Rating: 5/5 – The Best Titans Story Since Wolfman & Perez.
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow.
While I’ve been reading comics pretty much from the moment I could crawl across the floor and steal my older sisters’ copies of Archie or Supergirl, there was one defining moment where I passed the line from “guy who reads comics” to “fan for life” and that was in the pages of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’ New Teen Titans. There was no other book like it at the time, and for me, there’s not been one like it since. Oh, we can argue that some titles are “better” than others, but New Teen Titans was lightning in a bottle. It was two creators at the top of their game, showing everyone else how it could be done. How it ought to be done.
One “gift” from Marv and George during their run on the title was the creation of some of the most enduring characters in the DC stable. Raven, Starfire, and Cyborg were born in the pages of the book, and bit players like Beast Boy (from occasional appearances in Doom Patrol) found new life and new popularity in New Teen Titans. Today, all four of these names are fairly well-known, but their origins can all be traced back to this one title.
Jeff Lemire, in the dedication page for Teen Titans: Earth One, must have had the same childhood I did, as he dedicates the book to Wolfman and Perez. Artists Terry and Rachel Dodson follow suit, also dedicating the book to Marv and George. The inspiration the original book had on these people is evident in this new book. While some characteristics have been changed – Raven is no longer a worshiper of Azar but a reservation-living Navajo woman given to visions, for example – none seem like they were done on a whim. Change for change’s sake rarely makes for a good read, but this book seems to understand that.
As a brief aside, I’ll own up to it: When I was a kid I fell in love with Tara Markov. Spunky, sassy, occasionally potty-mouthed, she was everything a guy who felt Kitty Pryde was just too girly could want in a dream girlfriend. So naturally, when Wolfman and Perez pulled the rug out from under me by making her a mole for the Hive, and then ended up killing her…well, I haven’t forgiven them still. Attempts have been made to bring Terra back, some more successful than others, but kudos to Lemire for giving me a version that outshines all but the original. Terra fans like myself have been all but screaming to have her back, in a way that works. I think now we have her.
The beauty of the book is that every character has that touch of difference, while still being respectful to the baby that brought them on board. Cyborg and Changeling don’t start out as friends (to parallel the wisecracking duo we’ve seen in the original series as well as the cartoon) but there’s a sense that that friendship is going to happen over the course of however many volumes we’re going to get from this series. Joseph (aka Jericho) is still silent as ever, but only because he chooses not to talk. Starfire’s presence is felt throughout the book, but her actual appearances are minimal, as the general thrust of the story is finding out who she is, where she came from, and what her involvement is with this group of suddenly superpowered teenagers.
Both the Superman and Batman: Earth One books impressed me greatly, and Teen Titans is another jewel in that crown. I shouldn’t really have to sell you on it – I think Jeff Lemire is one of the best writers in comics right now, and the Dodsons are known for delivering great artwork. The book’s pedigree based on the creative team is pretty much self-evident to long time fans. The real draw, however, is that it paves new unexplored territory for a team that has seen countless relaunches, it pays respect to the material that came before it, and still delivers a story capable of being enjoyed by longtime Titans fans as well as those completely new to the team. Teen Titans Earth One gets my highest recommendation.
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow
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