Teen Titans Special #1 review

One night in Gotham, Robin is having a time-out from the life of a young vigilante. Damian Wayne is enjoying a meal in his favourite eatery, whose Lebanese immigrant owners he’s befriended. Then, local thugs arrive, and things go to hell.

Damian decides he’s had enough of playing nice with bad guys who get out of prison via slippery lawyers, and tracks down the Batman villain behind the protection racket, Black Mask. And seemingly kills him. That’s after he’s slaughtered – or at the very least, slashed to ribbons – his bodyguards.

In Seattle, Emiko Queen, aka Red Arrow, has tracked down her villainous mother Shado, and hopes to stop her assassinating a young woman, the latest target in a killing spree.

She fails, after sentiment allows her mother to get close. With Shado gone, Emiko vows: ‘No more second chances. Never again.’

Over in California, Kid Flash Wallace West has a run-in with the Suicide Squad and is appalled when his cousin Wally West, the Flash, shows up and, acting in line with current Justice League protocol, insists they let Amanda Waller’s pet murderers go. And because they do, a woman dies.

He’s done compromising.

You get the idea. This extra-length special is setting up the Extreeeeeme Teen Titans. They’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it any more.

Please, just no. Heroes can make mistakes, but should never be going out into the world looking to maim and kill.

I enjoyed writer Adam Glass’s New 52 tenure on Suicide Squad and find it hard to believe he’s really trying to sell us a teen team of killers, a Terror Titans 2018. Neither Emiko nor Wallace get anywhere near offing a bad guy, but do wind up in moods which would make them amenable to a killer pitch from Damian. Interestingly, we don’t actually see Damian murder Black Mask after he points a nasty-looking gun (aren’t they all?) at him? Could it be the longtime Batman enemy is going to be the secret mentor DC solicits mention? It takes a thief, and all that.

I’ll try an issue or two of the new direction, to find out, and meet the new characters, Roundhouse, Jinn and Crush, daughter of Lobo (oh dear…), and see what the tone of the book will be, but if this really does turn out to be Teen Killers, I’m out. I can’t see Emiko and Damian, both of whom have roundly rejected their ninja killer heritage, suddenly embracing their murderous mommas’ methods, and a member of the Flash Family going super-dark. And given how the Justice League came down hard on the elder Titans recently for absolutely no good reason, they’re not going to allow a kid team to run around the DC Universe besmirching their legacies. Likewise, despite this scene in the recent Titans Special …… I can’t believe Nightwing would let Damian taint the superhero brand he and his best friends built.

So, we shall see. There was certainly some good stuff in here – the characterisations of all three teen heroes was strong, with Glass finding their voices in the individual narrations of the three chapters. The conversation between Wallace and Wally was believable. And there’s a terrific Harley Quinn moment…

As for the art, it’s by Supergirl alumnus penciller Robson Rocha and inker Daniel Henriques, and it’s good-looking, dynamic work, though in the smaller panels, things can get sketchy. They don’t manage to make Damian Wayne’s Robin costume look good because it’s basically ugly, but Emiko and, especially, Wallace look great. The action convinces and it’s all very nicely coloured by Sunny Gho, while Rob Leigh provides the neat lettering. Inker Trevor Scott joins Rocha and colour house Hi-Fi for a cover which is decent, but nigh-giggle-worthy in its cliche quotient.

Will Damian be training teenagers to kill? Will Jinn, Roundhouse and Crush be cool, or todays version of Superboy’s Ravers? We’ll find out in Teen Titans #20.

4 thoughts on “Teen Titans Special #1 review

  1. Well, if nothing else, you’ve reminded me that I’ve always meant to go back and read Superboy and the Ravers.

    This one, though, I’ll give a hard pass. I sincerely hope you’re right about Black Mask. I just don’t see Jon Kent palling around with someone who’d do that.

    Like

    1. Yeah, that was vile. I don’t demand ultra-realism in superhero comics – obviously – but Damian really does break the stories. It’s great that Batman doesn’t reject his troubled/warped son, but he lets him run loose when really he should be hugging the little guy after a hard day’s therapy. The only way I can enjoy the character is by telling myself he’s moving forward, becoming a halfway decent human being, which is why Super Sons gets a pass; this was a big step backwards.

      Thanks so much for the comments.

      Like

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