Ever since Geoff Johns left “Teen Titans” quite a few years ago, the book has been in turmoil; numerous writers, complaints of script rewrites, and a continually rotating roster has resulted in a rather large turnoff for most readers. But after hearing that last month’s issue with new creative team J.T. Krul and Nicola Scott seemed to turn a corner for the series, well, it was hard to resist taking a peek, even as I feared the worst.
The good news is, however, that it’s been a while since “Teen Titans” has felt like it was on the road to recovery, rather than a visit with a terminal patient. And for that, on this Thanksgiving weekend, I am indeed thankful.
It helps that Krul more or less inherited a stronger cast of characters than the book’s had in several years. Having a roster of characters who all more or less want to be around one another and even like each other’s company is a big step in the right direction; unless you’re writing “Suicide Squad,” the characters shouldn’t act like they’re shackled together and what a general inconvenience this entire situation is. Krul is instead going with a traditional set-up of having one team member being the general troublemaker and thorn in the others’ side, but it still makes sense for Damian Wayne to being given a shot as the newest member of the team. Krul does a better job than most of capturing Damian’s voice as a character, pegging that snippy-and-feeling-superior tone that Grant Morrison created. Presumably as the story progresses we’ll see him go from “does not work well on a team” to “finds his own place and a way to make it work.”
It’s also nice to see that Krul is able to do things with other characters, like Raven, that veer away from the normal tactic. (Do we really need any more “Raven is going evil” storylines?) While some characters get more to do this issue than others, it’s a pleasure to see characters simply getting written with competence and a strong use of their special abilities.
No surprise at all is Scott’s pencils, which are clean and attractive. Looking at her pages here, it brings to mind runs on the book by past artists, most notably Tom Grummett. The art (with inks from Doug Hazlewood) packs in a lot of detail, from strands of hair to shards of metal. Watching the story flow from one panel to the next, it’s a reminder that Scott is an artist who’s deserved a high profile assignment for a while now.
The one part of the issue that didn’t work for me is the new villain, whose motivations in general still feel ill-defined. I’m willing to wait it out and see where this is going, but it’s hard to overlook that right now he just feels like a character that they’re fighting for the sake of fighting. Still, two issues in, I feel like this is a good start for Krul and Scott, and for readers to take another look at the series again.