Review: Teen Titans #15
Well hot diggity dog! Somebody break out the fine wine and party hats, we’ve got a pretty decent issue of Teen Titans on our hands! Nothing in this new issue really grinds my gears. We’ve got some good art from one of my favorites, Ian Churchill. The villain is pretty dastardly, and while he does come out of left field, he does so in a normal, comic book sort of way. And Bunker is this close to having the lead role this issue. I honestly hope this is the start of bigger and better things for Bunker.
Don’t let the cover fool you, though. This is a pretty crappy crossover with Robin War, but it’s a pretty nice issue of Teen Titans.
Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.
I know what you’re thinking: I usually hate Teen Titans. And it’s true, I do. But I don’t hate Teen Titans out of some ingrown desire to hate it, it’s just not my comics cup of tea, despite the creative teams’ best efforts. Teen Titans has a lot of problems. But those problems have a lot of easy solutions, and writers Will Pfeifer and Scott Lobdell do a lot of things almost right in this new issue. The madness has died down. We’re free of whatever the heck DC wanted done with Superboy. Now it’s just the Teen Titans being superheroes. There’s also almost a scene of them being ordinary teenagers, but it’s gone in a (Kid) flash. But that aside, this is a solid issue. It doesn’t make Teen Titans a worthwhile comic, but considering Teen Titans as a whole, this is sort of a pleasant experience.
Look, if you’re like me and would like to read a consistently enjoyable and entertaining Teen Titans comic, this isn’t it. But if you’re also like me, and you’re still buying this series and hoping for the best, then today is your lucky day! With Red Robin off playing War, the rest of the Titans are left to find and fight bad guys all on their own. And while Pfeifer and Lobdell don’t go nearly far enough to flesh out the other Titans, at least the issue is a good read.
Join me after the jump for the full synopsis and more review!
We open with the book’s only real bit of insanity. Beast Boy plays newscaster in order to recap the events of Robin War (since anybody who only reads Teen Titans isn’t going to know what’s going on). It’s a semi-interesting way to do a recap page…but then we turn the page and see that Beast Boy was doing it for real, suit and all?
It’s cute, I guess, but Teen Titans is not a cute book. There are times I wish it was, and that DC would embrace a more Teen Titans Go! mentality. But with Churchill as your artist, this isn’t a cutesy comic full of fourth-wall breaking jokes. This is just weird.
Fortunately, it doesn’t last. Beast Boy, Bunker, Raven and Power Girl are still at the Robin’s Nest in Gotham City, waiting for word from Red Robin. But they’re not going to just stand around and wait for him after Raven senses something evil in the city. Considering it’s Gotham City, that probably just means it’s a Tuesday. But Teen Titans can’t go a single issue without a super-villain to fight, so off they go.
Meanwhile, the other half of the team has much better plans for how to spend their downtime. Wonder Girl has broken into a mansion and opened it up to the rest of the team (without telling them how she got it). They’re outside the cesspool of Gotham City, and she, Kid Flash, Chimera and Reiser are all relaxing in a luxurious indoor pool.
I might have said something about the scantily clad Wonder Girl on this page, but honestly…I kind of think that’s exactly the sort of bikini she would wear. The addition of a completely human Reiser is kind of weird, but I know absolutely nothing about his character, so maybe this is normal for him.
If it was up to me, I would spend the entire issue on this scene. I’d have the whole team there, and maybe they’d actually be split about what to do with themselves without Red Robin to lead them. And maybe they’d find out how Cassie broke into this place, and maybe they could have a moral discussion about whether or not they’re OK with breaking and entering. The Teen Titans are rudderless and groundless. They have no base, no real mission statement; they’re only a team because the comic keeps getting published. With the Lawful Good Red Robin gone, this would be the perfect time for the rest of these teenagers to put their heads together and figure out what the hell they’re doing with their lives.
And maybe it turns out that Bunker and his faction decide that what they’re doing with their lives is blind superheroism, just responding to whatever bad things they can find. But then Wonder Girl and her faction argue in favor of actually living and enjoying their youth alongside the superheroics.
These would be interesting conversations, but we don’t get them. Instead, Wonder Girl and Reiser basically recap their origins and the plot to one another. And then we never see any of them again for the rest of the issue.
The issue then cuts to one of several Robin War interludes, but I’m going to save those summaries until the end.
The main story shifts back to Bunker and his squad, who have tracked Raven’s ill feelings to the scariest place in all of Gotham.
Inside, they find a bunch of people dressed up like identical hideous dolls. Everyone is sufficiently freaked out.
Raven can sense that each of the doll people is imprisoned, trapped within these hideous forms. They’re unmoving, but they’re not unfeeling. There is some bad juju here. And Bunker decides that he can’t stands no more! He bursts into the auditorium to discover the villain hard at work!
So this appearance by Professor Pyg falls into that grand Teen Titans tradition of just randomly throwing villains and adversaries into the comic…but not quite. Just you guys and gals wait. Pfeifer and Lobdell are going somewhere with this. Plus, Pyg is always good for a hoot, so why not throw the Titans up against him while they’re in Gotham City?
Of course, one has to wonder if Batman and Robin would have ever gotten around to stopping Professor Pyg from torturing so many people, but they’re kind of busy right now dealing with their own stuff.
So the Titans are royally peeved, and they launch a hella cool attack, but they’re soon overwhelmed by the doll people from the lobby. Since these people are prisoners, the Titans don’t want to fight back, so they get knocked out and captured instead. Bunker wakes up on one of Pyg’s gurneys a short time later and discovers that Beast Boy has been strung up, with Pyg sucking out his blood! He’s also pumping it into one of the cast members of the play!
That is totally gnarly, and very much in line with Professor freakin’ Pyg. The Titans are up against some seriously whacked out craziness here! And fortunately, they’re not pushovers.
Bunker immediately uses his bricks to break free of the gurney, as do Raven and Power Girl. But before they can take out Pyg, they’re attacked by the actress, who has turned into a weird, green, morphing animal monster due to the blood transfusion. Once again, Bunker can’t bring himself to harm an innocent, but Power Girl grows super huge and just grabs her and knocks her out. Pyg got away, but the girl reverts back to normal and Beast Boy is cut down. No sign of what happened to the doll prisoners, but let’s just cut our losses here, people.
Then Power Girl makes a freaky discovery!
That’s legitimately creepy and interesting!
And sure enough, an epilogue makes it moreso! We discover that Pyg is actually working for classic Titans villain Brother Blood, who tasked him with securing blood samples from the Titans with super powers. Blood is particularly interested in Beast Boy’s blood, and what it could do for the Cult of Blood! Dun dun dun!
So Pyg wasn’t just some random villain after all! Pfeifer and Lodbell are going somewhere with this, and they’re bringing in a classic Titans baddie to make it happen! That shows promise!
And as for the Robin War stuff? Basically, this issue’s tie-in takes place between the pages of Robin: Son of Batman #7, the next proper part of the Robin War story. This issue has just a few cutaways as the Robins, led by Red Robin and Red Hood, make their way across the city to Gotham Academy. There’s a brief encounter with a nervous cop, but everybody makes it to the Academy and Robin: Son of Batman isn’t interrupted in any way whatsoever (It actually doesn’t even acknowledge this tie-in). Honestly, this tie-in is largely worthless. But whatevs. I ain’t gonna complain.
And I’m not really going to complain about Teen Titans #15 either. It’s not perfect, but it might be the best we’re going to get from this series. It’s a straight forward story, against a villain with legitimate ties to the team, and with a legitimate threat. The Titans work together to overcome the odds, with a tiny bit of character development here and there. They use their powers well, they work together well, there’s at least one joke. Honestly, this is a solid issue of Teen Titans in the New 52.
But it also doesn’t go far enough in character development. I loved seeing Bunker in the lead, but the team’s dialogue never gets deeper than surface level. They only really talk about what’s happening to them in the story. Even the conversation between Reiser and Wonder Girl is about the plot and their powers. Reiser, who appears in human form, despite what we saw last issue, feels the need to re-explain how his powers work to Wonder Girl. Obviously, it helps the reader to understand what is going on with him, but surely the writers could have found a more interesting way to explain that.
Apparently, Reiser has some kind of unrequited crush on Wonder Girl (based on what we read last issue), yet here they are lounging by a pool, with Wonder Girl in a very revealing bikini. Does Reiser have absolutely no reaction to that?
Huh, I guess I am complaining a little bit…
The biggest problem with Teen Titans is that the team and the characters have no foundation. There’s no real structure to the team or their adventures. This team exists due to inertia. They just keep moving forward, adding members at random, and responding to whatever threat randomly pops up next. That’s good enough for a generic superhero comic, I suppose, but comics in 2015 tend to be deeper and more character-based.
So yeah, I would have much preferred an issue where everybody hangs out around a pool and discusses what they want to do with their lives. They’re ostensibly teenagers, but none of them have any lives or teenager qualities. They never talk about not having permanent homes or families or friends or the fact that they’re not in school.
Harry Potter and his teenage friends managed to save the world multiple times, but they still dealt with homework, teachers, friendships, relationships, intramural sports and more. That was the real secret to Harry Potter’s success.
The Teen Titans only have to worry about the next villain that randomly pops into their lives. They’re not characters, they’re action figures. With sexy bikini variants.