Titans #2 Review
Titans #2 by Armeka Jackson
By Judd Winick, Art by Joe Benitez
The original 1960s Teen Titans were Robin, Wonder Girl Donna Troy, Kid Flash, Speedy, and Aqualad. The junior Justice League of DC set examples for other teens and stopped villainy that seemed too minor league for the real heroes of DC to handle. In the 1980s, Marv Wolfman and George Perez revived the New Teen Titans franchise to great success. Ageing these young sidekicks to their late teens made them an all new team. Introducing half-man half-robot Cyborg, wise-cracking shape-shifter Beast Boy, coquettish alien Starfire, and emo daughter of a demon Raven gave the team angst and originality that was missing in many hero groups. It was DC's answer to Marvel's Uncanny X-Men, young heroes with strange powers, issues, and flaws. Today, the Teen Titans live on, with new members (but still led by a Robin) and new adventures for young heroes not quite ready for the big leagues.
But what of the original lineup, now all adults and real heroes in their own right? Donna Troy and Starfire have been traveling through space and earths in the pages of Countdown. Kid Flash is now just Flash and Speedy has sped up to the title of Red Arrow, and both currently serve in the Justice League. Beast Boy went back to his roots as a member of the Doom Patrol. Raven has taken a chance at living a normal hell-free life, and Dick Grayson has completely matured into one of the most well-known and beloved characters in DC as Nightwing. The man known as Victor Stone unfortunately, has been left without a team to call his own. Once considered for the Justice League, Cyborg preferred to restore a new team of Titans, hoping to redevelop the team unity his own lineup was so famous for. In the midst of their first training session, they are attacked by an unseen force from the sky, leaving Cyborg limbless and with the new Titans East over before they began. Soon, other former Titans are attacked in their own homes and surroundings, leading the original 60s and 80s lineup to reluctantly reassemble. The unholy threats to the Titans point out that Trigon, one of their oldest foes (and father of team member Raven) may be trying to finish off what he started almost 20 years ago.
Writer and Real World: San Francisco alum Judd Winnick plays it safe for the most part in this book. Known for his controversial characters and off the wall shock endings to Green Arrow and Batman, he maintains the tone focused on action in the second issue. From the opening rescue of a lesser known Titan, to Red Arrow making use of his trick arrows in a way that would make his Green mentor proud, this issue has some exciting visuals, but feels more like filler before the real story begins. More interesting is an interaction between Raven and her devilish dad, and the revelation of possible new villains to come (always welcome in DC.)
The art is a big change from the Titans East special and first issue that preceded it. Truthfully, I prefer Ian Churchhill's more realistic work on the first issue than Benitez's doll-figure women and highly pronounced male cheekbone structure in this issue. And Beast Boy's new haircut is one of the cheesiest designs I've seen in quite some time. However, the redesign of Trigon and Raven's new attitude and temporary look, with dreads and wardrobe straight out of The Fifth Element, are top-notch. Fans of the original New Teen Titans series might feel disappointed that the team doesn't much show the attitude or the team dynamic of earlier runs. Then again, Judd Winnick is not Marv Wolfman. Hopefully, by next issue J.W. will think of something more for his Titans to do than just strike poses and finish each other's sentences.