TEEN TITANS: EARTH ONE VOL. 1

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COMIC BOOK REVIEW: TEEN TITANS: EARTH ONE VOL. 1 / AUTHOR: JEFF LEMIRE / ARTIST: TERRY DODSON / PUBLISHER: DC / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

The Earth One range has been a way for DC to gently reboot some of their much-loved comic series. Typically, this means a darker and more gritty edge, as DC are still under the odd impression that what escapist fantasy really needs to make it more popular is a heavy dose of real-world misery. The innovative Teen Titans: Earth One is to swap this sort of self-flagellation for something more interesting; teen angst.

This reimagining of the Teen Titans has them all growing up together in the same isolated town, with the sort of fractious relationships that teenagers seem to have. In this reboot, the Titans share an origin story that ties into the arrival of the alien Starfire, who came to Earth as a baby and was immediately captured by concerned scientists. Despite these changes, the characters themselves aren’t that much different from other versions; anyone who’s read the classic comic book series or enjoyed the TV show will recognise the bold and brash Cyborg, the cheeky yet kind Beastboy, and the hair-trigger tempered Terra.

Lemire comes into his own when creating a character-driven narrative based on emotions rather than complex motivation. The result is a book that feels firmly inspired by the young adult scene. Certainly the core story of a bunch of slightly different teenagers coming together as they develop weird powers sounds like the plot of more than one YA book. Lemire handles Starfire particularly well, as well as the complicated anger issues of the character Terra.

Sadly, the character of Raven suffers from being poorly thought-out; in the old books, Raven has demon-driven magical powers, and in this she’s been recast as a Native American shaman-type. You can understand why Lemire would want to rewrite Raven’s story (especially as everyone else has a shared origin), but this version of Raven is as clichéd and as hackneyed as the old one, just in a slightly different way.

Terry Dodson’s art is clear, straightforward and just on the right side of cartoonish. He walks a fine line between the distinctive style of the cartoon series and the more down-to-earth style from the original comic books. Dodson somehow manages to please both camps, and it’s certainly a pretty-looking book.

This is clearly the first book in an ongoing series, so we just about get one whole story here as well as a lot of unanswered questions. If you liked the cartoon show and want to get into comic books, Teen Titans: Earth One Vol. 1 is a pretty good place to start.

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