Comic Book Review: Teen Titans #38

The Revolution has really been impressed with the Teen Titans ever since the end of Infinite Crisis. Johns is doing a fantastic job on this title. Teen Titans #38 sports the artwork of a guest penciler in Carlos Ferreira instead of stud Tony Daniels. That is too bad, because I have loved Daniels’ art on this title. Anyway, let’s start this review.

Creative Team
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciler: Carlos Ferreira
Inkers: Art Thibert & Drew Geraci

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: This issue starts with the Titans taking down a rampaging Girder. After vanquishing the villain, the Titans are mobbed by their tweener fans (complete with zits, braces and nose rings) asking for their autographs. Several ask Wonder Girl for a kiss with their autograph. She declines. Not so for her teammate Ravager who takes off her mask and plants a big wet one on one fan. That prompts all the boys to leave Wonder Girl in favor of Ravager.

We shift to Titan Tower and where Ravager is angry that Cyborg, Robin and Wonder Girl want to go get some of their more experienced teammates to re-join the titans. Cyborg says that this isn’t about Ravager. That while he was reviewing the security tapes of his room while he was in a coma, he came across a cryptic message from Raven. He plays the tape that shows Raven saying that she has found out something that would destroy the morale of the team that is left. That she wishes Vic were awake because she could use his help. The Titans decide to track down Raven.

We cut to Moscow, Russia. There we see Red Star bring the pain to a bunch of meta-human militia members who are a group of terrorists demanding that all meta human activities should be legalized without government sponsorship. (Hmmm, sounds familiar. Something that Marvel is publishing. It rhymes with “Civil War.”) Red Star solves the problem permanently by blasting to death all of the terrorists.

As Red Star begins to leave the scene, he is met by the Titans. He tells them that if they are seen in public then the Rocket Red Brigade will arrest them. Red Star has the Titans teleported to his spaceship that is one thousand feet above the Kremlin.

We then shift to Jerkwater, Colorado. Some masked one armed man (Never trust a one armed man. I learned that lesson from Twin Peaks.) robs a convenience store. We see the robber back at his trailer in a beautifully appointed trailer park. He removes the mask and it is Risk. The ex-Titan. Suddenly, a shadowy figure appears and tells Risk that he has two options: Join the Titans East or die. (Nice. I wonder which he’ll pick.)

We cut back to Red Star’s spaceship. Red Star co-opted this extraterrestrial craft. It is just like the one that gave him his powers. That two months ago, aliens in these ships invaded Moscow. Red Star defeated them. The President of Russia then appointed Red Star the “State Protector” which is a title that he takes very seriously.

During this little speech, Wonder Girl pulls Robin aside and whispers to him if he wanted to talk about their little kiss back in his cave. Robin says he doesn’t want to talk about it and that it was a mistake. Ravager asks Wonder Girl what they are whispering about and accuses her of talking about a mistake. Ravager thinks Wonder Girl is talking about it being a mistake to bring Ravager and Kid Devil along. The two ladies start getting into a verbal tussle. Red Star breaks it up by telling them that they should all quit. That they can’t even walk down a hallway without arguing. That the Titans will never last. That the Titans have disbanded and re-formed a dozen times. That when they grow up they will learn they can only count on themselves. Red Star then remembers all his Titans teammates who have died. Pantha, Wildebeest, Superboy, Jericho and Starfire. (Whaaaat? Dead? Is she still lost in space even after the end of 52? I hope she isn’t really dead.)

Red Star tells the Titans that Raven was in Moscow a week ago. He gives them an address for her in Beijing and then tells them to leave.

We then cut to Beijing where the Titans are searching Raven’s apartment for clues. Raven left her communicator behind. The Titans find a journal. Robin reads it. Raven is looking for something that was stolen from the Titans Tower. That while Cyborg was offline for a year, there were over twenty members on the team and one of them was a traitor. We then get a double page splash shot of those twenty members. You can check them out in the pic. The names that got cut off on the bottom from left to right are Riddler’s daughter and Joker’s daughter, Talon, Young Frankenstein, Ravager, Molecule and Osiris.

We then shift to Raven running from armed soldiers. They are yelling that “she took the book back.” Indeed, Raven is carrying a large and old book. End of issue.

The Good: Teen Titans #38 was another great read. Johns is really hitting his stride on this title and has been making the Teen Titans a must read comic.

The opening scene was nicely done. Seeing the Titans get mobbed by the autograph seeking tweeners lent so much needed levity to a storyline that has been rather somber and serious. I liked how Ravager, in her never ending desire to show up Wonder Girl, took off her mask and laid a big smooch on one of the autograph seeking boys. Wonder Girl doesn’t kiss, but Ravager sure does. These two characters are polar opposites. If Wonder Girl does one thing that Ravager is sure to do the direct opposite. I always like it when teammates don’t always get along like one big happy family. This provides for some quality tension.

The scene back at the Titans Tower continues the tension between Ravager and the rest of her teammates. Ravager is extremely paranoid and sensitive about how the other Titan’s view her. She wants to be seen as an equal and worthy of being a Titan. The video of Raven got my interest. This chase to find Raven and discover what mystery she is trying to uncover should be rather entertaining.

The scene with Red Star laying waste to all of the terrorists was a fantastic scene. I liked the jab at Marvel’s Civil War with the new law in Russia forcing all meta humans to be state sponsored or else arrested as criminals. They even have their junior Iron Man characters, the Rocket Reds, as the ones who enforce the law outlawing non-state sponsored meta humans. I also liked Red Star’s no-nonsense kick ass manner in which he dispatches all of the terrorists.

The scene with Risk robbing the convenience store and then going back to his home in the trailer park was well executed. My how the young and the glamorous have fallen. Risk has truly hit rock bottom. Robbing a store and living in a trailer park. It was a terribly depressing scene that made me feel sorry for a character that has never really interested me. After Johns finished painting a rather bleak existence, he then introduces the long awaited plotline involving the Titans East. It looks like Risk is going to be the first recruit for this new team. I am extremely interested in this new Titans East plotline and think it is going to be very exciting.

The scene on Red Star’s spaceship was perfect. Johns crafts a wonderfully powerful scene. Red Star brings the hard cold truth to a bunch of bickering Titans. Yes, we know all about the positives of the old Titans and the sense of family they once had. However, that is long gone and hasn’t been around for a while. The current team has no chemistry or cohesion. I really enjoyed Red Star’s tough speech about how the Titans don’t prepare them for later in life. That they will leave the Titans and grow up and realize that they only have themselves to rely on. That is a grim individualistic view on life, but as much as we don’t want to believe it, this view is also probably the most realistic view on life. In the long run, when things get tough, your average person can only truly rely on themselves. And then Red Star lists all of the dead Titans. It had plenty of impact on the reader. Johns delivered a very well written and emotionally powerful scene.

The scene in Raven’s apartment in Beijing was extremely cool for the sole reason of the two page splash shot of all the various characters that served as Titans for the one year between the end of Infinite Crisis and the beginning of the OYL storylines.

I have never been much of a Red_Star fan, but I found myself thoroughly enjoying his character in this issue. What a wild list of characters. The most interesting aspect of this list of character is that we have several characters from Kingdome Come making an appearance in this New Earth: Joker’s Daughter, Zatara, Offspring and Miss_Martian. There are several characters that I just don’t recognize including: Power Boy, Bombshell, Little Barda, Mas y Menos, Molecule and Talon. I have never seen Young Frankenstein before and the only version of this character is the one over in Planetary published by DC’s Wildstorm imprint. Osiris has to be Isis’ little brother that they are currently searching for in 52. The rest are old Titans for some point in the past.

I think these new characters are all pretty interesting and intriguing. I am eager to learn more about them. I definitely dig that we are seeing some characters that appeared over in Kingdom Come. That is a cool touch. With all these characters at John’s disposal I fully expect plenty of thrilling issues to be headed our way with this Titan traitor plotline.

The final scene was a nice little hook. We see Raven clutching a book and being chased by armed soldiers clearly desiring to have the book back in their possession. This ending definitely got my interest and I am looking forward to more about just what exactly Raven is up to.

Johns delivers a nicely paced issue. We had a good mix of action and drama. As always, the dialogue was well written as Johns clearly has an excellent handle on all the different personalities of the various characters. The relationships between the various Titans are well fleshed out. Johns is able to convey the emotions of the characters to the reader. You can feel Ravager’s paranoia and yearning for acceptance. You can feel Wonder Girl’s annoyance and irritation with Ravager. You could feel the uncomfortable awkwardness between Wonder Girl and Robin. You could feel the hard, cold loneliness and strong sense of duty and honor emanating from Red Star. Johns is doing an impressive job brining these characters to life and pulling the reader into their world.

What has also impressed me with Johns’ writing on Teen Titans has been his uncanny ability to get me to like and care about characters that I had either no connection with at all or flat out did not like in the least bit. Ravager and Kid Devil have been two good examples of this. In this issue it would be Red Star in a huge way and Risk in a smaller way. After reading this issue, I absolutely loved Red Star’s character. This was a character that had never even remotely interested me before. I liked how Johns handled his character. His strong and silent personality with a powerful sense of honor and duty mixed with obvious sorrow and self imposed solitude was rather appealing. We need more panel time for Red Star.

To a much smaller degree, I really got interested in Risk for the first time ever. His story is so pathetically depressing that it made me look at his character in a different light. I’m interested to see what Johns has in store for this character.

Ferreira did a solid job in the role as fill-in artist. I defiantly like Tony Daniels’ artwork much more. However, Ferreira’s art was better than average and was much better than a lot of fill-in artwork that you see on other titles.

The Bad: I have no real serious criticisms about this issue. My only small complaint would be the tired Titans traitor storyline that is being trotted out like a worn down nag for what seems to be the twentieth time. It has been done so many times before that it really didn’t have much impact on me at all.

Overall: Teen Titans #38 is another enjoyable read. Johns continues to crank out quality issues on this title. Excellent characterization and interesting plotlines keep me eager for the next issue of Teen Titans. I recommend that you give this title a try.