Or – “Trying To Recapture Wolfman/Perez Again?”

The sad truth about the Teen Titans is that, out of eight different versions of the team, only one has really ever been overtly successful.  (That’s eight DISTINCT versions, not counting revamps within an existing run or team lineup changes within various teams.)  This version harkens back to the far-flung past year of 2003, but the team’s newest member promises to bring things into the 21st century…

TEEN TITANS #3
Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciler: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Colorist: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Editor: Bobbie Chase
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Teen Titans:  Within the confines of the hidden headquarters of Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E., sinister doings are afoot, especially for anyone who has super-powers and acne.  Red Robin has been tracking their activities as they gather metahuman teenagers, but was unsuccessful in keeping Kid Flash out of their tracks.  Wonder Girl has no use for Red Robin, for superheroics, or, indeed, for being called Wonder Girl, while Superboy is seeking his own freedom by bringing her in.  Skitter (the bug girl from the cover of #1) has been hiding in the sewers, while Solstice (the one who used to look like Mary Kate Olsen) is in custody of N.O.W.H.E.R.E.  Meanwhile, another hero waits in the wings…

AN ART STYLE THAT I STRONGLY DISLIKE…

The issue opens with two revelations for me:  First, Kid Flash states his identity as Bart Allen, and then we get wide-screen depiction of super-speed antics the likes of which I haven’t seen since Carmine Infantino was in his prime.  Brett Booth’s art style bothers me (large heads combined with willowy features makes everyone look like an alien grey or a Slender Man) but this two-page spread is quite impressive, working almost like a super-speed version of the late Bil Keane’s Sunday strips where we follow Billy throughout the neighborhood.  He manages to escape N.O.W.H.E.R.E. with Solstice (I don’t know why I hate that name, although part of me thinks that it’s a random name ala Vogue of Youngblood) just in time to race off a cliff.  Heh.    Bart, at least, is still impulsive and short-sighted.  Elsewhere, we meet Bunker, the new Teen Titan that has been getting a bit of press as he is an openly gay superhero.  He’s also of Mexican origins, and has a tendency to spout random Spanish (“Madre de dios!”) to prove it, and has discovered a giant freakish cocoon in his travels through the amazing world that is America.  The exposition comes fast and heavy, as all our kids go through a neck-breaking series of wild stuff in their inexorable march towards team-dom.

…COMBINED WITH MID-90’S X-MEN WRITING.

I briefly read Marvel’s Generation X comic back in 1996, and what I recall of it was quite similar to this book:  A conscious attempt to make sure that the cast is as multi-cultural & diverse as possible, a lot of exposition, and kids making sweeping declarations about the world as they understand it.  Now, to be fair, that also describes New Warriors volume one, which I loved and continue to love, but here it’s a little bit mystifying.  I’ve been of the opinion that DC is trying to target multiple demographic groups with the New 52, and that some titles are aimed at younger reading groups, while this book feels aimed at the adolescent audience.  Kid Flash is fun, sort of, while Red Robin does his own version of post-Infinite Crisis Batman throughout the issue.  There’s some weird stuff going on with the cocoon (which I’m sure no one is surprised to find out contains Skitter) and I am pleased, in a way, to see that Solstice didn’t just evaporate when the last volume of Teen Titans ended.  I always hate when a new character joins a team then disappears for eternity, never to be mentioned again.  (See: Agent Liberty in the Justice League, the entire Jurgens run of Teen Titans, Celeste McCauley, pretty much everybody during James Robinson’s JLA run, and that weird Mafia guy who was an X-Man for forty-five minutes.)  The next issue box promises the assembly of our Teen Titans team for the first time, and I’m kind of looking forward to how it all boils down, though there are some storytelling issues with the art that keep me from fully engaging with the issue.

THE VERDICT:  FRAMMALAMMADINGDONG

The art on this book does nothing for me, as all the characters costumes are rumply fabrics that couldn’t actually work the way they do, everyone is disturbingly thin, and facial expressions tend to be overemphatic and stagy.  The story isn’t a bad one, but it is chapter three of an ongoing story, and we’re already somewhat adrift in teenage superpowered angstland, and Bunker doesn’t get much to do in his big debut issue.  I’m hoping that he proves to be as integral to this Titans as a Cyborg or Starfire were to the 80’s version, but I’m uncertain that this approach is going to hit the kind of heights that New Teen Titans achieved back in ’82.  Scott Lobdell’s dialogue has a nice pacing to it, but this issue spins it’s wheels, taking place over the space of just a few minutes for Kid Flash, while Red Robin (YUMMM!) encounters a villain for about a page-and-a-half.  That whole sequence, and the bad guy, could have used a little more room to breathe.  Teen Titans #3 is a mixed bag issue, combining a run-of-the-mill story with better-than-average dialogue and 1993 throwback art, earning a muddled 2 out of 5 stars overall.  I’ve committed to give this book six issues to grab me, and it hasn’t become a disappointment, but I’m still missing the “Hell, YEAH!” moment that would make this Titans team a fave-rave…

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Is anyone else worried how they’re going to handle Bunker’s sexual orientation?  It’s great to see LGBT characters represented, but given how unsubtly the character’s ethnicity is being handled, this could go very badly…

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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7 Comments

  1. darklighter1
    November 24, 2011 at 11:48 pm — Reply

    Skitter and Bunker? Well it’s official every possible good superhero name is taken.

  2. Jimmy
    November 25, 2011 at 6:59 am — Reply

    Bunker making a comment about his “very cute butt” to a hobo on a train struck me as ridiculously odd and has officially raised my concern for how Lobdell is going to handle the LGBT aspect of the book.

    • websnap
      November 25, 2011 at 9:39 am — Reply

      I think that’s kind of grasping. I have a lot of flamboyant friends and many time they say ridiculous stuff just to say it, regardless of who’s around. I feel (at least to me) that this was a case of Bunker talking about himself and the hobo was around rather than actually discussing his butt with a hobo. But hey, that’s just my interpretation.

  3. ed
    November 25, 2011 at 9:53 am — Reply

    no mention of danny the street???? loved the last page!

  4. Ken from Chicago
    November 26, 2011 at 3:30 am — Reply

    Oh yeah, I remember Scott Lobdell’s run on one of Marvel’s two-hundred and thirty five X-books back in the late 80s / early 90s. Lobdell was worse than awful, he was INCONSISTENTLY bad. He reminded me of the show SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE in the 21st century, so awful most of the time, but just as you’re getting ready to quit, he would submit an issue so good it pulled you back in.

  5. Kevin
    November 26, 2011 at 2:51 pm — Reply

    Have they explained yet why with the team just forming, there are Teen Titans references in BATWOMAN and RED HOOD?

    • Monte
      November 29, 2011 at 10:58 am — Reply

      In BATWOMAN #1 and #3, Phlebe (Firebird) was mentioned to be a veteran of the Teen Titans. I think in this universe, the Teen Titans have had quite a few incarnations. Hence Red Robin’s comment: “This will be the shortest run of the Teen Titans ever.”

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