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Tony Bedard has done what no previous writer in the New 52 has been able to do—he’s written a fun Teen Titans book. No more trying to be cool, no more placing characters we don’t care about in dire situations that aren’t actually dire—just a funny, happy romp that made me smile the whole time.

An end in sight is a good thing.

Picking up from where last issue left off, the Titans continue their confrontation with the Brain, Monsieur Mallah, and a growing army of Brain-controlled people (and animals!). This all ends, predictably, with a victory for the team; but this is the sort of story that’s all about the journey, and the outcome isn’t nearly as relevant as the good time we get to have along the way.

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I’m not so naïve as to miss Bedard’s considerable advantage: this book is a lame duck. Since Rebirth isn’t a reboot, he is quite limited in what he can do, and so doing anything of consequence is most likely off the table. Limitations are often our friends, however, and Bedard works beautifully within his.

In case you forgot, this book has a machine gun-toting, rational gorilla, capable of speech in two languages.

Monsieur Mallah and the Brain are some of the most ridiculous villains I’ve ever encountered. How are we expected to take a talking gorilla and a robot-voiced, phallic brain-podium seriously? The answer, of course, is that we’re not, and that’s precisely why Bedard chooses them.

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Instead of reading the angsty Tim Titans whine about their problems and how the world just doesn’t get how they’re so great, we have the pleasure of seeing the team recede into more of a supporting role—the necessary opposite force to give these outrageous villains something to bounce into. The result is that we get a lot of the things that have actually been good about Teen Titans—huge Power Girl being on of my personal favorites—without the dramatic baggage that often made the book a chore in the last six months.

It actually looks good!

I tend to be more accommodating with artwork when a book doesn’t take itself so seriously, but even without the handicap, this looks better than Teen Titans has in a long time. Miguel Mendonca returns to the series for this issue, and his work is a cut above what we’ve been getting recently. He’s consistent, and he manages to keep from making any of the Titans look screwy—more often than not, they actually look pretty good! Perhaps most importantly, he brings the humor in Bedard’s script to life in the most delightful ways.

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There has to be a downside.

My only real beef comes at the very end. I won’t completely spoil it for you, but suffice it to say that we’re promised another prison incursion in next month’s installment. Bedard is writing all of the remaining issues before Ben Percy takes over with September’s Teen Titans: Rebirth #1, so I’m holding out hope things will be in the same vein as #20 and #21, but the last time the Titans broke into a prison it was pretty terrible.

Recommended if…

  • You want to have a good time.
  • You like monkeys with guns and suggestive tower-brains.
  • You, like me, think this is AWESOME: image

Overall

Tony Bedard and Miguel Mendonca knock it out of the park. There’s nothing deep or enduring here, so I can only score it so high, but this was a welcome treat after watching this title languish for so long. Delightfully goofy villains, huge action, and the absence of angst make Teen Titans #21 the single best issue I’ve read in the New 52 incarnations of the series. Enjoy the awesome Rebirth titles released this week, but when you’re done, make time to have a good time with the Titans.

SCORE: 7/10