Friday, May 20, 2011

31 Days of Comics #20

Teen Titans Year One #6
By Amy Wolfram and Karl Kerschl

Teen Titans should be the ultimate Pop comics, but they’ve been stuck in the Dad Rock dirge for decades.

It’s all Wolfman and Perez’s fault. They took the Teen Titans to whole new levels with a bit more characterisation and long-term planning than the usual early eighties DC superhero team, helped considerably by Perez’s ultra-detailed art.

But like Miller’s Daredevil or Moore’s Swamp Thing, the Wolfman/Perez comics were so influential that nearly every new Teen Titans since then has attempted to emulate them, with diminishing returns. They can now arguably be held up as the perfect example of Everything That Is Wrong With DC – an almost toxic property that had been mismanaged into nasty mediocrity.

Now it’s a comic full of serious stories about people getting eaten by a giant mutant dog from some ancient kid’s cartoon. It has no tone of its own, it’s just playing the same old song as all the other DC team comics. Teen Titans should be groovy – but it’s just a whole lot of nothing. What’s the point of it, if you can’t tell the difference between the Titans and the Outsiders, or even the Secret Six? It’s all one tune.

It’s a real pity that most of the cleverest and funny ideas for Teen Titans comics have been in things like the Teeny Titans, while the real thing groans under the weight of its own gritted teeth.

And then there are things like Teen Titans: Year One by Amy Wolfram and Karl Kerschl, and they get just about everything right. It’s a fast paced and energetic adventure that ends up inside Robin’s head, and is a reminder that the Teen Titans are a team because they like hanging around with each other. You have the best times with your friends

With Dick Grayson’s unique lifestyle, other super-teens are always going to be the only ones who understand the pressures, but these kids are friends because they like each other.

It’s something that’s been missing from the Teen Titans for years, that these guys can get together and have a good time, and it can be fun.

Teen Titans Year One is saturated in this idea, and Karl Kerschl’s art is as splendidly fluid and propulsive as ever, creating the perfect atmosphere for this neat and fun comic.

Comics like this are still a relative rarity, and I haven’t enjoyed a regular Teen Titans comic since 1992. I’ve tried – I keep getting the books out of the library with high hopes, but it’s just more of the same mediocre monotone.

There is a distinct possibility that the Teen Titans will never be cool again, but you never know. It could be time to bring in creative teams who aren’t 35-year-old dorks with no fashion sense, or maybe even an actual teenager who knows that a younger audience don't want the same old shit that their parents like.

At least there are little oddities, like this six-issue series, which is a good reminder that there is a good song in there somewhere.


Carl Walker said...

Yes the tone and the art is great, and it's certainly better than all or most of the current TT Series (not saying much of course) but what the heck happened at the end there? Well, even calling it an end is generous, and in general there was some weird pacing, and lurching about between storylines or characters throughout. I wanted to like this comic a lot more than i actually did, but something about its composition was simply off.

Bob Temuka said...

I REALLY liked the ending for this one, dude. It's a totally abrupt way to wrap things up, but I don't mind it - it's said everything it needs to say, and the final punch-up with the big enemy is absolutely unnecessary...

Carl Walker said...

I suppose if it was a movie, I would just accept it and probably even appreciate it, but with a comic, any time you get an abrupt ending, you often have this feeling of "did they really even mean to end it there?" Sure, it seems safe to always meant to be a 6-issue miniseries, but I did just read OMAC yesterday, and Mark Evanier explains in the intro that someone else did the last panel (which is something the effect of "and then the energy rays backfired and the villain's lair blew up. Is this the end?!" when Kirby abruptly bailed for Marvel. So my skepticism is renewed, whether justified or not!