If you’re worried about what Facebook is doing with your information, then stay the hell away from Nevrland!

Spoiler

Ben Percy’s run on Teen Titans will wrap in the near future, and while I’ve found his take on the group enjoyable, I never felt that the title had much purpose or direction (granted, the overabundance of crossovers, tie-ins, and events haven’t helped). That’s not to say I dislike the book, but that I’d classify it as a “trade-wait title.” I haven’t felt an urgency to keep up, especially recently, and am perfectly fine to check in and see what the Teen Titans are up to when time and interest allows. That being said, for the sake of this review, I quickly caught up and found myself surprised to see that this story might be Percy’s most important one yet for our teen heroes.

The Teen Titans are currently without an operating base following the events of “Super Sons of Tomorrow.” Future Tim’s attack has put the Teen Titans in an awkward position, and considering the bond between these heroes is already thin due to pre-existing drama and mismanagement, there’s not an overwhelming sense of hope. Most of the group are ready to adapt and keep moving forward, but Beast Boy’s heart isn’t into it, so he decides to go solo for a bit.

Pursuing a need for attention, Gar continues to place himself in the spotlight and eventually crosses paths with a fan named Joran. Connecting over many similarities, Gar and Joran find common ground in their upbringing, outlook on life, and how they would like to not only change their life, but the lives of other people as well. So after experiencing the delights of what Nevrland can offer, Beast Boy joins Joran’s mission in expanding an experimental, new product… Unfortunately, it’s quite clear that Gar is just being used for his celebrity status, serving as nothing more than a puppet.

The reason I say this story is quite possibly the most important narrative that Percy has written during his tenure on Teen Titans, is because of the commentary on today’s youth, their need for acceptance, and their struggle with authenticity. Beyond that, there’s a feeling that they need to project an image of themselves at all times for the sake of being cool, politically correct, they’re not confident with themselves, etc. For the first time in my life, I’m working with teenagers daily, and I see this more and more, and to stronger degrees over time. There’s such a desire for escapism with kids, and an unforeseen, unspoken danger in it. Percy covers this perfectly by not preaching to it, but letting it rest subtly in the theme of the narrative.

While Percy lands this theme, there is something to be desired in characterization. None of the individual characters ring true to me, but come off as imitations. In addition, nobody on the team reads as a teenager to me. They all feel too juvenile. This is a universal problem that I’ve found with a number of writers who tackle Teen Titans, and as easy as it is to rag on teenagers for their angst or melodrama, we shouldn’t undermine how profound and deep they can be.

The teen that reads as the most believable is actually Joran. While it’s clear she’s using Gar, I do think there’s some honesty and sincerity to the memories and feelings she shares with him, I just think she struggles with the proper way to, deal with her feelings… thus creating a villainous persona.  Yeah, the Puppeteer is a modern-day, teen knock-off of the Mad Hatter, but she works well for the sake of the team and the story. It also doesn’t hurt that I find Joran to be more relatable than Jarvis, and could end with a much different trajectory when all is said and done – the difference of being a total creep and a misguided teen.

Overall “It’s Not Easy Being Green” presents some standard comic fare, but it’s still relatively fun. I like that the villain is relatable, but is also redeemable if another writer ever decides to take that journey. And while the themes of the narrative have impact, it doesn’t lose its entertainment value at the expense of conveying a message.

The Art: Dan Mora is the artist for the cover of this issue, and I respect that he uses a “what you see is what you get” approach. You know the story will be about Beast Boy, it’s clear that it has something to do with his mind/ mind control, and hints at the negative path Gar is on. Add to this the fact that it’s beautifully illustrated, and I’d say it’s a win across the board.

Scot Eaton handles the interior art, with Wayne Faucher on inks, and Jim Charalampiois on colors. I’m a fan of Eaton’s clean lines, and really enjoy how he’s able to create identity through the wardrobe. I feel like I know and understand each teen featured in this issue simply based on what they’re wearing, and how they’re presented (body language, expression, etc). That’s quite an understated feat and isn’t appreciated enough in comics today. I especially loved how he conveyed Damian’s inability to be normal or relatable through these same techniques.

His storytelling through art is solid, and Eaton embraces the panels where he’s allowed to really have fun and embellish. Panels such as the one with the dragon, or the Nevrland ship really help give the look of this book a flare that’s memorable. Teamed with Charalampiois’ colors, we’re treated with bright, fun art that keeps the tone of the book from becoming too bogged down.

Recommended if:

  • You’re looking for a fun story with a lighter tone.
  • You’re an active member of the Beast Boy Fan Club.

Overall: Teen Titans #18 isn’t a home-run, but it is still a rather enjoyable read. The Puppeteer is fun as a villain, even if she’s a bit predictable, but it’s the themes found in Percy’s script that make this issue worthwhile. A subtle commentary on teens, their desire for attention, struggle with authenticity, and projection of themselves for protection, is moving and great. I hope to see more of this next month!

SCORE: 6.5/ 10