Last issue Teen Titans did a lot of table setting, as it built up the characters while unfortunately lacking action. This week promises lots to make up for it though, as Damian faces an ultimatum. Is it good?
Teen Titans #4 (DC Comics)
So what’s it about? The summary reads:
“Damian Knows Best” part four! Robin makes a deal with Ra’s al Ghul-a deal that will be settled in a trial by combat! If Damian wins, the Teen Titans will be spared, but he must rejoin the League of Assassins for good. And if he loses…everyone dies!
Why does this book matter?
Khoi Pham is taking over on art from Jonboy Meyers but that’s certainly not a bad thing as Pham is a seasoned vet when it comes to superhero comics. This issue opens where writer Benjamin Percy left off as Robin has gotten himself in quite the pickle.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Got any magic mirrors laying around?
Percy is working some magic when it comes to team building with this series. It started off with a highly entertaining kidnapping as Damian snached up the members of the team. Cut to Damian basically putting them all in danger, and now he sacrifices himself to make amends. The Teen Titans have no reason to help him, but after the heartfelt discussions in the last issue Percy has given them the motivation to do the right thing. This issue focuses on Damian’s punishment for leaving the League of Assassins and the Teen Titans coming to grips with this new team. It all culminates in an earned call to action.
The issue has its own action too, as Damian must confront his cousin who took his place. Percy delves into the complicated and screwed up nature of the family (they love their revenge and hate) and there’s a fantastic two panel mirror scene (see below) where you see your future self. It’s a neat way to show Damian wants to be like his father and most likely will never turn to the dark side.
Dialogue continues to be a high point as well. Beast Boy gets to throw down a speech and there’s a nice cut away to remind us in real life we don’t all just start spouting big speeches. The bad guy henchmen all get a nice scene too, reminding us they’re people and not just a bunch of mindless goons.
Artist Pham does a good job with this issue as he keeps the cel-shading going and the detail very high. It’s not quite as stylistic as Meyers, but the colors by Jim Charalampidis and layouts keep the quality up there. There are some fun double page layouts, particularly with Damian fighting off his cousin that delight the eye and keep the action flowing nicely.
It can’t be perfect can it?
There’s a trope that finishes this issue off that’s a fine dramatic beat, but totally unearned. By my account the Teen Titans have been hanging for a day after being kidnapped by Damian and they call him friend? It’s a cute end, but it makes the book feel as though it’s for a younger audience than it is and fails to be genuine.
Is It Good?
This comic is in fact good, as it builds the new lineup of the Teen Titans well. Damian gets a first hand look at what it’s like to be back with Ra’s Al Ghul and it ain’t pretty.