Black Manta has come for his boy! The mystery of Jackson Hyde’s past has been revealed in all of its horror, and he has no choice but to face his father like a man. Meanwhile, the rest of the team continues to fracture around Kid Flash’s ouster. Something needs to change, or the Teen Titans are over!
Tired, tried, and true
I feel like I’ve probably said this before, but Percy has got to be the most consistent writer at DC right now. He may not reach the heights of some of his colleagues, but he is consistently good and entertaining. He typically exhibits the same struggles in each outing, but he just as often recovers from them and delivers an issue that satisfies more than not.
Teen Titans #10 follows the same path as so many of its predecessors, getting off to a rocky start before finishing strong. Raven attempts to help Damian work through his isssues, but the dialogue doesn’t work too well. Percy needs to find a better balance between the Jerkface version of Damian and the version that proved himself worthy of being Robin; up till now, his characterization has most times felt like a regression. Ditto on his relationship with his father, which here bears a stronger resemblance to the cold distance of Batman and Robin’s early issues than to the Apokolips-conquering love that gave the title such a warm conclusion. I get it: it’s tough to find the right balance, and the last thing you want to do is lose Damian’s characteristic arrogance; but it is possible to find it, as Pete Tomasi has proven in the past, and is still proving every month in Super Sons.
We also get some very inappropriate “funny” moments from Beast Boy and Raven. Gar’s boorishness is pretty standard by now, but the timing of it—during the team’s struggle to keep a character alive—beggars belief, even for him. And Raven’s lighthearted, quasi-critical response seems just as out-of-place—more the sort of thing she might say had Gar just hit on someone.
But in his usual form, Percy manages to rise above his shortcomings with a few very solid, very interesting scenes. As I confessed last month, Manta’s very presence has my attention, but Percy does well not to squander it. Those of you expecting the evil-but-somewhat-tender Manta from Young Justice may he disappointed; but I think this is ultimately an interpretation that makes more sense. A softer heart may still lie somewhere deep beneath his hard exterior, but we aren’t likely to find it any time soon.
There’s also some small-but-nice connective tissue between this installment and the Aquaman book. At least according to the early Rebirth issues, Manta’s vendetta against Arthur stems from a desire to avenge his father. He remains driven by his dad’s honor here, even in a different context, and I appreciate the consistency between titles. I also enjoyed the mentions of Xebel, and—given her power set—it makes sense that Aqualad’s mother comes from the same place as Mera.
The book ends on a cliche cliffhanger, and I’m pretty sure I know which way things will sway, but that’s okay. The character tension drives the parts of this issue that work, and I expect it will fuel the rest of the arc, as well.
The art team adds a few more members this time around, with an additional line artist and a different inker for Pham. Thankfully, Charalampidis ties everything together fairly well, and despite my earlier complaints about some of his technique, I love his lush color work. Phil Hester handles breakdowns again, and this is the first time I’ve been happy with the result. The layouts seems a lot less busy than on the last few issues—more along the lines of what Pham was producing by himself. This is the best looking issue of Teen Titans in a few months.
- You’ve been enjoying Teen Titans
- You want to see Jackson meet his dad for the first time
It has its flaws in dialogue and character, but in the series’s typical form, Teen Titans rises above those shortcomings and finishes strong. Manta’s coldness toward Jackson works particularly well, and with excellent artwork, it’s easy to gloss over any problems and enjoy what works.