Or – “Can You Catch The Same Lightning In A Different Bottle?”

Here in the halls of Stately Spoilers Manor, we operate pretty much independently.  So, as I was writing this, I was unaware that Josh was writing a review of the same issue.  But, seeing as how it’s already written, (and I kind of don’t have time to write another just this instant) I figured, what the heck, why not see how we BOTH felt about the issue, and then probably never do this again.  Heh…  In 1984, or so the story goes, DC Comics was in dire straits.  The company was bleeding money, very few of their iconic characters seemed very relavant, and there were, apparently, rumors that DC would be no more within months…  Then, Marv Wolfman and George Perez launched ‘The New Teen Titans,’ a book that took DC’s kid sidekicks, added a dash of X-Men-style plotting, and managed to generate a bona fide classic (and, some say, bringing DC back from the brink.)  25 or so years later, those issues are remembered fondly by everyone, and every few years, it is decided that it’s time to get the band back together and see if the Titans can, once again, become the 600 pound gorilla of comics.  Is Judd Winick the man to reignite the fires of Titan-mania?

Previously, on Titans: After Cyborg’s attempt to reorganize the Titans East went awry, it became clear that someone had a serious mad-on for Titans, of both the teen and other varieties.  Thankfully, only Power Boy (who was never much more than a plot device in a bad cape anyway) was permanently taken out of action, and the original Teen Titans regrouped in order to defend the lives of those who came after them.  Raven, Cyborg, Changeling, Starfire, Nightwing, Flash, Red Arrow (ugh), and Donna Troy (who really needs a decent superhero nom de guerre) have combined forces to discover that Raven’s estranged father Trigon (whose name I swear should be pronounced “trig-gun” rather than the odd and awkward “try-gon) seems to be behind it all.   Facing another run-in with the big red dude, the former junior Justice League kids gather together again, just like old times…

We start the story with a close up of a huge-eyed girl being seduced into something.  We cut the the reverse angle and see Trigon as a blonde adonis, eyes glowing with menace.  “I am everything that I am needed to be.”  He says all the right things, at exactly the right times, but he…  um… gets her naked in a circle of hooded druids.  Kinky!  We cut to Raven, looking unpleasantly aroused for a story about her parents concieving her, saying “and THAT, as you all know, is how my parents met.”  It’s not the first point where the art and the story seem to give different accounts of what’s going on.  Starfire wonders aloud why Trigon would want to kill Titans, but Raven explains that, with magic, naming is power.  Since only “The Titans” have ever defeated him, T-Man wants to make sure that alchemy will never restore itself.  But, his mental kung-fu is no match for his little girl’s, and Raven manages to steal a terrifying bit of information: Trigon has three other children.  And she knows who the mothers are…

At the first home, the team of The Flash and Donna Troy (in a truly horrible, HORRIBLE amalgamation of her latest costume and her original Wonder Girl look…  It’s awful!  Awful!) find that the first bride is dead, several months ago, and her tattooed ex-girlfriend doesn’t have any leads for them.  Wally makes an uncharacteristically mean remark about Donna having no background or family, and she blows up at him.  Wally rages that she’s lucky, having no family means having nothing to lose, but Donna shrieks back that he doesn’t know how good he has it!  That was weird…

At the second bride’s abode, Nightwing and Starfire find that the second bride… is dead.  Several months ago.  I sense a pattern forming.  Starfire makes a remark about how sad is is to die alone, but her pose is the pose of a Maxim model trying to entertain the teenagers at home.  She smiles a strange smile, and mentions “When I feel alone…  I think of you.”  Nightwing sneaks up behind her and says, “I think of you when I’m NOT alone.”  What?  Did he just…  imply that…  Ewww!  Starfire turns and they start kissing, then they have sex, right there in the midst of the “crime scene.”  Also, their ankles are so tiny and delicate that they’re gonna snap when they stand up.  Just saying…

Team three, consisting of Raven, Red Arrow (ugh) and Beast Boy, in an ensemble so awful it makes Donna’s gawdawful new togs look like the original Kid Flash costume, finds that the third bride…  blah blah blah fishcakes.  Her mourning hubby tries to help, but Raven leaps in and starts aggressively questioning him about his dead wife.  Roy (because I’m tired of typing Red Arrow ((ugh))) pulls her back, and Beast Boy snarks that she’s nothing but an ice queen, and doesn’t even know how to ACT human.  “What do YOU know about being human?” snarls the daughter of Trigon… 

…and Beast Boy PUNCHES HER IN THE FACE!  AS A GORILLA!!  Red Arrow (see above) prepares to skewer them both, buth the rest of the Titans arrive and break it up.  Donna Troy poses, and her waist is almost exactly the same girth as her upper arm, as she points out that they were all acting out of character…  The Titans regroup, and compare notes, and Raven realizes that they’ve been attacked by three of the seven deadly sins.  “Rage.  Envy.  Lust.”  “One for each of us,” says an off-screen voice, and Trigons trio of four-eyed sons stand before them, poorly drawn and big as life.

Okay, first, I have to say it.  I DO NOT LIKE Joe Benitez’ art here.  All the characters are tall and spindly as Aeon Flux, without the stylization to make it work.  Worst of all, the one character who should BE tall and gangly, Starfire, isn’t.  No, she’s shorter than Nightwing, and her curves actually make her look out of place by comparison.  Joe’s Beast Boy costume is horrid, a mishmash of other uniforms BB has worn before, with short sleeves like a Sears manager in Akron, Ohio, and a shoulder patch that seems to be the footprint of an animal, so long as that animal is shaped like a tear drop and has five claws.  Cyborg isn’t even in human form here, instead floating around on a strange Liefeld-esque hoverchair, very Professor X circa 1996.  These are all stylistic choices, yes, but there’s nothing interesting going on with the images, instead reminding me of all the worst aspects of J. Scott Campbell and Erik Larsen…  I hope that it’ll grow on me.  (I will say that Benitez draws a mean gorilla.) Even more disappointing to me is the fact that Judd Winick’s script just doesn’t work for me.  Beast Boy is snide, Red Arrow (Footnote 1.) is pretty much the horndog, but otherwise the character voices all meld together. Judd is usually one of my favorites, so I’m doubly disappointed at how much I don’t like this issue. Trying to revisit the glory days of the Teen Titans is no new feat for DC, but generally, these attempts haven’t been successful in recreating the magic of Wolfman/Perez. I wish Judd and Joe luck with this book, but unless something changes dramatically by issue six (my arbitrary six-month trial period for a book) I’m afraid I won’t be around to see it.  I can only give this issue 1.5 out of 5 stars.

15stars.jpg


Footnote 1: Ugh.

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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6 Comments

  1. Mark I.
    June 20, 2008 at 1:02 pm — Reply

    “Is Judd Winick the man to reignite the fires of Titan-mania?”

    Not with this book, not with these characters. The under-used former kid sidekicks and their exotic cyborg/alien/demonic new friends were an eye-catching novelty at the time combined with rock solid art and story. Now, even if the art and story return to form (apparently, the art hasn’t just yet, holding out that story gets better) the original hook that brought in new readers is gone. Nostalgia sells, but not as much as an eye-catching cover with tantalizing new elements that keeps delivering when you open the book. That pretty much sums up the impact of New Teen Titans. (Thunderbolts was like that too.)

    Nightwing becomes more misused everytime his character is forced to regress five years and the Flash belongs in Justice League.

    If Deathstroke, Terra and/or Brother Blood show up in the next 12 issues…hmm not a good sign. Lightning in a bottle only happens once.

  2. DrStrangeCubicle
    June 20, 2008 at 2:24 pm — Reply

    I think my impression of this issue was more in line with your review than Josh’s…the art especially is really turning me off.

  3. eric berry
    June 20, 2008 at 7:14 pm — Reply

    Well, I guess I am the detractor in this conversation. I am enjoying the new series so far. I have always loved the Titans. I loved the first series. I loved the subsequent series. I liked it when it when to graphic paper. I loved it when it was Tales of the Teen Titans. I did not pick it up when the series was Young Justice if that can be counted. I started with the latest incarnation of Teen Titans, but I have become sorely dissapointed. Listen DC. I stopped with Teen Titans. I think that this series can do well. It can do well if the writters recognize that these Titans are no longer teens. They are all adults. Treat them like adults and write them as adults. There are many layers that these characters can be shown. I like this incarnation so far even though it is only three issues. I will keep it up for a while. If i stop I could continue in TPB and save some money.

    Oh, and I like the art. It is nice to see something different on a main stream book.

  4. Ajax
    June 21, 2008 at 12:26 pm — Reply

    I stopped reading comics, oh say around the time the Baxter Titan’s series lost Perez’ input….It is sure is swell to be able to pick up the book now and see nothing has changed!

    I mean it was just as swell to read the old series and see all those old stories and characters from the 1960’s show up and show how . . .nothing.. changed?

    Wait…..

  5. ~wyntermute~
    June 21, 2008 at 5:01 pm — Reply

    i’m glad that you and josh both reviewed the same book…. no offense to josh, as he’s “new(er)” to the reviewing game, but THIS is a “fairer” evaluation of the book than his piece.

  6. June 21, 2008 at 7:46 pm — Reply

    i’m glad that you and josh both reviewed the same book…. no offense to josh, as he’s “new(er)” to the reviewing game, but THIS is a “fairer” evaluation of the book than his piece.

    Much as I appreciate the compliment, I think it’s just as much a difference in perspective as anything. I’m the old dude, after all, I read New Teen Titans off the stands in 84, I read the Baxter series later, through the revamps, through Team Titans, the ‘Titans’ series that Jay Faerber did with Devin Grayson, even the gawdawful version that Dan Jurgens did that tried so hard to be Wolfman/Perez… I’m conditioned to be harder on relaunches, especially Titans relaunches.

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