“Teen Titans” #4 is a good looking book with dynamic ’90s Image-style art from Kenneth Rocafort but Will Pfeifer’s story is chaotic and disjointed. Manchester Black sits in the wings of the story, watching as Algorithm and Red Robin tear each other apart for — what, exactly? Four issues in and it really feels like this battle was for naught. Black schemes behind the scenes — evident because he keeps talking about scheming. He’s awfully proud of himself and he has manipulated the fight but, even if it is for something down the road, none of it seems to make sense now. There’s a lot of convenience that happens here, like Tim Drake being able to hack the instant messages, emails, security, blueprints and secrets of all of S.T.A.R. Labs in a matter of seconds. Seconds. Tim Drake is a genius, but this feels physically impossible. Nobody can type that fast.
Black’s master plan was to convince the Titans to be S.T.A.R.’s super team. He did this by forcing Robin to fight a deadly robot almost to the death. Why not just show Tim the advantages of the Lab and what they could do together? The rest of the team is wasted here, with very little character development. They serve as chess pieces that show up only when they need to be moved to the front door of the Lab so they can find out that Tim made an executive decision that will change how they do their work without any of their input. The logic behind the decisions made by these characters just doesn’t feel like it’s there. Again, Tim Drake is supposed to be a genius and he’s going to team up with the company that just almost killed him. Let that sink in for a second.
Rocafort’s art is dynamic and highly stylized. It’s super hero art through and through — but instead of everyone being a bodybuilder, they’re more like Crossfit enthusiasts. Some of the choreography is a little hard to follow, like the opening Batarang toss that Tim makes from the ground, but it all looks good as it’s happening.
Much like the story, it’s confusing as to why these characters are even together, other than the fact that DC wants to make a book with the title “Teen Titans.” Four issues in and there doesn’t seem to be a mission statement behind the book. There wasn’t really any direction here, so it wouldn’t have been a big deal to just start the book with the gang working for S.T.A.R. and flash backwards from there. The last volume of the book ran in circles for a while and this new volume feels like more of the same. The relaunch just seems arbitrary. I hope that the result of this story moves the book in a more focused direction, but right now the future looks bleak.