Teen Titans: Deathtrap

Teen Titans: Deathtrap
Teen Titans Deathtrap review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 1-4012-2509-8
  • Release date: 2009
  • UPC: 9781401225094
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

Deathtrap is a crossover plotted by Sean McKeever, but with the Vigilante chapters written by Marv Wolfman. There’s an initial mystery over the first prelude chapter as the Teen Titans believe Cyborg has tried to kill them, but while readers will probably realise that’s not the case, the second prelude chapter reveals the real culprit as former Teen Titan Jericho.

Some excellent art from Rick Leonardi accompanies Wolfman’s second prelude, a compulsive crime story that actually has little to do with the main event. It’s nice therefore to see at least some of an under-rated series actually collected in book form.

The Titans believe Jericho is compromised, basically a good guy, but corrupted by gangsters and villains he’s mentally controlled, their attitudes slipping into him over time. The  slightly younger Teen Titans are willing to accept the rationalisations of their older counterparts, but that doesn’t apply to Vigilante, DC’s version of the Punisher, who believes only a bullet to the head will solve Jericho’s problems. The additional complication is Deathstroke, a killer without peer and Jericho’s father. Beyond the involvement of assorted powerful people, McKeever sustains the mystery by taking his time in revealing Jericho’s ultimate purpose.

A number of different artists work on Deathtrap, but crucially none of them too far out of tune with the remainder. Leonardi’s the most impressive, but everyone else serves up viable superhero art, with Dagnino improving again from Changing of the Guard. Because he draws more than anyone else, the sample art is from Angel Unzueta’s all-action Titans section.

What’s well-conveyed through sections written by both writers is how disconcerting and unpredictable it is trying to stop someone who can switch their consciousness into another body by glancing into their eyes. Overall, though, Jericho’s insanity is overplayed and repetitive, and as such unconvincing. On the one hand we’re expected to believe he’s calculating enough to set up a clever escape route and multiple traps, and on the other he froths at the mouth at any mention of his former team-mates. And considering this is a Teen Titans graphic novel, beyond the prelude the 2010 team are just there to make up the numbers. There’s a grim finish as well.

Parts of Deathtrap thrill, but a fair bit doesn’t. McKeever’s final Teen Titans story is found in Child’s Play.