“The Rise of Aqualad” concludes in Teen Titans #7. Is this ending a satisfying one?
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Khoi Pham
Publisher: DC Comics
The premise behind this iteration of the Titans lends itself to comedy easily. We have Damian Wayne grumpily leading the team, despite the fact that all of the other Titans are both older and more socially adept than he is. This naturally leads to lots of bickering from Damian and exasperation from his teammates. Artist Khoi Pham does a good job rendering the characters’ facial expressions in ways that enhance the comedic value of the story and keep this cast likable. Colorist Jim Charalampidis also deserves praise for helping make this issue enjoyable. His bright colors are very pleasing to look at, and remind me of the old Teen Titans cartoon. Overall, the art direction is the best part of this issue. Pham and Charalampidis deliver work that feels fun, fresh, and appropriate for the title.
One thing that stands out about this issue art-wise is the compositional repetition of large panels. There are a lot of pages here that don’t depict very much change in events. This works well in a few cases, such as two two-page spreads depicting first the Titans as a whole, and then just Robin, fighting King Shark. The composition of these spreads is fantastic, and Pham’s art imbues the action scenes with a sense of immediacy. The compositional choices throughout the rest of the issue, however, are less consistently good. About half of the issue’s pages consist of small numbers of large panels that feel like they should have been smaller. The events they depict don’t seem to justify how much space they receive, and it feels like the plot could have moved forward significantly more if there had been more traditionally-sized panels instead of the gigantic ones this issue frequently uses.
Speaking of the plot, writer Benjamin Percy continues to do a decent job. The Titans finish up their battle against King Shark, and Aqualad makes his debut as a hero. The issue checks off all the main points I expected from it, but it doesn’t do so with as much flair as I would have liked. While Damian’s friction with the rest of the team is entertaining as always, I wish that Aqualad’s dialogue and thought captions had delved a little deeper into his history or emotional state. Percy doesn’t do a bad job with the character by any means. Aqualad is still likable and easy to sympathize with; I just didn’t feel as much emotional investment in the character as I would have liked to. I do give Percy kudos for how he introduces a classic villain at the issue’s end. I’m excited to see how that plays out, although I wonder if that development will be delayed by the upcoming Lazarus Contract crossover.
Overall, this is a good issue. The art is fun, the colors are bright, and the plot continues to move along interestingly enough. I just wish that more happened. If you have a large amount of money to put towards comics you’ll likely be happy buying this, but if you’re on a tighter budget then I can’t honestly say this issue is fully worth its $3.99 price-tag.