Comic Book Review: TEEN TITANS: EARTH ONE, vol. 1

Comics and MangaKristina PinoComment

A new original graphic novel in DC's popular "Earth One" series, TEEN TITANS: EARTH ONE follows in the tradition of SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE and BATMAN: EARTH ONE, both of which were #1 New York Times bestsellers.

The Teen Titans never felt like normal kids... but they had no idea how right they were. Their seemingly idyllic Oregon upbringing hides a secret -- one that will bring killers, shamans, and extraterrestrials down on their heads, and force them into an alliance that could shake the planet to its foundations!

Superstars Jeff Lemire (ANIMAL MAN, GREEN ARROW) and Terry Dodson (WONDER WOMAN) reinvent DC's youngest heroes, with an all-new mythos in an all-new world!

The great team working on this: Jeff Lemire (writer) Terry and Rachel Dodson (art), and others: Cam Smith (on ink with Rachel), Brian Anderson (on colors with Terry), and Jared Fletcher on letters.

I should start this review off by saying that besides what I've gleaned from episodes of the Teen Titans cartoon from way back, I actually don't know much about these guys. I know they're kids with powers, and they face problems that range from "typical teen issues" to mega-villains. And some of them are sidekicks, though in this graphic novel there's a noted lack of those in particular. I picked this book up because it looked like a good way to get a fresh start.

On that front, I think this book is great. You get a full introduction to most of the main characters, where they come from, how their lives were before they gained their abilities, and a tiny glimpse of where they're going from there - all wrapped up in a neat package. The comic is easy on the eyes, and easy to follow in general. As far as I can tell, it doesn't rely on any prior knowledge (being an Earth One title, the creators can basically do what they want), but readers who have more background are likely to find a lot of references to the larger world these characters belong in (in other iterations, anyway). In that sense, it's probably safe to say this is a book that's friendly towards new fans and also fun for older ones, if the older ones can deal with a full GN of origin stories.

The characters are believable and it's clear the team here is in touch with what works in young adult storytelling and what doesn't. The art lends itself to this as well, changing in style and fluidity throughout the volume. The coloring, everything, the entire ensemble works towards this organic, constantly morphing sort of style that I think speaks to the lives of teens, and it's all held together with great dialogue.

The book is well-paced, and ends in not so much a cliffhanger, but a very intriguing scene that really made me want to read on. It's a good balance of feeding us information without getting all mucked up in too much exposition, where moving the story forward was a higher priority than explaining every little thing in minute detail, and I liked that. As a new reader, I mean.

Also, I like the different take on Raven, who I remember being a darker character, more demon-like. In this iteration, she's this gorgeous Navajo girl and I don't want to get any more spoiler-y than that. I guess if you've been a fan of other iterations of Teen Titans you'll probably have a different opinion of her, since I understand a lot of the drama of her character would change in this way. But I like what I saw, at any rate. Maybe I'm just tired of overly dark characters? Also, I guess there are a lot of clichรฉs lumped in with her new heritage - but that's neither here nor there.

Anywho, this book is out today, November 25th, and you should at least consider giving it a shot. There's a lot of great potential for the future, since, again, the creators can do what they like with the story. By the end of the book, it's hard to tell what's going to happen next, and I think that's a good thing, considering the main characters are a bunch of scared teens.

Disclaimer/transparency: This review is based on my experience reading an ARC via Netgalley.

Final note: if you think there's an essential Teen Titans comic I should read, let me know in the comments or via social media! I'm always looking for new things to check out, and a personal recommendation would be awesome. <3