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Review: ‘Teen Titans: Rebirth #1′

teen-titans-rebirth-1Teen Titans: Rebirth #1
Writer: Ben Percy
Artist: Jonboy Meyers
DC Comics; $2.99
Rated T for Teen

The Teen Titans have proven a particularly difficult property for DC Comics to figure out what to do with over the course of the last five years. Despite the fact that the publisher’s various teenaged superheroes are among their best known thanks to years worth of TV shows like Teen Titans, Young Justice, Teen Titans Go, and now DC Super Hero Girls–all of which are essentially always on in our era of DVD collections and Netflix–the comics line’s history-reshuffling Flashpoint/New 52 event in 2011 severely scrambled the status quo of the youngest heroes.

There have been two volumes of a Teen Titans comic since 2011, neither of which has been any good and neither of which featured characters that even resembled the more popular and recognizable Titans and teen heroes, even in passing.

So here comes the third volume of Teen Titans in the last five years, and while it’s a too early to tell, it certainly looks like the third time may indeed be the charm.

Writer Ben Percy and artist Jonboy Meyers have chosen a team of five fairly recognizable characters to star; it’s basically the team from Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go, only with the newest Kid Flash in for Cyborg (who is now a founding member of the Justice League; I did say Flashpoint scrambled everything, right?).

In this Rebirth special issue, which essentially functions as a kind of zero issue, the first of two #1 issues in an ongoing series, the creators introduce the characters one at a time. In each case, they are stalked by an mysterious caped and hooded figure who doesn’t completely reveal himself until the last page.

There’s green-skinned party animal Beast Boy, trying to hid his pain under revelry in Los Angeles; good-hearted alien princess Starfire, fighting evil in the world’s sunniest locales; teleporting teenage goth empath Raven, just trying to be left alone; and newcomer Wally West, the current Kid Flash following in Barry Allen’s fleet footsteps in Central City. All captured individually, they awake together held in an elaborate power-dampening contraption and at the mercy of their mysterious captor…Damian Wayne, the current Robin.

In addition to hewing rather closely to the Teen Titans cartoons, this cast is also almost exactly that of the Titans team that starred in the recent direct-to-DVD animated film Justice League Vs. Teen Titans, swapping only Blue Beetle out for Kid Flash. It may have taken a few years, then, but the publisher is finally trying to make a book that might appeal to the mass-media audience for this particular franchise.

More importantly, it offers a clean break with all that came before, with Damian essentially press-ganging his own team of superheroes, the designs of which Meyers has tweaked to look more like their “real” selves than the sometimes extreme New 52 makeovers they’ve received (particularly Raven). In other words, if you haven’t been following any Titans comics in years—in fact, if this is your very first Titans comic—you’re going to be okay.

Damian Wayne is an interesting character, essentially being a darker, more violent version of his biological father Batman, only in the body of a ten-year-old boy, which makes him seem more like a brat than a tyrant. He’s so interesting a character that his creator Grant Morrison decided to extend his life much longer than he had originally intended…and, in fact, DC decided to bring Damian back to life after his death and keep him around. While he’s interacted with various characters outside of the Batman milieu over the years, this is his first time on a team book, and it will put him in the same position that previous Robins Dick Grayson and Tim Drake once held–leading the Teen Titans.

Using him as the center of the new team pretty much guarantees that it won’t be like any previous volumes, making for a fresh take for long-time readers, as well as a good jumping-on point for new readers.

As introductory stories go, this is an extremely solid one, and Meyers’s art is superior; it’s been a long, long time since a Titans comic book looked as good as this issue does. It is, however, just an introductory story, so it will remain to be seen whether Percy, Meyers and company can live up to the potential evidenced here.

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J. Caleb Mozzocco About J. Caleb Mozzocco

J. Caleb Mozzocco is a way-too-busy freelance writer who has written about comics for online and print venues for a rather long time now. He currently contributes to Comic Book Resources' Robot 6 blog and ComicsAlliance, and maintains his own daily-ish blog at EveryDayIsLikeWednesday.blogspot.com. He lives in northeast Ohio, where he works as a circulation clerk at a public library by day.

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