With how united the DC Universe’s hero community is under the Justice League banner it was interesting to see the Teen Titans not go along with that direction. In the Teen Titans Special #1 Adam Glass placed Robin’s new team of young heroes as the outsides of the superhero community. This is direction has a lot of potential that will be made or broken by how well Glass develops all the new superheroes Robin has assembled for the Teen Titans. Even though both Kid Flash and Red Arrow have been around since the New 52, they are still relatively new to the DCU. So with such a new and young cast of heroes on Robin’s team can the Teen Titans find success? Let’s find out with Teen Titans #20.
Writer: Adam Glass
Artist: Bernard Chang
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Story Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: At the Church of Blood a ritual is being held by Brother Blood to sacrifice a woman for their needs.
The Teen Titans quickly break in to stop the ritual. Brother Blood tosses the woman being used for the ritual off of the pillar they are on. Robin saves her while the other Teen Titans fight the Church of Blood followers.
Sometime earlier Damian Wayne recruits Wallace West by convincing him they need to not be as complacent as their mentors. Wallace thinks about it while playing a quick game of DDR. Wallace then agrees but wants great say on the team. He then recommends someone from Viewtube to also join the team.
Back in the present, while taking out the Church of Blood followers Kid Flash gets distracted by his phone. Red Arrow shoots Kid Flash’s phone with an arrow and reminds him to stay focused. Kid Flash thinks that Red Arrow is just jealous he is doing more on this mission then her.
In another flashback Red Arrow initially turns Robin’s offer down because she doesn’t want to join a kids’ club. Robin says he understands Red Arrow. He then convinces her to let him show her something, and if she doesn’t like it she does not have to join the Teen Titans.
Back in the present, Robin tells Red Arrow that Brother Blood is trying to run away. Red Arrow spots him and fires an electric arrow that stuns Brother Blood.
As the fight continues Crush (Lobo’s daughter) has Roundhouse (the person Kid Flash told Robin to find on Viewtube) turn into a ball and uses him like a bowling ball to knock out a group of Church of Blood followers. Crush then begins taking out every Church of Blood follower that confronts her.
A Church of Blood follow locks on Robin and Red Arrow with a rocket launcher. When he fires Kid Flash saves Robin and Red Arrow in the last second. As that happens Brother Blood is behind a magic portal.
In another flashback, we learn that Robin found Crush at an underground fight club and convinces her to join the team by promising to finding the ones responsible for David and Lisa Rojas murder.
Back in the present, Robin notices that Djinn must have trapped herself behind the magical field with Brother Blood.
Behind the portal Djinn sense Brother Blood’s presence somewhere in the room. Brother Blood grabs her from behind and bites Djinn in the neck. Djinn reveals she was playing possum and attacks Brother Blood with her magic energy. Djinn ends up using too much and losses control.
When Brother Blood is about to kill Djinn Roundhouse knocks Brother Blood down by turning into a ball and firing himself like a fastball. Robin then knocks Brother Blood out with a swift kick.
In another flashback, Robin tells Djinn he understands what it is like to be disconnected from the world and convinces her by joining the Teen Titans she can redeem herself for what she feels are the bad things she has done.
Back in the present Robin notices the same scratch symbol the Teen Titans have found when they took out other villains in the last month. Red Arrow says that the symbol is from someone known as “The Other.” Robin then tells the team they will figure things out later.
The Teen Titans blow up the Church of Blood’s hideout.
At a warehouse called Mercy Hall in Brooklyn the Teen Titans friendly talk quickly turns into an argument as Crush lifts the couch Kid Flash and Roundhouse are sitting on.
In another part of the warehouse Robin takes Brother Blood underground and locks him up in a prison cell along with Atomic Skull, Black Mask and other villains the Teen Titans have captured. End of issue.
The Good: Teen Titans #20 does exactly what it needed to do to set itself apart from other team titles that DC Comics is publishing in the post-No Justice DCU. In doing so Adam Glass is able to give a clear direction for the Teen Titans, something that was not apparent in the previous incarnation of the team. This clear direction does provide Glass and his team several potential directions for the Teen Titans to go as their story develops.
Having Robin as the narrator for Teen Titans #20 was a smart play. Damian Wayne is by far the most well known member of this incarnation of the Teen Titans. Having Damian in this role made it easier to get behind the direction the Teen Titans are on. While it is not something we need to happen after this issue, Robin was able to give us context into who each member of the Teen Titans are. That was something that was especially necessary for Crush, Djinn and Roundhouse are brand new characters to the DC Universe.
Robin’s inner monologue also help make the transition between the recruitment flashbacks and present day scenes to flow well with each other. These flashback scenes set each member of the Teen Titans up as we see what role each member will play. We have the speedster in Kid Flash, muscle in Crush, magic user in Djinn, jokester with a support-type power in Roughhouse and long-range fighter in Red Arrow for Robin to lead. This covers all the basic holes that you expect a team to fill. At the same time, each of these flashback scenes provide some background on what motivates each member of the Teen Titans to be on the team.
The most interesting member of the team was Red Arrow. Glass did a good job in making her come off as a senior member on the team as she is the oldest amongst the team. At the same time we see how Robin and Red Arrow’s similar background will be something that will play a role in future storylines. There similar background also made the silent approach they have in the mission be balanced out with the rest of the members who like to talk a lot.
This was also the first time that Kid Flash came across as more than just a kid with an attitude problem. That attitude problem is still part of Kid Flash’s character but at least we actually saw him be competent during the fight. It was the first time he seemed to be confident in his abilities as we don’t ever see him question himself during the fight. Kid Flash’s added confidence makes it interesting to see if he actually does take on the second-in-command role that he requested to have during his flashback scene.
Though they didn’t get a lot of scenes to shine Glass did enough to build interest for Crush, Roundhouse and Djinn. Glass provides each one of them with a backstory where we can see a story arcs built around, particularly Crush and Djinn. The powers that they each bring in will also add the firepower that the Teen Titans need. Moving forward there will need to be a balance built so they get to shine beyond their powers.
On the artwork side of things, Bernard Chang does a great job bringing out how Teen Titans #20 is filled with young heroes. Unlike some of the recent incarnations of the team this version of the Teen Titans are filled with kids around the age of 13-16. The oldest among them looks to be Red Arrow, who is still new to the superhero game. Given that youth factor Chang gets across this fact with energetic artwork, along with colorist Marcelo Maiolo, that gets this part of Teen Titans across very well. Chang’s artwork further helps get over what the power set of each member of the Teen Titans is, especially the new characters.
The Bad: While Brother Blood is a villain that is most connected with the Teen Titans franchise it would’ve been good to see Glass use a different villain. This is only because Brother Blood was used over in the Titans Special as a major threat for that series. And in using the same villain that appeared in the Teen Titans big brother title Glass made it look like this franchise has a small pool of bad guys. It would’ve been easy to use a another villain like Doctor Light, Mad Mob, Clock King or Zookeeper to get the same type of story across. But in not doing so it did come across as though the Teen Titans have a small pool of villains to face off against.
It was also odd to see that the Teen Titans are operating out in an warehouse in Brooklyn. Even if it appears abandoned given its location that is still out in the open it does not work to benefit the direction the Teen Titans are going. It would’ve been much more effective if their new base of operation is located underground or at least not in Brooklyn, near were a large section of the superhero community operate.
And from a continuity standpoint it was odd to see that the Teen Titans have captured Atomic Skull. Over in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps we saw that Atomic Skull is actually working as a prison warden for the super villain facility that was holding Hector Hammond. Given that status quo there was no point in having Atomic Skull in the prison along with Black Mask and Brother Blood. This made it look like the editors weren’t in line with the current DCU continuity. It also made it look like Glass did not do his full research on where the villains he used are in terms of status quo.
Overall: Teen Titans #20 showed that there is a lot of potential with the direction Adam Glass has planned for this series. The team that Robin assembled all showed potential to florish under his leadership with a storyline that kicks off this fresh start on a positive note. Still, it is to early to tell if the potential Glass presents can build long-term interest in the Teen Titans.