Review: Teen Titans #88 By J.T. Krul And Nicola Scott

Teen Titans #88
Written by J.T. Krul
Art by Nicola Scott

Did…did I just enjoy an issue of Teen Titans without digging for things to enjoy and trying to bury things that were lame? I can’t remember the last time I did that. I really can’t, I mean, I’ve been buying this book since it launched, but I can’t remember the last time it was actually good. Can anybody? Around One Year Later? It’s been a while. Several failed creative shuffles; from Adam Beechan, to Sean McKeever, to Felicia Henderson, and the sum of it is….nothing has worked. You keep Teen Titans around for the same reason you have a Justice League, or a Justice Society. It’s a big moniker team, a franchise that fans know, and a name that translates across mediums. Blessing and a curse, as it means that the book is going to run regardless of quality, because it will sell. Now, when it launched under the control of Geoff Johns, it was fine. He brought his usual level of quality to the book and set a standard that was then not reached by any writer to come on since then.

Well, it’s a new day, and Green Arrow writer J.T. Krul is being given the keys to leave his mark on the book. Right off the bat there’s a jump ahead from the previous issue, with a line about Aquagirl and Bombshell to explain that they weren’t forgotten about, just aren’t going to be in this book. The book hits the ground running with the team in a fight, and the current roster assembled with no need to devote issues to setting them up, even with Ravager we get a simple “I asked, she said yes” excuse for her presence. Wonder Girl is still in charge, but she’s actually acknowledging her faults over the past few years, in what I call a nicely plotted out bit of dialogue. Yes, it’s an excuse, but you know what it’s better than? What we had before, which was Cassie just being a bitch to anyone and everyone at all times. That never sat right with me, I mean, she’s Wonder Girl! Wonder Girl can’t be a mean spirited bitch!

Superboy is a bit of a meat head. Kinda reminds me of Finn from Glee, actually, only not as annoying. He doesn’t get a lot of room to spread his wings and show off in this issue, but at the same time, he’s Superboy. He should easily be the most clean cut member of the team as far as characterization goes, not to mention that starting next month he’ll be the only member of this team with a solo title. As it stands, he’s the teams invincible Boy of Steel, he’s dating Wonder Girl, and Ravager is flirting heavily with him, most likely to piss off Wonder Girl.

Speaking of Ravager, I’m really happy she was brought back to the team, though I figured she would be almost as soon as I first heard Krul was taking over, as his issues of Teen Titans focused on her and Deathstroke (and one of the lingering plots of that arc comes up in this issue). Her presence on the team makes sense, as the Teen Titans move from just being “teen super heroes” to “teen super heroes who know what they’re doing”, which definitely puts Ravager up there in terms of experience. She can take care of herself and she can get the job done, which is a nice fit after a few years of the most inexperienced putzes to ever put on spandex. I mean, didn’t Aquagirl and Bombshell get eaten by a fish?

Kid Flash is a little obnoxious know-it-all of book knowledge, sort of the way Johns started to write him during the early issues of this title, before Bart was aged to an adult, killed, and then brought back. How does he stand out here? By being everywhere, having a little comment about everything, and most importantly, applying his “I remember everything I read” trick to something else he’s been a part of in, what could be, a very cool subplot.

That’s probably my favorite part about this issue, that every character gets a little hint of things to come, everyone has a plot mentioned for build up. Nobody is just….there. Maybe I’m just used to reading this book where three quarters of the team doesn’t matter, but I like this. It’s small, it’s focused, and even Beast Boy fits in nicely, and I tend to hate when he hangs out with the teenagers like he hasn’t crossed the big two-oh yet. I mean, dude was like what, fourteen during New Teen Titans? Back when Dick Grayson was nineteen and becoming Nightwing? It’s been at least five or six years, comic time, since then as Tim Drake spent five years as Robin, and Jason Todd has to fit in the middle there.

Nicola Scott makes this book gorgeous, but anyone who expected anything else needs their head examined. She adds a youthful feel to these characters that a lot of the more recent artists to grace this title have struggled with. I feel like I’m looking at high school students, not actors playing high school students. In fact, if there’s any complaint to make, it’s that she draws Kid Flash like he’s fifteen, when Bart should be closer to seventeen. She really is perfect for this book, though, and I honestly can’t get over just how great everything looks.

Now, I was trying to not spoil anything too hard, just tease you guys a bit, but I can’t review this issue without bringing one thing up that I had actually completely overlooked my first read through, and it took Jay Galette pointing it out to me to notice, but is it just me or is the bad guy wearing a Klan hood?

There’s a few great cameos to tease us towards next issue, and at the end of the day, as far as first issues of a new ongoing run are concerned, this may as well have been a new number one. Sure, there are references to past story arcs, but it feels like a fresh start for this long suffering title, and it’s a good thing. This is the best Teen Titans has been in years, and not in a “It’s better than the last stuff, but still not great” way, no, this book is fun. It’s readable. It makes me glad I looked forward to it, and eager to get next months issue. I haven’t had that feeling with Teen Titans in forever, and it is nice to have it back.



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