Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Teen Titans #1 - A Review

I was dreading this title, to put it mildly. Red Hood And The Outlaws #1 had me ready to put Scott Lobdell on the list of writers whose involvement in a project will stop me from buying it. And Superboy #1 left me flat, for the most part, seeming less like a book about Superboy and more like a proposed #0 Issue for this title - Teen Titans #1. Yet somehow, despite all this baggage going into this book, I found myself appreciating it for what it was in spite of what I wish it was.

Picking up where Superboy #1 left off, this issue introduces us to the agenda of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. - a clandestine organization that is abducting teenagers with superpowers for nefarious purposes. They make a move to capture Tim Drake a.k.a. Red Robin, as he is monitoring news reports of different teenagers with superpowers. He escapes easily and then hits the road, having it in mind to build his own group of like-minded teenage heroes. His first recruit, whom N.O.W.H.E.R.E. just barely beats him to, is a young woman named Cassandra Sandsmark. The issue ends with what is basically the same scene as the end of Superboy #1, where the Kryptonian/Human hybrid clone created by N.O.W.H.E.R.E. is released.

This issue suffers from a lot of the same problems that plagued Justice League #1. We get to know something of Kid Flash, Robin and "Don't Call Me Wonder Girl" as characters but over half the team depicted on the cover isn't in this book. The new Kid Flash seems to be splitting the difference between Wally West and Bart Allen, being fairly intelligent but publicity minded and quicker to act than he is to think. Tim Drake is shown to be as intelligent and resourceful as a Robin should be. Cassie Sandsmark seems to have changed the most, having been aged to 17 and having been reinvented as a career criminal who apparently stole the magical Greek artifacts that give her superpowers. There's a lot of good set-up here but this is another title that will probably read better as a trade than as a monthly.

Brett Booth's artwork can almost carry this title by itself. Booth's style is similar to that of Jim Lee (no surprise as the two are frequent collaborators), full of action and motion in every panel. There's little that seems static or posed, which lends itself well to Lobdell's fast-paced script. The sequences involving Kid Flash are particularly noteworthy for this.

I wasn't looking forward to this book at all but was pleasantly surprised by how it turned out. Granting that some sort of Teen Titans revamp is needed - the series being one of the most beloved franchises DC Comics has - I'd think something a little closer in tone to the Young Justice cartoon would win more readers. I'm also curious - as I'm sure are many classic Titans fans - just what the status of the original Wolfman/Perez team is post-Revamp. This book suggests that Red Robin is drawing inspiration from Dick Grayson's team and Roy Harper's dialogue in Red Hood And The Outlaws says that there was some kind of Teen Titans team before this one, even naming some members of it. Perhaps more details will come in future issues? As it is, I'd recommend this book to any Teen Titans fan who can keep an open mind, with the caveat that you should probably be reading Superboy as well.

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