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Teen Titans #96: "Beast of Legend"
J. T. Krul (writer), José Luís (penciller), Sandro Ribeiro and Jonas Trindade (inkers), Carlos M. Mangual (letterer), Jason Wright (colourist). The cover is by Nicola Scott, Doug Hazlewood, and Jason Wright.

This issue begins with what is presumably a flashback to Kiran's past (how far past isn't mentioned) - she's in a tent with Vijay and he's reading to her from the story of Rama.

In the present, she and Gar are going up against Rankor's ten-headed golem from the last issue. The next five pages show them racing forward to meet it, with some nice scenes of Gar quickly changing from one animal form to another as he evades Rankor's front lines and makes his way quickly to the top of the golem where he tries to break free Cassie's cage. Unfortunately he does this just as she cries out a warning, which sees him zapped by the magic surrounding it landing on his back in his human form.

Meanwhile, Kiran goes after Tataka specifically.

Kiran: "Tataka! You're the one that took my parents. If I had been there, you would never have laid a finger on them."
Tataka: "Empty threats from an empty heart. She is useless. Kill her."

Kiran's quickly beset by a variety of smaller demons, but she's not out for the count. Gar, seeing this, quickly gets himself up and jumps down to help her. As he does so, he takes on the form of a large primate (it's as big as a gorilla but with a tail. Perhaps it's some sort of mix/fantasy primate?). He also pulls a club out of the hands of one of the demons he hits.

Kiran, seeing this, quickly draws a parallel between Gar and Hanuman, an important monkey figure in the Ramayana. Note that while the comic calls Hanuman the Monkey King, according to the Ramayana itself he was actually a general in the monkey army - Sugreeva is the name of the King.

Together, Gar and Kiran manage to break the cages open, free the other Titans and adults, and get them to safety on a ridge some distance away. But that doesn't do anything to stop the golem's onward march, his vanguard are getting closer, and the newly-freed Titans are still weak.

Meanwhile, there is this exchange of between Kiran and her parents:
Vijay: "Sweet Kiran."
Rani: "You came for us."
Kiran: "Of course I did. I'll always come for you. No matter what."

As this is going on, Vijay has his hand on Kiran's cheek and there's a light around her.

Suddenly Raven exclaims "NNN. Don't you see? This place is not the cause of our torment. It's her. It's SOLSTICE!" and attacks her. However, Kiran is able to put up a sort of "shield" which protects her and her parents.

But by then the demon horde is almost upon them again. As the Titans prepare to battle, Kiran flies her parents to safety. When they suggest to her that she should leave the battling to the experienced heroes, she says (and I'm paraphrasing again) that she can't because it's her battle too (I believe she also says "I see that now").

The issue ends with her flying up to meet Rankor, who is still on his throne atop the golem, face-to-face - and declaring that while she is no Rama (the hero who defeated him in the Ramayana), her "light will endure just the same!"

My thoughts:
Not too bad an issue. It felt a bit shorter than the others in this arc, though, probably because a fair amount of it (at least in the first half) consisted of panels where text (thought?) boxes were the only words, and that too from the perspective of only one character (Gar). That's not to say it was static and boring, however, because it wasn't - Gar was continually jumping around, transforming as he did so, which provided quite a bit of dynamism.

And I liked what I read in Gar's thoughts. This is a character who is ready to move past his younger days and drop or modify some personality traits that, although they might have been appropriate for the time, are not so any longer. I liked this on first read much more than I liked the only other comic I've read that featured/spotlighted mainstream DCU Gar for an issue (Titans #15, IIRC) on first read.

Also, we get some info on Kiran's powers! Hopefully the next issue will finally make clear what exactly it is about her that's affecting Raven so much. Tataka's words and Vijay's actions appear to show (at least to me!) that there just might be something about Kiran that she's not telling us or the Titans. In addition, I would really like to know if the tatoo (for lack of a better word only) she appears to have on one arm has anything to do with her powers - it glows when she uses her 'light beams' with that hand but she can use the 'beams' from her other hand as well so...yeah. Interesting.

The first thing that I noticed about the art - before I went back and read the artist credit - was that it definitely wasn't what I'd been looking at for the past three issues. Luís's work isn't bad - meaning that it's not badly porportioned or unnaturally posed - but it does make a stark difference from Nicola Scott's. To me, the difference was particularly noticeable in the portrayal of Kiran, at least a couple of pages into the issue, and in some panels where all the characters looked less fully detailed (i.e. more "sketched", again only for lack of a better term) than I was used to seeing.
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