Thursday, September 18, 2008

Welcome to Bizarro-World!

So, as anyone can tell from my previous post about BAGS (Bad-Ass Group Shots) or where I decided not to collect the Teen Titans book because of McKeever's sudden decision to become kill-crazy, I'm kind of a fan of the Titans. It's why I also get upset when members of the team get killed, turned evil, or when the book just suffers from bad writing or bad art.

As I also mentioned, for the book I'm putting together of reviews of bad comics (hey, if I'm going to be reeaally late with the recaps, I might as well make it worth your while to get a lot of them all at once), one of the ones I decided to do was Judd Winick's nightmarish Titans #1.

Needless to say, the book hasn't exactly been a favorite of mine. I love the fact that the adult Titans are getting their own book, but the writing was amateurish and the artwork was just horrific, be it from Ian Churchill's 90s-esque "sneers, muscles, and look at the bewbs" or Joe Benitez's... unique view on human anatomy, the book just hasn't exactly been firing on all cylinders and I dropped it the second I decided I could spend my money on better things. But then, surprisingly, two weeks after Titans #4, the follow-up issue debuted on Wednesday. The cover was still by Benitez, but the interior artwork was by Julian Lopez. But it's got to be the same kind of stupidity from last time, right?


Any book that features the line "You've got a bear in the lobby" is off to a good start. As such, behold the horror and intrigue that is...


More and SPOILERS behind the cut!

Yes, you read that correctly - this issue was actually really good. Sure, it's not Watchmen, but it doesn't try to be. This is a shining character piece, filled with some sweet moments between characters while setting up actually interesting plot points. And like the image above says - it features a bear in the lobby. In this case, Beast Boy decides to show up at Raven's school as a big green bear and pose as an advertising stint (which is actually FUNNY, as opposed to the lame humor we were subjected to in the previous issues from Beast Boy). Now, the only thing that confuses me here is that Raven is supposed to be in high school, yet the fact that she has a roommate and a lobby for her school where any green bear can be received as a piece of mail seems... odd, like it was meant for college. Still, it's amusing so I'll forgive the one lapse there.

Beast Boy wants to talk to Raven since she's been through some crap lately. Now, what's really fascinating about this is that Winick has been writing Raven like a stereotypical "bitchy high school goth girl" who's snarky and mean and uses expletives left and right... which Raven certainly does not do. She usually speaks with a very dramatic tone, with controlled words for what she does and says. As such, while the tone in her speech here isn't perfectly in sync with her Marv Wolfman days, she doesn't sound TOO far off for her current personality.

Another funny bit ensues when Raven asks Beast Boy if he's asking her out on a date:

We switch to Titans Tower, where Cyborg is about to show Arsenal, Troia, and Flash his new body. Now I especially comment on this because of two things: one, Donna Troy is back in her starfield costume (though I still miss her cleavage-less halter top), discarding the fugly black outfit with red stars along the side. Two, the artwork TOWERS over Joe Benitez's work, with actual human proportions on display. I mean, just take alook at cyborg here as compared to Benitez humans from the cover of Issue 3:

Joe Benitez:

Julian Lopez:

Now, a word on the art - sometimes lopez nails it, but he seems to have a real problem with facial expressions if they're closer up. He's much tigher in shots that have the characters taking up a reasonable amount of panel space, but then in the very next panel from the Cyborg one above, we have Donna Troy look like, well, this:

Or Raven looking like this...


In any case, in terms of actual plot developments, besides for the previous two threads, we also see Dick Grayson and Starfire having A MATURE CONVERSATION ABOUT SEX AND THEIR RELATIONSHIP. And bear in mind, this was written by Judd "Green Arrow and Black Canary are going to have a 24-hour sex-a-thon" Winick. It's mind-boggling that we've suddenly gone from atrocious to quality so quickly. In any case, Starfire is the one who says the two can't have a relationship because, as she asks Dick to confirm and he does, he doesn't truly LOVE her. While this is a frowning moment for me, since I'm a Dick/Kory shipper, it's actually maturely handled and it's a natural development between the two.

My theory is that Nightwing himself hit Judd Winick with his Magical Fist of Morality (see the end of the Titans East storyline) and it wapped a clue into him about proper character writing. Now, I know Judd's capable of writing good stories - I've certainly read them, but it's just he's been failing so utterly lately in his writing that it's shocking to see something so damn GOOD coming here.

Anyway, the issue's final scenes are of Raven admitting to Beast Boy that she feels like she's a monster because she's been fantasizing about killing the Titans, leading to the other Trigon children (the plot of the last four issues, which was a neat idea, if poorly executed) appearing and helping her leave. Beast Boy tries to stop them, but sadly is outmatched.

So, yeah, this was actually good. I'm going to pick up the next one to see if the quality endures, but I'm honestly surprised by this. What's even more shocking is that apparently this is the first issue where Dan Didio directly edited it, so it might be because of HIM that the book was good.

To quote Cordelia Chase from Angel, what freaking Bizarro-world did I wake up to?


emily lorentz said...

so was the next issue any good??

Lewis Lovhaug said...

Could've been better, could've been worse.

AnotherForlong said...

What's next? Is Beechen actually going to do research when given a new assignment? HEY-OH!

Speaking of Teen Titans, I'm currently in the middle of a text review on the TV show (releasing it in segments because it's getting lo-o-o-ong). I would have e-mail this to you, but I can't access accounts on Blogger for some reason. So here's the link to my review if your interested:

If you're not interested, well just laugh at me.

Ben Pounds said...

I honestly don't see what's wrong with the facial expressions. Otherwise, good review, I may actually read it.