Damian Wayne has the ingredients for a truly super super-team, but he started himself at a disadvantage by kidnapping them all. Rather than appeal to their better angels, he cynically tricked and swiped his would-be teammates and then attempted to motivate them through insults and fear. How on Earth can the fledgling Teen Titans stand together against the threat of the Demon’s Fist?
Another rocky start
Our story opens with some family time between Damian and his estranged mommy, before jumping into cave time with the Titans and an epic brat-on-brat scuffle between the Demon’s Fist and the Demon’s Grandson’s Lifeless Severed Hand (read: the Teen Titans).
The flashback at the beginning will likely bother fans of Damian’s mother, Talia al Ghûl. She’s never been particularly maternal, and her showing up to warn her son about what’s coming seems out of step with who she is. It also seems odd for her to present him with a choice between life in the League and life as Robin, since he made that choice a long time ago, and you might say it cost him his life, and you might also say that it was Talia herself who collected on that debt.
Damian is a little off here, too. I don’t think he would be vulnerable with his mom, and I don’t think he would trust her good will. The off-kilter characterization probably won’t bother you if you’re new to this world, but don’t be shocked if you branch out into other books and find that Damian is a bit different.
Thankfully, once we get back to the present, Teen Titans gets a lot more funny, a lot more fun, and even a bit more sophisticated. It turns out the five assassins of the Demon’s Fist must complete a final kill—with a self-chosen target—before graduating into full League of Assassins membership. Mara, the leader, has chosen Damian, and the remaining “fingers” each chose one of the other Titans. This explains why Damian sought out these particular heroes for his squad, and it also makes for some super-cool action spreads by fill-in penciller Diōgenes Neves. Each member of the Fist has a power set of particular relevance to their target, and Neves and the team of colorists do a great job showing them in action. The big fight scene almost makes me wish that Neves was the permanent replacement for just-departed artist Jonboy Meyers.
This is a pretty funny book, too. The previous volume of this title was often trying too hard and missing the mark completely, but for the most part, Percy is right on the money. The personalities I praised in the Rebirth one-shot are well-preserved, so Kid Flash ribbing Damian sounds different than Beast Boy’s weird-but-still-funny characterization of the young Robin as a “good-guy-bad-guy smoothie.”
But there’s more here than fights and jokes. As the skirmish develops, it comes out that Damian was actually meant to lead the Fist himself (back when he was living at home with his psycho mom, psycho grampy, and psycho assassin brethren). Mara seems to take it personally that he abandoned them for Batman, and I hope Percy develops this further in the coming issues—he already made Mara a heck of a lot more interesting in just a few panels with this layer, and the overall conflict gains much depth from it.
- You like seeing Damian attempt to lead.
- And fail.
- But you also like big, bold comic book fight scenes.
- And villains that have some depth below the surface.
Another good-but-not-great installment, Teen Titans #2 is a nice chunk of fun that benefits greatly from front-loading its problems. The last three quarters of the book make it easy to ignore the troublesome flashback at the start, and the complexity of the lead villain creates a much more interesting conflict. Hopefully, Percy can continue iterating and fix the trouble spots, but in the meantime, this is still a decent read.