There have been a lot of different incarnations of the Titans in the DC Universe, from sidekick to New Teen to ‘No Longer In Existence.’  With the Titans’ back story returning to continuity, I was reminded of the last time that the adolescent heroes reformed, pre-Flashpoint.  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review of Teen Titans #1 awaits!

TeenTitans1CoverTEEN TITANS #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Mike McKone
Inker: Mario Alquiza
Colorist: Jeromy Cox
Letterer: Comicraft
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.50
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $14.00

Previously in Teen Titans: Originally formed of the sidekicks of the Justice League Of America (Robin, Aqualad, Kid Flash, and/or Wonder Girl and Speedy, depending on the origin you’re referring to), the Teen Titans have a long history, a massive roster and an unusually high number of casualties compared to any team not named ‘Legion.’  At the dawn of the new century, the original Titans had grown into adults, with families, careers and a few full-time hero careers still in the mix, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t still a need for a teen team.  Fade in: Smallville, Kansas…


Having given up his jet-setter life in Hawaii, Kon-El has taken residence at the Kent farm in Smallville, establishing his own secret identity as Connor Kent.  Unfortunately for the Teen Of Steel, high school in Kansas is an entirely boring and soul-crushing affair (not that I have opinions or memories of it or anything), leading him to skip out and go for a flight.   Sadly for Kon, he’s not the only farmboy who can do Mach-3 in the air…


Superman cautions his young counterpart on the dangers of ego, and reminds him that, clone of the world’s greatest hero or no, genetics don’t make him a superhero.  His actions do, and his actions have been…

…adolescent.  But the Man Of Steel has a solution for Superboy…


Kon isn’t sure about the idea of the Titans, as his own teen team (Young Justice, for those keeping score) broke up after a disastrous team-up with those selfsame Titans, which left original Titan Donna “Wonder Girl” Troy dead and his peer group in disarray, including his sorta-crush Wonder Girl.  Superboy agrees to think about it, and Superman advises him to think about it during class, sending him back to school.  Meanwhile, in Gotham City, Batman carries a similar missive to his young ward, Robin.  (This is the Tim Drake version, for those with the Robin scorecard.)


In Keystone City, a similar offer is carried by Flash Wally West to his teen counterpart, Impulse.  Unlike the big brother relationship of Clark and Kon and the adoptive father role that Batman takes to his Robin, Flash and Impulse aren’t particularly close at all.  Indeed, Impulse has been taken in by Max Mercury, the zen master of speed, and is being raised in small town America, while the Flash is almost entirely absent from his life.

Of course, there’s a reason for that…


Most tragically, Impulse overhears his mentor and his role-model discussing his flaws, sitting silently at the top of the stairs, making my heart break for Impulse.  Of course, if Impulse’s relationship to his mentor is rocky, it’s nothing compared to the openly antagonistic relationship between Wonder Woman and Cassandra Sandsmark, Wonder Girl…


At this point in her history, Cassie has been experiencing bouts of rage/warrior madness, moments that seem like standard teenage angst, but end with super-strength destroying everything in sight.  Unlike Superboy, Wonder Girl is eager to join in the Titans madness, wanting some outlet for her aggression and some sort of peer group, since her schoolmates see her as some sort of pagan freak.  Starfire takes her to the new headquarters of the Titans, standing in the shadow of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge…


Though I’m very much in accord with most of what penciller Mike McKone does with the Teen Titans in this issue, there’s something about his Starfire that is just unnerving.  Maybe it’s the lack of pupils in a face that feels a bit more photo-realistic than other pencillers, or maybe we’re just deep in the uncanny valley, but… BRRR.  Arriving at the Tower, Wonder Girl meets Beast Boy, who is still a brash, flirty goon, and encounters her old friends from Young Justice…


It doesn’t go well.  Each of the young heroes has to deal with the shadow of another hero, whether they be the greatest heroes of all, a fallen progenitor, a fallen grampa (or, in the case of Bart Allen, all of the above), and the tension is palpable.  Late that night, Superboy finds himself unable to sleep, and discovers that Robin is wide awake.  Though their friendship has been strained, Tim and Connor have a moment of clarity together…


Superboy reminds him that they are friends, and that only reason to have shown up at the Tower was to hang out together, to which Robin callously responds, “You’re smarter than you look.”  Harsh, Drake…  Harsh.  Robin’s computer suddenly pings of an incoming email, from an unknown user named ‘Snapdragon,’ with some shocking news about Superboy’s genetic matrix…


He’s not just a clone of Superman.  He’s a clone of Superman’s greatest enemy.  So, that’s weird.

This is, honestly, a dark and unpleasant start for the new team of Titans, indeed the start of an arc full of weird and dark moments, but this issue introduces a number of important bits: Impulse’s eidetic memory, Cassie’s rage that eventually reveals that her father is Ares, Superboy’s slow maturity into a more Superman-like character.  But most of what it gives us is a whole new culture for the Teen Titans, one that is still in evidence in today’s Titans tales, nearly fifteen years down the line.  Teen Titans #1 is, in a way, a harbinger of the New 52 to come, taking existing characters and making changes both subtle and not-so-much, but eventually coalescing into a strong book that later flies entirely off the rails, earning a solid 3 out of 5 stars overall.  It’s not the best relaunch of any version of the Titans, but it’s a solid issue with some nice character moments in it…



A solid issue with the beginnings of really sweeping changes for the kids of Young Justice, with nice art by McKone...

User Rating: 3.7 ( 1 votes)

About Author

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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