In this our second week of Future State, and so far I’ve found myself surprised by a number of titles DC has put out. As with many events like this some of them have been good, meh, and there’s even one title I stopped reading a few pages in. Overall though, I’ve enjoyed a lot of what I’ve read. So, where does Teen Titans land in all that? Well, I’m a bit mixed on how to feel, there are parts I didn’t mind and parts I was not a fan of.
Teen Titans has a lot to do in its first issue. Tim Sheridan wastes no time dropping readers right into this packed adventure, and it can feel a little overwhelming on the first read. There’s new and old characters, the story bounces from past to present, and the whole world is facing an apocalypse. To top things off, it also works to blend the comics with the animated version of Teen Titans.
In this version of the future the apocalypse has come, literally. The opening pages show us a world that looks a lot like many Hollywood disaster movies, cities have been flooded, buildings are demolished, characters stand forlorn and lost, and the main team is scavenging for what they can find. The Titans face a literal monster threat as they try their best to figure out how to save the world. While I have nothing against a good disaster story (my DVD collection can attest to that) this one hasn’t sold me yet. I can best describe the plot as overly packed with information, and yet equally missing key details I think would make it stronger.
The story opens with various team members searching for specific items to help save the world. The team is split between Nightwing, Starfire, and Raven with each of them having their own plans on how to stop the end of the world, while also still working together. Unfortunately, no one ever details out what any of those plans are beyond glimpses of each one, or tells us just why they need some of these items. What’s worse, is that we don’t have a clear view of the apocalypse itself, how it happened or what’s really going on. We get some details, but not enough to have a clear view of what they’re even fighting against. To top things off, apparently this issue also ties in with Future State Flash #2…which isn’t even out yet.
Between all that, there are a number of other plotlines and details presented. There’s a lot of team dynamics that have shifted from what readers might be familiar with. To illustrate the differences the issue jumps from past to present in order to establish some backstory –and introduce us to the concept and character of Red X– and show the team functioning pre-end of the world. Additionally there are major character changes within the original team that don’t really have to do with how they interact: Starfire has stepped fully into a leadership role, Dick Grayson is refusing to be called Nightwing (and is about as angsty as Batman), and other characters are blended together literally.
The characters presented here are very much darker versions of the ones we know and love making it hard for me to get into this story. Some might enjoy this take, but grimdark stories are generally not my thing, so coloring almost everyone with this characterization is hard to take in. Especially characters like Nightwing, who I just can’t ever picture turning as grim as Dick is depicted here. With everyone and everything different, there’s not a lot for me as a reader to hold on to as familiar.
It’s that lack of familiarity and the fact that there’s just so much packed in that’s my main problem with this book. Everything has been changed, and as much as I want to enjoy the story I don’t know where to look or how to feel. There’s just too much character work to cover in two issues, deal with the apocalypse, and introduce elements from the tv show. Some people might not mind jumping into this world the way it’s presented, but to me it makes it feel a little too disjointed, confusing, and full of potential that’s not quite reached.
That said, there are a number of elements presented I do find interesting, and enjoyable. Most obviously the inclusion of Red X as a character. To start, no we don’t find out who they are yet, but they’re definitely interwoven through the whole of this story. Red X seems to be tied into just about everything, from the rending of the team to fixing the apocalypse, but they’re mostly shrouded in mystery. But that’s not all we learn about regarding Red X here. Teen Titans quickly lets readers in on the fact that Dick Grayson was the first person to hold the title tying it loosely with the animated version, if only in that connection. There’s a lot to be explored here, but it’s also not a surprising choice. It makes sense to tie the two mediums together with Nightwing, and I am interested in seeing more about his connection to Red X in the next issue.
I also have to point out how much I enjoy Rafa Sandoval on art here. I think he does a stunning job visualizing all the changes and showing us just how different things are now. From the apocalyptic landscape the story opens with, to graves showing the losses the team has faced he does a great job immersing us in this new story. He also do a great job showing emotionally how the characters have changed. Sure, they’re also different visually with hair and uniforms, but characters whole expressions and body language are different as well. Like how Dick’s bright smile is gone in the present day that was visible in flashbacks. It’s just a great way to really make these changes hit home.
The story wraps up in a way that both hooks me, and feels really rushed as various characters gear up to try and stop the end of the world. There is momentum as the characters move into their various plans, but I’m lost by a lot of it even after reading through the book a few times. Much of what’s happening hasn’t been clarified, like how their plans are supposed to succeed, what exactly they’re fighting against or even why Raven and Nightwing’s plans are so dangerous. Still, I can’t help but be intrigued by the characters and how everything will play out next issue.
- A darker version of the Teen Titans is something you’ve always wanted to see
- Stories about the apocalypse are your cup of tea
- You’re interested in how this story will blend comics and tv
All in all I won’t say this was the strongest of starts for Teen Titans entry into Future State but I do think it did a lot of worldbuilding in one issue and presented some interesting ideas. I don’t really care for the darker direction the story has taken, but that’s not to say it doesn’t explore it in a way others who prefer grimmer takes might enjoy. For me, it was a rough start, but one that I think has potential to be pretty good when we see part two.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purpose of this review.