Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Comic Review: Teen Titans (Vol. 3) Vol. 2: Family Lost

Family Lost is the second collection of the third volume of Teen Titans comics released by DC, this time compiling issues 8-12 in addition to 1/2, which I guess was a special issue. Like the previous collection, A Kid's Game, the issues are not separated by their individual covers. However, there are divider pages between each section. Again like with the last issue, I'm unsure of whether or not I should go back and review each issue independently as work has gone into presenting them as a wholly unified piece.

This second volume, continuing directly from the ending of the first, is actually a whole hell of a lot better than the one that came before it. The dialogue is less stilted, the characters are given more depth, and the story feels a lot less forced. While it's still all-too dependent on the audience's prior knowledge to the lengthy DC canon, this book does a better job of filling the reader in as it goes. There is, unfortunately, a bit of an info dump in regards to Raven, however it's presented as a frame story, which helps to soften the blow.

The Titans see no new additions to their ranks, which is okay because it gives the creative team a little more time to develop the characters they already have. Unfortunately they push most of these characters to the side in an effort to focus on Raven, the notable exception being Tim Drake (Robin) who really takes over as the protagonist in a sense. Only briefly do we get glimpses of what the other characters are thinking and feeling, with Wonder Girl and Kid Flash pushed out more than the rest. This makes some sense as the last story arc definitely belonged, in large part, to Bart Allen (Kid Flash), and while that first story did focus more on Wonder Girl it didn't focus on her enough to justify relegating her to backgrounds and silence.

Cyborg and Starfire both continue playing the role of mentors and seem somewhat distant from the other characters, which isn't doing them very much justice. Starfire in particular is becoming a rather annoying character to have around as she is little more than a strict hall monitor for her wards, and when confronted with a truce offered by a man of honor, she decides that going back on her word and lying are the noble and heroic things to do.

I understand that dark, gritty, realness is in right now, but I have such a hard time getting behind Starfire being this way. This is supposed to be the kind of stuff that separates her from Blackfire, and I'm just not enjoying this portrayal at all.

Superboy is given a little more room than the rest of the cast as we see how he handles school life (not well) and raising Krypto the Superdog, but ultimately he is relegated to the realm of comedy relief. Which is okay. I'm really enjoying Superboy's role in the series, actually, although I do feel that he has been given a little too much silliness when he's actually a pretty solemn character. And his Superman worship gets a little grating. Not to mention that he seems to be completely ignoring the fact that his DNA is half Lex Luthor, something he only learned recently. It feels like they introduced this plot in the first story arc only to abandon it later.

We're introduced to a new incarnation of Brother Blood, a spoiled child who seems to think Raven is destined to be his bride. While his personality is generic and boring, and really all of him is, he's a villain I didn't particularly mind having around. I won't spoil too many surprises, because there aren't enough to justify it, so that's all you get on this guy.

We also get to meet my favorite character for this book, and the character who seems to play runner-up in terms of development: Rose Wilson, another of Deathstroke's deranged children. Unlike Jericho, however, Rose seems to take after her brother grant in worshipping her father. She takes this to a psychotic level, and I'm really interested in seeing where they go with her character. Plus, she's hot... without Power Girl-sized jugs. Always a plus!

The art quality has remained decent, although Wonder Girl's body has apparently gained the ability to contort in ways which should snap her in half. She does this frequently, so I hope Superboy is damn good at giving massages. There really isn't any scenes which I found particularly memorable, though, not in the artwork. This is a problem which kind of plagues the entire story, although there is at least one thing that has stuck with me, and I believe will continue to, toward the end.

Ultimately, Family Lost is not particularly incredible or can't-miss, but it's definitely a step up from the first book and definitely not something deserving of a lower grade. Seven out of ten, Titans, you're getting better. I do feel like, though that Geoff Johns has trouble handling such a large cast of characters and may have bit off more than he can chew. We'll see with volume three...

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