The revamped Teen Titans has shown early signs of new life. Led by Damian Wayne’s Robin this new team has definitely shown itself to have elements that was missing in the previous incarnation of the team. That said Teen Titans #20 did not blow me out of the water with its new direction. A lot of little problems with the core story of the Teen Titans capturing villains and holding them in an underground prison. Those problems were luckily balanced by some solid chemistry that the new Teen Titans have shown together thus far. Let’s see if the good can continue and the problems can be fixed with Teen Titans #21.
Writer: Adam Glass
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Story Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: While Gizmo’s toy shop is doing well Gizmo is shown doing something in the his store’s warehouse.
The Teen Titans bust into the warehouse believing Gizmo has nefarious plans. Crush immediately goes after Gizmo but he sends her flying with a sonic blast. Gizmo then defends himself against Kid Flash and Roundhouse with a special barrier.
Robin covers the room in a smoke. This gives Djinn time to sneak up on Gizmo so she can bring Gizmo’s fears to life. Robin then knocks Gizmo out with a batarang.
Red Arrow tells the team that they need to stop relying on being lucky because they are acting like individuals rather than like a team. Robin agrees as they have bigger villains to go up against like The Other. Kid Flash disagrees and thinks Robin and Red Arrow are taking things to seriously.
Suddenly the warehouse’s self-destruct protocol activates. The Teen Titans are confused as to why Gizmo would want to blow up his own place. Not thinking about it more Robin tells Crush, and Djinn to get the people in the toy store out while he, Kid Flash and Red Arrow work on deactivating the bomb.
Roundhouse kisses up to Robin and volunteers to go with Crush and Djinn since he didn’t get an assignment, much to the pairs annoyance because of how he is kissing up to Robin.
Roundhouse, Crush and Djinn break into the toy store and use fear to get everyone there to leave.
Meanwhile Kid Flash speeds around the warehouse but has no luck in finding the bomb. Robin realizes that Gizmo is the bomb. Kid Flash tries to wake up Gizmo but the villain is knocked out. Red Arrow reprimands Kid Flash for showing how the team not having a plan got them in this situation.
Robin tells Kid Flash to run Gizmo to the Atlantic Ocean away from everyone. Kid Flash is not willing to let Gizmo die much to Robin and Red Arrow’s annoyance. The three start arguing about what to do.
Djinn shows up and asks if she can help. Red Arrow tells Djinn to use her magic to disarm the bomb. Djinn reveals that her powers may make things more complicated. Red Arrow is not happy with how aloof Djinn is acting.
Outside the toy store Roundhouse and Crush celebrate saving the day. Kid Flash shows up and asks if they made sure everyone left the store. They don’t know so Kid Flash runs in to do one more sweep of the toy store.
Robin asks Djinn if she can in fact use her magic to disarm the bomb. Djinn says she can try to possess Gizmo to figure out how to disarm the bomb but can only do so if commanded by a master. Robin asks Djinn to trust him as they are out of time. Djinn says she will trust him and gives Robin her ring. Robin then commands Djinn to possess Gizmo. She does just that.
As Djinn works her way through the labyrinth that is Gizmo’s mind she finds out that the bomb is nuclear in nature. When she digs deeper and tries to convince Gizmo to shut off the bomb himself. Gizmo gives in and releases the bomb from his jetpack.
With the bomb on the ground Crush tries to throw it but Roundhouse stops her as that would cause damage to the city. Roundhouse grabs the bomb and tells Crush to throw him into the sky as high as possible.
Roundhouse ends up being thrown into space just as the bomb explodes.
Back on the ground the Teen Titans can see the explosion. Red Arrow wonders where Roundhouse is. End of issue.
The Good: When it comes to challenges Gizmo surprisingly proved to be a bigger threat than Brother Blood did in the first issue featuring this new Teen Titans team. That actually made certain aspects of Teen Titans #21 better than previous issue. Unfortunately some head scratching character decisions made this third Teen Titans issue by Adam Glass very problematic.
The story of Teen Titans #21 not being just one big superhero vs super villain battle was a major improvement over what we saw in the last issue. In this situation we got to actually see how this is a newly formed team. That is not something that we got in the previous issue as the Teen Titans were already working effectively. That was not the case here and it actually work to the story’s advantage as we get to see how much work is ahead of the team in being as effective as they potentially can be.
The Teen Titans forced to think on their feet to disarm the bomb also help make Gizmo seem like a bigger threat than when he was as a member of the Fearsome Five. Of that group Gizmo has always had the most potential as a solo villain given his tech genius. Teen Titans #21 hints at this as we do see how even with the Teen Titans taking him out he still found a way to be a dangerous threat. As previously mentioned, this nuclear bomb made the Teen Titans have to think on their feet which really tested their team chemistry unlike the previous issue.
This situation made good use of how Robin and Red Arrow are the most “adult” in the team as they are the most pragmatic. Seeing how they both made the team realize they have to do what is necessary, even if it is not nice, was a good balance point to how the others reacted to the bomb countdown. Red Arrow in particular came off as much more interesting as she was calling Kid Flash and Djinn out for not doing what they have to in order to save everyone.
This in particular gave us much needed insight into who Djinn is. Learning that Djinn has a limiter on her powers without a master to command was an intriguing development. Robin being given the role of master gave these two characters an immediate connection to grow both characters on a more personal level. From a power perspective it did make for a lot of good visuals as we saw Djinn trying to find answers in Gizmo’s heads.
Roundhouse was also given some solid character development her. He fills the role of the jokester on the team well. Seeing how he is eager to prove to the Robin and the rest of team his worth is refreshing since he is surrounded by a bunch of hardass-types. It gives the team the necessary personality to balance out the darker mission statement the team has.
Bernard Chang’s artwork was once again as solid as the previous issue. Chang continues to provide Teen Titans a youngful look that is appropriate with a comic starring teenagers. The energy he infuses into the action shows how experienced each of the members on the Teen Titans are during the fight with Gizmo.
The Bad: While Teen Titans #21 set-up an intriguing plot the execution and certain character decisions were questionable. The biggest problem was with how the Teen Titans actually went about fighting Gizmo. In the previous issue Glass showed that the Teen Titans were already an effective team with how they took down Brother Blood. That showing makes how much of a rookie team the Teen Titans are shown to be against Gizmo head scratching.
The way they acted throughout the fight and disarming the bomb made you question if they should even be allowed to operate as a team. There was just never a sense of unity with the team. That made the weakness of each member of the Teen Titans more pronounce and actually overshadow the strengths of the team.
This was particularly problematic for Robin as the leader of the Teen Titans. While he eventually stepped up to make the final decision there was no reason for the team to jump into the fight with Gizmo without a plan. This goes against how Robin wants his team to be coordinated. Red Arrow calling the team out on being a bunch of individuals just added to how weak of a leader Robin is. It puts into question if Robin should actually be the leader of the team if all his plans are just to burst into the villains hideout and go wing it every time.
While Robin didn’t look great as a leader, by far the character that brought the story down was Kid Flash. Once again he is the weak link in this series. Glass, like other writers who have written Kid Flash, can’t seem to get him away from being the asshole sidekick who doesn’t listen to anyone. He more than anyone gets on everyone’s nerves as he is not willing to listen to anyone and just rushes off into his own.
Given how he didn’t actually do anything to defeat Gizmo or defuse the bomb it made everything Kid Flash said during the argument with Robin and Red Arrow lack credibility. Instead he was just portrayed as someone that was in the way of actually saving the day. This also goes against how Glass previously set up Kid Flash as someone ready to grow beyond just being Flash’s sidekick. Unfortunately so far Kid Flash continues to look like he should not be out on the field, unless he wants to just be a liability.
To a lesser extent, Crush is a character that has yet to go beyond the generic powerhouse member of the team. There is no actual real personality that makes the reader connect with Crush beyond her powers and mean look. If this version of the Teen Titans is to be successful Crush will need to be given some more dimension to her character or else she will continue to be one of the weak links alongside Kid Flash.
Overall: As with the previous issue, Teen Titans #21 showed that Adam Glass’ new team has some potential. The situation the Teen Titans found themselves in thanks to Gizmo tested them in unexpected ways. Unfortunately some problematic character decisions kept the story in Teen Titans #21 from reaching its full potential.