Current Reviews


Teen Titans #1

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2003
By: Shawn Hill

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Mike McKone (p), Marlo Alquiza (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

Well, there's no volume on the indicia, but this would surely be at least v.3 of this particular title, right? In it, Johns takes the tack of returning to the core concept, if not core characters. He's rounded up teens again, legacy teens like in the sixties series (rather than trying Jurgens' all-new, all-different approach from the nineties; which, come to think of it, ended up pretty much a mix of the old and the new, just like the X-men before it). This is a modification of the decidedly old-school reboot Grayson and Jimenez staged, and maybe it's really the best way to go, considering how that title ran out of steam.

So now we've got Kon-L, Cassie Sandsmark, Bart and whoever's playing Robin these days. Superboy, Wonder Girl, Kid Impulse and Batboy all over again. Playing the old guard this time out are Starfire, Cyborg, Changeling and Raven.

It's not a bad mix of characters, really; Vic has had some exposure in other titles (that cyborg concept never goes out of style, and won't until there really are some), and Kory's got enough personality to light up her own title. Gar's still the class clown, and Raven … doesn't show up this issue save for on the cover. Has anyone known what to do with her since she died? She's that saddest of comic book characters, the striking loner with one real story that ended long ago.

This is one of those assemble-the-team issues, but with a twist: the old guard are sending their protégés to summer camp, and, like those pivotal teenage years, it promises to be both the best and worst of times. Certainly some wise decisions have been made: Vic no longer has the glittering alien fluid tech, but is back to being a human trapped in shiny metal machinery (to judge from one panel of his eye, at least; that's his full on-camera time this issue). Kory is the calm and seasoned warrior rather than the half-mad seeming loon that ended the last series. Cassie has a version of the red costume that puts her in the Wonder world but in her own way (hints of the Sins of Youth crossover where we saw her as grownup superheroine).

Robin is in his own classic mode, and apparently Bart is going all Kid Flash on us soon (well, it's a better costume than his own). Kon-L can't be the same Parker-esque kid from his own series, can he? This one's a beefy bruiser. Isn't that Cassie's job?

In fact, the best scene of the issue comes between Robin and Superboy, both up late and uneasy on their first night in the new "dorm." Anybody who ever went off to school, leaving home behind, will be familiar with such late-night loneliness. Hopefully this underlines the difference in this title; the last team got together because, after all they'd been through, they'd become family. They knew each other too well, and kept being pulled apart by family concerns. This team is together because they're friends, and they've got a lot of learning to do. Better to do it together.

I've always liked McKone's art, and I think he's as good a fit here as Battista is on Legion. That said, I hated his parody of the Wolfman/Perez Titans #1 cover that ran as a house ad, mostly for the bizarrely sexed up Raven. This issue's cover, by Turner, is far better, leaving the sexing up to Kory (aka K. Lo) as it should be.

He also really misses the mark with Cassie's mom. Byrne's distinctive design for Helena Sandsmark was one of the few high points in his mixed-bag Wonder Woman run, but McKone has given her contacts, apparently, and turned her into the dullest of TV moms. That's a missed opportunity. I doubt the esteemed colleague of Julia Kapatelis would be as easily intimidated by a high school principal as she is in her stock scene; heck, even Joyce Summers knew enough to put Principal Snyder in his place when he got out of hand!

His design for the new Titans Tower is fine, though, and while I'm not sure, I think it's in Gateway City, Byrne's West Coast home for Wonder Woman. After all these years, Titans West Coast lives!

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