One of the secret weapons of DC Rebirth has been the return of the Teen Titans franchise. It started with Dan Abnett and Brett Booth’s Titans series bringing back the original team back together. Now Benjamin Percy and Jonboy Meyers are doing the same with the Teen Titans comic book. The Rebirth issue of Teen Titans was a solid start to introduce us to the core characters of this Damian Wayne lead Teen Titans. Now with the team established I am interested to see how Ra’s Al Ghul, who is all over the cover of Teen Titans #1, factors into the teams formation. Let’s find that out right now with Teen Titans #1.
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Jonboy Meyers
Colorist: Jim Charalampidis
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: Some time ago, Damian, dressed in his Robin costume, is standing in front of his birthday cake at the Wayne Mansion. As he stares at his birthday cake Damian thinks about how for most 13 is an awkward age but for him it’s a time he knows the legacy he is supposed to claim. He blows out his candles with Alfred congratulating Damian on his 13th birthday.
Alfred mentions that Damian shouldn’t spend his birthday alone. Damian brings up that his father is away. Alfred tries to excuse it as Bruce was called away by the Justice League. Damian says he understands his father’s situation and thanks Alfred for being there but says they shouldn’t make excuses for Bruce’s absence.
Alfred then brings up how Damian does not have any friends like Dick and Tim had with the Teen Titans when they were his age. Damian tries dodge Alfred’s statement by complimenting him on the cake. Alfred continues by asking Damian what he wished for.
In the present Robin with Goliath by his side has captured Beast Boy, Kid Flash, Raven and Starfire and has placed power dampening shackles on each of them. The four wonder who this Robin think he is by imprisoning them. Robin snakingly says he is the 13 year old who took each of them down.
Robin begins to run down how he took each of them down. He starts with Beast Boy who he reduced to a whimpering puddle.
He then says that with Starfire he took her down by preying on how she worries about everyone but herself. Starfire tells Robin to let her down so she can teach him who she really is.
Raven asks Robin what he wants but instead he just says he took Raven down by playing on her emotional distress.
Robin then goes to Kid Flash who he knows is so busy running from the past that Kid Flash doesn’t bother looking at threats in front of him. Kid Flash tells Robin to keep mocking him because he’ll just prove him wrong.
Robin finishes by saying he spent time looking into each of their weaknesses and how to exploit him. That last statement does not earn Robin any favors from the others.
As they all get angry Robin introduces them to Goliath, who takes a particular liking to Kid Flash. Beast Boy forgets he is a prisoner by voicing his amazement at Goliath.
Having had enough of Robin, Starfire shows the kid she is no one’s prisoner by breaking out of her shackles, breaking the others out in the process. With the four of them out of their shackles they charge at Robin and Goliath.
While Starfire fights Robin and easily gets the upper hand. The others go after Goliath, who is able to knock Beast Boy into Kid Flash. Raven uses this as a distraction to put Goliath to sleep.
Pushed against the corner Starfire and Kid Flash tell Robin to admit defeat and apologize. Robin gets back up with a smile on his much to the others surprise. Robin explains how individually they are weak but together the five of them can make a powerful fist. Kid Flash wonders who Robin thinks he is. Robin says he is the son of Batman and they are the new Teen Titans.
Beast Boy takes offense stating that Robin does not live up to Tim Drake’s legacy. Robin fires back by asking Beast Boy if he wants to be a hero or just play one for the cameras. He goes on to say that there are reasons to take all of them seriously as heroes.
This leaves Starfire and Raven wondering if that was Robin’s form of a compliment. Beast Boy asks Robin why he didn’t just recruit his friends. Robin admits he doesn’t have friends, though Goliath corrects him a bit.
Robin goes on to explain that he wants to make turning 13 be a positive thing as he wants to write his own history. He then brings up how he and Tim had many differences in their history together but he respected Tim. At the same time for all that Tim did and despite his best efforts the Teen Titans have been considered losers, criminals and jokes at various times during that Tim’s incarnation of the team. Robin says he wants to turn them to turn that perception around and dare’s the four of them to join his Teen Titans.
The four smile silently in agreement. Beast Boy advises Robin that next time he wants to make friends to not go with kidnapping first.
Starfire wonders why they should let Robin lead the team. Robin brings up his wrist computer to show the team that they are all targets and if he does not lead they are all dead.
Back in the past Damian has changed into his street clothes and lets a bat fly out a window. As he does this he notices a birthday gift on a table waiting for him. As Damian looks at the gift he thinks about how he did not make a birthday wish when blowing out a candle but instead made plans for his future.
Damian opens the gift and finds a dead robin with an envelope inside. He opens the letter from his grandfather, Ra’s Al Ghul.
On Infinity Island Ra’s congratulates his latest trainees on almost graduating to the class of deadly assassins. Ra’s says that they all have one final test before they can graduate. As the 5 trainees step out shadows Ra’s says their hunt begins now. End of issue.
The Good: After the Rebirth issue established the individual personalities of each member of the team Benjamin Percy put the focus on the new Teen Titans chemistry with one another. In establishing the team’s chemistry Percy was also able to give us the reason why Damian assembled the Teen Titans in the first place. This approach has thus far been a positive for a franchise that was in dire need of the DC Rebirth magic.
The one place that Teen Titans: Rebirth slightly stumbled with is not giving us an idea of who the Teen Titans will be going up against this time around. Percy fixed that by giving us background on why Damian Wayne kidnapped Starfire, Raven, Kid Flash and Beast Boy. And making Ra’s Al Ghul the catalyst for formation the team makes sense when it comes to Damian seeking out help.
Seeing how Percy was able to write Damian as someone who understands that the one thing he is missing in life is a group of friends is a great place to begin with the character. After 10 years of running around various Batman books the closest relationships Damian has are with his father Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. Though they aren’t related by blood, the relationship with his Dick has been developed to be more of an older brother-younger brother relationship than a friendship.
So with no one close to his age or fellow superhero peer to turn to Damian has been in need for development in this department, especially if he is to have a larger role in the DC Universe. Percy clearly identifies this and uses it to make Damian a character that you can cheer for.
This helps add dimension to how when he is interacting with the others Damian makes it clear he believes he’s superior in mind and body. This air of superiority played nicely off the different personalities on the team he recruited. It especially worked when it came to Beast Boy, who needs a foil in his life to make him interesting. And establishing the friendship between Beast Boy and Tim Drake adds some fire as to why Beast Boy doesn’t like how different of a Robin Damian is. It’s a dynamic that I am looking forward to developing further since Robin and Beast Boy are the youngest members on the team.
Percy’s development of Starfire was also nicely handled. I enjoyed how Percy has quickly established Starfire as the senior member of this version of the Teen Titans. It’s the perfect position for her to be in after how she was developed in her solo series. This role will also give Starfire a chance to take on a leadership role since Robin doesn’t have the teams trust just yet. That transition can be fun to witness since we know that the Teen Titans are always lead by Robin and Starfire can help get him there.
I will admit that it is weird to see Ra’s Al Ghul as the first threat that the new Teen Titans since he has very little history with the franchise. As odd as this move feels Percy does a good job using it as a platform for Damian to recruit a new team of Teen Titans for help. The design for the League of Assassins graduate hopefuls was refreshing as they all showed distinct personalities without saying a word. With these five League of Assassins members having a clear reward for this hunt it makes them an even bigger threat.
At the same time, I am interested to learn why Ra’s is targeting the Teen Titans. While we don’t need a reason for why he is after Robin it’s not clear why he is going after the others. Is this a bigger part of his plan against other DCU heroes? Did Robin make them targets by recruiting them to form the new Teen Titans? Or is Robin lying to the team to get them to help him against Ra’s?
As with the Rebirth issue, Jonboy Meyers provided some fantastic artwork for Teen Titans #1. His style is completely different from other artist working on DC’s comic books. His anime-esque art style, along with Jim Charalampidis dynamic colors, gives every scene a unique sense of energy. Even when the majority of the issue is mostly characters talking to one another he helps in keeping the readers engaged. That engagement is furthered when he does get a chance to draw some action scenes, which he nails along with the comedy that he is given to draw.
The Bad: The one place Teen Titans #1 falls short on is the development of Kid Flash and Raven. Both characters aren’t given much to work with. Part of the reason may be because both characters, unlike their teammates, have other series to develop their characters. But for readers not reading The Flash or Raven this does not help the readers of Teen Titans to invest in them if they are just going to be supporting members of the team. Hopefully Percy finds a way to develop both Kid Flash and Raven in a way that adds to what the character development they are already receiving.
Overall: Teen Titans #1 does a good job building on the momentum created by the Rebirth issue. Damian Wayne getting a rocky start in his career as the Teen Titans’ Robin was a good launching point for the dynamic Benjamin Percy is creating for the team. While Percy still has some room to improve in how he handles giving each member of the Teen Titans quality screen time I trust that he will find that balance. Add in strong artwork from Jonboy Meyers and it is looking more and more like the Teen Titans have finally returned to being a fun series about the next generation of the DC Universe’s superheroes.