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Review: Teen Titans Annual #3

Holy crap, you guys, I actually liked Teen Titans Annual #3! I fully expected an explosion of horror and bad writing. But damn if Scott Lobdell doesn’t pull one out in the end. I would like to think, that over all these long years of me writing Teen Titans reviews, that you readers have come to trust my judgement. Or maybe you’re finding my blog for the first time and don’t know what to believe. Perhaps you, like the rest of us, just wanted to see how the final issue of Lobdell’s Teen Titans would turn out. I’m happy to say–no, ‘happy’ isn’t the right word. I’m…comfortable saying that Teen Titans Annual #3 isn’t the train wreck I thought it was going to be.

Teen Titans Annual #3

In his final issue on the series he introduced to the New 52, Lobdell manages to go out on a high note, so he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

Comic Rating: 6/10 – Pretty Good.

Two things make this final issue pretty good: focus and teenagers. This Annual features the return of Harvest, the villain that technically brought the Teen Titans together at the start of the series. He was a bad character then and he’s a bad character now. But it’s clear from this issue that Lobdell had intended to stretch this story out across several issues. I would bet dollars to donuts that he had always expected to get around to this story, and he never intended it to be only one issue long. But time makes fools of us all, and here is is cramming everything into a single, oversized issue. On the one hand, it sucks, because there are a lot of themes and moments here that would have benefited from a little room to breath, like his attempts to flesh out Harvest’s character and motivation. Predictably, they’re terrible. But maybe Lobdell could have done something more with them. Of course, that’s a big maybe.

On the other hand, forcing Lobdell to rush through this story keeps the focus of the issue tight. I can’t say that the story is all that good, but at least it doesn’t meander and he doesn’t have time for all of his worst traits, like he did in the recent space story. The whole adventure is over and done with in a single issue, and, again, it wasn’t half bad.

As for the teenagers, Lobdell actually takes the time to treat his characters like real people. The first half of the issue, or at least the first few pages, are the Titans out of costume talking to one another about the future of the team and their duty to try and stop Harvest. This was the #1 thing lacking from Lobdell’s Teen Titans: real, human interaction. Had this series regularly contained even an iota of what we see in this issue, maybe it would have been good. Of course, this is still Lobdell’s Teen Titans, and we quickly leave that human stuff behind, but while it’s there, it’s enjoyable. I can say that with conviction.

We also get our first look at what Kenneth Rocafort will be like on art duties. There are times it looks good and times it looks bad, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what he really brings to the table.

Teen Titans Annual #3 finally brings to an end Scott Lobdell’s horrendous comic. It was all mostly bad, but in his final issue, he wraps the comic up nicely, fixes a few mistakes and hopefully hands the thing off to some much better creators. Join me after the jump to finally put a cork in this sucker.

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The Teen Titans Return in July!

We all knew it was going to happen eventually, but I didn’t realize how closely it would follow the current, horrid Teen Titans series. Either way, the Teen Titans are coming back from cancellation with a new #1 issue by writer Will Pfeifer and artist Kenneth Rocafort! The roster isn’t going to change, keeping Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Raven, Beast Boy and Bunker!

The new Teen Titans are just the old Teen Titans

Newsarama made the reveal today, posting the cover and an interview with Pfeifer. Most recently, he’s been writing a few issues of Red Hood and the Outlaws. Beyond that, he hasn’t been in comics for a few years now. That’s not a good sign, as far as I’m concerned. But maybe he has some good ideas in store.

From the interview, it looks like Pfeifer is kind of going to keep things the way they are. The Titans are going to be heroes and fight bad guys. Though Pfiefer does claim that he’ll be focusing on them more as teenagers. That’s a good sign as far as I’m concerned, and it was the No. 1 thing missing from Scott Lobdell’s series. The key to a really good Teen Titans comic, in my opinion, is a focus on the characters as teenagers first, superheroes second. Just because they wear colorful costumes doesn’t mean they have to be in those costumes all the time.

Pfeifer had this to say about the series:

The fact that these characters are actual teens (and we’re going to be writing them like actual teens, too) opens up a whole world of possibilities. I mentioned before how they’re going to screw things up from time to time, and though that has some serious implications, it’s also a way to put some genuine comedy into the book. Plus, the Titans haven’t been heroes for too long, which means they’re not burned out or jaded by the (insane) pressures of the superheroic life. They’re actually having fun themselves – well, sometimes – and I want that to come across in the comic.

I find it very interesting that Teen Titans is starting over with a new #1 issue. This is a tactic that Marvel does a lot, but DC hasn’t done it since the start of the New 52. This is a new gimmick for DC. And I really, really, really think it has to do with washing off the stink of Lobdell’s run. That comic was just horrendous. Clearly, though, Pfeifer is going to keep the same cast and tell the same stories. So what other reason could DC have for starting with a new #1 than trying to lure back readers that Lobdell scared off?

Of course, Pfeifer doesn’t put it like that.

Putting the #1 on the cover of our first issue accomplished a couple of things: First of all, it draws attention to the book. There are so many comic books competing for the readers’ attention now – not just with other books but with video games, TV and that little thing called “the internet” – that anything we can do to lure some eyes to our cover is something I’m all far. But even more importantly, that #1 lets the reader know that this isn’t just a continuation of the other series. Yes, the Titans are the same heroes, and no, we’re not going to kick things off with a year of origin stories, but we are heading in a new direction and exploring some new themes.

If you’ve been reading the book, by all means, keep reading it. (Please – I have a daughter who’s going to need braces soon!) But if you haven’t been reading Teen Titans, give this version a shot. I don’t think there’s another book on the shelves quite like it.

I am always willing to give a series like this one a shot. So consider me on board, and definitely keep reading the in depth reviews that will continue with the new creative team.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll get an enjoyable Teen Titans comic in the New 52.

Also, why is Beast Boy suddenly green again? Another sign that DC are trying to correct their mistakes?

Review: Teen Titans #27

Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. Whatever vestiges of quality that Teen Titans still possessed have been culled from the comic. Reading Teen Titans #27, it’s easy to see why DC Comics is canceling the series straight out instead of giving it a new creative team. The only chance these characters or this team have in the New 52 going forward is to slash and burn everything Scott Lobdell cast his gaze upon. DC must rip the black, shriveled heart from this beast and burn it in the fires of effigy.

Teen Titans #27

Teen Titans is an embarrassment. It’s a comic book for idiots. Teen Titans is for readers who don’t care about characters, consistency or common sense, and love it when writers poke fun at their audience.

Comic Rating: 2/10 – Very Bad.

I am not a comic book purist by any means. I am a curmudgeon in many ways, but I am very open to change, and embraced the possibilities when the New 52 launched. I may not be happy with the disastrous alterations s to Tim Drake’s origin, but I’m open to the idea of altering it. And I was never a diehard Teen Titans fan, unwilling to accept any changes to a favorite comic. By all means, DC, try something new. But every change Lobdell has brought upon this team and these characters seems personally designed to ruin everything anybody ever loved about them.

If you had any love for Bart Allen or Kid Flash in any of their forms, then your only hope is to look to the past. The New 52 does not care about your love for the character.

But that’s not the worst thing about Teen Titans #27. The problem with this issue is the same problem that has plagues this series from the beginning: bad writing. I don’t have enough experience with comic history to know if the tropes and styles Lobdell has applied to Teen Titans were more prominent in the 90s, when he was a bigger deal. All I know is that they don’t work in the 21st century comic book industry. These characters do not have heart. These characters do not have consistency from one issue to the next. These are colorful, vaguely familiar blobs who float along in an ether of bad storytelling.

What should have been a series about real teenagers coming together to care about one another and fight side-by-side is instead a series about a bunch of meaningless, interchangeable action figures dancing to a plot that seems to be made up as it goes along.

Join me after the jump to revel in this abomination.

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Holy Cow, Teen Titans has Been Cancelled!

The worst (best?) has happened as it seems that Scott Lobdell has driven Teen Titans into the ground. Announced by Lobdell himself on ComicVine today, Teen Titans will be cancelled at issue #30 in April!

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Wow. This is fascinating news. It’s sad that I won’t be able to continue my popular Teen Titans reviews (ravagings?), but man oh man, how great would it be if DC Comics found something better to do with the title and the characters?

Lobdell explained that the last regular issue will be #30, followed by an Annual a week later, which will wrap up the series with a final battle against N.O.W.H.E.R.E., because Lobdell insists they’re the Titans’ arch-enemies. Groan.

I’m thrilled the DC is letting me wrap up the story on a high note as the TEEN TITANS square off against the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. in a final battle — bringing to conclusion the conflict that began in the first issue! I’m certainly going to miss writing the adventures of Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Bunker and the rest of the gang. But as a huge, life long fan of the title I’m very excited about the whispered rumors I’m hearing race back and forth between New York and Burbank.  (Trust me when I say we haven’t seen the last of everyone’s favorite teen team adventurers.)

Let’s read between the lines for a moment. You’ll see that Teen Titans is being cancelled instead of just being handed off to a new creative team. With a title as marquee as ‘Teen Titans’, why wouldn’t DC just let somebody take over from Lobdell?

I think the answer is because Lobdell so greatly screwed up the team that DC has no choice but to burn it down and start fresh somewhere down the line. That is exactly what I think has happened. Ugh. Teen Titans is so bad. The characters have been all but ruined.

If only DC could completely erase everything Lobdell did to the Titans. But at the very least, now there is hope for something better. Hope with me, my friends. Hope.

The DC New 52 Reboot Has No Patience

So Clark Kent quit his longtime reporter job at the Daily Planet last week, in Superman #13. For some reason, major news outlets thought this was news, and it was splashed all over the Internet and mainstream media. I didn’t write anything about it at the time because I don’t consider this news. And not just because it’s a story in a comic book – that stuff is totally news worthy.

And while I don’t think it’s news, I do think it’s a symptom of a larger problem at DC Comics: They’ve had zero patience in this first year, telling big, important stories without taking the time to establish and grow their characters. They’re screwing themselves over in the long run with the New 52.

The perfect visual metaphor

I’ve wanted to write this article for awhile now, and it’s taken many forms. But the big deal made out of Clark Kent quitting the Daily Planet really underlines exactly what I think is wrong with the New 52: they’re publishing for the short term only. Their events and stories are all designed for immediate sales and popularity, with seemingly little thought put into what the comics will look like 5 or 10 years from now.

Join me after the jump for more, and a deeper exploration of what it really means for Clark Kent to quit the Daily Planet.

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