After the briefest of hiatus, the DCU’s resident team of legacy character returns with more of an annoyingly angsty shout than anything else in a disappointing first issue.
AN EXERCISE IN BLAND CHARACTERIZATIONS
I love the Teen Titans. I have loved the Teen Titans since my parents pulled back issues of the original series out of quarter bins as bribery for good behaviour and have always had strong opinions regarding every incarnation of the team. Like many readers I have my gripes about the New 52 incarnation of the team, but with all that in mind I was looking forward to this new creative team and their new run.
The hope was all for not.
Teen Titans #1 opens with a reminder that Cassie still has a lame costume and only serves to take on one of the token roles of “girl”. From her first appearance to the issues final panel the most Cassie does is throw men into walls and assure her teammates that we hair and costume did not get mussed up in the meantime. Tim Drakes leads the team in Teen Titans #1 under the mantle of Red Robin and in this issue is characterized much more like Ben Whishaw’s Q in 2013’s Skyfall than the most adept student to have fallen into Batman’s tutelage. Save on flight on Red Robin’s New 52 wings Tim spends less time leading his team than moving them across the chessboard of midtown Manhattan.
With such weak characterization of Cassie and Tim – the team’s leaders by any estimation – Will Pfeifer gives almost no distinct personalities to Beast Boy, Bunker (who I am, admittedly, the least familiar with), and the aged-down Raven. Teen Titans #1, under Pfeifer’s characterizations, reads as if he was given composite personalities for each character and those are what ultimately make it to the page. Granted, Miguel gets a moment of adolescent outrage-cum-angst in the final panels when a man the Titans have rescued makes a homophobic remark, but it is so shoehorned into the last moments of the issue that it reads more as pandering to an oft-neglected section of DC readers than a genuine character moment.
The plot of Teen Titans #1 is similarly weak – the team has to save a busload of school children that has been hijacked by a group of terrorist enraged with S.T.A.R. labs. Pfeifer’s new series was supposed to revitalize this title, yet event in the narrative it falls back on the type of superheroics readers have seen since the 1950s.
Certainly there are moments of intrigue smattered throughout Teen Titans #1, but for me, with the lackluster characters that made it to the page, the mystery falls by the wayside. There is a chance that Pfeifer could coax and interesting run from this poor first issue, but if that is the case he ought to have started earlier.
Kenneth Rocafort is something of a divisive artist amongst comic readers and I really do like his work throughout Teen Titans #1. At points it is difficult to separate not liking Rocafort’s art from not liking any of the given characters’ updated uniforms, but the way Beast Boy’s pointed ears betray what he is feeling or how Raven’s smirk belie a darker power well within clue the reader in to more about this superhero team than writer Pfeifer’s choices in action and dialogue – but, perhaps that’s my nostalgic fangirl way of thinking.
Teen Titans #1 is predictably over-coloured by Dan Brown, though for a comic book surrounding juvenile heroes it feels more appropriate than when it crops up in Action Comics. In fact, the best thing about Wonder Girl’s uniform update (as griped about above), is the way it catches every beam of light the pierces the Manhattan skyline, as tactically questionable as that would actually be.
The art is the best part of Teen Titans #1, although it might not be strong enough to recommend the issue.
FOR THE DIEHARD TEEN TITANS FANS
Teen Titans #1 should be read by those of us who are going to pick it up with hope in our heart. It doesn’t offer much to unfamiliar readers or newcomers to DC’s New 52 cast. There is not a lot of promise based on Will Pfeifer’s narrative thus far, but at least the pages are pretty and colourful. Teen Titans #1 can probably be left on the rack.