In “Teen Titans,” a busload of suicide bombers is only the beginning of S.T.A.R. Labs’ woes; when Beast Boy and Bunker learn of an explosion at S.T.A.R.’s premier building in New York City, they rush again towards the danger as their fellow Titans conduct business elsewhere in the city. Following a lackluster debut, “Teen Titans” #2 moves the series in a solid direction by building team synergy and introducing intriguing new plotlines.
In choosing to focus on Beast Boy and Bunker, Pfeifer makes a wise character building decision. Though the issue jumps all around New York, these two in particular carry this arc from open to close before Raven enters to build her own storyline at the tail end. Where the first issue provided freewheeling introductions for each character, this issue goes a little more in depth, giving readers a peek at Gar and Miguel’s downtime as well as their super-powered extracurriculars.
Likewise, Pfeifer integrates social media — in this case, a Twitter parody — into their lives in an organic, even-keeled way; this choice not only gives the book a realistic, contemporary feel, but also manages to power the plot forward. Where this device can be overbearing in a lot of ways, Pfeifer uses discreetly it as both a news source and a further study of Bunker’s emotionally charged reaction from the previous issue. It factors into Beast Boy and Bunker’s free time authentically, playing to their individual character traits and eventually rousing them to action.
That doesn’t mean, of course, that readers go an entire issue without a glimpse of the other characters. In fact, the only one who goes without some short cameo is Wonder Girl, though she arguably gets a strong show by proxy. However, only one of these subplots — Robin’s — contributes to the story at hand; others, like Cassie and Raven’s, feel aloof, only tangent to the S.T.A.R. Labs story through the characters’ connection to the Titans. Although these side developments are certainly very exciting, particularly the Wonder Girl Gang, they combine for a rather jarring, disjointed feel. Pfiefer’s focus is simply split in too many directions; once he begins to rein it in, as with Beast Boy and Bunker’s main plotline, his storytelling skills really begin to show.
Rocafort, for his part, puts on a solid — if flawed — show. His work, particularly in scene building, is complex; for instance, he gives Bunker and Beast Boy a New York apartment hip enough to inspire jealousy in any college or post-college age reader. Through this, he slips in a lot of details, like Bunker’s superhero action figures, that deftly reveal the characters’ personalities. However, as effective as this eye for detail is in that case, it reads as too busy in others, such as the destruction of S.T.A.R. Labs. Here, the details are many but obscure, coming across as confusing rather than enriching.
His figure work and costume design are correspondingly hit-or-miss, as evidenced in his full page shot of the Wonder Girl Gang. In it, he provides wonderful diversity in body shape and size; no two girls look exactly alike, ranging from athletically petite to large and in charge. What’s more, some truly ingenious design goes into their costumes, which look exactly as intended: shambled together by superhero wannabes. Some of the girls rock some awesome, distinct wardrobe choices, such as a painted hockey mask and Converse. Others, on the other hand, aren’t quite so vigilante-appropriate, including tall spike heels and a corset — items that would be nearly impossible to fight crime in.
Colorist Dan Brown adds a light, fun atmosphere to the book with a full palette of bright tones. Even at night, New York City feels alive under some lovely, scenic lighting that gives credence to a city that never sleeps.
Overall, “Teen Titans” #2 is a step up from its premiere issue, but Pfiefer and Rocafort are still working out the kinks. However, there is certainly enough potential here to stick around for at least another few issues, especially if they concentrate their efforts on a more linear story.