Titans Together!.. Finally!
I haven't done any comic reviews on here (or any other site) but I felt that with thiss issue being the start for a new creative team, a new direction for the titlte and a new (or rather slightly modified) team roster that this would be a good place for me to start giving my two cents.
Now, I have been a Teen Titans fan for a while. I started reading when Johns was writing, and have read as much of the Wolfram/Pereze era as I have been able to find and while there are other characters I like (Batman, Martian Manhunter...) I can easily say that the Titans is the biggest reason that I keep coming back to the DCU month after month. Or at least that had been the case...
For the past few years the team, and the characters I loved so much all had to suffer from mediocre writing, limbo where they were left of any teams, or even death (I still miss Eddie...) Mckeever had his moments, but they were few and far between. Whilst Hendersen with her ten issues has done so much character destruction that each issue was nearly painful to read while fears of it being fully accepted into the cannon danced in the back of my mind. When I heard that the team would be getting a new creative team I didn't even care to take note of the names because seriously anyone would have been an improvement. Then when the euphoria cleared out and I took note that it would be Krul/Scott my excitement turned into great curiousity. Both great talents but with styles quite different then what we have seen the Titans in (aside from Krul's earlier takes with the team) I was no longer merely relieved that anyone would be better than who we've had to put up with, but more over I was excited to how good this could actually get...
This should go without saying, but... MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW!!! READ AT YOUR OWN CAUTION!!!
The book opens in the bustling halls of a high school. There we see a meek young man try to get through the crowd with as little confrontations as possible. All the while we hear a monolouge from an unknown source evaluate and prifile the boy (Barney). The voice (or even exeprts from a file, you can't tell and it doesn't really matter) explains that with Barney's lack of friends, relatives, socialization, and self esteem all make him a "prime candidate" for something we are still unaware of.
Meanwhile in the streets of Frisco we see the team in mid-battle. They are busy multitasking crowd control while trying to sub-due a band of wild, enraged teen-aged boys with claws, fangs and a great many other features that make it justifiable when Cassie dubs them "Feral Boys" The battle is rather short and its amazing how much Scott is able to accomplish in it. Through constantly chagin perspectives, you get a great three dimensional feel of the battle scene. And Krul uses this changing perspective to show how all the team members are looking out for eachother while still trying to handle what they have before them. This kind of teamwork is what the Titans should always be about.
Eventually the day is one. The Feral boys are either tied up, wraped in a twisted up traffic light or one even missing a hand thanks to Rose. Raven tells us that she can sense nothing from them what-so-ever aside from unmittigated rage. Bart goes into the sewer to investigate where a civilian said they came from while Cassie decides to get a genetic sample (probably the severd hand) to Dr Mid-nite to see if he can tell them what they are up against.
Back at the Titans' Tower We find Cassie and Gar in the com center combing their files to see if these Feral Boys could have any connection with anything the Titans have come across in the past. This turns up no results or even clues as to where to look next. Here we learn that Cassie was the one who invited Rose back onto the team. When Gar asks why she did this when he knows the two don't get along Cassie explains that she did it because she is tired of having inexperienced members on the team who may end up losing their lives because of it. She explains how upset she was about losing Eddie and Marvin (she doesn't even mention being upset about Kid Eternity) and we also learn that Bombshell and Aquagirl were found between the last issue and now (though we learn nothing about how they are or why they aren't on the team now)
Elsewhere in the tower, Conner is heading to Bart's room while he crosses path's with Rose on her way back from a workout. She makes a suggestive comment to him in passing and throws her towel in his face, which leaves him staring slack-jawwed at her walking away until Bart shows up and brings him back to reality with some jabs at his train of thought. Conner than ask Bart what he has been doing in his room to which Bart explains that eventhough he usually remembers everything he learns while in superspeed, all his memories of his trips from the future are slipping away, so he is writing it all down as fast as he can so it won't all be lost (plenty of future plot devises here)
We now go to Raven's room where we find her meditating in candle-light. Through inner-monologue we hear Raven give a brief origin of herself, explaining her demon heritage and the trouble it entails where her emotions are concearned. Another of Hendersen's loose ends is tied up when Raven recaps how her demon emotions were what allowed the creation of the Wyld. We then see through a trasnparent tower how Raven can feel all her other teammates because of their emotions. Conner and Cassie are glowing green with will, Rose red with rage, and Bart yellow with fear (probably over losing his knowledge of the future, tho we don't know why any of them are feeling what they are) She then focuses on Gar, glowing blue with hope. She tells us that she can feel that his love for her has changed, but her love for him remains. She expresses how she can never embrace the love she has for him and how being around him and fueling that love is dangerous because of her demon connection, yet she tells us that she cannot bring herself to leave him.
Flash to the dark streets of Gotham, where we see Dick(as Batman) watching Damiantake down a villian with extreme force. We hear his thoughts on how Damian has only been exposed to violence, death and assasins his whole life and we learn that Dick worries what kind of future Damian can expect if that never changes.
Now we flash back to Frisco somewhere as we see Barney from the first page walking home from a burger joint where he undoubtably works. A car pulls up to him being driven by one of his teachers from school. He talks to Barney and tells him how he see the great amounts at which Barney must struggle to keep everything together. He then propositions Barney with an easier way.
Before long, we are at the teacher's house, under which he has a massive laboratory (massive at least compared to what you would imagine given the size of his home. Here the teacher tells Barney of his work in exploring the boundaries of biology and genetics. Bareny voices his doubt in continuing wheh the teachers simply ask if he would rather be strong or weak.
Barney is now strapped to a table, electrodes attached to his now shaven head, while his teachers has put on a red robe and pointed hood. He then reveals his true name to be Dr Caligan before shooting poor Barney full of electricity.
Back at the Tower we find Gar channel surfing before settling on a movie version of Pride and Prejudice. Conner walks in on him and ask him if he has seen Cassie. Gar sends Conner off in direction of the com center, comparing him to the character of Mr Darcy from the movie as Conner leaves.
In the com center we find Rose looking through the datbases files on her father. We soon find out tho that she isn't interested in Slade at all. Instead she is looking for whatever she can find on her mother (nit-picky mistake in this page. When the computer lists all of Slade's know relations, it lists Rose as the second Ravager. Semingly forgetting her Uncle's very short stint under the title before she took it up)
Now into Cassie's room where we find her and Conner sharing a deep kiss (or mid make-out session. who can say?) Much to Conner's protest, Cassie break off the kiss when she gets a call from Dr Mid-nite. He tells her that after his tests on the sample given, he is sure that the Feral Boys are a result of deliberate genetic manipulation, tho the method used is unknown to him. After the call Conner attempts to playfully pick up where they left off, but Cassie turns him down. She tells him that he (or more directly her feelings for him and her fear that he may die again) are distracting her from her duties on the team. Cassie insists that she can't be with him and be team leader at the same time.
As Conner is about to question her as to what she means, the tower's alarms go off. The entire team heads out to the main room to investigate (Bart getting in trouble with Rose for taking it upon himself to superspeed her into her uniform) Only to find Dick and Damian waiting at the meeting table.
I couldn't have been happier with how this issue turned out (well, perhaps if a few tiny things were changed, but it really didn't matter much)
Krul has a wonderful handle on the team and I loved how he used this first issue (which had to be alot of expossition) to give small spotlites on the characters and show how he will handle them while also lacing the issue with many plot points you can tell he plans to explore in later stories. I don't care much for Cassie as the leader (particularly with Gar on the team) but if it's handled well and Gar is kept more as a consoultant rather than underling then I won't complain much.
As for the art, Scott does a magnificent job. We haven't had pages as fantastic like this in a Titans book in I don't know how long. My only problem where the art is concearned is that with a few of the character choices. In my opinion, both Gar and Bart look much younger than we have seen them lately. Bart looks as young as he did in Johns run, and Gar looks even younger than he did then. Furthermore Gar's new look seems very influenced by his appearence in the old cartoon. He now has bigger eyes, a much wider jaw, flater nose, and one permanent lower fang that it always protruding from his mouth. It was cute in the cartoon, but it really doesn't work for Gar now, especially when you consider that he is now in his early twenties. He has also lost alot of his arm hair that we had seen him with under the last few artisits, and has gone back to wearing boots rather than going barefoot. I liked the hairy features and shoeless look for him, but I won't mourne it too much if he is written well.
However, these small grievances aside, Scott's art is wondeful. All the characters have their own distinct facial features and I am very appreciative of that. Some books the only way you can tell characters apart is from either hairstyles or hair/skin color. This is not the case hear as you could be given a small portion of a characters face and still know who it is.
Overall, This is an excellent issue that promises even better ones to come. It is mending the scars poor writing has done to some of our favorite characters, so former readers should be able to enjoy it. At the same time, it reads and introduces the situation so well that I doubt any new-comers would have a problem following. It is a great jumping on point and possibly the start to the Teen Titans' next great age.