Teen Titans (vol.5) #1 (September, 2014)
“Blinded by the Light, Part 1”
Writer – Will Pfeifer
Artist – Kenneth Rocafort
Colors – Dan Brown
Letters – John J. Hill
Associate Editor – Rickey Purdin
Editor – Mike Cotton
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99
Before we start, I want to preemptively apologize for anything I say today that winds up not making much sense… or if I ramble, ya know, more than usual. Turns out, ya boi is sick… second day in a row waking up with a decently high fever, and what feels like a 45-lb. head. But, we don’t take sick days here… yet. So, mea culpa in advance!
I recently heard that DC would be cancelling Titans (vol.3), which was one of the books I was most looking forward to post-Rebirth. I remember even writing a review where I expressed concern that it would eventually get cancelled… something that, at the time, I found rather troubling. Fast-forward a couple of years, however, and the cancellation feels more like a mercy-killing. Overlong crossovers and events have really stifled the forward momentum of so much of DC’s output… and Titans, really hasn’t been all that great since around Metal.
Now, I say all that, so that I might say this… cancelling a book is sometimes the right call. I remember when I heard that The New-52! Teen Titans (vol.4) was being canned… I, as a completionist who absolutely loathed the book, could not have been happier! I’ve read a fair amount of bad New-52! comics, but, lemme tell ya, Teen Titans was probably the worst of the worst. As a Titans fan… and a Scott Lobdell fan, that really sucks to say… but, really, I can’t even put into words how much I hated that book.
So, when they announced a couple months later that Teen Titans would be coming back with a brand-new volume… my hopes weren’t all that high. Could anyone salvage this team? Would anyone even want to? Well, let’s take a look at the first issue back.
We open with Cassie Sandsmark walking through Times Square. She’s on the phone with somebody, when suddenly she loses her cell signal. Moments later, a hooded figure appears on her screen… promising to give a “little excitement”… which makes me assume he’s going to show up and hand out Slim Jims. Instead of beef sticks, however, this hooded figure introduces us to their “compatriots” on board a school bus out of Wilmington, Delaware. Ya see, they’re loaded down with explosives… and that bus is going to head directly for S.T.A.R. Labs… so, ya know, bummer times. Cassie checks in with Red Robin, then Wonder Girls up to stowaway atop the bomb-bus.
Tim asks that she make sure nobody gets hurt during this exercise, then checks in with Beast Boy and Bunker. He asks Beast Boy to inconspicuously board the bus, while sending Bunker straight over to S.T.A.R. Labs as a last ditch effort if they need him.
Speaking of S.T.A.R. Labs, they’re getting the same video call… only it’s somehow even more annoying than the one Wonder Girl received. The hooded figure goes off about Black Holes and the Singularity. Those are them kinda words that makes ya feel smart! The S.T.A.R. Board of Directors round-tables the situation… including Manchester Black and a Mr. Power… as in, Josiah Power?
Back aboard the bus, one of the goofs threatens to kill a child… which, of course, leads to Cassie having to interject. She pulls the dude out by his neck and hurls him off the bus. Doesn’t look like it kills him though.
Next, the terrorists decide to just toss that little girl out the back of the bus… luckily, Red Robin is there to swoop in for the save. Ya know, I still think the wing-suit is one of the lamest things to come out of The New-52!, though, in fairness, it’s a pretty long list.
Then Gar inconspicuously transforms into a Bengal Tiger to scare the terrorists. What he doesn’t realize is that, a tiger on a bus is likely to scare just about anyone… good guy or bad!
Next, Raven makes an appearance, taking a pair of baddies into the “Nightmare Realm”. Upon return, the lead hoodie triggers the explosives on the terrorist’s vests as a way of winning at any cost.
Cassie tackles the triggered terrorists and flies them out the back of the bus… where they go boom!
At this point, Gar tries to stop the bus from crashing into S.T.A.R. Labs… but it’s a no-go… er, a no-stop. The gas pedal has been locked in place, even removing the keys doesn’t help. Lucky for everyone, Bunker is in place!
Miguel explains that the smaller he makes his “bricks”, the softer they are… which is why the bus crashing into his construct wasn’t a whole lot messier. One dude they saved though, isn’t too keen on a gay kid coming to their rescue. Well, he never actually says that, but it’s what Bunker assumes he’s about to say… and so, Bunker smashes the dude into a wall with some construct bricks… and hops onto his soapbox for a bit.
Gar tells Miguel to cool his jets… because, it’s “current year”, and everybody is carrying a smartphone armed with a video camera!
We wrap up at a different S.T.A.R. Labs building, where the original hooded figure (who somehow made it off the bus… if they were ever there to begin with!) kills a dude, and vows that this isn’t over.
Well, I’ll say this much… it’s better than what came before it! At least here, the team appears to actually like each other! I keep thinking back to the first New-52! volume… woof, these were some awful people. Awful brats who treated each other like garbage. Could never understand why they’d even try and stay together.
I remember when this came out, I really couldn’t get a “bead” on where people stood on it… most of the comments made online were in reference to the cover… and how over-sexualized Cassie was depicted as being. I think that really affected the way a lot of folks “received” the book. Their perceptions were already tainted before even opening the thing.
I try not to concern myself with such things as the latest internet outrage. Hell… who could even keep up anymore? I look at that cover, and I’m more annoyed with the shoe-horned social media garbage that I barely even noticed Wonder Girl’s shape! Oh well.
Let’s talk story. I’m not sure if it’s the fever talking, but I really don’t know why the hooded terrorist would warn the Titans about their bus-go-boom plan. Maybe I missed something there, but it just seems fishy. I’ll concede that, though I enjoyed this issue far more than the previous volume, it wasn’t enough to get me to continue reading. I still bought the book, because I’m an idiot… but, outside an issue here and there, I didn’t read all that much of it. What I’m saying is, this might all become clear in the next couple of issues… I just wouldn’t know.
Miguel’s outburst at the end… might’ve been him jumping to conclusions a little bit. The dude who they rescued didn’t outright say anything about being saved by a gay kid… for all we know, his next word could have been “kid” or “freak” (considering one of them is green). Sure, he was probably going to say something anti-gay, but this makes Bunker look a little too anxious to use his powers on ordinary folks. Though, I’m sure that’s kind of the deal they’re going for here.
Overall, a tremendous improvement on the initial volume of New-52! Teen Titans, but I feel like I’m being beaten over the head with all this social media stuff. I suppose I shouldn’t hold that against the book, considering that “kids these days” are all about their smartphones and social media applications. Maybe I’m just annoyed that this is the first volume of the Titans to make me feel old. This issue is available digitally.
Now, back to bed.