Last time on Teen Titans, the team was busy busting into the secret headquarters of NOWHERE on a mission to save Superboy from the grasp of the reality bending Harvest. This time, prepare for a mind trip.
This issue picks up right after the last one – the Titans are trying to bust Superboy out of NOWHERE and not doing a very good job at it. Superboy is separated from the rest of the team by Grunge, placing at least the first few pages of this issue before Superboy #8. Glad that that’s out of the way, things start to make a little bit of sense now. We know the Titans are in “the colony” mentioned in Superboy #8 and they’re facing off against Omen, another one of Harvest’s metahumans. Omen has the ability to take her opponents and paralyze them with her mind as she probes into their thoughts and finds what they fear the most.
Red Robin / Tim is the first to be taken captive by Omen and be mind probed as she finds out what he fears the most. …this leads him to start transforming into a giant robin. His greatest fear is becoming nothing by an imitation of he what he tries to portray himself as. Omen has a lot of fun with this, taunting Tim into thinking everything he’s experiencing is real. She uses comparisons to situations in the past where Tim has had to deal with some very strong illusions, trying to make him confront the fact that he knows what an illusion feels like and that this is no illusion. Cassie / Wonder Girl and Miguel are arguing over whether or not they should dive in and help Tim, Miguel arguing against it on the grounds that Omen has Tim trapped in a water bubble and they’re in a very small room, breaking into the bubble would cause it to flood.
Tim is knocked out and set to a different room – Cassie is the next one to be taken captive by Omen. Cassie’s greatest fear is that one day she’ll lose control over her powers and this is manifested as her rope taking control of her. We learn that everything is an illusion, just a really powerful one unlike any the team has ever faced before. Here we also learn that Cassie is always wearing invisible armor to protect her. This finally explains how it is that she has powers, she isn’t from the Amazon like Wonder Woman and she actually hates the comparison to her. Now we just need to figure out how she got herself that armor eventually.
Tim awakens down below in a pretty dingy looking room, strapped to a table as Harvest looks over him. Ever the fearless leader, Tim is only worried about the rest of his team and Harvest finds this pretty admirable. Harvest goes on to make some comparisons between Tim and himself and as you can imagine, this isn’t something Tim likes very much. But no worry! A strange sort of armor is place on Tim’s chest and he blacks out.
Back with Omen, it’s Skitter’s turn to face her fears. This time we learn that her greatest fear involves her being split off from the monstrous form that she takes. It’s not made very clear why, other than a cryptic “this could lead to the destruction of the world” line. Miguel and Solstice look on, neither liking the fact that each member’s greatest fear is being made known in such a public way.
And now things become kind of confusing. Cassie wakes up down below in the room where Tim is – Skitter is there as well. Everyone is sporting this pretty nifty looking Tron style armor, black body suit with neon colored lights running down the limbs and chest. Tim appears in the shadows and…is a little creepy here. He refuses to untie Cassie and we never find out how he himself managed to untie himself. There’s a remark made about how Tim isn’t actually sure any of this is real, he doesn’t actually know if they’ve been physically fighting Omen or if she’s just been controlling their thoughts and probing their greatest fears out of them.
Back above ground, it’s Bart / Kid Flash’s turn to go! This is actually kind of amusing, Omen reaches out and grabs him with this…giant hand made of water and Bart’s reaction is “Be right back, guys!” to Miguel and Solstice. Ever the optimist, Bart! I do love that this guy can bring some flavor to these scenes that would be very over the top with seriousness otherwise. Omen can’t seem to probe into Bart’s mind at first, something he simply smirks at. This guy knows something we don’t. She eventually rips his outfit off and now he starts to freak out. Bart’s outfit is basically the only thing keeping him from blowing up, his body is constantly moving at an incredible speed and he can’t control himself too well without out. Thankfully, this allows Bart to let out an explosion of energy that knocks Omen to the ground.
Bart rushes to Miguel and Solstice just in time to see them surrounded by guards. Things look pretty hopeless, they’re all outnumbered and then Bart’s two friends are shot and killed. Bart grabs their bodies and screams out in horror…and then he wakes up below ground, sporting one of those snazzing Tron suits. Cassie is trying to untie him from the table he’s strapped to and no one has any clue as to what in the world is actually going on. Topside, Tim is facing off against Omen and on the verge of killing her when…he awakens down below again on a table. Everyone else is unconscious and strapped to tables, but not for long. Harvest has another one of his metahumans haul the team off.
And that was…a very confusing issue. You every have one of those dream within a dream things? Yeah, it felt exactly like that. You could never tell what was real and what was a manipulation. Did any of the issue actually physically happen? Was it in everyone’s mind? Did some of it happen? This is one of those issues you need to reread a couple of times to wrap your mind around. It’s very confusing. As another “prelude” to The Culling, it doesn’t do a great job of shedding light on the situation. Everyone was basically mind raped for a while before being hauled off to a lower level of the colony Harvest keeps talking about. That said, I think everyone’s in place now and all the heroes are going to be fighting a new threat together.
The art for this issue wasn’t the best, sadly. It’s…erm, well it was distracting. Everyone has these kind of scrunched up faces and no one could make any proper expressions. It was really difficult to pay attention to what was going on in an already confusing issue while being distracted by the art. This issue features a guest artist, so hopefully things will get back to normal soon enough. I imagine we had a guest artist this issue because…the official part one of The Culling is the super sized “Teen Titans Annual” and that’s probably where the main artist of the series is needed the most.