Overview: Crash and Djinn take a road trip as Crash tells Djinn her origin.
Synopsis (spoilers ahead): The issue opens with Crush and Djinn breaking into Robin’s stockpile of vehicles and equipment and they proceed to steal a motorcycle and ride off, which Kid Flash witnesses and covers for the pair with Red Arrow. Crush tells Djinn that they are headed upstate to retrieve something Crush lost a long time ago. They stop to eat at a diner where Djinn uses her powers to disguise their appearances to blend in, leading to Crush to demand she turn them back to their regular appearances.
The story then flashes back to Crush’s arrival on Earth fifteen years ago, which was at a “Burning Man” concert where her hard-partying parents, David and Lisa Rojas see Crush… well.. crash to Earth, and find her as a baby surrounded by a set of chains that seem to move around and protect Crush. The chains surround Lisa as she holds Crush and appears to be giving them permission to take the baby.
Crush’s story is interrupted by a waitress who drops a tray after seeing their true appearances and Crush storms off. Crush then continues her story.
Crush was homeschooled by her parents, with her only other companion being her living chain, “Obelus”. The young Crush asks her parents why she looks different from everyone else and her parents tell her that her parents were superheroes who sent her to live with them while they protect the universe like Superman. This is cut short by a banging on the door by a drug dealer who’s stash the Rojas’ stole and they make their escape via a window. The story then cuts to a montage of the nomadic life of the Rojas, with them taking various jobs and running out of various apartments. The story then cuts to Crush as a teenager, who after seeing Lobo fight with Superman accuses the Rojas’ of lying to her and Crush storms off without Obelus or the hoodie she normally wears to hide her appearance.
Crush then runs across a small group who throw a rock at her and tell her to leave the planet, who she proceeds to pummel. Crush then returns to her parents’ trailer to find it on fire, with her parents murdered and Obelus missing.
Back in the present, Crush and Djinn have a discussion about whether the world is a good place or not. Crush challenges Djinn to change her mind, asking for Djinn’s backstory, which catches Djinn off guard. Crush tells a relieved Djinn that there is no rush and Crush then tells Djinn that they are going to retrieve Obelus, which they have located thanks to Robin, which was stolen by the dealer who murdered her parents, a man named Ezikiel.
Crush and Djinn confront Ezikel at a mansion upstate, with Ezikiel recognizing Crush and recounts his murder of her parents and how he found and took control of Obelus, with which he then attacks the pair. Crash manages to get Obelus to remember her and attacks Ezikiel. Crush considers killing Ezikiel until she is reminded by Djinn that her parents told her she could be anyone she wanted to be, after which she spares her parents’ killer. The story then ends with Crush saying its time that she confronted Lobo, with Djinn telling her she doesn’t have to find the answers she is looking for alone.
In the backup story, Roundhouse is in orbit disposing of a nuclear bomb, after which he falls to earth into the ocean where he winds up in the nets of a Chinese fishing boat. Roundhouse ends up locked in a room below where he is trapped until his sister, Claire appears to him and tells Roundhouse he can escape out of the boat’s toilet. The story then cuts to Roundhouse and Claire in a life raft where they talk before making their way to the airport in Shanghai. Claire gives the moneyless Roundhouse a way home before disappearing as Roundhouse turns himself into a ball and catches a ride home in the baseball glove of a passing child. Back home, Roundhouse is grounded by his mom for his adventure, revealing that his sister has been dead for some time. The story ends with Roundhouse wondering if Claire’s visit was the result of a collision or something more and ends the story by looking at a picture of his sister and thanking her.
Analysis: Now, in the interest of full disclosure, this is the first issue of this iteration of Teen Titans that I have ever read and is also my first exposure to Crush, Djinn, or Roundhouse for that matter, so I appreciated that this issue was something of a primer for Crush and also gave enough details that I didn’t feel lost as two characters I’ve never even heard of go off on their own solo adventure. Character heavy books like this one are often fairly impenetrable to new readers and I think this issue worked extremely well as a jumping off point.
This story is more or less all about Crush and I like the efficient way the story sets up her backstory throughout the story. It’s a fairly straight forward origin story. I like how the story sets up a parallel with Superman’s origin even to the point of having young Crush idolize Superman, which I think pays off nicely when Crush sees her idol duking it out with Lobo, a violent alien who just happens to look a lot like Crush. I hope that after this story they don’t reveal that there is an actual relation between Crash and Lobo beyond them being from the same planet. I think that the story does a good job of setting Lobo up as a shadow that Crush can’t seem to escape from without a contrived “I am your father” moment and I like the idea of Lobo being this big presence in Crush’s life without Lobo even being aware of it.
The story itself is fairly predictable. Crush confronts her parents’ murderer and thanks to Djinn’s appeal to the values instilled by her parents, she spares his life. While it’s not necessarily the most interesting or original way to resolve this story, I think it’s the ending that fit this story. In your average Lobo story, the story would end with Lobo removing his adversary’s spine, and I think the way the story resolves makes the point that just because Crush looks like Lobo, she doesn’t have to be Lobo and I think that’s the right tone for this story to end on.
I also have to call out Crash’s living pet chain Obelus, which is a fun and visually interesting idea although it’s a gag that Spawn has been doing for years.
As for the backup, it’s a small and simple story that works well enough. I do think that the reveal of the story shouldn’t so much be that Roundhouse is having a vision and actually talking to his sister, but should have been the situation making him think of his sister as I think that’s a bit more of an emotionally satisfying route for a story about a dead loved one.
I think this is my first exposure to Robson Rocha’s art and I like what I see. I think Rocha handled the low key nature of this story well, which I think is of particular note considering his art tends to lean to the cartoony side.
Final Thoughts: This issue was a welcome surprise. I’ll be back for next issue. And you should be too.