(w) Scott Lobdell with Fabian Nicieza
(p) Ale Garza
Now that Scott Lobdell has duties elsewhere (come back soon for my Superman #13 review), he's leaving Teen Titans in the hands of Fabian Nicieza, whose most recent work with Kid Flash in DC Universe Presents #12 was completely sub-par. Now, I assumed, going into this issue, that I would not be impressed. I figured that Lobdell's plot coupled with Nicieza's scripts would just be too much for my brain to handle, causing me to shut down mid-issue. To my surprise, Teen Titans #13 surpassed all my low expectations and made the title viable as a 'top tier' book once again. Nicieza brings a sensibility to the general plotting that makes it far less campy and stylized that most of what Lobdell writes directly.
"The Origin of Wonder Girl" continues this month and still stands as my favorite Teen Titans arc thus far. Not only do we get the more comprehensive story behind Cassie and Diesel's relationship, but we get more development from Superboy and Red Robin, though more indirectly by their responses. Before this arc, Cassie Sandsmark was little more than a girl with mystical armor - no real personality or depth beyond her fierce and aggressive attitude. Last month's Teen Titans #0 was great for fleshing out Tim Drake as Red Robin, but Drake's a character who generally wasn't altered much beyond some minute details. Cassie, on the other hand, seems to have no connection to Wonder Woman or the Greek gods at all.
Previous issues of Teen Titans have brought information dumps, but never have they been enjoyable or subtle in their context. For some reason, Lobdell always figured it would be best to just give readers all the information at once, leaving reactions and discussion until the end when we (and the characters in the book) could take a moment to reflect on what was revealed and/or explained. This was a big mistake because this isn't how people operate! We interact with each other while storytelling, especially when the story is interesting and the listener wants to know more. It might seem like a small bit of technique, but the fact that Nicieza has Superboy and Red Robin interjecting from time to time with offhanded comments and observations makes a world of difference when it comes to making a story more believable. Add to that a reduced use of the inner monologue Lobdell is so fond of, and Teen Titans #13 might just take the cake for my favorite single issue of the series so far.
It's unfortunate, but a lot of Scott Lobdell's missteps are not a result of the title he's working on, but rather a fundamental misunderstanding of how people read comics and how they stay interested and compelled in the contemporary marketplace. For Lobdell - a writer who came to prominence in the adjective-soaked weirdness of the 1990s - trying to write the Teen Titans effectively was not working. His tailored style didn't fit with today's teenagers, and it was systematically pulling the series into the dirt. I'm glad Fabian Nicieza is getting a chance to make the series good. Hopefully, he can keep this trend going and make Teen Titans one of the 'must have' titles of the 'New 52'.