Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Comic Review -- Teen Titans #1-2 / Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth, & Norm Rapmund

Okay, a few things before I launch into these reviews.  I'm pretty unfamiliar with the Teen Titans, and mostly picked it up because Tim Drake seems to be leading the charge in this incarnation.  He's always been my favorite Robin, and I have always been curious to check out this team, as they're essentially a junior Justice League, at least at first glance.  There are a bunch of characters here I'm not familiar with, so if my reviews of them come off as uninformed, that's likely because I don't know them very well yet.  Still, I'm really enjoying this series so far, and like its premise.  

With all that said, here we go...

Teen Titans #1: Teen Spirit
Nice cover!  Not really indicative of what's happening in this issue, but it's a nice team shot that looks cool and shows the coming lineup of the team.

The team starts to come together in this issue, amid a crisis of unsettling magnitude.  Super-powered teens are disappearing at an alarming rate, apparent victims of an organization called N.O.W.H.E.R.E.  Tim Drake, also known as Red Robin, monitors several heroes, including Kid Flash, from afar before he's confronted by N.O.W.H.E.R.E.'s agents.  Escaping them, he heads off to find Wonder Girl, who doesn't want anything to do with him at first, but helps him fight off an assault chopper sent by N.O.W.H.E.R.E.  Realizing that Red Robin is becoming a thorn in their side, N.O.W.H.E.R.E. decides to sic its biggest gun on him and his allies: Superboy...

I really like how Tim operates in this issue.  He's like a cross between Ozymandias, with his world-monitoring, and Julius Assange, with his information dumps and willingness to expose sensitive data to the public in the name of his cause.  He's also extremely proactive about finding and recruiting allies, which will serve him well.  Kid Flash annoyed me a bit, but I'm pretty sure that was the intent with his brief appearance.  Wonder Girl was intriguing and cute, but I hope she becomes a little less reactionary and a little more trusting as time goes by.  Overall, the characters were interesting and the action was well paced.  N.O.W.H.E.R.E. seems interesting so far, mostly because I know so little about them right now.  It'll be interesting to see how they're developed.

I enjoyed the art very much.  Brett Booth may not be Jim Lee, but he's not far from the mark in terms of making his characters visually appealing and heroic.  His characters are expressive and his poses for them are realistic, well-positioned, and iconic where they need to be.  Definitely a good fit for superhero comics.  I'll be pleased with the visuals of this story as long as he continues.

Overall, I think this is a promising start to a larger story.  It's much like Justice League, where the team has yet to assemble, but is gradually coming together.  It's beautifully illustrated, and as long as the action is tight and the buildup continues, I'm confident this will be a fun story arc.  Highly recommended.


Teen Titans #2: Underground and Overwhelmed!
Interesting cover.  I'm not familiar with Skitter, but they do a good job of making her look vicious, powerful, and interesting with this one shot.  Of course, you never actually see her web any Titans up in this story.

Kid Flash is stuck in prison, lamenting his superhero decision.  Wonder Girl allows Tim to stay on the couch at her place as thanks for helping her with N.O.W.H.E.R.E.  When he leaves, he sees a story about Skitter, and finds her sister to learn where she is.  He comes into contact with three agents from N.O.W.H.E.R.E.  A fight starts, but when they teleport to Skitter's location, she handily beats them.  She turns on Tim just as he arrives, but Wonder Girl steps in and saves him.  She then tells him she was only paying him back for yesterday, and that she doesn't care about N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and other metahuman teens, and leaves.  Kid Flash escapes from his prison, and finds another captive teen named Solstice, apparently in great pain...

There's a little bit of downtime for the heroes to catch their breaths before the action resumes, and it's well-spent on character development.  The brief insights into Kid Flash and Superboy were good, though it would have been better to give them something to do, however briefly.  Tim continues hunting for super-teens and analyzing N.O.W.H.E.R.E., and Cassie makes a slight effort to get him to open up to her.  The fight scenes are okay, but I was more impressed with the dialog, particularly Tim's response to Templar still being alive after the last issue.

Skitter was viciously impressive, but had little role in this story once Wonder Girl trounced her.  I was a little confused that she seemed to dispatch three guys in little to no time, but gets laid out by one punch from Wonder Girl.  Tim's immediate reaction to Wonder Girl's sudden intervention was amusing, though I'm skeptical of it leading anywhere.  Cassie doesn't seem like she's attracted to him, at least not yet.

Oh, and when Kid Flash busted out of captivity, I found myself asking how long it would be before he messed up and got captured again.  Hopefully I'm wrong, but based on what little I've seen of him so far, I couldn't help thinking it.

One minor issue I have with Brett Booth's art in this issue is noses.  I know they're hard to draw head-on, but in some places his characters look like they simply don't have one, or have an afterthought of one, and it distracts me.  It's a rare occurrence, but I did notice it a couple times in this issue.  Very horrifically impressive drawing of Skitter for her brief appearance.  I'll be interested to see more of how she's portrayed in future issues.

Overall, I wasn't as impressed as I was with the previous issue.  It felt a bit slow in places, though the lull scenes were well-handled.  I think the writing could have been a little tighter, and the characters just didn't pop with as much personality as in the last comic.  Still, the story is progressing, and I want to see how things turn out.  Recommended.

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