Review: Teen Titans #10
Teen Titans #10 is the worst issue of this comic since the start of the New 52, and possibly the worst professionally-published comic book I have ever read. I am in stunned awe at just how terrible this issue is, especially since I’ve generally kind of liked the past few issues by writer Will Pfeifer. But something seems to have broken inside of him. There is no other way to explain just how much this issue fails on every conceivable level. The writing is bad, the characters are bad, the exposition is bad, the flow is bad, the sequence of events are bad, the logic is bad, and guest artist Felipe Watanabe is horrendous.
This will be the first comic to receive my lowest grade since I started reviewing comics on my blog. This grade was supposed to be intended as a joke.
Comic Rating: 0/10 – Abomination.
The insanity begins with the very first panel and just doesn’t let up. Nothing works in this comic. It’s as if Pfeifer has no idea that he’s been writing Teen Titans for a year now. Teen Titans #10 reads like he took several years off between issues, and rather than research the story he’d been writing before, he’s just decided to wing it. Almost every single page contains multiple instances of just straight up illogical events or dialogue. Characters talk about things that never happened. They move their bodies in ways that just don’t make any sense. They react to things with no semblance to what’s actually happening on the page. Teen Titans #10 is a mess.
But it picks up the story exactly where Pfeifer left off, that’s the weirdest thing! We’re still right in the middle of the Teen Titans fighting over Superboy. And that should make for a fun, character-based story! But Pfeifer can’t seem to handle that. Rather than write a story about the Teen Titans struggling with the moral quandry of turning on their friend, Pfeifer appears to have suffered a stroke. He’s clearly not reading the same comic that any of us have been reading the past several months and years.
And when regular artist Kenneth Rocafort is unavailable, apparently DC Comics found somebody even worse to fill in.
I have no idea why this comic is still being published. With DC going through a rather awesome creative revival this Summer, how the hell are they still churning out the pure garbage that is Teen Titans? Hell, Do you know what variant covers DC is offering this month? Teen Titans Go! covers! This is Teen Titans Go! Month! And yet the Teen Titans comic is so terrible!
Join me after the jump if you dare, and maybe you can help me make sense out of any of this.
I hope you’re prepared, dear blog reader, because I’m not going to go easy on this comic. Why do I think it’s an abomination? I’m going to show you, page-by-page, panel-by-panel.
Let’s get started, shall we? I said the insanity dropped hard on the very first panel, so let’s start there.
OK, so you’d think this was just a normal panel establishing the scene, but look at those captions. Beast Boy’s father? What? The Titans mentioned it briefly in a throwaway line last issue that they’re hiding out in Beast Boy’s dad’s luxury apartment. It was such a minor line that I forgot it was even said. I had to go back and research to see if this panel made any sense. But it’s not like it was a major plot point, and definitely not something to use as a weird inside joke at the start of this issue. We’ve never met Beast Boy’s father and we have no idea that he’s rich, so the joke is just awkward.
Why even use Beast Boy’s father’s apartment? It’s not like it was ever established that Beast Boy’s dad has a luxury apartment in Chicago. This has just been made up on the spot. And even if it had been set up, that sort of thing is very traceable. Why isn’t Red Robin paying for their new hiding spot? It’s already established in Teen Titans comics that Red Robin gets the team fancy HQs, and that he loves using apartments for the team bases. Plus, we ALL know that Batman is rich and that Batman could afford this place. If you’re trying to make a joke about affording a place like this, why not say Batman? We would ALL get that joke!
And that’s just the first panel, people.
As for the second panel…
Once you get through the clunky exposition getting us all up to speed, I want to focus on something there: Who are the Elite? What’s that? Wonder Girl’s new team is called ‘The Elite’? Since when? I had to go back two issues to when the team was first revealed to see that Pfiefer mentioned the name. But just like that bit about Beast Boy’s dad, he dropped the name in such a way that it didn’t actually sound like a big deal. Manchester Black was in the process of telling Wonder Girl and Power Girl that they deserved to be on a better team, and he welcomed them to the elite. There was no fanfare about the name, and at the time, I literally thought he was just saying this was ‘an elite team’.
But nope, they’re apparently named ‘The Elite’. Granted, it says that on the cover of this issue, but if we’re going to talk about the cover, it needs to be pointed out that this is actually the first stand against The Elite.
Also, ‘The Elite’ is a stupid name. It’s taken from Manchester Black’s original team in the Pre-52, back when both he and the team were just supposed to exist for a single Superman story that had real themes and a point to make. Here, Pfeifer just slaps the name on this new team, despite it having nothing to do with the original Elite or anything else for that matter.
As for the next panel…
So we’ve got some quick character introductions for all the team members of the Elite, that’s fine. But let’s pick at a few of them, if I may. Like Power Girl. She’s a ‘former Teen Titan’? Please, she was a Teen Titan for all of five minutes, and she spent those five minutes completely disagreeing with everything the Titans were doing.
Also of note is the description for Trinity there on the far right. If you’ve been following along, Trinity has appeared in the background of maybe half a dozen panels. She has had no lines, no explanation and has barely existed as even a blip.
But now, all of a sudden, we’re informed that she’s both an Indigo Lantern and a ‘cosmic psychotic’? Excuse me? What? Where the hell is that coming from?
Pfefier can just create a human Indigo Lantern living on Earth? Is nothing sacred? Do you realize how few human Lanterns there are, let alone human Lanterns outside the Green Lantern Corps? It makes absolutely no sense for an Indigo Lantern to be on Earth, let alone be a member of the Elite! NO SENSE!
But we’ll get back to Trinity in a moment when she has her big scene…
As for the next panel…
Bart isn’t doing anything. He’s interrupting you, sure, but does that require you to exclaim ‘What the hell are you doing?’. Granted, obviously, he’s going to do the thing on the very next page, but why the heck does Pfeifer have Wonder Girl comment on it on this page? Doesn’t that kind of violate Comic Book Writing 101? Why is she commenting on something that hasn’t happened yet? For that matter, why not draw Bart shoving past the others or anything else instead of just standing there? That way, Cassie would actually have something to respond to.
Ugh. That’s only the first page. Every single freakin’ panel has something wrong with it, something that just doesn’t belong! Pfeifer is throwing out references to characters and concepts that have barely received a passing reference before! Beast Boy’s dad is rich and is paying for this apartment? Cassie’s team is named ‘The Elite’? Trinity is a freaking Indigo Lantern? None of these concepts get any sort of proper introduction! Pfiefer is just throwing concepts around like he was Johnny Appleseed or something!
As for the next page…
So what does Kid Flash do? Something that, again, makes absolutely no sense!
Let’s break down this page, shall we? So Kid Flash is clearly using his super speed, because that’s what it looks like when he uses his super speed. But he uses this speed to run from his spot in the group, to the far side of the room, jump over a couch, then back to pretty much the exact place where he left. If he’s using super speed, that should take all of 1 second. But apparently it takes him long enough to get off this long-winded introductory speech! The writing and the art just don’t match up in the most basic way!
Moving on, Kid Flash is angry at Red Robin because he believes that the Titans abandoned him and Solstice in the future, but somehow, he’s been pulled back to the present, leaving her in prison in the future. I would get mad at this bit of storytelling, but thankfully, Pfeifer somehow remembers that the Titans didn’t just abandon their friends.
In case you don’t remember, Kid Flash and Solstice were left in the future because he was a violent revolutionary who pleaded guilty to his crimes and was properly sentenced. Then Solstice, after being told that she’d have to go home without Kid Flash, immediately turned around and MURDERED A JUDGE!! IN COLD FREAKING BLOOD!
They both deserved their punishments, and the Titans were right to leave them. You don’t get to have your superhero friends bust you out of jail after you murder a judge.
Anyway, for some insane reason, Kid Flash is poking Red Robin in the chest so hard that Red Robin is starting to break through the glass window behind him. They’re on the top floor of a high rise building, but apparently the windows are like tissue paper. Red Robin uses a mini-flashbang to distract Kid Flash, then Beast Boy transforms into a hippo in order to sit on him. And Beast Boy thanks Robin for not letting the window get destroyed because, as you’ll recall, apparently his dad is paying for all this.
Also, remember last issue, when Superboy destroyed the window by flying through it? Yeah, I guess nobody else remembers.
Anyway, with the situation calmed down, Wonder Girl and Red Robin have it out in another panel that just doesn’t make any sense in the larger context of the series.
When did they have these conversations? I’ve read every single Teen Titans comic since the launch of the New 52, and at no point do Wonder Girl and Red Robin have extensive conversations about anything related to their current situation. I’m not even sure to what she’s referring right now! Is she talking about Superboy? About Red Robin protecting Superboy? What is she talking about? What ‘only real solution’?
Superboy doesn’t take too kindly to anything she’s talking about, and he knocks her away into the TV. Guardian steps up, but Superboy smashes him out of the entire building.
Then we get to Trinity’s big scene.
Let’s take this step by step.
So Klarion and Trinity step up to take on Superboy, and Klarion says, “Trinity is not what she appears, Superboy.” What is that even supposed to mean? She appears to be an Indigo Lantern, and at least she talks like one, but what is Klarion getting at? Then Superboy calls her ‘Trinity’ as if he’s always known who she is, which he obviously hasn’t. Then she uses her power to just make two copies of herself? Is that why she’s called Trinity?! Is that the entire reason?!
Then Klarion apparently starts warping the reality around Superboy, which apparently just amounts to making the background wobbly, but the panel’s background is just an indistinct solid color.
Then Superboy declares that ‘All Lanterns have a weakness.’
First of all, no they don’t. Second of all, how would you even know this? Are you an expert on the various Lantern Corps somehow? And third of all, is her weakness punching? Because that’s all you’re doing.
Also, an Indigo Lantern’s powers involve mimicking the power of other Lanterns. There are no other Lanterns nearby, but Trinity is still randomly able to create two duplicates of herself that do absolutely nothing.
On the following page, Superboy is smashing the couch, because I guess that’s what happens when reality warps around you. Then Guardian returns and gets into a fistfight with Superboy, because that went so well last time. And we check in with Robin and Raven, who are off standing in a corner, minding their own business.
For some reason, Robin doesn’t just have them teleport out immediately. Instead, he waits and times their exit with Superboy punching Guardian’s shield, which knocks everybody out. It’s not like anybody was paying any attention to Robin and Raven. Why couldn’t they just leave whenever? Why did they have to wait for his ‘signal’?
Anyway, so the reverberations from the shield punch knock everybody out except Superboy. He doesn’t want to fight anymore, so he heads to the window and prepares to take off. And here we get another baffling moment that just doesn’t make any logical sense.
First of all, who’s Michael? Are we supposed to know who that is?
Second of all, if Superboy is going to fly away, why does he fly straight down? Obviously he does it so that Power Girl can jump on his back, but that doesn’t make any sense in context! Why would he not fly up or forward or in any other direction than down?
Then, turn the page, and we get another insane moment.
Where the hell is this wrestling thing coming from? I realize we don’t know a lot about Power Girl, and maybe she’s into wrestling, but is this really the way to spring that on us? Could Pfiefer think of no other way for Power Girl to wrap her arms around Superboy’s head? He had to come up with some insane explanation where she’s not yet very good with her powers, but watches enough wrestling to be able to master a chokehold? Also, ‘wrestling downloads’? Who downloads wrestling?
Anyway, Superboy just picks her off his back and throws her down to the ground. So the chokehold didn’t even matter.
Wonder Girl flies down to check on Power Girl, who’s fine. So Wonder Girl declares that ‘she’s got this’ and flies off. Then we have the only legitimately fun moment in the entire comic.
Except, eh, since I’m already on a roll here. The John Hancock Building is a super tall skyscraper that you just came from, do you really not know how to get back to it? Also, Power Girl really toes the company line there in the second panel. She’s that dedicated to her place on S.T.A.R. Labs’ team?
So Wonder Girl catches up to Superboy and they smash back into the top of the Hancock building for some reason. Shouldn’t Superboy have been flying away from that area? Debris starts raining down, and Klarion turns it into snow so that it doesn’t harm anyone. Apparently they all recovered from the earlier attack and are now just standing around the apartment still. Klarion then realizes that Raven and Robin are in New York, because he can just know that sort of thing, plus who cares?
We cut away to New York and Manchester Black’s apartment in One World Trade Center. Pfiefer makes another lame joke about us not being able to afford living there, but Manchester Black can afford it, because his job has a big salary. Glad to know that. He’s on the phone with somebody, and based on his conversation, it sounds like he’s talking to someone on the Elite, telling them that he ‘spent a fortune putting you kids together’ and that he wants them to capture Superboy. Only after that speech does the person on the other end of the line exclaim that Red Robin and Raven are after him, and sure enough, the pair pop into his apartment to ‘talk’.
Who was he talking to on the phone? Why did that person wait until he was done with his generic spiel before warning him about Red Robin and Raven? And how long does it take for Raven to teleport? A lot of time has passed between when Robin and Raven left and when Klarion realized they were gone.
Anyway, back to the fight, Wonder Girl warns Superboy that, if they don’t stop, then somebody’s going to get killed. Superboy agrees, so he grabs her and drags her down into the river, where she promptly blacks out from lack of oxygen. Superboy’s fine though.
Kid Flash races down to check on her, and Chimera joins him, once again explaining that she can copy super powers just by taking another person’s shape. That doesn’t make much sense at all, but whatever. Anyway, Superboy throws Wonder Girl to safety and finally flies off, while the other heroes check on her. She wakes up shortly thereafter, and Klarion tells her that Red Robin and Raven have gone after Manchester Black, so Wonder Girl has them teleport to Black’s apartment.
And just like last issue, Kid Flash runs, because that’s what he does. It’s not like he’s going to get there ahead of them and use the extra time to scout out the area. He’s going to show up exactly when they do, so what’s the point of running there instead? Is he afraid of teleporting?
We cut back to Manhattan, where Manchester Black suddenly announces that he has super powers and can easily mop the floor with both Red Robin and Raven.
He can even resist the psychic powers of the Daughter of Trigon, that’s how vaguely powerful he is. Wonderful. Just tack that onto Pfiefer’s man-crush on Manchester Black.
When Raven tries to peer into Black’s mind to find a way to help Superboy (why would Manchester Black know that?), he feeds her a vision of a super-powered prison. He claims that the answer to Superboy’s salvation lies in that prison, and it’s where they’ll have to go if they want to help him. But considering the Elite (minus that slowpoke Kid Flash) have arrived at his apartment, our heroes might not get out at all.
And that’s it, the merciful end. Jeez louise, this issue is terrible in every possible way.
On a small picture level, the story jerks, stalls and fumbles on almost every panel. Pfiefer has no control over his characters or his scenes. He has spent zero time fleshing anybody out, let alone this entire second team of super-teens. So when they all butt heads or get into fights, it’s just action figures bashing into one another. We haven’t seen Superboy in a very long time, but all of a sudden he’s the center of attention and everybody has deep feelings about him. Kid Flash being trapped in the future was a huge deal at the end of the last volume of Teen Titans, but now he’s back with little to no fanfare. He’s just back, nobody really cares or questions it, and Pfiefer so far doesn’t really have anything interesting to do with him to even warrant the return.
Then you’ve got someone like Trinity, who defies all logic! Pfiefer gets to create an original character to be on The Elite, and he just trips and falls flat on his face. A human Indigo Lantern? Who’s only power is apparently making two construct copies of herself that don’t do anything? And that earns her the name ‘Trinity’? It’s not only disrespectful to everything the Green Lantern writers built out of the multi-colored Corps, but Trinity is just a general waste of space.
The fight scene isn’t even that. Pfiefer has so many characters in this tiny apartment that most of them just stand around doing absolutely nothing while only one or two characters fight at a time. Raven and Red Robin are off just standing in a corner, minding their own business, when he gets the bright idea to teleport out of there. And he only teleports two of them for some reason! It’s not like Beast Boy or Bunker were doing anything in the fight either! Or Chimera!
And when he does focus on the characters, Pfiefer has no idea who or what he’s writing. He suddenly establishes that Power Girl loves studying ‘wrestling downloads’, but that feels like an afterthought. Like the artist drew her with Superboy in a headlock, so Pfiefer scrambled to come up with some reason why Power Girl knows how to perform a headlock. Was ‘wrestling downloads’ really the best he could come up with? Why not establish that she used to wrestle in high school or something? Why even establish anything about wrestling? Who can’t figure out a basic headlock on their own?
Not that the headlock even mattered.
I could go on and on.
But even on a big picture level, this issue is terrible. Pfiefer barely pays any lip service to any actual deeper emotions about The Elite taking Superboy into custody. There are no moral dilemmas here anymore. It’s just one big, lazy, discombobulated fight scene. There are no deeper character moments, no understandings between any of the characters. He just whooshes them through one scuffle after another without any bearing on anything. And then the issue ends with a tease that Manchester Black is going to send Red Robin and Raven to some kind of Supermax Prison? Where does that even come from?
His script is all over the place with random concepts and references dropped here or there. Beast Boy’s father is apparently a big deal, despite never having factored into his character or this comic ever before. And Chimera can mimic the super-powers of anyone she transforms into, which makes no sense, because how do her powers know what powers other people have? It’s not like she touches them and absorbs their essence. There are just so many random instances of illogical scripting!
And the art is just bad. Amateur bad. Felipe Watanabe’s characters fail in basic anatomy, with hard, angular shifts and bends. He’s pretty good when it comes to close up faces, but everything else is just wonky, like looking through a funhouse mirror.
I am still in awe at how terrible Teen Titans is as a comic. It’s always been terrible in the New 52, and the change in creative team brought absolutely nothing new or different or better to the table. This is DC’s forgotten step-child of a comic, beaten until it’s black and blue and then left to just meander along without even the slightest bit of care.
But hey, they’re glad you watch Teen Titans Go!, apparently.