I’ll be reading and reviewing, in some sense of the word, the contents of each upcoming first issue (the Rebirth one-shot if the series has one or the traditional #1 if the series does not have one) to gauge exactly what the line ends up looking like.
Spoilers for Titans: Rebirth #1.
Written by Dan Abnett
Pencils by Brett Booth
Inks by Norm Rapmund
Colors by Andrew Dalhouse
Letters by Carlos M. Mangual
Isn’t it sort of baffling that Brett Booth was put on this title? I remember him being the initial artist when DC Comics relaunched Teen Titans five years ago. And I remember that the series and his work on it were not well-received at the time. That book was actually canceled in 2014 so that it could be relaunched a few months later into a book that was received mildly better. So, who better to get to help launch your new Titans book with an old school, fan-favorite group that some have missed for the past five years than the guy who hobbled your reboot right out of the gate and whose work most likely in their eyes symbolizes everything wrong with your approach to comics over the last five years?
Some of this comes down to bad writing trying to take 10 pages of story and stretch it to a full 20 but this book is littered with splashpages and repetitive page designs that leaves this a visually boring reading experience. I hope you like back-to-back pages with a full-body profile to the left and a series of stacked panels to the right cause this has got them. And do you remember back-breaking poses? I know, I know, I thought those had been critiqued and ridiculed out of use in the Big Two but here we get an action shot where Donna Troy manages to display her chest and butt to the reader. Thighs are drawn as large sacks of hamburger with sausage links thrown in to supply “musculature.”
The writing isn’t great, either. The white Wally West is here to tell readers why his friends, the Titans, are important to him even though they were somehow manipulated into forgetting all about him when he was removed from existence. Although there is some exposition from Wally, this issue pretty much assumes readers have read DC Universe: Rebirth #1 and seems to indicate that Titans going forward is primarily for established readers. As someone who has never read a run of Teen Titans featuring these characters, I’m not the audience. This book assumes a level of history and engagement that I don’t have to offer it. All that I really learned about the characters from this issue was that they all liked Wally quite a bit, Roy is a bit of rapscallion, Dick is described as Wally’s best friend, Donna is allegedly compassionate, Lilith was once romantically involved with Wally, and Garth was… there.
It’s mostly boring. The story here is just a group of people touching another person until they all remember his name and then resolve to be best friends again so they can fight some bad guys. It may thrill those long-time readers who are just glad to see the band back together but the characters are left loosely defined and drawn by an artist who helped alienate them years previously. I’m sure, give or take some criticisms about the current costume designs and the addition and/or omission of characters from the line-up, the majority of the target audience who picks this up will enjoy it. It may not be a book I like but it does live up to the “hope and optimism” message as a story about the power of friendship bringing people together to face a greater threat.