Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Teen Titans #17 Review and **SPOILERS**

I Wonder, Wonder, Wonder, Wonder Girl

Written By: Greg Pak
Art By: Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmund, Tony Avina
Cover Price: $2.99
Release Date: February 24, 2016


I must confess that I have not enjoyed much of the Teen Titans since the advent of the New 52. Actually, "not enjoyed" isn't really right...I've found it largely deplorable. It has seemed to evince every complaint levied against the publishing initiative since it began in 2011. The costume redesigns were stupid, the characters unnecessarily mean and cruel, their back stories convoluted and disheartening—the series has so far consisted of a story about characters that are neither likable nor especially heroic. A few years back there was another comic book suffering from similar ennui, when a swell writer named Greg Pak came along and turned it all around. Wait a second...Greg Pak is on this issue of Teen Titans! Do you think he could bring it back to readability like he did Action? Or is it very unlikely that the Lightning of Decent Comics could strike twice? Well if you intend to find out, read on!

Explain It!

So like I said in the intro, I haven't been reading Teen Titans regularly for a little while now. Thankfully, Greg Pak has seen fit to re-introduce members of the team, which was very helpful to me, despite the team being fairly well the same as I remember it. It's the thought that counts! So let's run down the members of our crew with a Teen Titans roll call!

Tim Drake aka Red Robin: Team Leader. Not to be confused with Batman Beyond.

Tanya Spears aka Power Girl: Genius who gets big. Totally thought she was Bumblebee at first, but yeah, I remember that thing where this girl got powers after Earth-2 Kara Zor-El went back through that portal.

Miguel Jose Barragan aka Bunker: Forms purple constructs with his mind. Sort of a slow starter, character-wise. Has his moments.

Rachel Roth aka Raven: Half-Demon sorceress. Oh yeah, I remember her too. I…I’m not going to go there. Keep an open mind, Reggie, keep an open mind.

Garfield Logan aka Beast Boy: Can transform into any animal. Used to be colored red, now green. And yes, I know he was green initially, before Flashpoint.

Cassie Sandsmark aka Wonder Girl: The loose cannon?

Sure seems that way this issue. The Titans are on the lam, hiding from the cops in some remote cabin. I’m not sure what exactly they did to run afoul of the law, but they’re always up to some shenanigans, those kids. I’m sure it was some silly vandalism like stealing garden gnomes or playing mailbox baseball. Cassie is hanging out in the woods, staring up at the sky while a disembodied voice she can’t hear beckons…us, I guess, since we’re the only ones who know what it is saying. Cassie strolls off of a cliff and keeps hovering in the air while walking, which catches Tim Drake’s notice because he’s a super detective. He tells Cassie to cool it, the Feds could be watching, and to add to his paranoid a gunshot is heard. Turns out it’s two guys hunting out of season, so each of the Titans appears and demonstrates their powers, which scares the bejeezus out of them and they scamper out of the forest. Very incognito, guys!

Seven hours later, they stop for gas in Wilmington, Delaware. Tim tells everyone to lay low, so the very next thing Cassie does is shoplift a pair of sunglasses. He chastises her but can’t you tell, Tim? She’s confused about her identity! And I don’t mean in a teenaged girl way, I mean she really doesn’t know who she is or where she comes from. Six hours later, at the Pine Lodge Motel in Waynesboro, Virginia, Cassie is reflecting on the few sepia-toned memories she has of her father, who tells her that they are special—better—than others (because they have blond hair and blue eyes obviously) and they need to keep it to themselves for the time being. She’s getting stir crazy and whines to Tim, but he asks her to give him a little time to clear their names and probably pay those outstanding parking tickets. She takes off, and Tim confides in Miguel that he doesn’t trust Cassie since she used to be a thief of rare artifacts—that’s how she got the ancient armor that gives her powers, whatever they are. Is Tim Drake the most paranoid guy or what? You don’t trust Cassie, you don’t trust a couple of hunters, who do you trust? Batman?? Good luck, buddy.

Out in the woods, Cassie is hanging out with Garfield, Rachel and Tanya literally just whipping trees into splinters with her super whip. Tanya threatens to tell teacher, so Cassie says fuck this; I am outta here. She hears that voice that she couldn’t hear from the beginning of the book call her to London, so she flies off in a red streak of impetuousness and narcissism. Nine hours later, she touches down in London and is immediately greeted by…the Titans, who emerge from Raven’s feather cloak that can teleport as well as tickle. Why do they drive around in a car, again? Tim warns Cassie to cool it, and very loudly she says she’s here to meet her father! Just then like three dozen were-hyenas come out of nowhere and attack the Titans, who attack back to remind us that most of them are super-powered. After dispatching these fools and falling through the roof, Cassie finds her father…’s head in a horrified look, cast in plaster. She goes to it, sadly, but then some other girl shows up claiming to be her cousin and says they’re both granddaughters of Zeus! She asks Cassie to go flying with her, and they zoom off after a hyena-man whaps Tim in the face to stop him from interfering. Just when Tim gets up, he is yanked up from his silly cape by Wonder Woman, who looks really pissed off that someone trashed her apartment!

Looks like Wonder Girl is being tenuously connected to Wonder Woman, even though Cassie’s power set seems to be “whatever she feels like at the moment.” I’m not sure if I find the idea of Wonder Girl’s Secret Origin compelling enough to stretch out over several issues, but I’m interested enough to give the next issue a look, which I guess is all that really matters. The art is very good and the book is well-plotted throughout, and there are some bits of dialogue that ring very true to what a bunch of teenaged goof-offs might say, but as a whole this comic was just okay, which might be an improvement over what came before.

Bits and Pieces:

Greg Pak’s inaugural issue of Teen Titans has some nice character moments, and I very much appreciated the blunt re-introduction of the team’s members, but there wasn’t a ton in this comic book to get very excited about. The art is nice, and there are worse ways to spend three bucks. I’m hoping this issue is laying the groundwork for a great story to follow, but hopefully this doesn’t turn into five issues of Wonder Girl being cranky until Rebirth kicks everything in the pants again. It’s happened before!


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