Hawk and Dove
Hank and Dawn
DC Comics’ Titans has no right to be as good as it is. With a dark tone and an engrossing storyline, Titans’ first season is one of DC’s best live-action shows and arguably one of the best superhero flicks to be released in quite some time. While the show is not without its problems, some filler and a changed direction at the midway point notwithstanding, there’s enough here to really get behind Titans. The cliffhanger ending and unresolved storyline is a little disappointing but if you can look past that and take to the characters and tone, Titans is well worth the time investment.
Set in Detroit, the story itself revolves around two main conflicts. One, around the dysfunctional team of heroes that come together to form the Titans themselves. The other, around Detective Dick Grayson’s dark past in Gotham and his inability to move past it. We begin the show with our newly recruited detective tasked with finding a runaway called Rachel. Capable of wielding an impressively dark energy, Rachel becomes mixed up with Dick and, seeing similarities to his own childhood, together they set out to find safe refuge for the young girl.
Unfortunately, a strange family with murderous intent are hot on their tail and after a particularly damaging skirmish on top of a rooftop with two of Dick’s old friends, Rachel is kidnapped. While Dick tries to get to the bottom of who orchestrated her capture, Rachel becomes entangled with fellow super, amnesia-stricken Kory as she crosses paths with the family and aligns herself with the young girl. On the run together, they catch up with Garf who has the ability to change into a green tiger on the way before setting out to stop the family who originally kidnapped her.
At least, this is the story for the first half of the season. After a midseason fight, the second half of the show takes on a much wider apocalyptic story, diving into Kory, Dick and Rachel’s past in the process. The latter causing a catacylsmic event that’s left dangling on a knife edge ready for the second season. While the final 4 episodes or so do lose a little of the intensity and tight-knit storytelling that made the first half so endearing, there’s enough here to make for a very impressive season of superhero action nonetheless.
There’s a deliciously dark tone running throughout Titans and a lot of this is captured perfectly through the conflictions of our characters. Rachel’s dual personality, grappling an uncontrollable power with an innocent naivety make her really easy to empathise with. Garf begins as light comic relief but quickly develops into a much more rounded and morally conflicted adolescent. Kory’s amnesia, coupled with her memories slowly beginning to resurface, pose a particuarly interesting dilemma for her character but it’s Dick Grayson who really shines here.
After abandoning Batman in Gotham, the shadows of his past follow the former sidekick to Detroit where Dick tries to shake off the Robin persona that’s taken over his life. His inability to move past this constant shadow linking him to Bruce Wayne sees him at odds with his moral code throughout the season. This really climaxes during the season’s finale where, without giving too much away, Dick confronts his demons and comes face to face with them; a physical manifestation of the darkness he’s been grappling with during the season.
The action is suitably brutal as well, taking cues from the latest Netflix Marvel shows to showcase some impressively choreographed fights. While the action isn’t quite as violent or slickly produced as some of the scenes in The Punisher, Titans does come close to matching that level of intensity at times. Seeing Dick break bones or Kory burn a man alive really show off the violent, mature tone running through the season and Titans takes the gloves off during these scenes. It fits with the tone of the show perfectly and ultimately helps give Titans an edge over some of the more lighthearted DC offerings on TV.
With the story left unresolved and a lot of our characters’ fates hanging in the balance, it’ll be really interesting to see what direction Titans takes going into its second season. At the midway point of the show, Titans does change the tone and feel of its superhero flick slightly but there’s enough here to make it one of DC’s finest offerings nonetheless. Chock full of violence, dark themes and morally conflicted characters, Titans is one of the best superhero offerings on TV and despite its flaws, stands out in a saturated sea of superhero shows.
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Verdict - 8/10