The Teen Titans have taken down The Other and begun to get over some of the differences that have divided them almost as long as they’ve been a team. All that’s left is for them to rescue Djinn and they’ll be better than ever. The only problem is, to free Djinn they have to go through her evil brother Elias first, and that’s not going to be easy.
I’ve been pretty critical of Teen Titans for a while now, especially in how the team has been operating together. After the last issue, however, I was really hopeful to see some improvements in the team’s dynamic. I can say for certain that has happened! The issue itself feels a little busy, and has a couple problems, but with most of the major plot points that had been hanging over the team gone now –like The Other or traitors on the team– the story has a fresher feeling to it and the characters interact much better. It doesn’t forget about everything that happened and there’s still tension between members, but I had a good time reading it.
Joining Adam Glass on writing this month is Robbie Thompson. I’m unfamiliar with Thompson’s previous work over at Marvel, but I’m really interested in seeing what he adds to this book. My first impression so far, is that Thompson has brought a definite uptick in the humor going on in the issue. The jokes feel like things these teens would say, and still fall within their established characters. Roundhouse continues to lead in terms of being the most funny, but just about everyone spouts quips and jokes at some point through the issue. It helps to lighten the tone, especially after how dark the last couple issues have felt. As for Glass and Thompson’s styles together, I feel like they’re blending well so far and I’m excited to see what Thompson continues to bring to the book in future issues.
In addition to having a new co-writer on the title, Eduardo Pansica takes over on pencils with Julio Ferreira working on inks. I feel like this is a fun issue for them to start on because it’s packed full of both action and a variety of character types. As the team faces off against Elias they also deal with a number of other djinn/genies so Pansica gets to stretch his creativity and display a number of different djinn designs. His action scenes are also a lot of fun to look at, they’re easy to follow and the way he uses perspective in a number of panels is really cool. The first page where we see the whole team together is a great example of this, each character can be followed on after from the top of the page to the bottom in a motion that feels like your moving forward with them through the various creatures they’re fighting.
The story itself, focuses first on the Titans are attempting to collect pieces of an artifact called The Cup of Sorrow in order to get to Elias so they can rescue Djinn from her ring. Once he’s been summoned the plot turns to trying to bide time while Red Arrow casts a spell that will hopefully control him. The issue itself feels like a very fast read because the team spends most of their time in the building they start in, and an overwhelming majority of this issue is devoted to fights.
While there is a lot of action, there’s also a ton of exposition. It feels like everyone is constantly talking, which can feel a little chaotic when it’s placed in the middle of all the action going on. This makes the book feel very busy, and sometimes a little cluttered. The dialogue doesn’t necessarily feel forced at first, but there’s a point where character’s questioning the plan or confirming the next step stops feeling natural and turns to repetitive as an exposition device. It might have been nice to see some of this in a flashback with the team planning things out. That would have helped break up the exposition and fighting a bit and give the readers a little break from all the action. The way it is now, it almost feels like information overload at points with everything going on plus large amounts of dialogue.
Something else to note is that there’s a lot of djinn/genie lore and magic systems that play into the plot of the issue. While some of the information comes from the book the team is using, a lot more is built from the backstory Djinn shares in issue #27. So much so that I’d actually recommend rereading it if you can. While I caught onto the story just fine without rereading, a lot of the details in this book made more sense when I did go back and look at the other issue. I like that the story is building off of previous information, but I would have appreciated an editor’s note directing me back to issue #27 or a tiny bit more context here and there in the actual text. After all, it’s been a year since Djinn shared the full details of her backstory, and that leaves a lot of time to forget details.
The thing I enjoyed most about this issue was seeing the characters interact. Their dynamic has shifted a lot even from issues before, but not in any way that feels artificial. They work well together when in the middle of a battle, and can fall into bickering outside of it, but Roundhouse sums up the relationship between them nicely when he says “We’re super dysfunctional but we’re family.” It really sums up the fact that they’ve come together through the events of the past few arcs to be closer, even if they’ll never agree on everything. It also looks like Damian has stepped down from being the official leader of the group. Instead of having one leader, they now make decisions as a team, which I think is a great idea. I can’t wait to see how the change to group decision making impacts them as a whole going forward.
This is the first issue in an arc called Djinn War, so it’s not much of a spoiler to say that things aren’t resolved at the end of the book. In fact, by the end things feel even crazier than at the start. There’s a lot of talk of heaven, hell, and purgatory in this issue and it’s safe to say the characters are going to do some exploring of those various areas over the course of the arc. That leaves me incredibly curious about how they’ll get there, and what those places will be like in the context of this book.
- The team dealing with magic is something you’re interested in
- You want to learn more about Djinn and the other genies
- You’ve been waiting for the Titans to feel like a team
For the start of a new arc, this was pretty exciting. It can feel a little to busy and chaotic at times with all the exposition and fighting packed into the pages, but I like the direction the story is going in. It’s nice to see Djinn’s backstory built on, and made into a bigger part of the plot. I’m delighted to see that the Teen Titans themselves finally feel like a real team. They might bicker and argue over things, but they all have a reason to be together and they’ve started to move past a lot of the problems that kept them from really working well as a group. I’m interested to see where the rest of this arc goes, and if this peace between teammates lasts through it all.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.