It’s one of the most inventive musicals of all time, and certainly an almost-instant cult classic. The Rocky Horror Picture Show not only tied together multiple subgenre of popular scifi in a postmodern mishmash, but it offered a clear, cool indictment of late-middle twentieth century double standards. Its masterful control of science fiction tropes is apparent in how easily the music mirrors the tone of the individual modes.
“Bless My Soul” for example, tells of that strange, weird transformation that sees the classic 50s rock story morph into the town overrun by secret aliens who assume the guise of humans. It’s not at all that far from J. J. Abrams’ marvelous Super 8. And its sound? Classic 50s bop, like Eddie Cochran or Bobby Darin. “Eddie” as another example, retells the classic rock ‘n roll story of boy-meets-alien. Except of course that that trope doesn’t really exist. But against the flawlessness of Rocky Horror, these subgenre click into place like the robot you’ve finally managed to turn into a truck.
In “‘Saur Feelings”, writer Scott Lobdell pushes the Teen Titans into their first major step after “The Culling”. It’s an important issue, to be sure. This is the first issue where the lurking demons that masterminded the kidnapping of thousands of metahuman teens (Red Robin’s discovery of this was the very reason behind forming the Titans) have finally been beaten back. Harvest, the true mastermind behind The Culling, and the entire N.O.W.H.E.R.E. network remain at large. But the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. headquarters, the Crucible has been disabled. And a large segment of the organization’s infrastructure along with it.
But the real joy in Teen Titans #10 is seeing how easily Scott Lobdell surpasses even the genius of Rocky Horror Picture Show.
One of the shortfalls in Rocky Horror, because it plays so sublimely at the level of genre, is that it’s characters have a tendency to tend towards the generic. Brad is less Brad, often times, than he is generic suburban-guy-awash-in-a-world-of-cosmic-strangeness. The roles themselves thus take on the glow of being great actor’s roles. Roles that would showcase the talent of the actors portraying them, rather the storytellers who originally crafted them. Look at the gusto with which Tim Curry dove into the role of Dr. Frank. Or Susan Sarandon’s bravura as Janet.
And even as Scott Lobdell parallels the genius of Rocky Horror, by playing with genre and introducing the Titans into a savage land filled with dinosaurs, he also transcends the classic by doing what the original movie did not. In “‘Saur Feelings”, we see not only a skillful, artistic mashup of genres, but we see the deep characterization play out on each of these pages.
These opening pages aren’t just pages of Kid Flash zipping everywhere uncontrollably (as it seems, is his usual tactic in dealing with the unknown). These pages comprise a deep character statement about Kid Flash. And so too do these pages comprise a deep statement about Red Robin, a leader who is open to being rescued by another teammate, and a leader who is open to freely admitting that he isn’t completely in control. Even the haphazard, off-the-cuff interaction between Wonder Girl and Superboy is laced with character insights.
But what of the cover that teases with a race between Kid Flash and Tempest a race for (or maybe against) the forces of evolution itself? Well, guess something needs to be left over for the issue itself. For now though, please enjoy this exclusive 5-page preview of Teen Titans #10, “‘Saur Feelings”.
Teen Titans #10 releases this coming Wednesday, 6/27. Here’s your exclusive preview of this groundbreaking series’ next issue.