Formed by Force: Teen Titans Rebirth #1 (Review)
Teen Titans Rebirth #1
Written by: Benjamin Percy
Art by: Jonboy Meyers
The past few weeks have not been easy for the Teen Titans. The last issue in the former run of the Teen Titans, #24, saw the grief stricken team disbanded and scattered to the wind. Now, two weeks later, we get a new roster of Teen Titans. Well, as this issue shows, they are not a team yet. The cover alludes to Damian (Robin) and his new team. But, similar to other “Rebirth” one-shots, the creative team of Ben Percy and Jonboy Meyers give us an origin tale of how the team came together. Like most things in Damian’s life, forming the team is done through force.
The roster of this new batch of Teen Titans is an interesting mix. Raven, now also staring in her own ongoing series, and Beast Boy are back from the last iteration. Raven is still fighting internal demons and Beast Boy is trying to conquer his grief through shallow social interactions and affirmation. Beast Boy’s flirtations and foolishness feel spot on for the character. Raven’s characterization is too limited to be meaningful. It’s hard to judge on this limited interaction, but Raven fans will get a lot more out of her ongoing title than this issue. Going forward, Percy and Meyers may chose to interact with Raven’s ongoing title or treat it similar to Batgirl and Batgirl and the Birds of Prey and have them simply take place at different times.
Damian mixes up the team with the addition of Kid Flash, a staple of former Teen Titans rosters. Kid Flash helps keep the roster young and gives the heroes additional layers of confidence and self discovery to explore. That said, the inclusion of Starfire feels out of place. Yes, she was a traditional core Teen Titans member, but she’s been treated as an older character since the launch of the new 52. Regardless of how questionable Scott Lobdell’s handling of Starfire’s characterization was in the new 52, she was a character running with the Jason Todd and Roy Harper. Both characters continue to be portrayed as older than these Teen Titans. Percy and Meyers even allude to the romantic relationship with Dick Grayson, again making Starfire older than the rest of the team. This age dynamic hopefully will come into play and not be glossed over as the series develops. There may even be story-lines around Damian looking for a motherly figure for the group given the complicated relationship he has with his family.
Ben Percy’s successful stint with the Green Arrow, has been met with praise and some questionable directions. Here he’s given readers enough of a hook to want to know what happens next, but not a lot of story to hold onto. How do these characters react to being abducted? How do they trust Damian? And likewise, how does Damian trust anyone? These are all questions that hopefully begin to be explored as the series evolves. Hopefully readers will start to get some answers about why Damian chose these teammates. Any team brought together by being held hostage has plenty of characterization to explore.
A new roster of the Teen Titans is formed, but readers learn nothing about why they are brought together or how they will work together. As a #1 issue, it raises enough questions that most readers will want to come back to find out more. And they should, the solicits for the rest of 2016 have the Teen Titans battling Ra’ al Ghul. This story-line of Damian forming a team to take on his grandfather is a great setup, we can only hope it delivers.