, you might want to take a step back from the lava, since real lava is not like Super Mario Bros. and standing that close should burn your skin off and be impossible to breathe! But she later returns, presumably without success, though she doesn't state it. They realize that whatever is keeping them there is using 31st century technology to keep them imprisoned. They also give some exposition about the "hypertaxis virus" they were hunting down that was affecting people in this time period, also from the 31st century.

Linkara: (alarmed) Oh, God! Viruses from the future?! This is that Andromeda Strain miniseries all over again! If it turns out that this virus is sentient, I'm tossing this comic against the wall and making a run for it!

Linkara (v/o): We cut to Harvest and his team of wannabes watching the Legion as they talk.

Narrator: No one knows the name before he came to call himself Harvest.

Linkara: (as narrator) For the record, though, it was Farmer Steve.

Narrator: He alone knows where he came from...and when.

Linkara: (as narrator) Harvest-Eyed Joe, where did you come from? Where did you go?

Linkara (v/o): Omen, who is wearing some kind of black leather dress with random belts around the hips, a high collar, fishnet top, and seems to have her eyes sewn shut with blood running down them as well as hair blonde with red tips... So basically, a goth look for absolutely no reason. ...says that Harvest shouldn't have put the Legion into the Colony without letting her "ply her trade on them" like she did to the Titans. She's referring to the events of issue 8, wherein she used her telepathic powers to screw with their heads and create hallucinations. Why? Well, it seems like it was to force Robin mentally into a place where he'd be willing to kill someone. And it seemed to succeed. But then, that just raises whole new questions, like if he has someone who can screw around with their heads like this, why did they REVEAL that they had that ability, and why are they going through all this horse hockey and not just use mental powers to make them do your bidding WITHOUT THEM KNOWING?!? Dear Lord, I used the "It just raises too many questions" far too early, because this comic keeps digging up plot holes! Harvest says that he wants the Legion under his command since they're already a trained paramilitary force, and the Titans are... well... uh... powerful or something, I don't know. By the by, this also an annual split into chapters for no reasons at all, so we're on chapter three: "The Battle".

Linkara: AKA, the entire rest of the crossover.

Linkara (v/o): Although, it should be noted that the trade takes out those bits, so I don't even know what the point is, then. Harvest sends Leash to the Titans. Leash's outfit includes a bandanna on his head with random tattered rags moving around like Spider-Man's webbing, shoulder pads, a spiked belt, and some kind of glowing purple ribcage. I imagine the glowing purple ribcage is actually for his light-up action when you press the button on his back. Buy his action figure now, kids! Leash releases purple tendrils that grab the Titans.

Solstice: He is handpicking those of us whom Harvest wants to wrest*-- to cull the weak from the strong.

  • NOTE: Solstice actually says "test," not "wrest".

Linkara: Ohh! Now I get the title! (slaps himself on forehead)

Linkara (v/o): The tendrils cause immense pain in the Titans as they're grabbed.

Leash: My transport coils are as painful as they are effective!

Linkara: (making a "finger quote") "Transport coils"? Your name is Leash! Call them "energy leashes" or something!

Leash: In the plus column, all that agony helps you focus on the battle ahead.

Linkara: It's been my experience that pain doesn't really help you focus on anything except (makes a "finger quote") "Oh, God, it hurts!"

Linkara (v/o): The Titans, along with Lightning for some reason, are all taken... with the exception of Skitter, who is offered a hand by someone offscreen... and is never seen again. If there's any plan to use her in future stories, there's still no sign of it. Leash releases the Titans over the Legion, and the two groups instantly decide to fight each other, despite no evidence of either being evil and the Titans already knowing about how the teenagers are supposed to fight each other to the death.

Wonder Girl: Ravagers? Legion? Why is it that metahumans insist on naming themselves?

Linkara (v/o): Oh, yeah, Cassie in this incarnation has this problem with being called "Wonder Girl". I don't get it. It's not funny, it doesn't say anything about her character; it's just frustrating, because it means that every time someone calls her "Wonder Girl", she needs to whine about how she doesn't want people calling her that! Or it makes the others look like assholes, because they don't just call her by name! A Legion member named Timberwolf steps up and states that they're from the 31st Century, but Cassie just backhands him.

Wonder Girl: Save it for the* therapist, furball!

  • ANOTHER NOTE: Wonder Girl actually says, "you therapist," not "the therapist".

Linkara: (making a "finger quote") "Furball"? He's got a five o'clock shadow. That's the extent of his hairiness, as far as I can tell.

Wonder Girl: With any luck, when you wake up-- you won't even remember you thought you were some sort of time-traveling mountain lion.

Linkara: (pinching the bridge of his nose in frustration) Ugh! Cassie... wolves aren't lions!

Linkara (v/o): The fight continues, and Chameleon Girl transforms into some kind of giant dinosaur thing... Why do I keep running into crappy comics lately with dinosaurs in them?! ...and chomps down on Bunker.

Narrator: What Chameleon Girl could not have known-- is that Miguel Jose Barragan has not been Bunker for very long. He is new to this.

Linkara: (as narrator) And frankly, he's not impressing me so far.

Narrator: So he panics-- with surprising results.

Linkara (v/o): Said results are him expelling Chameleon Girl away with his powers. That's not particularly surprising, actually. And thank you for that completely unnecessary narration. The writer, Scott Lobdell, is a man who's still very much operating out of the '90s; instead of letting the characters talk or have their own internal narration that expresses their thoughts or even letting the artwork handle it, the narrator has to say the character development for us. It's stuff like "They know what they mean, blah, blah, blah, blah, exposition about what they mean," or what we just saw, which was to tell us how he's new and that he panicked. It's like he doesn't trust the artist to tell the story. Mind you, the story so far is people hitting each other, but I'm not sure why that's difficult to convey with pictures. Anyway, after a few more pages of fighting, they realize they're not enemies, and we go back to Harvest's... whatever the hell this is. The narration box says it's "The Chamber of Harvest", but what does that mean? Look at the background here. Who was the decorator of this place? Yeah, I want my office to be painted black, but with, like, circuitry painted in blue, in random patterns on the walls. Omen points out that neither group is going to kill the other, and Grinny McRobotface here says that they won't until the Culling begins.

Linkara: Why? Why would the Titans and the Legion suddenly decide to kill each other when the Culling begins? Because you say they will?!

Linkara (v/o): By the by, Harvest says that the grinny guy is named Warblade. This comic is so '90s, and yet this came out in 20-friggin'-12!! Anyway, here's more of Harvest's brilliant plan...

Harvest: This was only about wearing the two teams down.

Linkara (v/o): Wearing them down?! Why?! Why wouldn't you want them at their best when they're fighting each other to see who was truly best to join your stupid evil organization? Hell, they've already got the advantage of being better trained and better fed and rested than the people who have been in the Colony for months! Speaking of, Harvest sure likes taking his sweet-ass time, doesn't he? I also just realized that Leash in a lot of these panels looks very much like the Joker: pale skin, purple clothes, bright red lips. Why? Harvest orders Leash to actually begin the Culling, and he goes into the Colony and starts leashing up people. And we discover who it is that he gets them to fight. Leash has the power to send people into a "blind fury". And naturally, this once again makes no sense. Why would you want them uncontrolled when they're fighting? Or do you expect to just make your agents pissed off when they do their missions and smash up whatever you want them to grab? Oh, and more former Titans join the fun. We have a Terra and a Beast Boy. Beast Boy is red now. Why? Because green would be too different a color! Er, I mean, it's, uh, because it's connected to that mythical element, the Lifeweb, that was explored in "Animal Man" and "Swamp Thing" that's also called "The Red" or whatever. Considering Beast Boy's origin – don't know if it's still the same origin, for that matter – that makes absolutely no sense. Don't know what Terra's deal is, either.

Linkara: On top of which, I'm not exactly sure why they included the former Titans. The point of the reboot was supposed to allow new readers to jump on, but these names are only significant to people who have actually read the comics before, and they're just pissed because ya changed things that you didn't need to change!

Linkara (v/o): And so, dozens of teenagers suddenly teleport over the Titans and the Legion with purple glowing eyes.

Narrator: Garfield Logan is not the most centered person on his best days. But he's also not a snarling beast... until today!

Linkara: He's also not a natural redhead either! What the hell's your point?!

Linkara (v/o): But yeah, he transforms into some kind of... dinosaur... lizard... thing, and they start fighting.

Lightning: Gar, please--don't make me kill you!

Linkara (v/o): Did everyone in this comic take stupid pills before this began?! YOU DON'T HAVE TO KILL HIM!! Just give him enough of a shock to stun him! In fact, you can probably do that for everyone: a nice little shock to the system might get people to calm the hell down and not force everyone to fight! The Legion sees another teen who's infected with the T virus or whatever and speculate about whether Harvest is responsible for their entire reason being there... which Harvest already earlier revealed to us he was, so... yeah, that's unnecessary dialogue right there. Speaking of unnecessary, we have more pretentious narration captions.

Narrator: So many children here-- Red Robin scarcely knows where to start.

Linkara: Aaaand there's a phrase that could mean something horrible in a different context.

Narrator: He is grateful that despite the nudge from Leash... Artemis seems determined not to harm anyone.

Linkara: If we tell you how characters are feeling and acting, then we don't have to make any effort to show it happening!

Linkara (v/o): And then Punch or Spike or whatever the hell his name was goes and kills Artemis.

Linkara: Yeah, not kidding here. They introduced a popular character from the Young Justice TV series in this book... and then killed her off in the same issue. (nods, then becomes upset) Are you beginning to see why I think the inmates are running the asylum right now at DC?!

Narrator: First blood has been spilled.

Linkara: (as narrator) We could really use some paper towels to clean it up.

Narrator: Red Robin is determined to make it the last. He wants the rage against the teenager beneath his boot-- but Tim Drake knows, ultimately, that Fist Point is not responsible.

Linkara: Considering how much of an asshole the guy was beforehand, I think the jury's still out if it was his fault or not.

Narrator: Harvest made a killer out of this young man... and this young woman paid the price.

Linkara: (as narrator) But she forgot to include the shipping.

Robin: Harvest! I know you can hear me, you sick, sadistic slime! I'm coming for you! We ALL are!

(Cut to that famous scene from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Kirk (William Shatner): KHAAAAAANNNN!!!

(Cut back to the comic)

Robin: (to Artemis) I'm sorry.

Linkara: (as Robin) I'm sorry, woman I've only known for five minutes.

Linkara (v/o): And now, chapter five.

(Cut to a clip of It's a Bird... It's a Plane... It's Superman)

Narrator: Chapter five: "The Net Tightens".

(Back to the comic again)

Wonder Girl: She... wasn't any older than I am. That's why she needs to be avenged.

Linkara: (as Wonder Girl) If she had been, like, thirty, I wouldn't have cared.

Robin: No! If we make this about revenge, we lose focus!


Linkara (v/o): Bunker notices that Skitter isn't with them, but enough worrying about her; time for (dramatically) epic two-page spread posing! I will admit, though, that does look badass. Pity it's ruined by the narration captions.

Narrator: And so it comes to pass. That a Legion of Young Titans work together--at least for now--against a common enemy.

Linkara: Unless you're a dusty old prophecy, you are not allowed to use the phrase, "And so it comes to pass."

Linkara (v/o): So, more fighting, more narration telling us the flippin' obvious, and then over to Harvest.

Narrator: Not far away... the man-turned-monster named Harvest has a very unexpected reaction...

Linkara: (as narrator) He decides that he's really hungry for Chipotle.

Narrator: ...He roars with laughter at this sudden turn of events.

Linkara (v/o): Oh, yeah, look at this asshole. This is the face of laughter right here: standing awkwardly after you destroy your own computer equipment. The hell is he even doing?!

(Linkara is seen imitating Harvest's awkward "laughing" pose and sings a long operatic note)

Linkara (v/o): Harvest dispatches his forces to deal with the group, which is now united are now trying to figure out what to do now.

Robin: So will you tell us where you are really from? 'Cause none of us believes you're from the future.

Linkara: (anguished) Among your teammates are a super speedster, a living bug woman, someone with invisible armor, a clone of Superman, and a guy who can create purple energy constructs! WHAT IS SO UNBELIEVEABLE ABOUT BEING FROM THE FUTURE?!

Linkara (v/o): The Legion member Tyroc says that it's okay, since, according to their history banks, the Teen Titans aren't supposed to exist for another forty years.

Linkara: Man, even in a thousand years, reboots are still screwing around with the timeline.

Linkara (v/o): And so, our issue ends with Harvest's forces launching their attack, and it's to be continued in "Superboy #9".

Linkara: (rolling eyes) Dear Lord, (angrily holds up comic) this comic SUCKS! The art is bad, the narrator tells us how characters are feeling, the colors are atrocious, and nothing about the story makes sense! Oh, yeah, and they introduce a fan favorite character... and subsequently kill her off! Ugh! Well, I guess they must know what they're doing over at DC. I mean, after all, they have to know how to market and, you know, get their comics to attract kids and teens and other people who might want to start reading comics reading for the first time–

(Cut abruptly to an image of an article about DC's target audience)

Linkara (v/o): (reading) "Eisner Award winner Paul Pope was told by the head of DC Comics that they only publish comics for 45 year olds".

(Linkara stares, then drops the comic)

Linkara: I'll see you next week with "Superboy #9".


(End credits roll)

The writing could also be the fault of Tom DeFalco, who also worked on the Annual.

I think the real reason Beast Boy is red now is because he's following in the footsteps of his true mentor: The Kool-Aide [sic] Man.

Other recommendations that I don't currently read for one reason or another but are still good: Swamp Thing, Batwoman, Animal Man, Aquaman, Dial H.

(Stinger: Pollo teleports into Jaeris the Gunslinger's home)

Pollo: Jaeris?

(Jaeris comes into the room, holding a bottle of booze in his hand. He is slightly off-balance and stumbling as he comes in, clearly drunk)

Jaeris: (drunken tone) Hey, little buddy! You called me at a great time. (holds up bottle) Want me to pour you something? (takes a swig)

Pollo: I don't drink. In fact, I can't drink. Well, I suppose I could, but then Linkara would have to make me another body.

Jaeris: Well, that's just fine. Means more for me. (sits down in chair)

Pollo: Obviously, you are intoxicated.

Jaeris: Nah, blue boy, I ain't drunk. I ain't done drinking yet. You know, I got to thinking about my wife and all my friends back home... (looks closely at bottle) Half gone already? Huh. (takes another swig)

Pollo: Indeed. I've come for another session with your computer to try and locate your home world.

Jaeris: Yeah, go ahead, keep on looking. Just like you've been looking for the last few months. You ain't found nothin' yet. (looks up at his bowler hat and takes it off)

Sierra: There is considerable data to pull through, master, and the slow processing speed of the blue robot and Linkara's artificial intelligence do not help matters.

Pollo: Oh, yes, my slow processing speeds. That must be why I have beaten you at chess in the last 7,000 matches we've played.

Sierra: What the steel chicken means is that he bored me into defeat.

Pollo: What was that? I thought I heard an intel voice in all of its scratchy, hardly-synthesized detail.

Sierra: Your hearing would be rather damaged in that gigantic, hollowed-out head of yours.

Jaeris: (laughs) You guys are funny.

Pollo: No, I am funny. Your computer just Google searches jokes and hopes it can comprehend them.

Sierra: Were you planning on actually searching today, or were you just hoping to waste my processor time?

Pollo: Indeed. Although, we could probably do this more effectively on Comicron 1 instead of me trying to copy small portions of it over for analysis at a time.

Jaeris: I really don't feel like running into your boss.

Pollo: You realize that you will have to move past your resentment for Linkara eventually, right?

Jaeris: That fella is insured... that people will continue to suffer and die... back in my world by cutting me off from them...

Pollo: And apparently, the alcohol has made you forget that you were the one who launched multiple unprovoked attacks on him to get to his gun.

Jaeris: I did what I had to. It's for the best.

(Beeping is heard as Pollo examines Sierra)

Pollo: Hmm... It is always fascinating to hear individuals attempt to justify their actions. Lord Vyce conquered and enslaved countless individuals, because he had to. My doppelganger from a parallel universe slaughtered what he thought was inferior, because he thought it was for the best that organic beings become. Even The Entity felt it was better that all existence become a part of it. (turns to Jaeris) In many ways, I have more respect for Dr. Insano. He holds no delusions about who he is or what he wants. You have stolen the property of others and inflicted much harm onto them, yet you seem to feel that Linkara was more wrong for retaliating.

Jaeris: You got a point to make?

Pollo: None at all. Simply making an observation.

Sierra: Your observations are as worthwhile as your prowess for finding the master's home dimension. The data seems to be corrupted.

Pollo: Indeed. Something must have happened when Nimue copied it over. I shall try again and be back in a few hours. (disappears)

Sierra: I would not listen to that floating toaster oven, master. I still believe in you and what you had to do.

Jaeris: (sighs) Thanks, Sierra. (takes another swig)