And so it’s come to this.
Issue #88, I think, was the first issue of Teen Titans that I picked up since sometime around the middle of Final Crisis, which was in late 2008 and the Titans were somewhere around issue #63. So that’s roughly 20 issues that I skipped and 20 issues that I had to go pick up through back issue bins, eBay, and online ordering, which I recently completed just so that I could have entire set of this title (and therefore have an entire run of Teen Titans starting with DC Comics Presents #26). What drew me back in was word of mouth. At the point where I came back, I had been listening to a number of comic book podcasts and was dipping back into following the current goings on at the Big Two. I was hearing good things about what J.T. Krul had been doing in the book. Plus, I saw some of Nicola Scott’s art and had to go back.
My opinion back then was that the book seemed way more solid than it had when I’d abandoned it. The art was fantastic and the adventures felt more cohesive than the meandering “we’re kind of not a team anymore” stuff that had been going on back in 2008. However, the New 52 came around and when I saw the solicits for Teen Titans, I said “Nope” and decided that I would be done with the Titans with issue #100 of this series as well as the hardcover graphic novel Games. So when I sat down to do this read-through I thought I’d do the Teen Titans books last because I had a feeling that they were going to be the best of the three series.
I wasn’t disappointed.
The writer when I started this stack of issues was Felicia Henderson and much of the art was done by Jose Luis, who put together a story centered around Raven. Apparently, her dark soul self (or something) had traveled through dimensions and in one of them left a wake of destruction that ended up creating a man-bear-pig creature called The Wyld that was now out to take over multiple dimensions, much like her father. So, The Wyld kidnaps Raven and takes her to his “upside down”. The Titans follow–except for Aquagirl and Bombshell, who have to keep watch over a dimensional portal back on Earth but then mysteriously disappear when they’re attacked by a dragon-like creature–and eventually win the day. The big contribution comes from Static, who had joined the team along with a few other characters toward the end of the McKeever run and at the beginning of this one. However, by the end of this storyline, he was out as were Blue Beetle, Aquagirl, and Bombshell. I guess Henderson was doing a little bit of deck-clearing for Krul.
Henderson had brought back most of what is considered the “classic” lineup of this era and Krul solidifies it, although it’s weird that Aquagirl and Bombshell’s leaving the team is mentioned having occurred completely off panel considering that their peril was part of the storyline. With fewer members and more recognizable faces, the adventures can be about a team that has itself together while also dealing with some of their personal issues. There’s also the introduction of another hero–Solstice, who is Indian and has light-based powers.
The enemies are solid. In the first storyline, a high school is taken over by Dr. Caligan, an evil mad scientist type who is experimenting on the teenagers–it’s kind of the Silver Age stuff with a more modern edge. Damien Wayne–who at this point is Robin–joins for a short time until Tim Drake comes back. Tim is Red Robin (YUM!) and will eventually get back on the team, although Wonder Girl is the leader until the end of the run.
The end of the run, by the way, is a three-part Superboy Prime storyline that doesn’t really fit the way I thought it did back in 2011, but I think that’s because the creative team had to put it together in order to fit it into what was going to be the last few issues before the New 52 relaunch. I haven’t read any interviews about this storyline, so it could have either been thought up quickly once they found out the book was going away or they could have had to cut down a much larger story in order to get it in. Either way, even though it’s got plenty of action–Prime using Dr. Caligan to have him clone a bunch of Superboys that represent Connor in other eras along with some other Titans villains only to be stopped by several Titans–it feels really rushed. Plus, Superboy Prime should really have gone away after Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds. The screaming, whining child bit was just too overbearingly annoying.
But that’s all to say that I enjoyed this set of books more than any of the recent comics I’ve read, and it’s nice that my Titans reading ends on an up note. It also convinces me that these issues aren’t worth holding onto. Whereas The New Titans fizzled out in pretty spectacular fashion back in 1995-1996, I’m holding onto all of those books–good, bad, and ugly–because of how important they are to me personally. But these? The titles they’re in went from revitalizing my interest in this team to feeling like I was reading out of obligation to realizing that it was time to give it all up. Thankfully, they gave me an out.