Gotham City, 90210: Teen Titans #4 Review

We’ve had a lot of fun at Scott Lobdell’s expense here at Crisis On Infinite Midlives because, well, if you’re gonna relaunch a tentpole character of the DC Universe as an blank-slated set of jugs trolling for cock, you kinda deserve what happens to you. Just because Starfire happens to be Snooki-orange doesn’t mean you need to write her that way. We’re just sayin’.

Lobdell’s writing on Red Hood and The Outlaws was such a juvenile misfire we almost dropped his Teen Titans book because, well, if a man opens up with a blatant Southern Trespass, you don’t stick around to see what he has in mind after he gets comfortable fucking you and decides it’s safe to try the weird stuff. Frankly, we only held onto it because Amanda liked Brett Booth’s art, and while the story did seem like it was born from the pitch, “X-Men! Only in the DCnU!” it had enough potential to at least see where it was going.

Well, we’re four issues in now, and I have to give credit where it’s due: it’s been a while in coming, but I actually enjoyed this issue. Lobdell might be a juvenile writer, but on a book about juveniles, it’s finally working for me.

We’re four issues into yet another decompressed New 52 arc, and we open up in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, with Wonder Girl on the run from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (Really? Do we need an acronym that fucking long? I’m too hung over to waste pixels on that many periods), which means, by extension, she’s on the run from Superboy. In the meantime, the remainder of heroes destined to be the Teen Titans – Red Robin, Kid Flash, Bunker, Solstice, and Skitter – are holed up, also on the run from N.O.W.H.E.R.E.S.E.R.I.O.U.S.L.Y.F.U.C.K.Y.O.U. Battles ensue. Costumes are donned. Battle cries are cried. And we finally get the promise of some team action in this team book… next issue. Maybe.

Where this book is working for me is in the characterizations that Lobdell is putting on the Titans. Because what Titans writers often forget is that the Teen Titans are, after all, teenagers. And I can only speak for my own memories of being sixteen, but teenagers are actually pretty childish. Cocky, self-pitying, territorial, mouthy, and utterly willing to create their own families within their circle of friends. And various characters in this book exhibit some or all of these traits. They felt real to me, and while the characterizations were all there in the previous three issues, now that the Titans are actually assembled, the interplay between them makes them really stand out. Sure, I wish that it hadn’t taken four issues to get the team together, and that it wasn’t going to take yet another month for them to actually begin working together, but it finally feels like the book is beginning to click.

When it comes to Brett Booth’s art, I’m pretty much on the same page as Amanda was for the first issue. It’s pretty, finely-lined, heavily-jacked 90s-style pencils and inks. It has its place, and while it might alienate anyone who has a knee-jerk negative reaction to the Image Age of comics, Booth depicts dynamic action sequences, well-paced and clear storytelling, and detailed backgrounds. The one thing about his art that really bothers me is his facial expressions: everyone’s eyes are too small, and too far apart. It’s like he tried to give himself room for big ol’ manga-style roundeyes and remembered that this was a western comic book, and just shrunk the eyes accordingly. The expressions are all, well, expressive enough, but the eyes make everyone look like they got their powers through generations of unsupervised inbreeding… or at least the guys do. With the girls, Booth draws their tits so big and gravity-defying that I’m hard pressed to remember their faces, or even whether or not they had heads.

This book is in no way perfect. We’ve waited a quarter year of Teen Titans to actually see the Teen Titans, and the pace shows no signs of quickening. But when it comes to the characters, the interplay we’re finally seeing rings really true to me, and make the book worthwhile. While I wouldn’t recommend this book as a jumping-on point, it’s enough to make me stick with it and maybe recommend the trade… and enough to make me take back at least some of the things we’ve said about Scott Lobdell.

Provided he wraps up this storyline so I can stop having to type N.O.W.H.E.R.E. Otherwise, I’m adding the derogatory shit back and tacking on D.O.U.C.H.E.B.A.G.