Sunday, January 4, 2015

Teen Titans: Earth One Volume 1 Book Review

Title: Teen Titans: Earth One, Volume 1
Author: Jeff Lemire
Illustrators: Rachael Dodson & Terry Dodson
Publisher: DC Comics
Publication Date: November 25, 2014
ISBN-13: 978-1401245566

144 pp.

ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

I cannot begin to tell you how much I LOVED The New Teen Titans. I mean, seriously, this book saved me when I was a teenager. "A freak among freaks," Vic Stone says in the first issue and I knew this comic was for me. One of my proudest moments was getting a Letter to the Editor published. And here's me with Marv Wolfman at ComicCon a few years back:

Marv Wolfman was instrumental in defining my story sense, taught me how to develop character arcs, and showed me how comics could be smart, funny, and incredibly human.

Plus with George Perez's illustrations, The New Teen Titans was a thing of beauty from the cover to the last panel.

Then it started to suck. George left. Stories were boring. And I was in college by then. So yeah, time to move on.

The Teen Titans Go! animated show arrived on the scene, which I derisively called "Tween Titans," but then I watched a couple of episodes. The anime style and humor was cute and well-done, but it wasn't my Titans.

Then I saw the ARC for The Teen Titans: Earth One. And I hoped. I hoped the characters, reinvented as they were, were still true to their inspirations. I hoped the writing had the humor and angst I loved. I hoped the illustrations would be evocative of powerful world-building. I hoped this would be a Teen Titans that could save some other lonely teen out there.

I am happy to report that The Teen Titans: Earth One is pretty damn good. The artwork by Rachael and Terry Dodson is modern and exciting. The script by Jeff Lemire digged deep into Titans mythos and created a new origin story that paid homage and still created characters than stand on their own. The action is fast-paced, with just enough hints of what's to come (one word: Blackfire!) that I am waiting breathlessly for the next installment.

A couple of concerns, though. One is that without Robin/Nightwing, there is no clear leader. The obvious choice is that Cyborg will step up to the plate, but I'd like to see Changeling take the lead. In this incarnation, he's the most grounded and a genius, too, so he'd be a good tactician. And though I loved Garfield Logan's humor in The New Teen Titans, he could be more than comic relief here.

The other concern is Raven. I like the idea of making her Native American (although sorry to lose the Trigon backstory), but that can be tricky. The last thing any book needs is stereotypes of spiritual/mystical Native Americans.  So please, talk to some Native Americans and get their take on the characterizations before you proceed any further. (And if the writer ends up making her Trigon's daughter and Native American, that's just lazy.)

So if you were curious about this graphic novel, go ahead and pick it up. Longtime fans and newcomers alike will find a good read.

Bonus video: Jeff Lemire talks Teen Titans Earth One



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