The Teen Titans are back this week, after a brief hiatus, in a new series. It’s been a couple of months since the last series, written by Scott Lobdell from the beginning of the New 52, ended. And after a bit of controversy over the cover (nothing like free publicity), it’s up to the new creative team of Will Pfeifer and Kenneth Rocafort to show that they can revitalize the perennial team of teenaged heroes after the first run became bogged down with a leaden plot. With a focus on the growing menace known as social media as a framing device, the eyes of the world, and comic readers, are focused on the Titans. So, does Red Robin’s team finally take flight?
It truly is a fresh start as Pfeifer wastes no time cutting straight to the action. A bunch of teenaged crooks commandeer a school bus full of touring kids to attack the New York branch of STAR Labs, and it’s up to the Titans to stop them. With Red Robin coordinating from atop the Freedom Tower (before leaping into the fray himself), it’s up to the Titans to stop this menace. The team is now a well oiled machine compared to how they were in Lobdell’s run; obviously in the three months since we last saw them they’ve been practicing. Each team member gets their chance to shine this issue. While they sound a tad too professional, they aren’t above the wisecracks and quips that is the hallmark of any Titan group. There is one STAR Labs employee who has taken an interest in the Titans, a British scientist known as Mr. Black, likely Manchester Black (most famous from “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, And The American Way”); and there does seem to be a connection between the Titans and STAR Labs. While the social media presence is shown in the story, it is not as widespread in this opening issue. Pfeifer does seem to get the voices of the characters right, hewing them closer to a pre-New 52 tone while making them still fresh. For example, Beast Boy is back to being green, though how that happened hasn’t been explained yet, and is back to being the jokester of the group. However, Bunker has a moment that, due to a slur, is a bit out of character for him; he’s always been comfortable with his sexuality and until this point has let insults about it pass without incident. Otherwise, the characterizations are quite solid. As for the leader of the crooks du jour, she is mysterious and we don’t know much about her for now; we do know she is virulently against STAR Labs’ new facility that’s being built. Hopefully we will learn more about her eventually.
Rocafort is solid on art, making this one of the prettiest books to look at this week. The revamped cover, perhaps due to the aforementioned controversy, gives the book the youthful energy it needs, and the interiors match. All the characters look awesome, as does New York City (which might actually be a lot cleaner in the comics than it is in reality). Rocafort stretches panels outside of the standard rectangles and squares to create interesting layouts that match his beautiful art. However, sometimes faces and costumes look a tad overly angular, and a couple faces look off. Wonder Girl’s transformation into her costume might send some people screaming to Tumblr about sexism in comics (though we know from Lobdell’s run that her costume flows magically over her clothes). Other than those, the art is amazing to look at and is exquisitely detailed down to Beast Boy’s whiskers (as a tiger). Brown’s colors complement Rocafort’s pencils and helps add to the energy and shows that this book is not going to be durm und strang.
It’s a fresh start for the Titans, and it’s a strong one as well. Pfeifer has the team down pat, with a couple hiccups, and Rocafort’s art gives it youthful energy. It’s also a great book for newcomers and oldtimers alike to read, as it doesn’t hit you over the head with what came before, choosing instead to charge ever forward. And while some team members might be missed (for now), it seems these Titans are ready to defend the Big Apple. Hopefully “Chirper” won’t destroy them.
Final Score: 9 out of 10