“Teen Titans” #3 is easily the most successful of the comic’s issues to date, and I think it can be summed up in one word: fun. With this issue, Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth are going for an overall light-hearted, fun take on the Titans. And considering how many of the more recent takes on “Teen Titans” have been anything but fun, this is a refreshing change of pace.
With “Teen Titans” #3, Lobdell brings the last of the new characters into the foreground: Solstice, Bunker, and Skitter. The sequences with Kid Flash and Solstice are peppy and entertaining thanks to how Lobdell writes the speedster, his mind zipping along just as quickly as his body. The big two-page spread with Kid Flash running around the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. complex, with a numbered line to follow, is a great idea on how to show the character in action. It’s a funny method of storytelling that can only truly work in comics, and it gives us a good idea on Kid Flash’s personality. Solstice gets a smaller section of the comic, but hers is interesting because we get to watch her shift from panic to excitement, a moment of revitalized energy that bodes well for the character’s future.
Bunker gets teamed up with Red Robin (and Skitter on deck for the final moments of the comic, although she’s a presence for that entire section of “Teen Titans” #3), which works well. Unlike Solstice, there’s no panic or sadness with Bunker, someone who’s upbeat from the moment we see him. He’s a breath of fresh air in the comic, and his eagerness to form a team with Red Robin and company is not only a good nod toward the inevitable, but makes him that much more an appealing a character. We also see through the script that he’s not quite as experienced as his gung-ho attitude would make you think, but it comes across smoothly and in an entertaining way. Bunker’s gotten a bit of press over being a new gay character, but the real headline here is “Brand New Character Is Actually Interesting.”
Even when the main characters falter, it doesn’t come across as overly negative or dark; the new villain that defeats some Titans this issue does so in an amusing way, and one that’s surely setting up for a round two before long. It’s probably the best of Lobdell’s three books, and there’s enough in the script to make you want to read more.
Booth’s pencils this issue are also probably the strongest to date for the series. His character design for Detritus looks like scrap metal come to life, and the brief glimpse we get of it makes me want to see more in future issues. Solstice and Bunker also get good character designs; the clouds of smoke around Solstice coupled with the eruptions of power make her look wonderfully creepy, the best-looking visual of the book. And while Bunker’s suit (deliberately) screams “new hero,” I like his well-dressed, slick civilian clothes. I was a little less crazy about the stiffness of Kid Flash on the opening page (he doesn’t look like he’s running at all), but makes up for it on the big spread where we follow him around the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. complex. Some of the staging is also a little awkward, like the page where Red Robin kicks Bunker in the chin; the angle isn’t easy to follow, making it look like the wall is the floor and vice versa.
“Teen Titans” #3 is showing more than ever this series finding its own voice and tone, and it’s a good one. With the promise that next issue should finally pull the team together, I find myself genuinely interested in what happens next in a “Teen Titans” comic. It’s been a while since we’ve had that for the Titans. This is definitely one of the more pleasant surprises of the New 52.