One-joke stories rarely work. No matter how funny the idea or punchline may be, it’s incredibly difficult to wring a full story out of a single idea.
There are times when it does work, though, and a single joke can carry the weight of an entire story.
This… is one of those times.
What helps this Teen Titans Go! installment is that you start out thinking the story is going to be about one thing, it ends up being about something else, and then somehow it becomes about both.
It… makes sense, trust me.
The initial idea is pretty funny: the Titans are playing around making paper airplanes and the like, until Robin finds out and is reminded of a traumatic episode in his past.
Paper cuts are no joke, chums.
He goes off on a rant, as Robin is wont to do, telling the Titans they need to be safe and not dabble in the dangerous allure of origami and so forth. If this had just been about Robin overreacting to something mundane, that may have been good enough, but then the narrative shifts.
You see, the Titans find out that they’ve won tickets to a rock concert, so they go. What do they find there?
Rocks. Lots and lots of rocks. The stage is covered with them, and the audience is consists of nothing but a bunch of boulders.
Literally, a rock show. It’s a pun so bad that I laughed for like five minutes straight. I know what I’m about.
Turns out the opening act at this concert is Terra, and if you haven’t figured it out already, yes, the origami comes back into play.
Because paper beats rock.
This is one long “rock-paper-scissors” joke, and I am here for it.
Origami samurai warriors versus a rock and roll supervillain? Did Matthew Manning* write this just for me?
Truth be told, as I was reading this issue, it took a while to get anywhere. There are a few fun gags here and there, but besides a few funny lines it seemed to meander. Once you realize what the whole setup is about, though, it completely turns the entire story around, and I just had such a blast reading it.
Agnes Garbowska (who is a delight) and Franco Riesco’s visual style matches Manning’s slow burn of a script, with lush colors and some really creative storytelling choices. I love the hazy look of Robin’s flashback, for one, and the closing narration and final shot are so over the top melodramatic in the best possible way. Garbowska in particular manages to capture the great character designs of the show while adding her own spin to the characters. There’s an ongoing gag where Robin gets increasingly more annoyed with a situation, and Garbowska’s close-ups on his face have so much expression to them. The furrowed brow and the “twitchy” eyes are great bits of visual storytelling.
Wes Abbott’s great lettering helps set the tone, too, from his spaghetti westernish “The Deadliest Art” subtitle to a particularly great creator reference on a concert poster. The lettering, writing, and artwork all work together to sell the one main joke, and they stick the landing marvelously. From top to bottom, this is one of the most confident, solid entries of Teen Titans Go! in some time.
- You like Teen Titans Go!
- You like dad jokes and/or puns.
Overall: From the writing to the art to the lettering, this is one of the best crafted, most confident installments of Teen Titans Go! in months. Manning effectively tells one single joke, but with some twists and turns the punchline is unexpected and, therefore, that much more effective. It’s a good time, it looks great, and it’s funnier than you’d ever expect. Buy it for a buck, because it’s worth it.
*Your regular reminder that my pull quote was used on one of Manning’s books.