DC Comics, 20 pages, $ 2.99
Welcome to the 1990s! DC Comics editor-in-chief Bob Harras, writer Scott Lobdell and penciler Brett Booth turn in a Teen Titans revamp that reads and looks like something created 20 years ago. The fact that the story is titled “Teen Spirit” doesn’t do much to dispel the notion.
No, seriously: In terms of layouts, costume designs, dialogue and the overall approach to storytelling, this book wouldn’t have seemed out of place in 1991. It’s got that same mad chip-on-its-shoulder variety of brainless superhero action that made all those comics by Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee or Todd McFarlane so fresh and exciting, back in the glory days when issues of X-Force, X-Men or Spider-Man sold seven-digit figures and Image Comics began to emerge as a new major player in the comics industry.
While Teen Titans probably won’t end up selling seven-digit figures, it’s actually not a bad comic, as these things go. Mr. Lobdell has turned in scripts that are a lot worse than this one, for starters. The three scenes introducing his protagonists Red Robin, Wonder Girl and Kid Flash aren’t terribly original, but they get the job done in a suitably entertaining and competent fashion. Where most of the “New 52” launches are drowning in bad exposition that just throws up irrelevant information on the reader’s feet, Lobdell takes his time here to do a properly dramatized introduction—not a bad start, if you want to win me over.
Brett Booth has clearly improved as an artist since I last saw his work in the late 1990s. He’s still a Jim Lee clone and turns in some wonky storytelling here and there (e.g., those crummy neither-here-nor-there panel shapes on pages 4 and 15), but he still manages to bring a style of his own to the proceedings. And his costume designs, while anachronistic, actually fit the bratty personalities of the characters quite well.
As far as light, fast-paced, 1990s-style superhero action goes, Teen Titans delivers. It is, pretty much, the comics equivalent of a Jerry Bruckheimer movie—not terribly smart, but entertaining enough, and it goes well with popcorn. If the last page didn’t announce a crossover with Superboy, I might have been tempted to stick around for a few more issues.