There are a lot of great comics out there, but trying to find the right Super Hero book is like looking for a needle in a stack of needles. Yes, finding a series you like can be a difficult and, unfortunately, expensive process. In this feature we spotlight suitable jumping on points from a range of publishers and genres to try to help you find new stories that are worth your time and money.
Last time we looked at the Ultimate X-Men, as an indie writer pitted them against a dangerous killer, this time a writer who is DC through and through writes about a different group of young heroes.
Teen Titans – Vol. 1 (A Kid’s Game) – DC
Teen Titans has been through many iterations. You may have seen them on TV (Teen Titans GO!), the most popular comic version being the Marv Wolfman and George Perez run that introduced Nightwing to the DC universe. The story we are looking at today is from the early 2000’s, and heavily inspired by that classic run. It’s written by Geoff Johns, though long before he became DC’s Chief Creative Officer and started writing for TV and film.
The team itself is a mixture of old and new characters. There’s the classic Titans like Firestar, Beast Boy and Cyborg, however they are joined by some contemporary DC characters; Tim Drake (the 3rd Robin), Superboy, Wonder-Girl and Kid Flash. The older characters are there to act as mentors to this new group of heroes, and their relationships are well established so new readers are able to follow along. The implicit story covers the metaphor of being teenagers with a secret, and how good it can be to find a group to share your secrets with. As individuals these young heroes feel alone, and outcast, at Titans Tower they belong. While over coming the usual teen angst is a part of it, each member of the group is also trying to be the best hero they can be while living in the shadows of the established characters. Where does Superboy fit in a world that has Superman and is Robin good enough to be the next Batman?
The main plot focuses on the new team of Titan’s, and a threat that wants to ensure that no teen is able to join the super fraternity again. The team go head-to-head against Deathstroke (with a twist) and they must show him and their new mentors that they are capable and heroic enough to be the new Titans. The story has many high points and gives each teen not only an opportunity to shine but to develop characterwise as well. Many people will be already familiar with The Flash and his powers, if we are going to be invested in a Kid Flash we need to know what makes Bart Allen different from previous Flashes. This collection ensures that the reader knows, that despite having similar powers, Flash and Kid Flash (also known as Impulse) have very different personalities. There is also a great moment in here for Robin, I really don’t want to spoil it, but it does reflect what being a teenager is like when growing up with the World’s Greatest Detective.
While the main plot is mostly resolved, A Kid’s Game also sets up some of the ongoing themes that will run throughout John’s run. It teases the dark origin of Superboy and the reintroduction of a classic Titan character, Raven. Johns is able to construct a strong opening story, that also sets up the future. This should be no surprise as he has a reputation for being a writer who can take confusing story elements and make sense of them, but his real strength here is the dialogue. At no point do the teen characters sound as though they are being written by an adult. They sound like teenagers, and the dialogue helps the reader understand the relationships between them. Both the spoken dialogue and the internal monologues help to define the characters. If you had never heard of the Titan’s before, this volume gives you everything you would need.
The entire Johns run is told over five collected editions available from online retailers, or 46 single chapters available through Comixology. If you’ve read this or any other Teen Titan story and want to share your thoughts below please do so. If this article had encouraged you to pick up the series please let us know how you like it. If this series doesn’t sound like the right fit for you come back next time and we’ll find another jumping on point…maybe something complete different