January 25, 2009

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Teen Titans Volume 3

Written by Ben Raab and Geoff Johns
Illustrated by Justiniano, Chris Ivy, Tom Grummett and Lary Stucker
DC Comics

This is an odd pairing--a long-forgotten Beast Boy mini paired with a forgettable Teen Titans arc--packaged as the third volume of the new Teen Titans series. Their only link is that both are written by Johns, who shows he's a lot better now than he was when the Gar Logan origin-revamp story came out.

Basically, the mini is Beast Boy: Rebirth, with Gar trying to find himself in a post-Titans world. He returns to Hollywood, where a person with an old grudge is killing his acting partners. He's in terrible shape until the Titans' version of Bat ex Machina shows up and drives him to do better. In the end, he triumphs, ready to make his place in the DC world.

Except that he really doesn't, leaving him free to be part of the Titans reboot.

The Beast Boys and Girls arc features another of Gar's old enemies (of a sort) walking back into his life to make trouble. Possibly ret-conned into the story of Gar's origin, someone is using kids as guinea pigs to recreate Beast Boy's unique situation. Who would do such a thing, and can he manage to cure Gar once and for all?

Taken separately, these stories are okay for what they are--filler stories about characters who have a following that just doesn't happen to be me. (I mean, I have tier-C characters I love, too, so I'm happy for the Beast Boy fans that this exists.) Taken together, however, the stronger writing and art in the Teen Titans arc make the earlier story feel like it wasn't needed. Johns is clearer, crisper, and more precise in having Garfield ready to accept his lot in life in the second story. As a result, the bumbler we see in story one feels out of place. Placing them together makes both stories a little smaller, somehow, like doing an "The Many Origins of the Joker" trade or something.

When I read the Titans story in single issues, it held up better. Covering the same idea too close together is not the best plan in any instances, but especially in comics, where the focus is always on what you've just read. That's the mistake this trade makes, and as a result, it's probably okay to go past this one if you're reading over the Titans as a series. Either that or take a break between the stories, to give them each room to breathe.