Teen Titans: The Future is Now

Teen Titans: The Future is Now 

By Geoff Johns, Mike McKone, Ivan Reis & Tom Grummet

(DC Comics)  ISBN 1-84576-166-9

This compilation reprints issues #15-23 of the monthly comic and the Teen Titans/ Legion of Super Heroes special which saw our eponymous heroes catapulted into the thirty-first century for a huge punch up with the Fatal Five – who had teamed up with their counterparts from 495 alternate Earths – to wipe out the future heroes. And in a way they succeed as the special is a prologue to yet another refit and re-restart of the fan favourites. But we’ll deal with that if DC ever produce a Legion graphic compilation.

The bulk of this volume concerns the time-displaced Titans fighting adult versions of themselves when they fetch up a decade into their own future – a dystopian America where the Titans have taken over the reins of government. When they finally get back to where they belong, but not before lots of running, fighting and trenchant prophetic musing, and thus forewarned if not forearmed, they promptly add a new member just in time to fight Dr Light, fresh from his pivotal role in the Identity Crisis publishing event. The conclusion neatly leads directly into the books that comprise the Infinite Crisis publishing event.

As a stand-alone read this is all a bit of a mess, with no real cohesive narrative thread and a bunch of done-to-death plot devices that were old even before I was. Fans won’t complain, I’m sure, but this won’t work with all those new readers the coverage of Infinite Crisis is intended to pull in.

© 2004, 2005 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Teen Titans: Beast Boys & Girls

Teen Titans: Beast Boys & Girls

By various

(DC Comics)  ISBN 1-84576-166-9

Beast Boys and Girls starts by reprinting the Beast Boy mini-series from 2000, which, although a competent and readable outing by Ben Raab and Geoff Johns, illustrated by Justiniano and Chris Ivy, seems rather at odds thematically with the character’s treatment and portrayal in the Teen Titans regular series.

The effective and determined young man of this tale – whose shape-changing powers are by the way cool side-effects of a rare African disease and a subsequent experimental cure – thwarts a murder/frame plot by a shape-shifting psychopath whilst re-launching his movie career, but is curiously at odds with the meandering fifth-wheel of a character in the second half of the book. Originally from the Teen Titans monthly comic #13-15, the follow-up tale shows him as a whiny disease vector that attacks children. This seemingly causes his animal morphing powers to destabilise, subsequently infecting every child in the city. Johns is joined with Tom Grummett and Larry Stucker for this laborious mini-epic.

Teen Titans is one of DC’s strongest brands but the lack of cohesion in its various incarnations is a real hindrance if the publishers want to expand the base of readership beyond the limited confines of the already converted.

© 2000, 2004 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Teen Titans: Family Lost

Teen Titans: Family Lost 

By various

(DC Comics)  ISBN 1-84023-998-0

Family Lost sees penciller Ivan Reis, inkers Kevin Conrad, Marc Campos and Norm Rapmund, plus colourist Sno Cone, join the burgeoning creative brigade with issues #8-12 of the monthly comic, plus the premium Teen Titans #½, collected under one cover.

Deathstroke the terminator has a wild-child daughter called Rose who is a borderline psychotic and these adventures recount how she joins the team, co-opting her dead brothers code-name ‘Ravager’. Our hormone raddled heroes must keep a wary eye on their newest member whilst fighting the menace of a vampiric incarnation of their old foe, Brother Blood.

These are all very competent superhero tales with lots of action and – I presume – the kind of dialogue that today’s kids are hip to, but that really shouldn’t be all there is to them, surely? Doesn’t it seem that you should concentrate on storytelling and entertainment fundamentals rather than depend on the opinion that old fans just want to name-check favourite characters and plots on their fan-boy score-cards?

© 2004 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.

Teen Titans: A Kid’s Game

Teen Titans: A Kid’s Game 

By various

(DC Comics)  ISBN 1-84023-839-9

This series has as its theme the idea that super-hero kids need somewhere to go to be away from their mentors and partners. Practically speaking that means that Robin, Superboy, Kid Flash and Wonder Girl hang out every weekend with the survivors of previous incarnations of the 1980s teen team such as Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg and latterly, Raven.

A Kid’s Game details the coming together of the newest team in the aftermath of a tremendous battle that led to the death (yeah, right!) of long-time Titan Donna Troy. It also ties up some long hanging plot threads regarding ex-Titan Jericho (he wasn’t really dead after all, you see) whilst positioning Deathstroke the Terminator as the title’s major villain.

The creative team is the ubiquitous Geoff Johns with pencils by Mike McKone and Tom Grummett. Inkers Marlo Alquiza and Nelson provide the finishes and Jeremy Cox the colours. The stories were originally printed as Teen Titans #1-7 and Teen Titans/Outsiders Secret Files 2003, and as super-hero comics go it’s not a bad use of your cash. Readers of a less insular persuasion might be a bit baffled though, and fans coming to the volume because of the Warner Brothers cartoon show will be, frankly, baffled and somewhat disappointed at the lack of charm and humour.

© 2003, 2004 DC Comics. All Rights Reserved.