Saturday, July 28, 2018

Teen Titans #20 - Second Opinion

Writer: Adam Glass
Artist: Bernard Chang
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: July 25, 2018
Cover Price: $3.99
review by: Lord Andy

As someone who's always made room in their pull-box for Teen Titans, I was simultaneously excited and hesitant about the team’s latest shakeup, (both creatively and on panel). Writer and producer of television’s Supernatural, Adam Glass (Suicide Squad, Rough Riders) is replacing Benjamin Percy, who has been writing the title since Rebirth.  Meanwhile, Bernard Chang is the latest artist to contribute to one of DC's most popular super teams.

Most TT readers will probably agree that after nineteen issues the roll call was, at last, becoming clear and the team finally set for some actual adventures.  It wasn’t too long ago that both Aqualad and Kid Flash were finally learning to fit in, and Beast Boy's three-issue character development story arch just wrapped up.  However, instead of finally letting this group take on some new villains or solve some capers, the DC bigwigs opted for the remix route.  The issue flows smoothly enough that one can’t complain too much about their choice, and it’s hard to deny some of the cast was growing a bit stagnant, but why?

The Teen Titans almost always seem to have a Speedster and Archer on staff, but the three newest characters spark the most curiosity, even if they do seem to be mere replacements for previous members.

Raven's magic and realm? Djinn the 4,000-year-old teenage genie has got you covered.  Superboy or Starfire's alien super strength? Crush, daughter of intergalactic bounty hunter Lobo is up to the task. Beast Boy’s utter annoyance and bad jokes?  Billy “Roundhouse” Wu will fill in just fine. The latter being an obvious tribute to trending teen characters such as Jacob Batalon's Ned (Spider-Man: Homecoming).

Though the three just mentioned only received about four panels of backstory each, the issue reveals enough to leave the reader wanting to know more about these new members.  Djinn being the forerunner for the potential story and character development.

The setting and plot, unfortunately, take the backseat this issue, the Church of Blood and their wrongdoings only serve as a vehicle to deliver the new Titan team to the reader.  Robin has grown dissatisfied with the old ways and practices handed down by the Justice League, and has recruited a new team to help him illegally incarcerate big name criminals before they commit further crimes.  Is Robin incorrect when he suggests Arkham is a failure? Of course not.  Will his secret and unconstitutional version of justice eventually be discovered and shut down by the League? Of course, it will.  The real question being how far will Damian go before his teammates blow the whistle.

Oh yeah, the team also moved their HQ from one hipster-infested burg (San Fran) to another (Brooklyn).  As nice as it is to have at least one DC office back on the east coast, the move, just like the cast realignment is left unexplained and feels unnecessary.

Overall, the issue moves along at a steady pace and covers enough bases as an issue #1 can, the only problem is we’re on issue #20.  Which begs the question, what’s the point of all this, and when will actually see the Teen Titans in prolonged action without another disruptive cast realignment?

One positive is the art, as Chang and his team’s use of colors, a mix of angles and panel alignment keep a story lacking detail moving along.  The use of contrasting black and white space help the reader differentiate between flashbacks and present time.  Each new member also received a half-page treatment that announced their presence with authority.

Bits and Pieces:

In conclusion, TT twenty was entertaining and intriguing, while at the same time frustrating and redundant.  The generic teen dialogue may cause some eyes to roll, and the cast changes may feel unnecessary, but overall it reads like a Titans book.  I look forward to seeing where The Newest Teen Titans take us.


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