This TPB collects the first 7 issues of the New 52 series Teen Titans by Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth, and Norm Rapmund. I read the first five or six issues when they came out in monthly floppies but gave up on the series after that. Before I even opened this TPB, I thought back on what I remembered from my previous experience with the series and nothing came to mind. That’s not a good sign. I couldn’t remember the names of the new characters like the spider girl and the black smoke girl or even the somewhat offensive gay/Mexican stereotype character. I had read 5/7 of this TPB about 6 months ago and all I could remember was that the team fought Superboy at some point and there was a lab with some kind of evil organization that they had to stop. That’s it. Well, I read through those issues again and finished all 7 chapters this time in the new TPB Teen Titans, Vol.1: It’s Our Right to Fight (lame title) and here’s what I thought…
This is bad.
There’s a reason I struck this book from memory. Although it looks great and has a fantastic energy, the story is nonsense and the characters are kind of annoying. Brett Booth drew one heck of a book. It looks awesome and the colors by Andrew Dalhouse really pop. Flipping through it and only looking at the images would have you thinking that this was the most wildly exciting book ever written, but it’s not. And the worst part is, you have to read Scott Lobdell’s other series Superboy to get the full story. Now, it’s entirely possible that if I read Superboy that the story here would be much richer…but I’m not going to do that. First of all, I’m not the least bit interested in Superboy and second of all, I need to grade this book on its own merits. It’s an attractive book and a fast-paced read, but the team just doesn’t work.
The way they come together just doesn’t add up. It’s like anytime two people share a single conversation they become friends for life. Wonder Girl doesn’t want to be called Wonder Girl, Bunker is there to play the role of the token gay character, the spider girl has a terribly ugly design, Kid Flash is annoying, the smoke girl is…a smoke girl, and Super Boy’s change of heart comes way too easily. The book moves at such a hurried pace that the assembly of the team feels artificial and any threat they face is too easily disposed of. There’s no excuse for that when you compare Teen Titans to the very similar concept, the animated series Young Justice. That series showed more character development, had better dialogue, and a better plot in 22 minutes than this series accomplished in 7 issues.
Seriously, if you’re not watching Young Justice, you should. It seems like it’s just going to be “okay” for the first handful of episodes but there are some really shocking twists in the second half of the first season that will definitely grab your attention. I never gave the show a chance until the readers here at Batman-News recommended it to me in the comments section and on my Twitter. THAT show is how a Teen Titans book should feel. This was a mess and judging by how I had read the bulk of this like 6 months ago and had to re-read it again before the review–it’s totally forgettable.
The only reason I could see any of the regular Bat-fans picking up this trade is to see what exactly Tim Drake has been up to. The character has been woefully missing from almost every bat-title, only showing up in a brief cameo in the first issue of Batman and then a few panels during the Night of the Owls crossover. Here in Teen Titans, Tim is the team leader, he’s smart, he’s doing plenty of detective work of his own, he’s younger than he was pre-New52, he has a new costume with a feather-like cape, and he’s still sticking with the name Red Robin. Tim is a potentially great character trapped in a really bad book. He doesn’t do anything that memorable here and he feels kind of out of place, honestly. DC should cut out one of the Batman books and give Tim his own series. Just look at that cool moment in Tynion’s Batman #0 backup where Tim brings down a corrupt school master, nothing close to that entertaining happens in this TPB.
I say skip it and watch Young Justice instead.
The final few pages are made up of character sketches by Brett Booth and a few original page layouts and cover sketches. These are all pretty detailed and show you what some of the characters could have looked like. Again, there isn’t any commentary as to how or why some things were changed by the artist and that’s disappointing but this TPB does offer more bonus content than say the Birds of Prey TPB I reviewed yesterday.
The $14.99 cover price is good when you consider that the monthly issues would’ve set you back over twenty dollars and you can buy it for $10.19 at Amazon which would be a fine price as well…if the comics were enjoyable to read. I can’t give it my recommendation. I don’t think these seven issues are even worth taking a chance on at $10.19 and it’s crazy to me that it’s $2 bucks higher at Amazon than the Birds of Prey TPB that just came out and features just as many issues.
The first chapter or two seems fun enough and the art is great and full of energy, but it turns into a bigger and more annoying mess as the book goes on and you need to read the Superboy series as well to get the full story. Lobdell’s Red Hood & the Outlaws series is pretty entertaining so I don’t know how he missed the mark so bad with Teen Titans but nevertheless I didn’t really enjoy this at all. If you want to see what Tim Drake’s been up to for the past year then fine, flip through it and admire the pretty pictures along the way. I found it a chore to read the entire book and in the end I was extra annoyed at how the complete lack of a satisfying conclusion. It instead sets up “The Culling”, a crossover event with Superboy.