“Convergence: New Teen Titans” #1 revives the much-beloved 1980s team in the safe hands of their original writer Marv Wolfman and new partner Nicola Scott, a strong artist who has been compared to George Perez, the penciller during Wolfman’s run.
The comic opens with Donna Troy recording an audio diary, but for strategic rather than personal reasons. Every “Convergence” title writer faces a heavy load of exposition presented by the event timeline: a year in the Dome, the announcement of the terms of battle and then getting the opponents onto the same battlefield. The audiotape/videotape shtick, whether it is for supposedly personal or documentary use, feels extremely contrived. However, Wolfman’s use of this approach is limited to only one page and it does the job of getting readers up to speed quickly. What really saves it as a narrative technique is Donna’s voice. Her digression into personal matters gives her speech a natural-feeling touch. The scene also shows insight into Donna’s personality, namely her tendency to put duty and her teammates before herself.
Other “Convergence” writers have tried to ground the reader first with lengthier exposition and a smaller personal “Dome Year” story before widening the stakes with the battle arena challenge. Other than the first page recap, Wolfman skips long characterization-focused preambles and gets straight to the point of the event relatively faster, weaving smaller character moments into the action. It’s a good choice, especially with the large cast. As a result, “Convergence: Teen Titans” #1 is paced evenly and leaves more panel time for each character and for the Teen Titans’ opponent.
The Teen Titans are pitted against the Tangent Comics Universe version of Doom Patrol from the late 1990s. At first, it feels like things will go down like most of the other “Convergence” titles, where the victor is never in doubt. However, Wolfman creates suspense by defying expectations. Both Starfire and Rampage seem to be keen on killing, balancing the two teams. Both teams discuss the ethics of the situation and have sympathetic and similar motivations. At the end, there’s an excellent twist that seems to defy the usual “Convergence” setup.
Besides Donna, Starfire and Nightwing get the most panel time. As a couple, they are troubled. She’s childish and channeling her anger and traumatic past poorly. He’s paternalistic, exasperated and slightly condescending. They act more like a teenage daughter and her dad than a marriage of equals, and there’s more friction than affection. That’s a terrible dynamic, especially for newlyweds and so, when Dick has his conversation with Donna, his conclusions don’t seem to come out of nowhere. Like the original series, the strengths of “Convergence: New Teen Titans” #1 are the characters and their relationships with each other. The drama between Kole and Jericho is sketchier and more like a soap opera but believable for teenagers, and the friendship between Garfield and Victor is very well-done. Scott’s facial expressions and body language aren’t subtle, but it works well for the abundant emotion in “Convergence: New Teen Titans” #1.
Readers who were excited to see the “Disco Nightwing” outfit again won’t be disappointed. Scott’s pencils and Cox’s colors keep the characters distinct and recognizable at all times, not an easy job considering the size of the cast. The many transitions are strong, too, and it’s great visual fun when she has Beast Boy/Changeling turn into an elephant.
As a stand-alone story, it’s not perfect. Like many “Convergence” titles, the nostalgia and retro appeal will be lost on newer fans and the story feels cramped. However, “Convergence: New Teen Titans” #1 does manage to bring back much of what made the original series so beloved, and Wolfman is able to keep the reader from getting bored with the event. As a trip down memory lane, it’s a success.