DC's "Rebirth" has breathed new life into the entire comic book market, with August comic book sales setting a 20-year record! As readers of my Comic of the Week series will know, this success shows every sign of continuing. This week saw DC relaunch one of their most beloved — and most hotly anticipated — series: Teen Titans!
The Gang's Getting Back Together!
Teen Titans - Rebirth #1 spins from Los Angeles to the exotic island of Torando; it introduces us to the core characters one at a time, carefully establishing their contexts and giving us a sense of what we can expect from their interaction. Ben Percy and Jonboy Meyers prove adept at characterization, using just a few pages to tell a story that's rooted in the continuity of the DC Universe.
The story begins in Los Angeles, with Percy and Meyers introducing us to Beast Boy. It's a fantastically effective introduction, setting him up as an emotionally-conflicted teenager who's struggling to deal with his own mortality. The death of Tim Drake has sent unexpectedly strong shockwaves across the DC Universe, and seeing the impact of that death ripple out to Gar Logan is pretty touching.
The book then spins over to Starfire, a character whose last solo book was high in quality but sadly low in sales. This is actually my favorite introduction, because the scenes earths the character in the more brutal realities of the real world. She's always stood for naive optimism and hope, and placing her in such a harsh environment is a touch of genius.
We then move to Raven, in a beautifully Gothic introduction that reminds us of the character's rich and haunting background. She's desperately fleeing from her own history, trying to be a different person - and that quest will undoubtedly drive her character arc.
The final introduction is to Kid Flash, the New 52 version of Wally West. This is as powerful as all the rest, showing us a kid who's struggling to become a hero even when the world expects otherwise of a black youth wearing a hoodie. This is perhaps the most politically-sensitive plot of them all, set against the real-world context of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Why Is This Happening?
It's no secret that the driving force of the new Teen Titans is the latest version of Robin — Damian Wayne, the son of Batman. After all, his face is on the front cover! Every one of the scenes ends with Robin ambushing a character, and neutralizing them with the kind of ruthless efficiency that is Damian's trademark. It's an amusing twist on a trope that's been explored many times, where Batman has plans to take down his friends; Teen Titans starts with Robin following in his father's footsteps!
Why has he done this? What is Robin's motivation? We have no idea, and can only wait for the series to launch and reveal the truth!
Teen Titans as DC's Answer to Marvel's Next Generation
Marvel Comics has seen real success with their younger characters, and are building up to a new team book called The Champions. Many of those books have had vibrant and energetic artistic styles (the best example is surely Robbi Rodriguez's art on Spider-Gwen). Teen Titans channels that same artistic style, with every page pulsing with energy and life.
Right now, comic book sales are literally the best they've been in decades. The only sales figures we actually have, though, are only indicators of the true picture, as they don't take digital sales into account. We've had tantalizing hints that some of Marvel's younger books are selling better digitally than they are in paper format. Teen Titans is clearly DC's bid to reach the same audience. What's more, with a first issue of this quality, I think it's a strong bid!
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Teen Titans is one of the most beloved brands in DC history, and the comic's been out of publication for far too long. It's an absolute delight to see the book back on the shelves, launching with such style and quality. It bodes well for the future of the series, and leaves me excited to see what's next for DC's "Rebirth"!
Are you excited to see the Teen Titans back? Let me know in the comments!