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.