Teen Titans #13 got lost in the shuffle a few months ago. I’ll be taking over reviews for the title starting with February’s issue, so I’m covering this one in the meantime.
How do you review a book that everyone says is bad? As the newest member of the comics review team here at Batman News, I have the (perhaps) unenviable task of taking over a title that–with a few exceptions–has not been at the top of the heap for my teammates. Our review scores for the two issues that follow this one are a 3.0 and a 4.0. And so I asked myself: could Teen Titans #13 be the top of the mountain–a high point before things got so bad that our own Joshua McDonald was driven to yell “SHAME!”?
I confess that I come into this book with little prior experience. I’ve read the first volume or two of Lobdell’s original New 52 run, so I’m familiar with most of the team, but whether or not there’s any consistency with prior or future issues, I won’t be able to say. That’s ok, though, because there’s plenty to discuss regardless.
It’s time to try something new
Part V of Rogue Targets opens with the team divided. Bunker and Beast Boy square off with Dr. Psycho at the M.A.W., while Raven lies unconscious nearby. On the prison’s security level, Manchester Black attempts to take charge of things, but Power Girl begins to buckle under his leadership. After a brief pity party (and empowering speech) at the Chamber of Harvest, Tim, Cassie, and Bart find their way back to the M.A.W. and infiltrate the prison to help out the rest of the team. Along the way, Raven crosses a line, Power Girl gets nasty, and a new player arrives on the scene to put a beatdown on the Titans.
Power Girl Unleashed!
With apologies to anyone who may disagree, I’ve got to say this: that is one FUNKY cover. A great cover doesn’t automatically mean a great issue, but when you’re starting out with something like this, it’s hard to be optimistic. Power Girl’s anatomy just looks really bizarre, both proportionally and directionally. Manchester’s man-chest is also sporting a different design than it does within the actual pages of the comic, as well.
Van Sciver is not the only one to blame, though. About a third of the way through we have this beauty:
Tanya’s right arm begins the page as an extension of her shoulder blade. When she punches Manchester, it seems to have slid back to its normal socket, but now it can bend backwards at the elbow, kind of like a cow knee. Manchester also possesses the squiggly arm, THWAK’ing Chimera in the face with a blow that originated somewhere in his upper back. Something is indeed being unleashed, and Power Girl is indeed involved, but I’m not sure what that something is, and whether or not it is ultimately good for Tanya (or anyone reading this book).
The art is not much better in the rest of the book. The first thirteen or so pages are by Ricken (I’m assuming this based on the order of credit on the title page), and his style, while not terrible, has a scratchy, sketchy quality to it that I find distracting. And once Pantalena and/or Rodriguez take over, it’s just a whole lot more “unleashing”, like we see above. The best shot in the whole thing is a full-page spread of Dr. Psycho at the very beginning, which is as good a transition as any to get to the script.
You’re going to have to get creative
Bunker is using his “Psionic Construct Power” (let’s get real for a minute–Miguel’s basically a Star Sapphire with no ring and a Daredevil Year One mask) to make bricks, and so Dr. Pyscho says “what the heck, I’ll go with a Three Little Pigs analogy”. Dr. Psycho may be speaking the line in the comic, but this reads like Pfiefer thought that he himself was being clever, and it’s just not all that clever. First impressions matter, and between that cover and this opening salvo…
The rest of the battle with Psycho is boring (at best). Beast Boy turns into a rhino, Psycho turns Beast Boy into a hummingbird, and the unconscious Raven kills Dr. Psycho on her daddy’s protruding rib cage. Ok, the impaled-on-Trigon’s rib cage thing wasn’t boring, but the whole sequence was so rushed that there’s little room to enjoy it. We go from Psycho approaching Raven to Raven gloating over Psycho’s corpse all in the space of a two-page spread. The tension of him entering her mind never has time to build, and so the cool visual is wasted on a resolution that doesn’t seem to matter all that much.
We’re too young to believe in defeat
Back in the Chamber of Harvest, Bart gives us an exposition dump. I appreciate being caught up, but why not one of those little prologue-blurbs that they put in all of the Marvel books lately? Meanwhile, Tim stands off to the side, Cassie attempting to comfort him. We’re meant to think that he’s down, but he’s really thinking.
All joking and Bart-dumping aside, this is probably the strongest bit of dialogue in the book. Cassie and Bart’s back-and-forth is convincing, and just the little bit I know about the two of them from reading Lobdell’s first volume is enough to make me feel like this fits the characters really well. Unfortunately, Tim brings the dialogue down–ironically, just as their situation starts to look up:
It’s meant to be a great speech: the Titans’ youth is an advantage, because they don’t know when they’re beat. But it’s just not true! Is Batman known for giving up? When has Wonder Woman believed in defeat? Does Superman ever stop trying to save the day? So far, it seems like what sets the Titans apart isn’t persistence in doing the right thing, but persistence in messing things up in ways the Justice League never would. That Tim of all people would make such an ignorant statement is ridiculous. I might have believed it coming from Bart, but not Tim.
Have you heard enough?
I don’t want to belabor the point. Suffice it to say that Tim, Cassie, and Bart make it back to the prison, and after watching Tanya hand Manchester his butt (with a hand connected to an arm connected to her right shoulder blade), the Titans get their butts handed to them by the Alpha Centaurian (even those Titans with “magicks to protect [themeslves]”). I’m guessing (hoping?) he’s supposed to come off as ridiculous, but honestly, I just don’t know. Pfeifer never makes it clear whether or not his tongue is in his cheek, and so my strongest impression is that this is just another poorly-drawn, poorly-written character in a long line of the same.
- You’re reading Teen Titans and you want to know what’s happening.
- You consider the visual component of a comic book to be a necessary evil.
- You’re reading Teen Titans and you want to know what’s happening.
- You like big purple brick men with big butts (and odd pectorals):
I can’t say for certain that my expectations for this book had no impact on my (potential) enjoyment of it. What I can say for certain is that it just didn’t do anything for me. Not all of the art was terrible, but none of it was remarkable, and some of it was just plain ugly. Pfeifer had some bright spots in the Chamber of Harvest, but a nonsensical pep talk from Tim makes it hard for those bright spots to really shine. At the end of the day, I didn’t greatly enjoy it while reading it, and I can’t see myself (willingly) reading it again.