Review – Teen Titans #2
By no means do I want Teen Titans to be a bad comic. I may be a comic book blogger, who loves to complain about a medium I claim to love, but I would like nothing more than for Teen Titans to be the best comic on the stands. I remain a die-hard Tim Drake fan, and if his comic was great, I would gladly sing its praises month in and month out. That’s why I was so excited for this Teen Titans relaunch. I held out hope that Will Pfeifer could salvage one of DC Comics’ most (in)famous franchises.
But you know what they say about polishing a turd…Actually, no, it’s not that bad. Pfeifer has some solidly good ideas for the Teen Titans, but they appear to be only subplots crowded out by a clunker of a main plot.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I was cautiously optimistic about Teen Titans #1. It was solidly made, and relatively entertaining, but it was marred by the simple fact that it was just a big, generic superhero adventure when it could have been so much more! We are sitting at the dawn of a great new era in comics. Just look at the reaction to DC’s new plans for Batgirl. Teen Titans, more than any other comic in the industry, is poised to embrace this new, hip style. But Pfeifer seems determined to forge ahead with a big, dumb super-villain storyline that couldn’t be more boring if it featured Harvest.
Hopefully if I don’t say that name three times he won’t appear…
Pfeifer introduces a lot of fun ideas in Teen Titans #2 – ideas that I desperately hope he explores further – about the kind of impact the Teen Titans might have on today’s hip youth culture. Beast Boy with his own Youtube channel? Bunker as a gay culture hero with a major Twitter following? Raven inspiring punk rock bands? Wonder Girl inspiring a female empowerment movement? Why are these not the focus on the series? These are interesting stories that nobody else at DC is doing! (I might not be right about that, I never read The Movement or The Green Team.)
But no, instead we’re stuck with the same S.T.A.R. Labs storyline that doesn’t have anything to do with the Teen Titans. Ugh. And the surprise addition of a semi-classic, pre-reboot villain does not make a lick of difference. He’s not even a Titans villain!
Join me after the jump for the full synopsis and more review!
We open on Chirper, the DC equivalent of Twitter, where the Titans’ rescue of that bus last issue is trending. Also popular is Bunker’s stance against homophobia, with the video of his confrontation at the end of last issue getting played on the news. But the public isn’t blasting Bunker for being scary, they seem to be supporting him for his anti-bullying stance!
Bunker himself isn’t taking it as easily. He’s sulking in his apartment, and not even Beast Boy posting as a baby elephant can cheer him up.
Bunker is super serious because he stands at the edge of a very important topic. Gay rights are still a huge deal in this country, and if he’s going to embrace a public stance, then he has to do it right.
Beast Boy, meanwhile, is bragging about how the Youtube video where he posed as ‘Crabby Cat’ went viral.
Still no explanation for why he’s green instead of red. I don’t think we were supposed to notice.
Bunker diffuses Beast Boy’s jokey attitude by launching a miniature brick straight into Beast Boy’s ear, an effective new trick for pacifying his foes.
I really like this scene. The main thing lacking from the previous Teen Titans volume was a real sense of camaraderie and friendship among the Titans. They never spent any time just hanging out together. That should be the number one focus. Teenagers hang out with each other. It’s what they do! It’s what the Teen Titans should do!
Unfortunately, Beast Boy and Bunker won’t get to do it for long, and neither will we, because we’re already switching over to a hospital in the city.
One of the henchmen from last issue survived, and he’s laid up pretty badly, but at least he’s alive. When the doctor and nurse leave his room, Red Robin swoops in from the ceiling to continue his interrogation.
The guy doesn’t know much, but fills Robin in on the possibility that the previous day’s attack was only the beginning. There will be more. Then the guy mysteriously dies when his morphine drip is somehow instantaneously switched with his IV. The doctor and nurse return, and are shocked that the state-of-the-art technology from S.T.AR. Labs would somehow fail like that.
Elsewhere, civilian Theresa Cicero is closing up the convenience store where she works, and promises her mom over the telephone that she’s perfectly safe walking to the subway. Mom doesn’t need to worry. But no sooner does Theresa hang up the phone than she’s approached by a gang of roughneck street punks…who are then immediately approached by a squad of women dressed like Wonder Girl and carrying weapons!
The ladies then proceed to kick the punks’ butts, even offering Theresa a chance to get in on the action. She readily accepts.
Switching over to the new S.T.A.R. Labs facility on Governors Island, it’s revealed that the pink-haired scientist from the first issue is Manchester Black. You may know him from The Elite, a team of punk superheroes who were a parody of The Authority in the early 2000s, and were involved in a story where Superman had to kick their butts to show them that being a nice guy wasn’t such a big deal. What he’s doing with S.T.A.R. Labs in a Teen Titans comic is beyond me.
Black and his colleague Josiah Power (from Kurt Busiek’s Power Company) are in the new lab looking over the security footage from the night before, when the mysterious villain killed a security guard. They discuss the importance of moving S.T.A.R. to the new facility – and then out the window, in the distance, they see an explosion at the downtown facility.
Bunker and Beast Boy find out about the same explosion on Chirper.
They race off and arrive at the front entrance of the lab, where they encounter two scientists who take their sweet time to explain what’s wrong.
It’s possible they are also a couple of previously-known characters. Your guess is as good as mine.
The two heroes head inside and Bunker immediately finds the mysterious villain from last issue. She throws him around a bit, espousing how S.T.A.R. Labs is really going to pay, before she reveals that she’s a robot. Bunker creates a tiny purple brick, zips it into her ear and then expands it, exploding her robot head. Meanwhile, Beast Boy rescues two of the scientists on the top floor. He also still makes bad jokes.
The rest of the lab explodes, but Bunker creates millions of tiny pink bricks, small enough to act like foam instead of a brick wall, and the foam suppresses the fire. Bunker rides his bricks down to the ground level, where Beast Boy cheers him on as the hero of New York City! A news story later that night reveals that the rest of the city is catching on after Bunker had two big saves in two days. The news is also aware of the squad of Wonder Girl-lookalikes, but Wonder Girl herself has yet to comment.
Elsewhere, on the Lower East Side, there’s a punk rock band named Dark Mistress, who have modeled themselves after Raven. The titular Titan actually shows up and is in the audience during the show.
On the last page, the mysterious, robotic supervillain rebuilds herself with her nanobot technology. It’s also revealed that she’s working with Manchester Black, and he suggests she attack the Dark Mistress concert, because a couple of S.T.A.R. interns are attending. He’s also back to wearing his pre-reboot costume instead of the scientist suit from earlier in the issue.
Also, even though the robot lady is called Algorithm, Bleeding Cool seems to think she’s Ladytron. Personally, I have no clue.
There are a ton of cool ideas in this comic, but Pfeifer only barely touches upon them. Beast Boy making Youtube videos as an animal? Awesome! Bunker on Chirper? Kind of cool. Raven embracing the underground music scene? Yes, please! Wonder Girl having to confront a squad of women inspired by her? Sounds great! Red Robin ignoring it all in favor of doing his job? Perfect! Heck, even just some quality time between Titans, hanging out and shooting the breeze, would be pretty awesome. But no, Pfeifer has his own agenda, and it’s as dumb as a pile of bricks. Who gives a rat’s butt about S.T.A.R. Labs?! In this near-century of DC Comics, I challenge anyone to tell me one S.T.A.R. Labs story that ever mattered or was even the least bit interesting!
I get that he’s probably excited to use Manchester Black, or is super pumped to debut this Ladytron villain, but the comic is Teen Titans. I want to read about the Teen Titans. I want to see them used and explored in new and interesting ways. The whole reason a relaunch was necessary was because Scott Lobdell drove the comic into the ground with an unending stream of stupid storylines and even stupider villains. Why is it so difficult to focus on the Titans themselves? Who at DC is insisting that this comic be about generic superhero nonsense?
Honestly, Titans fans should just go watch Teen Titans Go!
Kenneth Rocafort is still around on art, and while I like him, I don’t think he’s the best fit for this comic. His characters are very angular and…I’m not sure how else to explain them. Just look at the pictures. Rocafort’s style is all his own. He also loves white space, like in that picture with Red Robin, and he loves adding strange shapes and funkiness to that white space and the borders of panels. You can see a bit of it at the bottom of the panel where Beast Boy and Bunker talk to the old man and the young woman. It’s another uniquely Rocafort artistic style, and it’s weird. I’m not against it, I suppose, but it’s still weird. Rocafort is a fine superhero artist, and he draws a very cool bit of robotics with Algorithm, but I just don’t think his sharp artistic style is right for Teen Titans.
But then what I want from Teen Titans and what we’ve been getting for three years now clearly couldn’t be further apart.