Titans #1 review

It’s the big reveal of the new Titans Tower. The latest incarnation of the much-destroyed heroes’ headquarters is in Blüdhaven, home of team leader Nightwing. And Batman fans might notice some nostalgic detail.

Those internal trees just scream ‘Wayne Foundation’ and I’m good with that, I love that iconic Gotham building. How the Titans are paying for it, I don’t know – surely no company in the DC Universe would have insured the last building? Or the one before… let’s just assume Dick paid for it with his Alfred money. And Donna Troy chipped in with Amazon gold. And Beast Boy has cash from rich stepdad Mento. Cyborg has moolah from his scientist parents. Raven could teleport treasure from a demon dimension. Starfire surely has space jewels…

… Wally West, he’s doesn’t have loads of money. He does, though, have a bullet in his chest, making for a mystery that bookends the rest of the book. He’s dead by the end, but that’s kind of Wally’s thing – he’s alive, he’s dead, he’s Schrödinger’s Flash. Writer Tom Taylor knows we’re not going to worry about time travelling Speed Force-connected Wally being dead, so he likely has a cracking plan.

The real fun this issue comes with the arrival of classic Superman punchbag Titano the Super-Ape. He doesn’t turn on the green kryptonite vision but it’s no doubt there given how his eyes are flashing. Seeing Beast Boy turn kaiju makes for a big moment, heck, the giant monkey’s presence at a nuclear plant gives all the Titans a chance to strut their stuff – well, if you count Dick barking orders.

Someone else who likes ordering folk around, but does so in far less pleasant a manner, is Peacemaker, who shows up to make the Titans an offer they can refuse.

Also turning down an offer is former Titan Tempest.

So who’s Garth’s mysterious partner? Would Aquagirl Lorena be too much to hope for. Probably. It’ll be Topo the octopus. Actually, Lorena could take the watery Titan spot!

Or Tempest is making excuses. After all, who really wants to join the umpteenth reunion of the Titans, even if this time they’re stepping up to replace the Justice League, who are on a break? Actually, pretty much everyone on the team has already been in the JLA.

I’m not sounding excited, am I? It’s not like this isn’t a decent comic book. Awful nicknames apart (hello to ‘Star’, ‘Cy’ and ‘Rae’), Taylor’s dialogue is snappy, and we get action (Titano), mystery (the aforementioned Garth business and some information Peacemaker shares), even romance (Beast Boy and Raven, just look away). The team dynamics work, and the Titans haven’t seemed this confident in years. The art by Nicola Scott is beautiful, with Donna particularly benefiting from Scott’s trademark subtlety. And Starfire’s new hairdo is interesting – it’s not as exciting in flame mode as her regular look, but it’s an interesting change. And Gar looks brilliant, he’s finally maturing.

Extra layers of goodness come in the shape of Annette Kwok’s colours – she may be the best in the business at skin tones, and her attention to detail extends to window frames on bedsheets. Wes Abbott doesn’t get a chance to strut his stuff but he’s a darn good letterer and the book is lucky to have him.

A big demerit comes with the presence of Peacemaker. Yeah, the scene with the Titans telling him to stick his offer is the highlight of the issue, but it’s not going to end there. It’s all a precursor to the upcoming ‘Amanda Waller Vs the DC Universe’ or whatever crossover trailed in this week’s Dawn of DC Primer.

One problem is that the line-up is basically the Wolfman/Perez Titans yet again. No one has succeeded in capturing that lightning in a bottle, and DC has been trying for decades. I’d rather see a new spin on the concept as fresh as that take was in the early Eighties. Heck, isn’t it time for Dan Jurgens’ team to make a comeback? Who doesn’t love Argent?

Then there’s the USP – the Titans getting to be the Big DCU Team because the Justice League members are figuring out what their next iteration should be. It’s all so daft – why would a team as experienced as the Titans need to be ‘called up’? They’ve been on an equal basis with the League for years, even in a sliding comics timeline. OK, Donna is excited back in that scene with Garth, but she must know their new status is only temporary.

As it is, this issue doesn’t feel ambitious enough – couldn’t we have the team flung straight into a massive cosmic or supernatural storyline, something as big as the biggest League threat? Heck, I could say Trigon level. It’s not that I don’t love Titano, but as seen here, he’s not much of a threat to a team this powerful. Also, he seems to be a robot.

Ah well, Dawn of DC is supposedly a one-year project so the League will be back soon and the Titans can be together not because Batman asked them to but because that’s who they are.

While all the characters are engaging, I really do miss mysterious Raven. Here’s she’s a super-well-adjusted girl next door, Donna with a cape. Without the cape she seems to have had a Duela Dent makeover. I do hope she lets the demonic side of herself come through soon, this isn’t the TV Titans.

Speaking of the telly Titans, that’s likely why Beast Boy is in tiger mode on Scott and Kwok’s smart cover – please, let’s not make that Gar’s default mode in the comics.

Overall, I’m glad to see the Titans back in their own book. The creative team is excellent, and I hope Editorial allows them to take the heroes in a different direction once the Waller/League stuff is over – new members, new villains, new surprises.

21 thoughts on “Titans #1 review

  1. It’s nice to see this iteration of the Titans back and I hope they stick around. But I agree that the hooplah over the Titans stepping up for the JLA just seems like all talk. If they WERE the JLA, then we’d have a book called JLA and it would be starring the Titans, similar to what James Robinson did when he wrote the League over a decade ago just prior to the New52 reboot. While I welcome some of what’s happening at DC right now – Mark Waid’s return, Geoff Johns reviving the Golden Age, the Doom Patrol getting some love, more variety than just Batman books – the whole “Dawn of DC” really feels forced rather than organic, like the new, post-Didio, post-Snyder, post-Bendis regime yelling “THIS is where our time in charge begins!!!” Between Doomsday Clock and Death Metal, DC HAD two meaningful chances to kind of reboot and fully purge the bad taste of the New52 and launch a Dawn of DC. But instead they muddled along for several months and then decided to publish Dark Crisis, which tried wayyyyy to hard to be a meaningful sequel to the original Crisis and failed. That and the death of/disbanding of the Justice League also have felt like an obvious shuffling of the pieces around the editorially-mandated road map: “Let’s get from point A, the Dark Crisis, to point B, the League is without a book for a while, to point C – relaunch the Titans, to point D – the League returns with a new #1.” Taylor is a good writer so hopefully his Titans rises above. But I think it is a bit tied down by the forced circumstances of the Dawn of DC.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Magnificent summary! While I’m loving a few of the branded comics, I honestly don’t know what Dawn of DC is… it feels about as pertinent a title as did Marvel’s Heroic Age six-month wonder.


      1. That’s exactly what it is. It’s just branding, it’s not an event. Fairly effective* branding, IMO — it has me looking forward to the new DoDC books each month, just to see which way the line branches out.

        *effective, that is, until Knight Terrors kills all the momentum and individuality of the line.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m looking forward to this, though I’m still debating whether I’m going to pick it up on paper next week, or wait a few more weeks until it shows up on DCUI. (The World’s Finest: Teen Titans miniseries, on the other hand, is a sure bet for paper. And the sure-to-be-superfluous Tales of the Titans miniseries is definitely online-only for me.)

    Pros: I like Taylor and Scott a whole lot. They do good work.
    Cons: Ugh, those nicknames you mentioned. It’s Vic, Kory, Gar, and — hell, I’ll give them Rae. Her character is changed so much, I can’t see Vic calling her “Witch” anymore, and she’s definitely more amenable to a nickname than she was in the past.

    Pros: I’m really enjoying Dawn of DC, even if it is an artificial marketing stunt.
    Cons: This team is going to take two months off for Knight Terrors, an artificial marketing stunt that I expect will leave me cold.

    Pros: I’m happy to see the Titans step up to JLA status — and even happy that they’re NOT taking the JLA name. They deserve their own time in the sun, and that time shouldn’t be cut short by the needs of DC’s marketing department.
    Cons: Waller again? This is going to lead into a big crossover, and the more stuff I’ll be reading on the DCUI time delay, the happier I’ll be.

    Love that Wayne Foundation-inspired Titans Tower! Good eye, Mart!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d say you wouldn’t regret hanging on a bit for the comic to appear at the DC site, I enjoyed it but it hasn’t proved a major nugget of happiness this week. But did you see the Tweets of my new Piemaker!


      1. That’s what I think the plan is, since I’m already waiting a week to get it regardless.

        There’s a new piemaker? I’m not sure what you mean by this, but I’m always game for new pies! Heading to twitter to see!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Years ago I had an idea for a superhero who’s a baker. His oven gets struck by cosmic rays or gamma rays or something, and suddenly it starts baking all these pies that are a) delicious, and b) explosive, or super-sticky, or whatever. Basically, he was Green Arrow, but with gimmick pies instead of arrows. He fought crime as SIMPLE SIMON: META-PIEMAN!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. The non-stakes of Wally dying when they’re not cancelling his book and Peacemaker and Waller appearing are major, major strikes against the book. I’d rather have seen Mister Bones as he’s a villain turned hero rather than two once virtuous characters who have been written for so long as unredeemable scum that very few remember they once were heroes. On a lesser level I’m annoyed Tempest didn’t join. I liked him before his upgrade, certainly more than Speedy/Arsenal. It kinda annoys me when people act like Roy is a founder rather than Garth so that bit was okay.

    I do love the art and have always liked Gar and Rae’s romance much more than I ever did Dick and Kory or Donna and the schlub. Too bad one of the Furious wasn’t Donna’s kid though.

    And since the real reason for the issue was getting the gang back together, showing current relationships, and reminding us that Peacemaker and Waller are eeeeevil, anything conflict-wise deeper than Titano attacks would have either been wasted or distracted focus from where Taylor wanted it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Fair point about the lack of a big villain. I realised the morning after that I’d written that review with mounting grumpiness/dread as I had a dental check-up the next day (it was all fine), which may explain why I was happy at the start and a bit negative at the end. What an amateur!

      I’m totally with you on Garth, he’s ridiculous underused; it’s ironic that his wizardly power up seems to have made writers even more reluctant to use him, landing us with the kid with the worms on his head.


  4. I rather liked the first issue myself but I wonder how much that may be down to my never having a nostalgic relationship with the (New Teen) Titans- my definitive version is probably Teen Titans Go that I used to watch with my son!

    One thing that has surprised me in all the reviews I’ve read this week is how the essential plot (team reunites with classic members; redefines themselves in friendlier terms; fight a giant monster and are then confronted with a warning of disaster and death from the future) is the same in both the Titans and the Avengers. Interesting synchronicity.

    I thought the Titans interesting enough to stick around for issue 2 and am hoping that the over-reliance of the core cast is addressed and they change over future issues. But please god, no Jericho. Or Terry Long, for that matter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the comments, Carey. I’m so old that my definitive version is the Bob Haney spooky run from the early Seventies. Have you read those, they’re on DC Infinite. Great spot on the similarity with Avengers, wish I’d read them a bit closer together!

      The recent version from Priest’s Deathstroke is less annoying than the original, he might not be so bad. And I wouldn’t mind if Terry came back and was less awful.

      Now, how do you feel about Danny Chase?


      1. Personally… I took a long time to warm up to Danny Chase, but I really came to appreciate him (and then they killed him off). Similarly, I loved Terry Long and thought he was a great partner to Donna. It could be I’ve blocked out much of Team Titans, but even still… I’ve never understood the online hate for this dude.
        I’d love to see original Jericho back. Not the crazy Titans Hunt version… The sweet, sensitive, grounded kid. I’d be down for that.


  5. Overall, this issue was kinda meh to me. They sold it as a gathering of the original New Teen Titans and it’s nothing of the sort. Raven and Donna are completely different characters that have no resemblance to their NTT counterparts. Gar, Kory and Vic are shadows of the characters they used to be. Wally has an entirely different personality (thank goodness). Dick is probably the only character that remains as cool as he originally was. And having said that, a big part of the NTT was the relationship between Dick and Kory and there’s no chance that’s happening again.
    It’s the right collection of characters with none of the interpersonal dynamics or relationships that made the original run so magical.
    Which doesn’t necessarily preclude that this run can’t be equally as good. But it’s going to have to be good in a different way. And this first issue didn’t demonstrate that. To me. I’ll stick around for a little while, but Waid’s series looks to capture more of the magic that I’m going to be looking for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Superb observations, Murray it would be wonderful if it did find its own magic but I expect it will quickly go the way of the other Titans reunions. I just wish someone would try something new, maybe with just a few of the characters. Donna really needs a spotlight.


      1. Donna needs… oh man! Definitely a spotlight (and a code name).
        I’d love to see someone take a crack at… not repairing the character. But maybe restoring her? For much of the New Teen Titans run she was such a strong character. Even after Byrne got his hands on her and started mucking around with her history, she was still a pretty solid character. Jimenez had shown that good stories can be told with her. James Robinson seemed to have a good handle on her when he was writing JLA.
        Even the TV show has a great take on her (for the first season, anyway).


      2. Meh. Just give her the same out from Crisis Power Girl got (eventually). Toss in that everything since has been the result of the universe trying to make her fit and when she does learn the truth it stops that happening again. As for codenames what Marvel Girl? 😛


  6. I checked theaurus.com to see what alternatives Donna could have to keep the Wonder part and use a different female descriptor.

    Wonder Dame
    Wonder Damsel
    Wonder Gal
    Wonder Miss
    Wonder Madame
    Wonder Lady
    Wonder Broad
    Wonder Babe
    Wonder Chick
    Wonder Doll
    Wonder Sister
    Wonder Female Offspring

    None really work but I do like Wonder Dame, Wonder Broad, and Wonder Chick. I’m also fairly certain most of the criminals Donna defeats probably already use Wonder Bitch.

    Liked by 1 person

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