There's a scene in the beginning of Teen Titans: On the Clock where Robin gives a supposed rousing speech about the role of the Teen Titans and their place in the DC Universe. Says stereotypical bad girl Ravager, "Commence barfing." Unfortunately, for much of On the Clock, the reader's sensibilities are with Ravager, rather than Titans stalwarts Robin or Wonder Girl, who each come off particularly whiny and judgmental. On the Clock gets off to a bad start in that I'm not necessarily sure we like these characters any more; lackluster story and art don't help the case.
Given that the original current Teen Titans roster has been reduced to just Robin and Wonder Girl, it seems increasingly important that these two characters anchor the team. Unfortunately, Titans writers Geoff Johns and Adam Beechen had each written Wonder Girl as extrodinarily whiny of late, offsetting any actual emotion the reader might share in her mourning of Superboy's death, even as Robin pined over starting a relationship with Wonder Girl. While new Titans writer Sean McKeever does put an end to the possibility of that much-decried relationship, Robin and Wonder Girl don't improve in this collection. Wonder Girl appears overly critical of Ravager, even as Ravager nearly gives her life for the team, making Wonder Girl seem the one who can't get along; Robin, for his part, pontificates and orders his teammates around such that the reader wouldn't ever imagine wanting to spend time with this character. McKeever accomplishes the goal, perhaps, of endearing the reader to new characters like Miss Martian and Kid Devil, but at continued cost to the two Titans founders.
As with the previous volume, Teen Titans: Titans of Tomorrow, On the Clock suffers from a bit of plot repeat-itis. Titans of Tomorrow featured the Titans, split off individually, fighting their dark future reflections; On the Clock has the Titans, split indivudally, fighting a group of Titan duplicates, the Terror Titans. Titans of Tomorrow repeated a similar plot from Beechen's Titans East, but now McKeever is essentially repeating himself. I don't favor these stories where the Titans split only to come together in the end; it contributes to this feeling that the Titans aren't a team so much as just a loose group of individuals, and not ones who like each other all that much, either.
In addition, I didn't much care for the Terror Titans, whom McKeever doesn't really introduce and none of whom were presented as competent enough to hold my interest. When Johns wrote Titans, villains like Brother Blood were built up and nuanced -- there wasn't much to the Terror Titans to want to see them succeed, even a little, against the Titans. McKeever succeeds here only for the most part where he did in Titans of Tomorrow, in his writing of the new, mostly unexamined characters. Miss Martian is an interesting, conflicted joy to read on every page, as is Ravager; I also liked Kid Devil's team-up with Blue Beetle in the last chapter, though McKeever's Blue Beetle is a plain "good guy" without much of the depth found in the character's own series.
One additional bright spot was the appearance here of the Dark Side Club. In and of itself, the Club isn't differentiated here much from Roulette's metahuman fight club in JSA or others, but the hints of Final Crisis loom loud and large. This is commercial crossover pandering at its finest, and I love, love, love it. I also appreciated how McKeever made mention of the Birds of Prey's interaction with the Dark Side Club, tying the two series together.
To be honest, if I were reading Teen Titans in monthly issues I think I might very well drop it. I'm surprised and disappointed to feel this way given the auspicious start Geoff Johns gave this title a few years ago, but McKeever's writing just doesn't move me. Eddy Barrows art still seems rather dark to me, as well; I liked it with Ruy Jose inking, but not with Jimmy Palmiotti and others. What keeps me on this title is more its ties to Final Crisis and the forthcoming Deathtrap crossover; it's not a terribly convincing reason to keep reading a book, and I'll probably have to reassess after I read the next volume.
[Contains full covers]
(Because I've been so negative here, I wanted to link to a positive review. I didn't find one yet, but here's a Comic Book Resources article that refers to the On the Clock issues as "bestselling.")
We're following Blue Beetle from title-to-title; next up, Booster Gold!