Teen Titans has had a rough first arc. While things started off strong there have been a few issues that have dragged. The previous issue did a lot to help recover the story before it makes it’s landing with Teen Titans #5. What the last issue did well in particular was give us better context into Ra’s motivation behind sending out the Demon’s Fist after Robin and the Teen Titans. Now everything feels more personal than before and that has help make it so Teen Titans #5 just has to stick it’s landing in order to establish this new version of the team. Will that happen? Let’s find out with Teen Titans #5.
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Khoi Pham
Inker: Wade Von Grawbadger
Colorist: Jim Charalampidis
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Inside the Black Citadel on Infinity Island the Teen Titans break Robin out of his jail cell. Robin wonders why they are in the Black Citadel. Starfire and the others tell Robin they are there to save him.
Robin says he went to the Black Citadel to save them but Starfire tells him that they can all help save each other.
Robin collapses from his injuries after being broken free. Raven uses her powers to quickly heal him.
Kid Flash asks Robin what happened to him. Robin says that his cousin (Mara) stabbed him in the back.
As the team makes their way through the Black Citadel they enter a large room where Robin remembers there being a door that they could’ve gone through. Robin checks out an odd stone wall and when he does Stone grabs him from the other side. The other Demon’s Fist members except for Mara enter the room as well.
Outside the Black Citadel Mara is digging Robin’s grave, something she has practiced doing thousands of times. Mara proudly proclaims this moment the best of her life as it has vindicated her entire life. She then asks Ra’s if he thinks her father would be proud of her.
Ra’s instead answers in disbelief as he was thinking of something else. Mara final gets his attention so he can answer her question to him. Ra’s says that Dusan, the former White Ghose, would’ve been proud of Mara for showing the same loyalty he had to the League of Assassins.
Several League of Assassins members approach Ra’s about a problem that has just occurred.
Inside the Black Citadel the Demon’s Fist are happy to see all of their Teen Titans targets gathered in one place. Robin tells the Demon’s Fist that none of them have a true future in the League of Assassins, as they will only become slaves to Ra’s.
Robin then reveals to each member of the Demon’s Fist their true origins and how the League of Assassins took them from their families. He goes on to say that this ensured that they were all dead already since they can’t ever have normal lives.
Ra’s, Mara and the League of Assassins enter the room and Ra’s tells Robin that he rescued the Demon’s Fist from being insignificant.
Ra’s notices that the Demon’s Fist are just standing in the middle of the room doing nothing after what they just heard. Mara orders the Demon’s Fist to kill the Teen Titans but Plague instead asks Ra’s if what Robin just told them about being stolen from their families is true. Ra’s says that words must be used as weapons.
Kid Flash calls Ra’s out on this and tells the Demon’s Fist that it is pretty clear that by staying with the League of Assassins they are on the losing side. The other Teen Titans tell the Demon’s Fist the same thing and stating that they can use their powers to be heroes.
Ra’s has enough about hearing about people rebelling against him and tries to slice Plague’s head off. Robin blocks Ra’s attack, saving Plague in the process.
The League of Assassins quickly surround the Teen Titans and Demon’s Fist, who team-up to fight off Ra’s forces. The two teams are able to use their powers in unison to complement one another and take out most of the League of Assassins.
As Ra’s and Robin continue to clash, Ra’s tells his grandson that he has no chance against him since Damian couldn’t beat Mara, who he considers pathetic. Mara stands in shock at what Ra’s just said.
Ra’s then calls the Teen Titans just pawns. Robin tells Ra’s that the Teen Titans are his friends and calls them to action against Ra’s.
Overwhelmed by the Teen Titans, Ra’s decides to make his escape by throwing a smoke bomb to cover his tracks. Robin tells Mara she can be her own person as long as she doesn’t follow Ra’s. Though Mara considers it Ra’s quickly drags her along with him and disappears into the shadows.
On the shores of Infinity Island the Teen Titans are saying their goodbyes to the Demon’s Fist. The Demon’s Fist decide to go off on their own to discover who they each are.
After the Demon’s Fist leave Robin is about to make an announcement, which is interrupted by Batman. Robin wonders how Batman knew where he was. At that moment Goliath flies in, clueing Robin into how Batman found out.
Robin reminds Batman that he couldn’t make it to his birthday. Batman interrupts Robin and says he would’ve helped Robin if he asked. He then gives the Teen Titans a glare to make them leave Batman and Robin alone.
Batman notices that Robin made modifications to one of his Batjets, which Robin now calls the T-Jet. Robin says he has been making a lot of changes. Batman asks Robin if he is calling his team the Teen Titans. Robin says he is and asks if Batman has a problem with that. Batman says he doesn’t and that with proper supervision the Teen Titans can be a positive force.
Robin interrupts Batman and says that the Teen Titans are his team and that they won’t serve anyone’s agenda while they live their lives. Batman wants to discuss things back home but Robin says he is not going back to Gotham City right now. Robin says that like Dick Grayson before him, he needs to find a place to call his own. Batman wonders what Robin has in mind.
Three months later Robin is joined on top of the new Titans Tower in San Francisco by the rest of the Teen Titans he assembled. Robin tells the team that he isn’t sure what the future holds for them but that they’ll figure it out together. End of issue.
The Good: As out of place as Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Assassins felt in a Teen Titans comic they did their job in establishing what Damian Wayne’s version of the Teen Titans are going to be. That tone that is set is very reminiscent of the classic version of the team rather than what the Teen Titans have been the last few years. By setting that tone as the first arc came to a close Benjamin Percy was able to close the story out in a way that brings a lot of hope for what is coming to the future.
Marv Wolfman and George Perez run on the Teen Titans will always be the comparison for every future volume of this series for a good reason. During their tenure they were able to establish the Teen Titans as much more of a family than any other team in the DC Universe and a place for younger heroes to grow and learn together. That is exactly the tone that Percy is able to tap into during the course of Teen Titans #5, especially in the last few issues. In doing so Percy gives the series a stronger foundation to stand on as there is now a deeper meaning to the team than just them going out on the field to save the day.
Having Starfire and the rest of the team tell Robin that they can save each other helps make the family aspect that Percy wants to establish much stronger. It gave us a good sense of how in a short period time they can come together to overcome Ra’s and the League of Assassins. There short speech to Robin was a good way to open his eyes to what it means to lead a team.
That new maturity that Robin got after the Teen Titans speech to him gave greater weight to how Robin went about dealing with the Demon’s Fist. Unlike how he decided to confront Ra’s and Demon’s Fist by fighting them in the last issue Robin went with the mature route of talking things out. Revealing the real history of how each member of the Demon’s Fist was taken from their families made sense that Robin would have that information on them. At the same time, the way he spoke to each of them there was an undertone of using what Starfire and the others got him to understand what it means to being a team a few minutes earlier.
This all nicely transitioned to Robin’s talk with Batman about what he wants the new Teen Titans to be. Calling back to why Dick Grayson and his friends founded the original Teen Titans was a good way to summarize Damian’s current state of mind and where he wants to go with his personal growth. The little nod to the structure of Young Justice that Batman made was also a good way for Damian as Robin to assert himself in front of his father. It gave us a good idea that Teen Titans will be its own thing that does not to be tied to whatever is going on in other comic books these characters may be related to.
The way Percy developed the Demon’s Fist was a good bit of character work for a new set of characters that can be used in the future. Teen Titans #5 was gave these characters something for us to connect with as we learn their real history. The change of heart they have after learning the truth leaves them open to play any sort of role in this series in the future, especially with Mara still in Ra’s grasp.
It was also enjoyable to see how once again Ra’s is once again his greatest enemy. Seeing how egotistical he was throughout this issue made you care more for everyone involved in this story arc. Even a character like Mara, who has come off as one-dimensional through the majority of this arc, have some positive development that you want to see what happens to her.
Though the rest of the Teen Titans don’t get as much character development as Robin and the Demon’s Fist I liked that they played the role of moral compass for Robin. Through their various conversations with Robin we were able to tell that each of them also needs the Teen Titans to exist to make themselves better as superhero and people in general. It was also interesting to see their reaction to Ra’s actions, which is something the Batman Family have become numb to his plots, as it made him look even crazier. This at least help them understand why Robin is the way he is, creating a better connection between their new leader and themselves.
Khoi Pham once again brought a fun, youthful to the story with his artwork. This is an appropriate tone to hit for Teen Titans that can help separate itself from other titles like Justice League that carry more of a big event feel to them. Pham’s artwork is also able to get across how young these characters are and that they are at the stage in their lives where they can grow and learn from each other. He also nailed the exuberant energy of the big action sequence where we saw the Demon’s Fist and Teen Titans pair up and use their powers to complement each other.
The Bad: For those that aren’t much of a Damian Wayne fan this issue may come off as annoying given that he is front and center with everything that is happening. Moving forward Percy will hopefully find a better way for everyone on the team to feel they have their own moments in the course of story arcs. Because outside of Robin, the only character that got some strong character development was Beast Boy, which isn’t apparent in this final issue of the first story arc.
Overall: Teen Titans #5 did exactly what it needed to do to establish a strong foundation for the series moving forward. Robin’s character arc in this issue helped to highlight how the Teen Titans will be more of a family than just another response team like the Justice League are for the DC Universe. Batman’s guest appearance helped drive that home and Percy was able to create a strong connection for the entire team that he can now build on in order to introduce new characters like Aqualad.