Deathstroke Tears The Titans Apart

Having survived their fateful encounter with Trigon, the Titans battle familiar foes like Deathstroke and Dr. Light in an uneven second season. New friends like Conner Kent (Superboy) and Rose Wilson (Ravager) arrive on the scene. Squabbling more with themselves than actually fighting villains, internal dissension threatens Robin’s leadership of the team.

Pushing past the world building of season one, Titans’ second season more openly embraces traditional superhero storytelling. Unfortunately that is heavily weighed down by familiar characters getting pushed into uncomfortable and negative territory. Thematically heavy plots burden much of season two, exploring much darker aspects of Robin and the other heroes than what we get from other mediums. Titans is about as far removed from the animated Teen Titans Go as one could imagine. It is a gritty, emotionally taxing approach to superheroes that isn’t for everyone.

Under Dick Grayson’s command in their new home at Titans Tower, Rachel (Raven), Gar (Beast Boy) and Jason Todd (Robin) train together as the next generation of Titans. Original Titans Hank Hall (Hawk), Dawn Granger (Dove), and Donna Troy (Wonder Girl) end up coming back to San Francisco when an old villain from their past surfaces.

Titans uneven season may go a step too far with its unrestrained creative freedoms

Bruce Wayne makes repeated appearances in season two, but mostly as a talking hallucination seen by Dick Grayson. Deathstroke is the recurring villain, an old enemy from their past that threatens to destroy the current team. By far one of season two’s biggest highlights is the complete introduction of Conner Kent, the half-Superman and half-Lex Luthor genetic mix created by Cadmus. Largely faithful to the character’s original background in other mediums, Superboy’s addition is a breath of fresh air compared to the darker storylines found in season two.

The biggest surprise in season two has to be Krypto – the dog created by Cadmus with Superman’s DNA. Ripped from the comics, presumably by show producer Geoff Johns, it’s great seeing the dog of steel flying around and shooting laser beams from his eyes when protecting his master. Krypto might be the only character in season two you can root for without reservation.

Having saved the team’s number one nemesis for season two, Deathstroke is slightly disappointing for fans that have seen the character on other shows and in other mediums. His costume is fine but mildly underwhelming in design, a colorless suit of body armor. Frankly, CW’s Arrow gave us a better costume. Deathstroke as a character is a nearly perfect antagonist, powerful and motivated to kill the Titans. I’m not so sure actor Esai Morales, nearing 60 years-old, was a great choice for the part. Seeing him out of costume, it’s hard suspending your disbelief he could beat an entire team of superheroes.

Season two of Titans is uneven, and may go a step too far with its unrestrained creative freedoms enabled by a streaming platform. You get a few great moments, a few real surprises, and more graphic action. The budget appears to have been cut in this season. Starfire barely uses her powers, Gar almost never becomes a tiger, and Dick Grayson remains out of costume most of the season.

Despite the presence of Deathstroke and Jericho, season two is not a direct adaptation of “The Judas Contract” and really goes in its own direction with the characters. On a side note, wardrobe and make-up corrects their mistake on Starfire’s appearance, getting rid of her hideous wig. Fan reaction was so bad they must have felt compelled to fix it this season.

Video

All thirteen episodes of season two are spread over two BD-50s. If you are coming from season one, Titans looks largely the same on Blu-ray in this second season. That first season was practically devoid of primary colors, intensely desaturated and bathed in darker colors.

While the 1080P video is just as sharp in season two, the sterile digital cinematography has had some minor tweaking. Its color correction is less concerned bathing the production in dark blues and shades of grey. Now operating out of San Francisco, the Titans stroll around the city in brighter colors. Black levels are still rich and inky.

The most impressive aspect is Titans’ abundant definition and razor-sharp clarity. Digitally filmed with outstanding depth and dimensionality, many interior shots will impress videophiles. The VFX in season two are less ambitious, clearly a result of budget cuts hitting Titans after season one.

Audio

The strong 5.1 DTS-HD MA audio places a premium on heavy surround activity and superb directionality. Titans has many action scenes of heroes fighting other heroes, or heroes fighting villains. These scenes are laid out with a massive soundstage, tight bass and well-articulated sound effects. The discrete sound design has nice separation without losing coherence.

Dialogue is cleanly intelligible, even during the loudest and most hectic scenes. Each episode has a pop song playing over the end credits. They are heard in excellent fidelity with powerful dynamics. Considering this is a television production, the audio demonstrates nigh perfect quality.

Optional English SDH subtitles play in white font, always inside the widescreen presentation.

Extras

The two-disc Blu-ray set arrives in Warner’s familiar slipcase used on all of their television sets. A digital copy, redeemable on either VUDU or FandangoNow, gives you all 13 episodes in HDX quality. A one-page episode guide comes inside the case.

Warner is one of the few studios still issuing television seasons on BD, so the lack of major special features is disappointing but expected. One featurette gets included, which is only loosely connected to this show.

Jason Todd: Fate by the Fans (11:52 in HD) – A dissection of Jason Todd (Robin) as a character in DC Comics, covering the infamous phone vote by fans that lead to his death at the hands of the Joker. The featurette interviews familiar comic book execs like Dan DiDio and Denny O’Neil. Producers from Titans are also featured, bringing up his anger and rebellious attitude.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more about DoBlu.

Titans
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Season

An uneven follow-up season for the gritty superhero series from the DCU streaming platform, featuring Deathstroke taking down the team.

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