Prodigal Sons and Daughters Return in Teen Titans #1

In Teen Titans #1 writer Scott Lobdell captures that youthful energy of characters both honoring a heroic legacy, and rebelling against their forebears who enshrine it.

Teen Titans #1

Publisher: DC
Length: 22 pages
Writer: Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth
Price: $2.99
Publication Date: 2011-09

One of the great narrative strengths of the Teen Titans is its inherent paradox. At the heart of the book is the story of kid sidekicks seeking to break out of the shadow of their forbears. Emulating the conflicting and ambivalent emotions of youth, these characters are always trying to reject the restrictions placed upon them. Yet they are simultaneously seeking to honor to the legacy founded by the very ones they are often rebelling against. This makes for a genuinely interesting narrative tension. But it also resonates as fundamentally authentic, in ways other superhero stories often cannot. As part of the final week's releases of DC’s New 52, writer Scott Lobdell exploits this tension with aplomb in Teen Titans #1.

The story follows Red Robin trying to thwart the attempts of a secret organization who is tracking down young metahumans for some nefarious purpose. The first issue is able to quickly hit many of the important plot points that recur in these types of stories. There is the reckless would-be hero, Kid Flash, who ends up endangering innocent lives instead of saving them. Wonder Girl assumes the role of the newly empowered hero who fears that her new abilities will destroy her life. And Red Robin is the leader who must corral them all together and forge a team despite the teen angst and hormones. The story might seem a little heavy-handed for some readers (as with Kid Flash all but saying, “You’re not the boss of me!”) but overall, it is a fun read that does its job well.

There are two moments in the particular that really allude to the thematic power that has made the Teen Titans a fan favorite over the years. The first is when Robin glances at a picture of he and Batman together and muses, "Look what you started. Seriously. What were thinking"? In that short bit of dialogue so much of the tension between and sidekick and hero is revealed. This is a question that no doubt emerges from a character who still wishes to follow in the footsteps of his mentor, but is now independent and old enough to question the judgment of a person who would put that responsibility onto a child’s young shoulders. This expertly prefaces future conflict with the older generation of heroes and leaves the doors open for exploration on the concepts of legacy and heritage that have made the Titans such an integral part of the DC mythos.

It is also an excellent acknowledgment of the historical significance of the Robin character as the first truly successful vehicle for young fans to project themselves into the world of superheroes and fight alongside their favorite crime fighters.

The second magical moment of the book comes when Red Robin, responding to Cassie’s worry that her life will never be the same, replies, “Maybe we can do great things together”. This is another moment that might strike some readers as cheesy and maybe send a few eyes rolling. And yet it constitutes a very necessary part of what makes stories centered around younger characters interesting: their youthful optimism. This single line embodies so much of what redeems their angst and rebellion, justifies their overzealousness, and makes fans want to cheer their exploits. It rejects the seriousness of the older heroes, and the cynicism of some readers.

One of the main goals for DC’s relaunch was to grab readers who may never have picked up a comicbook before while avoiding alienating longtime readers. Teen Titans #1 is, in my opinion, one of books that truly fulfills this agenda. It finds a great equilibrium between the fun that made many of us first pick up comics, and the narrative strength that kept us reading them.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.