Comic Judgment: Titans, Together!

Teen Titans #88
Writer: J.T. Krul
Art: Nicola Scott, Doug Hazlewood (ink), Jason Wright (color), Adam Hughes (variant cover)
Letters: Sal Cipriano

Adam Hughes variant cover

When I got back into comics several years ago, I fell hard for Geoff Johns’ Teen Titans. I’d enjoyed the Wolfman/Perez stuff back in the day, and it seemed to me that Johns’ modern incarnation struck all the right notes. There was real chemistry among the characters, a good mix of the funny and the serious, and Johns never tried too hard to write “youth” dialogue. Mike McKone’s artwork? Wonderful.

I think you see where this is going. After a great run, the comic’s script quality dipped a few notches, and then, partly because of things taking place elsewhere in the DCU, it went over a cliff, exploded upon impact, and left a football field-sized patch of scorched earth in its wake. OK; that’s an exaggeration, but not a terribly big one. Suffice to say that many Teen Titans fans — me included — dropped it and never looked back.

Until now. DC has enlisted a new creative team, writer J.T. Krul and illustrator Nicola Scott, to pump new life into Teen Titans, beginning with issue #88. While this comic didn’t rock my world, it is solidly good and taps into the things that made TT work in the Johns era: an interesting team dynamic, witty banter, heavy action and boy-girl drama. They are teenagers, after all. (Mild spoilers ahead.)

Krul deserves a great deal of credit for making Cassie/Wonder Girl a less grating and more credible team leader. She seems to have really stepped up in Tim/Red Robin’s absence, and Scott, one of my favorite artists, draws her with an understated beauty and authority. Actually, that’s the way she draws everything in this book. There’s a lovely moment between Cassie and Conner/Superboy where she’s sitting on her bed, slumped forward with worry. And bless Scott for drawing heroines who look healthy and strong, not like blowup dolls.

But it wouldn’t be a party without Rose/Ravager, who is one kick-ass chick and the consummate antagonist. You want her on your team because she can take suckers down hard — but she also might take your man. I loved the panel where, after a workout, she throws her sweaty towel at Superboy and says, “I got a lot of energy.” All together now: Daaaaaamn!

There are a couple of nifty plot threads going on, too. The world’s sketchiest high school biology teacher has plans for a socially isolated student, and they’re not good. (Note to kids: Do not go into the darkened basement of an adult you barely know. But if you do, and you happen to see a gurney and mutants in cages, run like hell.) Dick/Batman 2 also decides that Damian needs to make some friends, and I’m a little nervous about adding him to the Titans community. He’s a tricky character to write, and casting him as a one-note jerk or a merry brat would be a mistake. Don’t do it, J.T.!

If you’ve missed the Titans, and I certainly have, issue #88 is a good excuse for a reunion. Don’t bust out the confetti just yet, but do keep a bag handy. Verdict: Well played.

7 thoughts on “Comic Judgment: Titans, Together!

  1. I so agree, this book has taken a turn for the better. I was never a huge fan of Geoff Johns’ take on the Titans characters – to my mind, he blanded them out, especially Bart – but at least the stories were coherent. I think we may get that again.

    I found it amusing that Cassie remembered this version of the team’s original mission statement, while clariying that the idea of the Titans as a haven for young heroes had been destroyed by circumstance.

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  2. Martin, I completely agree with your last point. It bothered me to see the original purpose of the Titans swept aside for stories that were, at best, boring. I am cautiously optimistic about the direction the new team is taking.

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  3. But we’ve not seen her for years, have we? Maya’s done well if she’s not been slaughtered in one of the many ‘villain arena’ stories.

    But why do you hope it’s not her? Because this image shows a grinning loon? I suspect not, as she’d have her fiery bow. Well, probably.

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    • @Martin – I just never enjoyed the character in JLE. Perhaps Krul could portray her better, but she’s a write-off to me. Like Yazz.

      I heard today that this character is supposed to be someone new Krul has created named Solstice. We’ll see!

      The Irredeemable Shag

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