Teen Titans #23.1 by Marv Wolfman (Comics Review)

Teen Titans is a book that I’ve been struggling with ever since I picked the first issue just about a year ago. The writing hasn’t been all that great and the art has been decent but inconsistent at best. I can somewhat tolerate bad art in a comic, as long as the story makes up for it, which hasn’t been the case at all with this series. Scott Lobdell’s writing just meanders on and I really, really don’t understand why he needs to tie together all the books he’s working on. The first year of the series was all crossovers, first with Superboy and then with Ravagers, and all this meant that the writing was really fractured and the series was struggling to stand on its own. Things haven’t improved in the second year, even though the Death of the Family crossover issues were slightly better. Post that event, the writing just went downhill and I finally gave up after #19. I just called quits after that.

Then I heard about Villain’s Month and that Marv Wolfman was going to be writing the first tie-in issue, featuring Trigon, a villain who was being setup as the big bag for Lobdell’s current arc in the series. This excited me because finally someone other than Lobdell was going to be working on Teen Titans and because this gave me a chance to get back to the series. I want to like this series but Lobdell’s writing just turned me off big time. Thankfully, Wolfman was there to save the day, at least for this issue.

New 52 - Teen Titans 23.1This issue, much as with many of the other Villain’s Month issues, is an origin story for the featured character, Trigon. Here, we learn how Trigon gained all his powers, what his motivations are, what his plans are, and just what the hell he is doing on Earth, or plans to do with Earth. Like its counterpart The Dark Knight #23.2 by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, Wolfman’s Teen Titans #23.1 contains a very densely packed story. It tells a story over time, gives us that space opera/science fiction/horror/fantasy cross-genre origin tale, and it does so mostly in style. The writing is great, the art is great, and I’d certainly love to see Marv Wolfman try his hands at writing Teen Titans for the next 2 years.

It all starts in a sort of alternate universe where a trinity of all-powerful beings called the Divine have imprisoned and kept under control the Heart of Darkness, which is the amalgamated manifestation of all the evils in the universe. During one of their “missions” to imprison all evil, the Divine bring Trigon, a random sorcerer at the time, to the Heart and sacrifice him to it. Throwing him to the wolves as it were, or wolf rather. But there are setbacks, and it is revealed that the Divine were essentially duped.

From then on follows Trigon’s rampage as he begins to lead grand wars of conquest and destruction. We also learn how he manifests in any particular reality: he brings a woman from that reality to him and impregnates her, then sends her back. The child that is born acts as a vessel for Trigon, bringing him forth into that reality from (let’s call it) the prime reality, because Trigon himself cannot transport and needs to find a work-around.

So far so good. I was really into the story up until this point. However, I think Marv Wolfman focused a bit too much on this aspect of Trigon’s modus operandi and I think it could have been considerably toned down, alluded to rather than made explicit. This really was the only sticking point for me in this comic, and otherwise this is a pretty good issue. The issue is narrated by a character of significance, whom we do not see until the very last page (in that role that is), and it made for an interesting narrative choice. It made me intrigued enough to pick up the last few issues I’ve missed of the series and give them a try. Now, if only I can force myself to read those issues. Can’t be any worse than subjecting myself to H’el on Earth, which was another crossover event headlined by Lobdell, this time for the Super-family titles: Superman, Supergirl, and Superboy.

The best thing about this issue is that it flows seamlessly from being space opera to horror. It starts off with a tone similar to that of the Green Lantern comics and turns into something that’s more like the Justice League Dark comics. Its a good mesh, and Marv Wolfman is certainly comfortable with the character and the story. Which shouldn’t be a surprise for me really, since it turns out that he is Trigon’s co-creator and has had a long and successful run on various Teen Titans titles in the past.

The art, by CAFU (pencils), Jason Wright (colours), and Steve Wands (letters) I found to be a cut above the art that I’ve seen in Teen Titans so far. Much more evocative, much more consistent and overall, much more pleasing. Between the three of them, the artists capture the tone and mood of Wolfman’s script perfectly and it is largely because of all their touches, especially the horror aspects, that the issue really stands out. Teen Titans #23.1 is a case of a comic with a good script and good artwork, a joint successful effort. Can’t say the same for some of the other Villain’s Month titles I’ve read this week, or last week.

To sum up: definitely get this issue, but be warned that, as a friend pointed out to me on Twitter, Trigon has a fascination with Rosemary’s Baby and this may not be palatable to everyone. So if you are put off by the some of the satanic aspects of Trigon as a character, this issue might not be for you.

Rating: 8/10

More Teen Titans: #1-6, #7-12

Posted on September 13, 2013, in 2013 Reading Challenge, 2013 Writing Challenge, Challenges, Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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