Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Teen Titans #5 review

Superboy has pretty much beaten Wonder Girl but before he can turn her over to his masters at NOWHERE, her new friends - christened the Teen Titans by Red Robin - arrive on the scene. After a bunch of individual tussles, they lie defeated but score something of a win ... Superboy tells the shady organisation he wants answers and won't be their lapdog anymore.

I've been enjoying the latest take on DC's long-running teenage team, but this issue lets the side down badly. It's a dumb comic. Having announced on page two that his secret weapon is tactile telekinesis, the Titans don't use that knowledge against him. They're not a team yet, but they at least have numbers and could round on Superboy as a unit, destroying his concentration. But no, they attack one on one. Kid Flash runs off half-cocked and winds up tossed right across New York (and not even by Superboy). Bunker's super-Lego proves spectacularly ineffective. Solstice bolts to save Kid Flash before he crashes into a boat in New York Harbour ... by blasting said boat in two and putting civilian lives at risk.

Red Robin finally tries the 'break his concentration' idea, but not having any actual super-powers to back up his assault, proves easy meat for the super-powered clone. And when Wonder Girl jumps back into the fray, she's apparently squished by a subway train.

I say 'apparently' because while we see the train coming, the impact panel is taken up by a nifty, but unhelpful, sound effect. It's safe to assume, though, that there will have been more injuries to innocents.

All of which goes to show that these kids shouldn't be allowed out; they're just not bright enough to cohere as a team, or to prioritise the safety of civilians. I'm not saying give 'em to NOWHERE - Solstice talks of 'everything NOWHERE has done to me, and made me do on their behalf', so they're hardly an after-school club - but these Teen Titans are in need of heavy mentoring.

Also, better dialogue. Superboy's aforementioned moment of stupid exposition is bad enough, but writer Scott Lobdell also has him use Silver Age Memorial Phrase 'vaunted intellect'.

To be fair, at the beginning, Red Robin does suggest they need a plan, but the guy is so patronising ('Follow my lead, guys - it's our only chance') that you can see why individuals might run off half-cocked.

I really hope this NOWHERE plotline wraps soon, as it's taken up ten issues of Teen Titans and Superboy and is getting wearisome. Plus, his dealings with them have made Superboy so scarily unlikable that I can't see how the Teen Titans could ever sign him up.

I can see that this battle was inevitable as part of the Titans' journey - not necessary, but inevitable in a genre where stories progress through dynamic physical conflict - but it doesn't make for a gripping issue. The feel is very much 'going through the motions' as we wait for Superboy's inevitable u-turn. In fact, the most interesting thing about it is trying to work out who that is on the Missing poster - it looks like the original, John Byrne-created Wonder Girl, but it's not going to be her. Any guesses?
The art by Brett Booth and Norm Rapmund is suitably big and bold, with good facial expressions (check out Kid Flash's tongue hanging out as he concentrates, or Wonder Girl's fear as she's dragged below the streets). There's an almost tangible sense of danger sizzling off the page, not something you can say about many comics. The costumes remain awful - outside of Solstice's starkly black look - but hopefully they'll get replaced in time.

The colours by Andrew Dalhouse complement the art well, while Dezi Sienty's lettering is just the job (bar Wonder Girl describing her magic lasso as 'a grift from the gods' - then again ...).

Groundbreaking only in that Superboy rips up the pavement, this is an entirely skippable issue. 

9 comments:

  1. This is one series I'm letting you follow for me. It's been X-book Lite from the beginning and yet another failure for the Titans franchise. I see it's even begun to wear thin for you.

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  2. Yeah, we may have to pass the Ten Titans reading baton along to someone else ...

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  3. Scott Lobdell! I don't understand what DC are up to. Are they trying to appeal to people who bought comics in the 90s buy-to-invest boom?? If so they're not going to repeat that destructive cycle no matter whose name is on the front are they?

    Or are they aiming at teenagers? If so why would they buy this?

    You said this plot has gone on for 10 issues - have they really kept it going over the relaunch? I thought Green Lantern and Batman were the only ones with the permission for that to happen.

    Stuff like this really makes me wonder if DC know what they're up to apart from lurching from one marketing / PR event to the next. Nothing seems to be aimed at securing a long term readership.

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  4. This was not a bad issue,sure one by one makes no sense,and tim actually beating superboy is nonsenses,but its a comic,its supposed to be fun,and this was fun,not to mention it looks great.superboy looks like the badass he is,i really liked this,you over think comics,try to have fun reading a good fight book.

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  5. And-Ru, ten issues as in five of TT and five of Superboy.

    Hi Tony, glad you enjoyed the book loads! I do like a good fight in comics, but when it seems the characters are being wilfully stupid, I can't get into them.

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  6. I think scott intentionally wrote them like they were "stupid",having them fight superboy individually was a almost obvious sign of this,he was showing that they are not a team yet.also the way they rushed in seemed a obvious sign of their inexperience.

    Yeah you could just see this as stupid characters or bad writing,or you could try to think of how scott is building up the kids as new hereoes and as a new team.i mean they have to start like this,so when they are a well oiled machine working together it looks even better.

    The only thing that is hard to stomach is how the whole team gets crushed,but a normal human,tim can give superboy a beatdown,i mean tim couldnt have been the only one with a special "unfocus" ability right?

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  7. I'm with you Tony, it's that old Bat-magic ... they made Tim a mini-Batman, able to show up his more powerful colleagues.

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  8. I agree, one of the weaker issues, for the reasons you mention. Solstice blowing the boat in half was incredible, then she offers no resistance to Superboy? I was also a little confused by the ineffectiveness of the magic lasso: I know it changes around a bit, but can't these Amazonian lasso's "subdue the will" of the person lassoed? Remember, as we've been told a million times, Super(people)'s powers are vunerable to magic....

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  9. Good catch on the magic business, Mr Whiskas. One thing the new universe has a chance to do is properly define powers and limitations as it goes along. We can but hope the creatives bear this in mind.

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