Review: World’s Finest: Teen Titans #3

“Welcome to Titanscon”
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Steve Wands
Review by Bryant Lucas

The Teen Titans discover the dangers of fandom, as they traverse the perils of Titanscon in this month’s World’s Finest: Teen Titans #3.

Last Issue, Speedy and Robin fell out over the Titans’ role in society. Roy wanted to establish a social media presence and engage with the Titans’ fanbase, while Dick advocated for a more traditional superhero approach, where the team had minimal contact with the public outside their superhero duties. Roy seemed to win the debate, as the rest of the team sided with him over Robin. Eventually, the Teen Wonder stomped off to the Batcave while the rest of the Teen Titans decided to make a surprise appearance at Titanscon.

This month’s issue opens with the Titans (minus Robin), arriving at the convention. Having received an enthusiastic welcome, they initially enjoy their interactions with fans; however, Titanscon takes a dark turn when a stalker turned nemesis attempts to kidnap Bumblebee.

Cultural Commentary

When it comes to the world of comics, Mark Waid has been around the block once or twice. He’s seen it all: the booms, the busts, and the transformation of the genre from paper to film. Over the course of his 40-year career, Waid has witnessed the rise of fandom culture, and it’s clear from World’s Finest: Teen Titans #3 that he has some reservations about the fandom phenomenon.

It’s hard not to see Titanscon as a nod to San Deigo and New York Comic Cons. These mainstays in American pop culture have done wonders in promoting nerd culture and fandom. However, with its rise in popularity, Waid notes that fandom has become toxic, and watching the Titans interact with fans feels very authentic. Even Waid’s choice of villain in this issue points to the dangers of fandom’s obsessive nature. It’s a sobering reminder that taking these characters too seriously can lead to dark places.

Facing the Facts

Three issues into this series, and I’ve really come to love Emanuela Lupacchino’s art style.  Much of is drawn as medium shots, focusing on characters’ torsos and up. I can’t help but feel like this is intentional, as it allows her to highlight one of her strengths as an artist: faces. She does a fantastic job at telling the story via expressions, it’s always clear exactly what each character is feeling at any given moment. Be it distress, mischievous, joy, or relief, Lupcchino has it on lock.

Although I’ve been enjoying Lupacchino’s take on the “World’s Finest” corner of the DCU, I have to say that there is one thing that bothers me. Her version of the Batman costume doesn’t match the one Dan Mora uses in the main World’s Finest book, in terms of their design. Lupacchino’s looks more like the New 52 costume while Mora’s has the yellow emblem and the Tim Burton Bat design. Mora’s version is intentionally nostalgic, matching the tone and tenor of the title. Lupacchino’s Batman looks good, but distinctly modern. This may feel like I’m nitpicking, but it does break the illusion of a shared universe.

Conclusion

World’s Finest: Teen Titans #3 is another win for the franchise. Waid’s script is both fun and thought-provoking while Lupacchino’s art reinforces the overall vibe of the book. What has me particularly excited is that the series seems to be building an overarching story now which wasn’t clear in the earlier issues. I’m excited to see where it goes next.

Final Verdict: Lupacchino would have loved to draw the smile that was on my face while I was reading this comic.

Images Courtesy of DC Entertainment


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