Retrospective: Teen Titans vol 3 (part 1)

I’m a fan of the Teen Titans, especially the latest incarnation that went from 2003-2011 and as this relaunch makes it seem their entire history may be erased, I wanted to give them a farewell starting with issues 1-7 (also collected in trade form as “A Kid’s Game” or the soon to be released Teen Titans Omnibus 1).  Like usual, beware of spoilers.

First, I want to point out that I could be wrong when I state that the current teams history is being erased and we won’t know for sure until at least the new Teen Titans #1 comes out on the 28th of this month.

Geoff Johns begins the Teen Titans with Superboy skipping class and Superman soon finding him to bring an end to it.  Before ushering Conner back to school though, he relays an invitation from Cyborg that the Teen Titans is starting back up.  Superboy states his unease at joining a team again due to the death of two people while he was part of Young Justice which includes Donna Troy, but tells Superman he’d think about it.  A similar message is sent from Batman to Robin (Tim Drake), while Jay and Wally in Keystone are arguing over if they want Impulse (Bart) to take part in it.  Jay is for the idea, while Wally is against it thinking Bart is too immature.  This is actually the moment we find out Bart can actually remember everything he reads at super speed which shocks both Jay and Wally as they soon forget if they do it.  Wonder Girl (Cassie Sandsmark) actually has her invitation given by Starfire for Wonder Woman refused to do it.

They head to the new Tower in San Francisco Bay and we get a very awkward moment of Beast Boy hitting on Cassie which just seems wrong to me.  To be honest, I hate Beast Boy the majority of the time in this Teen Titans run, but I’ll get to that more in later reviews.  All the new members soon arrive, and we can easily tell that there is an unease between them.  They then go to bed save Robin who apparently never sleeps and Conner who just can’t sleep.  This is the moment another nice bit of info gets passed out, and that is Conner’s human genes actually came from Lex Luther.  Superboy of course doesn’t want to do anything but ignore it, though Robin steals a bit of hair to do his own testing to verify it.

A lot really happens in the first seven issues that it’s too much to get into detail on all of it so I’ll rush through the major points.  Bart recovers and goes through the entire San Fran Library to become Kid Flash.  We find out Deathstroke is really being controlled by Jericho who was thought dead.  Wonder Girl gets her lasso from Ares, and Raven is brought back to life and sadly not given any clothes (I’m not sure if Raven nude is really needed, even if blood is technically covering her) until she tries to escape and asks the Titans for help.

This is a great issue, but my favorite part really has to be when Wonder Woman shows up to try and force Cassie to leave.  This soon causes Kory to appear who soon blasts Wonder Woman starting of course one big fight.  This only escalates when the rest of the Justice League (Batman, Superman, John Stewart, and Wally West) shows up and the fight escalates between all of them.  This goes on until Nightwing actually appears to put a stop to everything.

Geoff Johns does fantastic writing here.  All the characters feel like they act and behave like who they are while the story doesn’t have any dull points.  Everyone working on the art does a great job as well and combined with John’s writing this makes for a really great story of the start of the new Teen Titans team.  This story in fact is one of my favorites of this TT group, if not my favorite and I highly recommend people read through this.


About xxadverbxx

I'm a fan of comics. Mainly DC and more specifically the Bat family. Grayson would be my favorite character, though I'm very sad to see Stephanie leaving her role as Batgirl, and generally upset at Didio - the man I deem responsible for all that I dislike in DC comics.

9 thoughts on “Retrospective: Teen Titans vol 3 (part 1)

  1. I have always been really conflicted over Johns’ Titans run. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the best run on Teen Titans in a long time. But that’s damning with faint praise.

    My issue, which I have never been able to overcome, is that I loved these characters in the 90s in their solo books and as Young Justice. And Johns butchered some of them.

    What he did to Bart is a crime. Bart didn’t grow up. He stopped being Bart and became Barry Allen Jr. Nothing DC has done to Bart has mattered since because Johns killed him in his first Titans story.

    Conner didn’t get as radical of a revision. I guess the Luthor thing makes sense story-wise. It’s more relatable/predictable than Conner being the clone of Superman and some jerk at Cadmus that no one remembers. The change in his origin didn’t bother me so much.

    But Johns portrayed Conner as a big, dumb jock. And he had never been that in his own book or in Peter David’s Young Justice. He was a pretty complex, sensitive guy. His budding romance with Cassie was sweet and awkward. It was something that accentuated both characters. Under Johns, it became more about Cassie being a well-endowed blonde and Conner being a horny jock.

    If you didn’t follow these characters in their previous incarnations, I can see how Johns’ Titans would be a fun read. But I could never fully engage in it. I do look forward to reading your perspective though.

    • I will admit I have very small knowledge for any of the characters besides Tim before their Teen Titans run. But I do really enjoy this and think you are undermining how Conner is written in it. Well mostly at least, for he does have some “horny jock” moments through the series. Then again, what teenager wouldn’t get horny with Starfire walking around like that or later on having Rose wearing barely nothing at all?

      • Yeah, I try to be upfront with my biases. I’m probably not being fair. Johns didn’t turn Conner into a jackass. He was just more of a meathead than when previous writers handled him.

        And yeah, even as I wrote my mini-rant, I figured that most of Connor’s changes could be chalked up to hormones. Not so with Bart. What Johns did to Bart is a crime. It’s probably my least favorite thing Geoff Johns has ever done.

        I still enjoyed Johns’ Titans to the degree that I could. But I’ll always prefer David’s Young Justice. It’s a damn shame what happened with that book.

        The Titans writers that followed Johns made him look like a genius by comparisson. McKeever’s run was awful!

    • For all that Johns revitalized the Titans after a long period languishing – and the Titans are probably the best vehicle for Johns’ brand of juvenile, angst-ridden storytelling – I will never forgive him for what he did to Bart (in particular), Cassie and others. He took well-rounded, unique characters and turned them into disposable, cookie-cutter teen characters.

      Johns does a lot of things well. Writing happy, well-adjusted, or even mildly humane characters is not among them.

      • I would recommend reading Young Justice sometime. The book got a toxic reputation as a “kids book” because of the cartoony art. But it’s really solid writing. The art fits the tone of the book which is mostly fun although it goes to some dark places. The way Peter David writes the characters, they have a lot more dimensions than the way Johns wrote them. If anything, Johns stripped away most of the complexities. And teens are perhaps more complex than anyone.

        Anyway, check out YJ and see what you think. If you like these characters, you should love YJ. It’s good stuff.

        If you want to understand just how horribly Geoff Johns butchered Bart, read Mark Waid’s run on Impulse. Waid’s Bart was such a breath of fresh air. Johns bludgeoned that character with a mallet until he was no longer recognizable. It wasn’t even character growth. I could handle Bart growing up. This was just Johns looking at Bart and saying “I can’t write that so I’ll make him over into something I can write.” Which is probably just as well because Johns couldn’t write Bart correctly. So maybe it’s best he didn’t try.

        Since Johns’ take on the character (and all of the Titans) was so successful and YJ wasn’t, it’s a moot point. Most readers see the Johns versions as the real deal. But they weren’t. You actually made a comment in your article that the characters were true to themselves during this run. But that’s only true if you were unfamiliar with the characters before Johns took over. If you read what came before, the characters were drastically altered to fit Johns’ writing style.

        I’ll be curious to see if the Lobdell Titans are as drastically different from the previous incarnation as the Johns Titans were from Young Justice.

      • Very few are well-rounded – that obviously doesn’t come until much later in life for most people. But even fewer are as angst-ridden, destructive, reductive caricatures as some of Johns’ characters.

        It is particularly telling to me that, after Johns’ take on these characters, many of them ‘suddenly’ became redundant, boring characters who functionally disappeared. Of the four YJ members on Johns’ Titans team, only Tim was recognizable as the character he had been – and it’s worth noting that only Tim went on to have a prosperous, post-Johns shelf-life. Bart was kicked around as a dull Kid Flash and a dull Flash before dying. Kon angsted for months before dying. Cassie angsted for years in between being a rote love interest for Tim and vowing to get revenge for the deaths of Kon and Bart.

        It’s all just so… typical. You could replace any character with any other character and the stories would be equally meaningless. I give Johns credit for revitalizing the Titans and crafting a mythology-laden story that would be well-suited for the CW – and that isn’t meant as an insult. But he destroyed those characters, quite possibly permanently.

        If the reboot let’s Connor, Cassie and Bart start fresh, uninfluenced by Johns’ Titans, it will be absolutely worth it.

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