Kid Flash Fact: Fire’s bad, Red Robin’s good, and Cassie doesn’t want to be called Wonder Girl. Can Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth convince this reader that Tim Drake should have wings? Find out after the jump!

TEEN TITANS #1
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover Artists: Booth, Rapmund and Dalhouse
Assistant Editor: Katie Kubert
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Teen Titans:  Bart Flash was the grandson of Barry Allen from the future, then due to a degenerative time condition he came to the present, became Impulse, created Young Justice with Tim, Cass and Connor, shattered his knee, became Kid Flash, formed the Teen Titans with Tim, Cass and Connor, grew up really quick, became Flash, got killed, came back in the 31st century, came back in time as Kid Flash, rejoined the Teen Titans, then got a really weird Flashpoint title.

Tim Drake proved how great a detective he was by figuring out the identities of Batman and Robin, then (since Dick Grayson was Nightwing and Jason Todd was approximately six feet under) decided to become Bruce Wayne’s new Robin. Eventually Damian Wayne showed up and Tim left to become Red Robin (yumm).

Cassie Sandsmark wore really big glasses and a wig, then decided to ditch that costume for her blond hair and a t-shirt she bought at Baby Gap so she could fight crime as Wonder Girl!

Connor Kent was the clone of Kal-El and Lex Luthor, and had a really goofy costume when he was with Young Justice. Eventually he matured, got killed, came back, and had relationship problems with Cassie.

YOU’LL BELIEVE A BOY CAN HAVE WINGS

The more I read interviews with creators about the direction they were taking this title, the less I expected to actually like the relaunched Teen Titans. I, like many fans, was upset that Tim was no longer getting his own title, especially given how much he has proved himself in the recent Red Robin title. I didn’t like that, in interviews and solicits, they seemed to be portraying Tim as some sort of Oracle-lite, and playing up his computer geek-y side. I didn’t like the idea of Cassie being a wonder-thief of some sort, and I am frankly quite tired of Superboy’s origins being rehashed. (Bart I was mostly apathetic about). I was also upset that Young Justice was being written out of continuity, mostly because it provided such a beautiful way for these characters to grow (and because of Donald Fite and Doiby Dickles, two highly underutilized characters in the DCU).
Now that I have explained why I planned to dislike this issue, I have to explain that I surprisingly DID like it! Scott Lobdell has written three of the relaunch titles so far; Superboy, Red Hood, and Teen Titans. I was skeptical of all three, partially because I had never heard of nor read anything by Lobdell, and partially because of his stated directions to each book. But I respect a writer’s ability to take a direction I wouldn’t and do something good with it, and so far I am cautiously accepting what Lobdell is doing on each book.

For Teen Titans, what really won me over was the portrayal of Tim Drake. The intro sequence with Bart is okay, and I like how it shows real-world ramifications of superhero actions, and the necessity for a hero to really grasp the physics of their own powers (as a physics major, these small details being explicitly discussed can prove fun since I am usually muttering about heroes ignoring them under my breath while I read). But as I stated before that tangent, Tim Freaking Drake is why I liked this book. We get a brief reminder that he did spend some time with Batman in the form of a picture frame of the two together, but the time for reminiscing is over quickly; Tim has been monitoring teen meta-human behavior, and fighting against an evil agency “N.O.W.H.E.R.E.” who has been doing the same. N.O.W.H.E.R.E. has come for Tim, but Tim–showing very similar levels of awesome to his prelaunch portrayal–has been expecting them. He symbolically throws the picture of he and Batman at one agent, then informs them that his penthouse is about to blow up. Tim dodges the explosion himself by jumping off the building and using his wings to glide to safety.

These wings have been one of the top sources of controversy amongst prospective readers for the book. Even the artist, Brett Booth, mentioned in an interview he tried to convince Lobdell not to use them, given how much of a departure they were from classic costumes. But Lobdell reportedly insisted, and in this first issue he has convinced me that it at least wasn’t a BAD idea. Future issues will prove whether or not it’s a good idea, but I can tentatively accept them; he uses them in several situations to good effect, and they essentially are an enhanced cape with some notable advantages, even if the wings do look a little bit goofy (through no fault of Brett’s, as he makes all the art look great).

Speaking of the art, it is gorgeous. Brett Booth has mentioned how excited he was to draw these characters, and while some of the redesigns I am still questioning the necessity of, Booth’s passion is evident in the art. Everything pops off the page, and he does a good job of capturing Tim in particular. In the Batman ongoing I was skeptical of Greg Capullo’s portrayal of Tim, age-wise, but Booth makes him look both reasonably young but with the bearing of a boy used to responsibility and ready to take on the world. I don’t really care for how Cassie has been designed with the hood (ironically, she has both a red hood AND is apparently an outlaw), though I do really like the way they incorporated the Donna Troy-style starry sky look into her costume.

The issue ends with a connection to the Superboy ongoing, and it would appear these two titles are going to tie together at least for a bit. I would expect you could read them and enjoy them independently, but you may get more out of reading them both.

BOTTOM LINE: READ IT WITH AN OPEN MIND

This book changes a lot. Kid Flash is no longer associated with Flash (at least not yet), Tim Drake has wings, and Cassie Sandsmark stole a shiny red convertible, lies a lot and doesn’t want to be called Wondergirl. But the writing is snappy, the art is great, and if you are coming on as a new reader I think you will really enjoy this. Lobdell has impressed me so far, and I am interested to see where he goes with his titles. 3.5 out of five stars.

Rating: ★★★½☆

The Author

Jimmy

Jimmy

Once upon a time, there was a boy. This boy grew up reading classic literature--Moby Dick, The Time Machine, Robinson Crusoe. At age six, his favorite novel was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He devoted his time and efforts into being an incredible nerd, mastering classical literature and scientific history for his school's trivia team. Then he got to college, and started reading comic books. It's been all downhill from there.
Jimmy's favorite writers include Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, Gail Simone, Grant Morrison, Chuck Dixon, Mark Waid and Bryan Q. Miller. His favorite artists are Kevin Maguire, Amanda Conner and Alex Ross, and his least favorite grammatical convention is the Oxford Comma. His most frequent typographical gaffe is Randomly Capitalizing Words.

You can follow his lunacy on Twitter at @JimmyTheDunn

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13 Comments

  1. ElusiveJoe
    October 1, 2011 at 2:39 pm — Reply

    I have mixed feeling about this book. The writing is solid, the pencils are decent, and the colours in particular are great. But the art has a very 90’s feel to it that really turns me off, and the character designs are heeeedious.

    Oh, and the bit at the beggining with the burning Westchester mansion. Is that a poke at the X-men? or is Westchester just where New York keeps its mansions?

    • Damascus
      October 19, 2011 at 3:01 am — Reply

      I agree about the art, not that I dislike it persay, I just got this weird “Savage Dragon” vibe from the whole thing. Again, nothing negative being said about Savage Dragon either, just that I get this vibe from the art, something reminiscent of the time period and art style of the 90s.

      I’m a little “meh” on the costume designs, but not in a hating kind of way, more of a “don’t love ’em, don’t hate ’em” kind of way. I do quite like Wonder Girl’s costume though, but I kinda like the star field thing too.

  2. Andrew
    October 1, 2011 at 3:56 pm — Reply

    Im looking forward to robins skull being telepathically removed from his brain, or maybe I’ve been reading too much Irredeemable.

  3. October 1, 2011 at 6:31 pm — Reply

    Who are the other two on the cover of the book? The dark, shadowy flying person and the insectoid woman on the ground?

    They talk about them at all?

    • October 3, 2011 at 3:51 pm — Reply

      They don’t appear in this issue. I seem to recall Booth or Lobdell mentioning when they’d appear in an interview, but I don’t remember offhand when that would be. Expect them within a few issues though!

      • Kevin
        October 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm — Reply

        Hoping the dark shadowy flying person is not some weird new take on Raven.

    • Damascus
      October 19, 2011 at 3:08 am — Reply

      Who’s the guy in the two-tone purple costume with the dumb mask? It looks reminiscent of the old Elastic Man costume.

      • October 19, 2011 at 7:06 am — Reply

        It looks reminiscent of the old Elastic Man costume.

        Who’s Elastic Man?

        • Damascus
          October 19, 2011 at 9:46 am — Reply

          Alright now, you know I meant Elongated Man! Lol. Although Elastic Man was Eel O’brien’s first choice in code names but a reporter misheard him and called him Plastic Man.

          • October 19, 2011 at 10:34 am — Reply

            Of course you could have meant Ping the Elastic Man, who may have served as an inspiration for Plastic Man…

  4. October 1, 2011 at 11:05 pm — Reply

    I started reading this book only knowing one thing, that the art was amazing! And to make it even better I thought the story worked really well. I’ll be picking this book up for a couple months without a second thought.

  5. Kevin
    October 3, 2011 at 6:08 am — Reply

    I liked it, but it’s another example of a team book that doesn’t even introduce all its members in the first issue (like JLA). And I’m confused. This book is present day, with the Teen Titans are just forming. Yet Bette in BATWOMAN used to be a Teen Titan? And I haven’t read RED HOOD but I understand there are references to the TT’s past there too. I almost suspect BATWOMAN was written before the relaunch and they forgot to remove the references. I don’t really care, but for new readers’ sakes I would prefer this be a clean reboot, not the umpteenth group calling itself TTs.

    So far I like TEEN TITANS, DEMON KNIGHTS, GREEN ARROW and two I expected to hate, JL DARK and SUICIDE SQUAD. But I don’t know if I’ll stick with any of them. Judging by history with DC they will only last until the inevitable change of writers, Big Event or the next reboot, so why bother? It’s like watching a scifi series on Fox.

    • Damascus
      October 19, 2011 at 3:03 am — Reply

      Not that they helped us out with this, but my guess is that at some point in the past, Dick Greyson and Starfire and some others had been in one iteration of the Teen Titans and now Tim is putting together his own version. It’s obviously not explicitly said yet, but that’s how it feels with the little bits we’ve been given in Batwoman and Red Hood and the Outlaws.

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