Teen Titans begins its second story arc with some team bonding, as well as the introduction of Aqualad. How are things shaping up?
Teen Titans #6 (DC Comics)
This issue delivers something that the series’ first arc was hampered by a lack of: interesting team interactions. While the first arc often felt like a Damian Wayne story (in which the Titans guest-starred, primarily to comment on how much of a pain Damian is), this issue feels like a Teen Titans story. We still get plenty of delightful moments of Damian being his arrogant self, but they exist alongside scenes which show the Titans as a team in their own right, not just a group of secondary characters who serve to bail Damian out of trouble.
Some of the best character work in the issue occurs early on, between Beast Boy and Damian. Their banter is entertaining, and shows promise for even more humorous moments to come in future issues as the characters’ dynamics are further explored. Damian’s appropriately named pet winged beast Goliath makes an awesome appearance, and Khoi Pham (penciller) and Wade von Grawbadger (inker) do a great job on all of Beast Boy’s various animal forms. Colorist Jim Charalampidis also does fabulous work, with bright colors that really help to sell this title as a fun one. This issue is a good time, and just reading it made me feel happier.
Besides just the main team, the issue spends a lot of page time on the current Aqualad. The character made his Rebirth debut back in DC Universe: Rebirth #1, but hasn’t appeared since until now. Writer Benjamin Percy does a decent job introducing the character, but I wasn’t completely satisfied. Much of the dialogue in scenes depicting Aqualad’s troubles as a young gay man rings true, but we don’t spend enough time with the character for his troubles to be very emotionally impactful. It’s an introduction that piques interest and shows promise for future character work, but how great this version of Aqualad ultimately ends up being will depend largely on how effectively Percy fleshes him out in future issues.
Besides Aqualad’s scenes not quite reaching their full potential, the issue’s main problem is probably its occasionally wonky renderings of characters’ facial expressions. It is also a very fast read which, while fun and mostly well-done, could have been further strengthened by cutting some of the scene in which a reporter interviews the Titans and reallocating that page time to Aqualad’s backstory or more focus on Raven and Starfire, who don’t really get any great moments this issue. All things considered, however, this is a great issue. It’s fun, colorful, introduces Aqualad in a promising manner, and switches the series from being a Damian Wayne book guest-starring the Teen Titans to a true Teen Titans book. If this issue is any indication, this iteration of the team has a bright future ahead of it.