DC’s Rebirth gave us loads to be happy with over this last year in its second wave of major releases. With how amazing the first waves titles were, we could only expect great things from their new releases. Well, boy were we not disappointed. Teen Titans Rebirth was a fresh of breath of fresh air in a world slightly over-flooded with superhero teams (both in DC and Marvel). Though DC has Detective Comics, Titans, Justice League, Green Lanterns, the Teen Titans offer something one-of-a-kind, which those familiar with the teams’ history and those just tuning in can enjoy.
With dynamic character development, a variety of heroes from all walks of life and with hosts of real world issues laid at their feet, Teen Titans manages to capture a realism, while still reminding the reader that just because this is a work of fiction, we still can take something real from it. I’ve honestly never had so much fun with a comic nor realized how important it is to have a real team centered book with an equal focus on the individual as much as the team itself.
Yet, that’s a conversation for later. For now, I want to give all you readers who haven’t gotten to pick this comic up or have been on the fence about reading it some good reasons for why this book should be on your priority list. So here’s five reasons why you really need to read Teen Titans Rebirth. Also an obvious warning, but spoiler alert!
5. Benjamin Percy
Okay this one may be purely a reason exclusive to me…no surely it isn’t though. One of the honest reasons I picked this book up was because it’s being written by Benjamin Percy. Well actually now that I think of it, it was the real reason I decided to rather than not…moving on. If you’ve had the pleasure of reading on of DC’s greatest comic runs right now, Green Arrow duh, you’ll no doubt recognize him as the writer of that series. He may not have the longest resume in the DC family but he’s definitely going places in the comics world.
Now you may be thinking if the only reason I picked this up based on my love for Percy’s writing, then it must be so similar to Green Arrow; even further one could ask the question that what if this comic is just the same? Why do I want to read it if they’re too similar?
That’s really the magic—this comic is that it is nothing like Percy’s other work. His tone is completely different, his re-imagining of the more famous characters of the Teen Titans is welcomed, and his separation from child to teen is realistic, something previous writers of the Teen Titans have failed to capture. Of course, Percy does continue to show his aptitude for creating actual human characters in the midst of social context of the day and works to give equal attention to everyone and what makes them unique of one another. This is one of the only things I can say he brought over from his time on Green Arrow.
4. The Entire First Arc
Nothing is more important than first impressions, and in the comic world this is no exception. The first arc is always the most important. It allows you to show off not only your ability to tell a story, but give us something to care about. Now Damian Wayne is definitely a hit or miss with some people, to be frank he was one of the reasons why I didn’t want to read this when I learned that he would be replacing the Robin of the team. Honestly however, I’m glad I moved past this, because the first 6 issues of Teen Titans Rebirth has sold me a ticket on to the Damian fan bandwagon.
The premise is entertaining as well—it follows Damian being slightly upset that Bruce isn’t around to celebrate his 13th birthday. So instead, Damian decides it’s time for a team of his own, and he goes on an adventure to hunt down some of the members of the Teen Titans (Beast Boy, Wally West the younger, Starfire, and Raven) to form his own new team. In the wake of their capture by the little tyrant they slowly start not only to hate but at the same time care about Damian who seems like he just wants friends. Yet this wasn’t his only inheritance; Ra’s al Ghul decides it’s time for Damian to take back his place with the League of Assassins. When he refuses Ra’s sends out the Demons Fist, the complete counter part to the Teen Titans.
Either way the first arc is full of emotion, humor, and is completely action packed. All these combined with a huge team of artists offers one of the best starts to a rebirth title and doesn’t let up for a single issue, and it is full of such good character development that we’re rooting for Damian the whole time without even knowing.
Though this could be technically considered as the whole second arc it’s not so much that than the character of Aqualad himself. Of course I’m not talking about the original Aqualad. Jackson Hyde was actually created for the animated DC Universe in Young Justice but if you’re like me and didn’t watch that series, then this is the first time you’ll be seeing him in the comics.
In the comic he’s portrayed as the son of Black Manta, an a gay black man with a slightly homophobic mother. His character is so important to the series, because not only does it bring that extra diversity to the team but neither of those qualities are ever throw into what makes him a hero. In fact, the only time his sexuality was brought up was by his mother. When he finally does meet Black Manta the issue is never brought up, but I doubt the villain would care in the first place, nor does any of the Teen Titans, even Damian, make any sort of comment on it.
Now the reason this is so important is because the media really needs to start including more characters from the LGBQT community without the story or their character revolving around that fact. The contrary just has it look like the story in question is just including them to seem diverse or to promote equality when they are actually doing more harm than good. With Aqualad we’re shown something that should be a norm in storytelling and to be fair he’s a badass character to begin with anyway—I mean that fight with Black Manta was shocking to say the least—heh, I like puns.
2. Teen Titans Reinvented
Now this doesn’t apply to every single member of the team, it some cases they’re the same as they’ve always been but with a touch up. The most obvious change was Raven. Since her inception she’s always been seen as hooded woman both adult and teen, with an attitude complimenting her darkness. This was always charming enough but it was time for a change. I actually kind of dig her new look even though it’s a mix of a high school goth or pop punk fan. Either way, the Raven we all know and love is still there, but she is definitely a lot more approachable. Damian on the other hand had a major attitude change going forward in the first few issues. While he still acts like a little tyrant, he gets a long a lot better with friends especially when he shows his odd but nice ways of caring about the rest of the team.
There’s a surprising good amount of in-team drama as well, which has always been a staple of the series. Damian has his usual moments where the team wants to beat him senseless, especially when he firsts meets Aqualad, but this of course is only a mask to hide his feeling of betrayal from Wally West (the younger…honestly I hate that there’s 2 Wallys since it makes writing this confusing). Reminiscent of the iconic Teen Titans story, The Judas Contract, an all new crossover see’s both the Teen Titans and Titans face off against their age old enemy, Deathstroke, in a 4 part crossover called the Lazarus Contract. By the end Wally, ends up joining Slade’s new team, Defiance, and leaving the Teen Titans. Damian of course see’s this as a major betrayal but it’s a really good read to see them reconcile.
Speaking of crossovers, another change to the Teen Titans formula is their inclusion with the rest of the DC Universe. Not only do they team up with their older counterparts, but we also see them join in the Dark Knights Metal and Super Sons comics. Percy even throws in some team Green Arrow with them, proving that the more is truly the merrier. Also it’s nice to see Starfire as more than what the 80’s made her out to be.
1. It’s Hilarious
Well that’s anticlimactic isn’t it? True it may be something that may have been put further up the list but if I’m being completely honest this is the reason I kept reading. I can put that the best theme of the story is that it manages to balance both a light-heartedness and dark undertones gracefully or that how dynamic the characters are speaks to me. What really kept me invested is the pure love and humor put into the writing, and it’s so completely enjoyable to chuckle in midst of a serious battle to the point that it does not feel out of place.
I think Percy also takes this from his writing of Green Arrow but to a whole different level. The chemistry of the team is almost reliant upon each of them and their humor. From Starfire’s awkward understanding of human speech to Beast Boy’s ability to flirt with anything, and even Goliath’s pure adorableness, there is never a dull moment of this comic and you know what? That is what a comic needs to do. Keep you invested not only in its story, but its characters.