Well… it’s here.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter or Tumblr knows that I have had massive disdain for nearly the entire “Young Justice” line, in particular its tentpole book, Teen Titans. It was a miserable experience, of which there were many factors ranging from still not knowing what was canon and what wasn’t after Flashpoint hit to really really creepy implications during the Trigon rehash to a writer who, in my frank opinion, did not get the characters he was writing or simply didn’t care.
But that’s neither here nor there, right? We have a brand new number one issue with a new writer and a sorta-kinda new artist. So, what was the result?
In short: ….It’s okay?
Alright, I’ll get the good things out of the way. I do appreciate that new writer, Will Pfeifer, decided to go with the done-in-one approach to give us a basic introduction to these characters. Very simple plot: terrorists hijack a bus in order to crash it into S.T.A.R. Labs, one of the super-science organizations of the DC Universe. Titans get together to stop them, but we leave just enough crumbs (such as the leader of these terrorists getting away as well as the introduction of two characters that old fans may recognize) to continue the plot.
On the art side, well we know of the controversy surrounding the art choices for this book, in particular the cover (unless you’re like me and got the sweet Joe Quinones variant), but I will say this: Kenneth Rocafort and colorist Dan Brown create amazing animals for Beast Boy to transform into. Seriously, you have to see them. They’re beautiful!
Now let’s get to the not-so-good. First and foremost: This issue just feels very stiff, character/plot-wise and artistically. Yes we do get basic (more like ‘bare minimum’) looks into the characters of these Titans: Tim/Red Robin is the leader, Cassie/Wonder Girl is the brawler, e.t.c. But again, there is still very little beyond that. Also, these kids seem really indifferent to the fact Cassie may have killed someone. Yeah… that’s not exactly good.
On other character fronts, the two characters I probably enjoyed the most are Beast Boy and Bunker. I really do dig their dynamic. However, in regards to Bunker. I see the potential in the character, and trust me; he was a breath of optimistic fresh air in the previous volume. But I would like to see other storylines involving him that don’t revolve around him being gay. I get where the scene involving him near the end of this issue comes from and it is an important discussion, but it is also one that has been done over and over and over again. Make the character more than that, please.
Now, you know how I said Rocafort/Brown’s animals were kind of kickass? That is true (and of the costume designs, Beast Boy is probably my favorite). Well, that’s really the focus of my praise. Rocafort static scenes in this are fine, but the action scenes don’t feel like there is true motion in them. Contrast this with the work of Jorge Jiminez with colorists Tanya and Richard Horie in the recent issues of Superboy. Yeah, they’re comic panels, but there is a fluidity to the panels that make the fight feel like a fight (P.S. How dare Superboy suddenly get good when it’s about to be cancelled?).
Now we get to my biggest irk: the character designs. I really wished this new volume would have created new designs for the returning characters to create a clear break from the previous New 52 stories. While I have warmed up to Red Robin’s costume (seeing people like Greg Capullo and Dustin Nguyen draw it helps), Wonder Girl’s costume, apart from the controversy that it brought, is still just very blah. Although we can be grateful that the armor doesn’t go into some of the insanity that it does from the previous volume.
But the worst, the absolute worst costume design in this goes to Raven. Yeah, I understand that Rocafort himself designed it, but it’s just not a good design. It’s on the nose with its whole ‘bird motiff’, the headpiece is just ugly, and the whole impractical skimpiness of the costume of, who I assume is, an underage girl… yeah, I’m sorry. In the days of practical but also fun costume designs like Ms. Marvel, you’ve got to do better.
“You’ve got to do better” may actually be the core theme of my thoughts of this issue. In a comic world that has just had the recent and fantastic Young Avengers along with books like Ms. Marvel, Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man, Nova and the upcoming and fabulous looking Gotham Academy, you got to do better. What could have been a bold new start turned into just okay. I’m going to stick with it because I love these characters and, unlike Deathstroke, they deserve a second chance. Plus: I will take “just okay” over the “insult my intelligence” of the previous volume any day of the week.