TITANS #29 by Dan Abnett and Minkyu Jung
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
What it lacks in superheroic action, TITANS #29 handily makes up in terms of characterization. The deep, intricate focus on character behaviors in a time of great struggle feels really powerful, and is only improved upon by the incredible art.
97 %
Deeply Cerebral
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Sometimes, people’s scariest moments come in isolation. When we are alone, forced to face ourselves, our minds can become our cruelest enemies. Nothing could be truer in TITANS #29. After the events of DROWNED EARTH, the team is marooned on a distant planetoid. Alone, starving, unable to make contact with the outside world, the Titans’ greatest fears and anxieties come to the surface. On a world with no supervillains, these heroes have to face the devil inside. And with the forces of nature on this isolated planet against them, it will take everything they have to survive.

Isolation

TITANS #29
TITANS #29 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Dan Abnett has crafted another excellent story in TITANS #29. I had my doubts when I first started the issue. The “LOST IN SPACE” trope has become overused in the last few decades, and I feared that there wouldn’t be enough material for this story. After all, what kind of trouble can our heroes get into on an uninhabited planet? Thankfully, Abnett delivered again. This book is scary in a way that other issues in the series haven’t been. It isn’t laden with jump scares and movie monsters. Nevertheless, Abnett manages to give each page a profound sense of dread. He delves into the darkness of each character’s mind. Then, cruelly, he gives them brief glimpses of hope, only to steal it away from them. TITANS #29 isn’t intentionally a horror narrative. However, with the bleak plot, it definitely has these scary moments.

Outside of the excellent tone, Abnett also managed to find a nice pacing with TITANS #29. In a way, my fears were founded in reality. Not a lot happens in this story. The team mostly scrambles about the planet, trying to figure out what to do next. That doesn’t necessarily lead to a well-constructed story. However, Abnett remedies this potential issue by relying on the characters. He delves into their heads, forcing the story forward by cross-examining their subconscious minds. Until issue’s end, no action really occurs, but Abnett still managed to build tension from the start.

Deep Inside the Mind

TITANS #29
TITANS #29 pages 2 & 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

As should be obvious, I loved how Dan Abnett played with characterization in TITANS #29. The plot relies on these character moments to continue forward, and Abnett delivers on every single one. In this way, setting is incredibly important to this narrative. By isolating the team, he gives each character a moment to shine. There are only five characters to explore, each with their own profound fears and anxieties. They have all just failed, and for all they know, their home is destroyed. Abnett essentially drops this team in the middle of the desert and sees what they do next. From there, the way he experiments with each character, detailing how they each handle panic, is absolutely brilliant.

Most of this strong characterization comes from the brilliant thought captions that pop up throughout the piece. However, what becomes even more important in this issue is the dialogue. In the midst of an action scene, having distinctive character voices isn’t as important. Everyone’s barking orders and reports back and forth, meaning that everyone will sound the same anyway. But what happens when the team sits down around a campfire? What do they talk about with the others? What do they focus on? Dan Abnett’s focus on these dialogues really makes this story stand out from so many others. It comes from the way Steel talks about her uncle back on Earth, the way Donna tries to take control of an uncontrollable situation. Every character feels unique, and that gives this story a deeper thematic importance.

The Strength of Emotions

TITANS #29
TITANS #29 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment

In a story like that found in TITANS #29, the artist needs to have a strong grasp of character expressiveness. Without it, the story can lack the emotional strength that the narration inherently brings. Thankfully, artist Minkyu Jung delivers on every single page. The expressions he creates for his characters are perfect for every given situation. However, it goes past the character expressions. Jung is a master of dynamic poses. This is a slow burn of a story, with a lot of characters talking and doing a whole lot of nothing. As such, it can be difficult for the artist to infuse scenes with the necessary energy. Jung manages to do this on every occasion, making TITANS #29 a fully rounded experience between art and story.

TITANS #29: Final Thoughts

Since the team’s reformation in TITANS #25, writer Dan Abnett has turned away from the superheroic antics. Instead, he has focused more heavily on more character-driven stories. The minds of his characters, their fears, and insecurities, take center stage, and his artists have followed suit with incredible focus on honoring the tone of his narration. In TITANS #29, this tradition of excellence continues, with Abnett exploring each of his five main characters at their lowest point to date. It is a hard story, with very little action or intrigue, but it isn’t about that. Instead, its entire purpose is to explore the subconscious minds of these characters, and on that front, it wholly succeeds.

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