Thursday, 10 May 2018

In Which I Attempt to Review a Comic (Teen Titans: Year One by Amy Wolfram, Karl Kerschl, Serge LaPoint, Steph Peru, and John Rauch)

Batman: "There's a master cat burglar on the loose and you're chatting with your friends?" - Teen Titans: Year One, page 2

I picked this up cheap from the sale shelf. How cheap? I could have gotten a single issue of a currently running title for more or less the same price. Given that this is six issues, it would have had to be monumentally bad to not have been worth the money.

It was worth the money.

This is the Teen Titans origin story dragged into the modern day. Although I question them updating the setting but not Robin's costume. I mean, it makes sense for Aqualad to wear Speedos - he spends a lot of time in the water - and the bottom half of Wonder Girl's costume matches Wonder Woman's. But Robin is swinging around Gotham wearing lime green Speedos for no apparent reason. In the 2000s. ...Anyway. This book uses the same cast as Titans, although Omen is missing completely and Roy vanishes for most of the second half. It was pretty light on plot, but cute and funny enough to get away with it, so definitely more aimed at kids than adults. Well. I assumed so up until the egregious scene where Green Arrow told Speedy not to knock Wonder Girl up. By the way, Green Arrow, between this and Young Justice, you really haven't made a good first impression.

I wavered between giving it three or four stars, but settled on three because I had a fair number of good and bad points.

The Good
  •  This is my favourite version of Garth (Aqualad) so far. Sure, he's neurotic and cowardly, but I just feel like there's more to him than to the other versions I'm familiar with. Not to mention, I love his design.
    • Garth: "What would Robin do?"
    • Garth: *Makes a pun*
  • I liked the contrast between Robin's relationship with Batman and the relationships the other Teen Titans had with their mentors.It's not a contrast that painted Batman in a great light, but it was good to see it all the same.
  • The art is great.
  • "You're very disturbed, Robin." - Kid Flash, upon getting stuck inside Robin's head.  
  • Wonder Girl's...I'm going to say naivety. In the issue where she dates Speedy, he comes off as just as insecure and childish as he really is because she seems to lack an understanding of traditional gender roles. She doesn't understand why he doesn't want her help, or why he's mad that she saved him, and her reaction to being told that she's not like other girls is to worry that he means it as a criticism. To her, it doesn't sound like a compliment. 
  • I both love and hate the ending. I love it because you can interpret it as either the adventure continues or the bad guy wins, although I think the second one is just accidentally implied by the message Batman sends Robin. (I still like the second one. I'm a bad person.)
The Bad
  • Wonder Girl is the only girl in the group and her entire character revolves around being boy-crazy.
  • They took down the entire Justice League within an issue. 
  • Correction. They took down the entire Justice League within an issue with only one (established) competent team member. 
  • Wally (Kid Flash) is a character I either seem to like or dislike depending on the story. In Titans, I like him. In Young Justice, not so much. This version falls somewhere in the middle, although he's definitely more towards the dislike end of the scale. It doesn't help that the issue where he gets the most focus paints him as fame-hungry and jealous. 
  • There were a couple of plot threads that were dropped completely without being resolved.
    • First of all, since we're on the subject, Wally being jealous of Robin. This is made more complicated by the fact that Robin is his closest friend and also oblivious. It probably did not help that he told Wally not to come back to Gotham with him because it would be dangerous. (Bear in mind here that Robin is an ordinary kid in a flimsy cape and impractical slipper-looking things, and Wally can run halfway across the world in five seconds flat.) This situation seemed ripe for conflict, but it's pretty much dropped after issue #4. 
    • Batman and Robin. Batman is clearly unhappy about Robin working with the other teens, but he never outright says it. He's just really passive-aggressive about it. This is actually my biggest issue with the ending. I feel like we were supposed to forgive Batman, but he even chickens out of saying what he really wants to say over instant messaging. Did I sympathise with him? Sure. But the fact that there wasn't even an attempt at a conversation made me feel like they'd left the plot thread dangling. 
Definitely worth the read if you're looking for something light and funny.

Do you review comics? And, if you do, how do you go about it?