Writer: Tom Taylor
Art: Nicola Scott
Colors: Annette Kwok
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover: Nicola Scott & Annette Kwok
Variant Covers: Jim Lee, Scott Williams & Alex Sinclair; Jen Bartel; Bruno Redondo; Dan Mora; Simone Di Meo
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: May 16th, 2023
If you’re interested in this comic, series, related trades, or any of the others mentioned, then simply click on the title/link to snag a copy through Amazon as you read the Titans #1 Review.
The Justice League is no more. It’s time for a new team to step up in the DC universe. Enter the Titans. The classic characters are back, and they aim to make a difference. But in TITANS #1, their impact is negligible. Wally is trying to outrun a bullet, Gar is still emotionally scarred from being shot, and Garth refuses to join. Nevertheless, it’s moving day in TITANS #1. But before the Titans enter their new headquarters amidst a mass public gathering, Oracle warns them that Titano is attacking a nuclear power plant. Cyborg immediately transports the team to the plant. After a brief fight with Titano and an unpleasant encounter with Peacemaker, the team is finally able to check out their new headquarters–only to find one of their own dead inside.
TITANS #1 is a recognizable Tom Taylor comic in that its themes are similar to Nightwing and, especially, Superman: Son of Kal-El. Its sense of social consciousness is not overwhelming but it is plain to see. Garth refuses to join the Titans in part because the team cares largely for the surface world while “the oceans die a little more everyday.” As he leaves, he makes a pointed comment about the surface being only 29% of the planet. Later, after the fight with Titano, Nightwing tells Peacemaker that the Titans will be working to help the whole world rather than any national interest. Team members who are not from the United States sound off on their place of origin, and Cyborg tells Peacemaker that he should be grateful to the team because it stopped a disaster the country’s forces wouldn’t have been able to.
Neither of these sentiments are bad, but they do read like slogans–relatively generic pablum that everyone agrees with but doesn’t have any greater meaning. The question will be whether Taylor follows these ideals up with stories in the future. Does the Titans’ commitment to the entire planet materialize in any kind of action to benefit it? Will Taylor go so far as to include anything allegorical to explore these sometimes complicated ideas?
As a basic story, though, TITANS #1 succeeds where it has to: introducing the characters, their status quo, and the introductory arc. There are two nice character sequences in particular. The opening pages with Wally where he is certain he is about to die and tries to use his last seconds to see his family and communicate information to the team. Next is a scene between Raven and Gar as they wake up on the big day. Gar transformed into a small mouse in the night, and Raven must coax him back to his human appearance. This is a strong character moment, the strongest in the issue, as Taylor reminds us that Gar’s experiences during DARK CRISIS are not miraculously resolved. This bodes well for future character exploration of all the Titans.
The Art & Letters
Scott’s art adds a great deal to TITANS #1 by way of characters’ expressiveness. With the exception of Gar and Raven who are dealing with Gar’s remaining trauma from DARK CRISIS, the character interactions are relatively shallow and procedural. Most of what we learn about the individual Titans comes via character expressions. We feel a sense of wonder as the Titans look at their new headquarters. Garth’s ambivalence about the Titans is communicated better thanks to Donna’s exuberant expression contrasting with Garth’s look of almost depressed indifference. The Titans’ confrontation with Peacemaker is heightened and the team’s strength buoyed by Donna, Kory, and Raven’s stern expressions countering Peacemaker’s disapproval. While Taylor sets up the series from a big picture perspective, Scott does most of the heavy lifting on a personal level.
Kwok’s colors are all relatively soft. She uses contrast effectively at certain points such as when Peacemaker’s shirt is much more vivid than the other Titans. Kwok also brings a good sense of detail. Gar transforms into a giant alien apex predator to fight Titano, and Kwok adds a variation of green hues with subtle shading that indicates the creature is a crustacean. Abbott’s lettering is rather conservative. He steps up the sound effects during the Titano fight sequence. But he is mostly restrained with both sound effects and dialogue emphasis. But the issue is generally a reserved one (outside the Titano sequence), so Abbott’s choices work well.
Readers familiar with Taylor will find the issue’s story beats and themes recognizable. This issue isn’t particularly deep. But it is a good introduction to the team, their mission statement, and the first arc. The art uplifts the book considerably. And while TITANS #1 isn’t an exceptional first issue, it does offer a lot of potential for the future.
One thought on “Titans #1 Review”
That Jim Lee cover is pure trash. His popularity astounds me.