Writer – Adam Glass
Artist – Bernard Chang
*This review contains spoilers.
Adam Glass and company have added depth to new characters and provided palpable relational tension in Teen Titans #21. Here, Glass has moved the team and story forward by foreshadowing future storylines and using brilliant plot devices to unveil new information about each team member.
The underlying conflict in Teen Titans #21 is quite familiar. It’s one faced by nearly every iteration of the team. Several characters were convinced that the group is too serious; others, too loose. Not surprisingly, Robin and Red Arrow were concerned about a lack of preparedness for the dangers that lie ahead. Conversely, Kid Flash took a more laissez-faire approach to the whole superhero gig. The speedster was far more concerned with filming the action on his phone than following orders. While Crush and Roundhouse completed their mission, but not without causing significant collateral damage. These examples show the current Teen Titans lack experience and chemistry – which made for great storytelling!
I loved how Glass used Roundhouse to narrate the issue. His fresh, wide-eyed perspective simultaneously provided humor while revealing his character to readers. In fact, readers saw development from each of the characters. Red Arrow showcased her no-nonsense approach and desire for preparedness. Additionally, we saw hints of conflict between her and Kid Flash. Also, Robin’s leadership longed for chemistry and clearly defined roles. Roundhouse showed a need to belong and has found an identity with the team and his friendship with Kid Flash.
Djinn showcased a Starfire-esque naiveté that made for awkward interactions with the team. She humorously bungled phrases throughout, which led to insightful revelations. For example, we learned of Crush’s sensitivity to expressions about sexual orientation. Crush and Djinn seemed to share a similar outlook on fear being the primary driver of human nature. Also, in a surprising twist, readers learned Djinn has untapped ability to wield dark magic. Here, readers became aware of a ring – Djinn’s power and prison, the lamp to her genie. In other words, we learned Djinn can be controlled by a ring-bearer. Fortunately, in a large measure of faith, she entrusted Robin with the ring. Consequently, he became her temporary master. Undoubtedly, this revelation will factor into future storylines. Surely, the ring will be placed on the finger of an evil master soon!
Artistically, the issue felt good. Colors popped and panels were well organized. The pacing felt even and the action matched the intensity of the narrative. Still, some of the panels seemed less sharp than others, almost hurried. In particular, Djinn’s possession of Gizmo’s mind looked good and felt different – special even. Seeing his mind laid out like a labyrinth proved a brilliant way to visualize Djinn’s power at the moment. Additionally, I thought the panels featuring Djinn were the highlight of Teen Titans #21. By contrast, some others looked less impressive. Consequently, the art felt uneven in places with less detail on some characters than others. Still, I thoroughly enjoyed Rob Leigh’s lettering. I thought it distinguished the narrative well, proved expressive when needed, and overall added a nice layer to the issue.
Teen Titans #21 was an enjoyable issue. Surprisingly, Adam Glass managed to move each character forward in compelling ways. While the team is new, familiar conflicts remain. Still, the new members brought a fun vibe to an old tension. The villain proved inconsequential in the story and served only to highlight the characteristics of the new Teen Titans. However, the primary baddie awaits in “The Other.” Artistically the issue was hit and miss, but overall it held together nicely. I am excited to see where Glass and his creative team take the Teen Titans next!
*Images courtesy of DC Entertainment.