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Teen Titans #1

teentitans1001Teen Titans has returned with a new number one courtesy of writer Will Pfeifer after the previous unreadable volume was mercifully laid to rest only a few months ago. Comparisons of the two volumes will inevitably happen, so let me offer mine. Several things in the plus column. scott Lobdell is not the writer. I repeat: Scott Lodbell is not the writer. Will Pfeifer doesn’t have as long a career in comics writing as Lobdell does, and his writing on Catwoman and HERO, his “Dial H for Hero” revival, shows to me he can deliver solid scripts not mired with derivative exposition. The team is trimmer by four, with the former Kid Flash and Solstice off in the future and Superboy and Skitter who knows where. Or possibly five if counting Danny the Alley ne Street which Lobdell used a few times. Bunker did not disappear into comics limbo as all too often happens with LGBT characters in supporting or ensemble roles, and  and he isn’t annoying because Pfeifer isn’t peppering his dialog with Spanish phrases in a lame attempt to make the character seem Mexican, just as the dialog for all the characters seeming more natural. Another positive note is that Pfeiffer also seems eager to continue the friendship between Beast Boy and Bunker.

On the minus side. DC has one fewer character of color with the unimaginatively named Skitter gone. Kenneth Rocafort’s art style doesn’t mesh well with Pfeiffer’s tone. Which is not to say that he isn’t a competent, talented artist. His rendition of the individual team members seem off in a way that’s hard to pinpoint. The best I can say is they often look stiff. Rocafort’s manga on steroids inspired layouts occasionally work but are mostly overused and the panel ornamentation, for lack of a better word, is a visual distraction and should be done away with ASAP. Yes, seriously ASAP. Backgrounds are sometimes adequate, if lacking detail, and other times non-existent. The point of view changes range and direction and that’s all. It always seems to be through the reader’s eyes, not ever through the eyes of another character, which would actually draw readers more into the visual part of the story. I dislike saying this but I don’t think Rocafort is a good artistic fit for these characters. Someone needs to design Raven a new costume that doesn’t rely heavily on such obvious bird motifs. Pfeifer and Rocafort aren’t to blame for its design, but this book is meant to be a fresh start. Also, Bunker needs both a new costume and name. And Wonder Girl. Same thing with Bunker! Dear God. Every single point Janelle Asselin made in her CBR piece is spot on. You want to make a teenaged female character look like a teenaged female I suggest studying how Jamie McKelvie drew Miss America in Young Avengers. And the lasso. Despite knowing it’s magical I can’t help but wonder if it’ll trip her up looping around her waist and almost down to her knees on the cover. How about just hanging it off her hip, you know, like artists did with that other Wonder Girl. And please, please forget all that “silent armor” nonsense.

Finally, who this series and characters are being marketed to is unclear to me. The up angled illustration has the team’s faces tagged Facebook style with hashtags and Twitter allusions above and below with a pastel green background that I’ll guess and say is maybe supposed to mimick a blog. If DC is aiming this book at a teenaged/ young adults demographic – the tumblr crowd – then DC is going to have to reference Gillen and McKelvie’s Young Avengers run without calling attention to it. Honestly, I hope DC does go more in that direction and quickly steers away from this AOL circa 2001 look. Pfeifer’s take deserves a chance and with a better artistic choice I think it can succeed.

March 14, 2015
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