I’ve always been a fan of the Titans in most of their incarnations. I suppose that, like everyone, my favorite was the New Teen Titans that ran between 1980 and 1984, helmed by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, and introduced characters like Deathstroke the Terminator, Terra, Jericho and saw the evolution of Dick Grayson’s Robin into Nightwing. If there’s anything that has become synonymous with Teen Titans, it was that 40 issue run. Since then, it’s gone through a lot of changes, some good, some really awful, which brings up the DC New 52 version that was really pretty bad. Luckily, DC rebooted the book and this is the first arc of that new version. Did they make the improvements they needed to? Let’s find out.
We meet the new team, made up of Red Robin, Beast Boy, Raven, Bunker, Solstice and Wonder Girl as they fight off a load of terrorists who have taken a school bus hostage and are threatening to kill the children. The Titans leap into action and save the day, but behind the scenes, Manchester Black wants the Titans to become the official superhero group of the struggling S.T.A.R. Labs and there is more to this than meets the eye.
Honestly, outside of that wonderful 40 issue span, there are a lot of problems with the Teen Titans over the years. The biggest issue, which luckily isn’t the case here, is that the Titans have been used as a junior JLA training ground, with kid versions of all of the classic JLA heroes, from Robin to Superboy to Kid Flash to Wonder Girl, etc. It was just young heroes waiting in the wings to get their real chance in the Justice League. That’s never really been my thing and thankfully, this series isn’t that. In fact, it feels a lot closer to the NTT book than any TT title has in a long time and that’s a good thing. It isn’t perfect, to be sure, the first issue of this title was pretty weak but it soon recovered and I’ve enjoyed the dynamic between the characters more with each issue.
That said though, we still haven’t seen a very good reason why these are the Teen Titans, other than there has almost always been a Teen Titan team. I’m not seeing a justification for them to be part of this particular group and I hope that’s explained later.
Starting in issue #5 though, we get a really interesting take where Superboy becomes a bad guy, fighting under the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. banner, especially because Scott Lobdell is writing both Titans and Superboy, meaning we get the same stories from two very different perspectives. It’s ideas like this that make the book fresh and fun and even though there isn’t a lot of depth to be found here, there doesn’t need to be. It’s light and entertaining, which is a welcome change after the last couple of TT iterations.
I can’t say that this has replaced NTT as my favorite version, that’s something that is likely impossible to topple, but this is the most fun I’ve had reading Titans in a long time. The characters are interesting, the team dynamic has gelled relatively well and it isn’t JLA-in-training, which is fantastic. If they can keep it feeling like this, they’ve got me on board for the long haul.