Review: Teen Titans Vol. 2: Turn It Up trade paperback (DC Comics)

To some extent the newest Rebirth Teen Titans seem almost an afterthought now that Young Justice is back, given that Teen Titans is now comprised largely of newcomers and duplicative, less well-established sidekicks (why, for a certain subset of the population, would you want Robin Damian Wayne when you can have Tim Drake, or the New 52 Kid Flash when you can have Impulse?). And yet, writer Adam Glass continues to present perhaps the most viable yet of DC Comics' recent, troubled Teen Titans relaunches, working better from Marv Wolfman and George Perez's playbook than most have been able to.

There's not a real villain of note in Teen Titans Vol. 2: Turn It Up as much as this volume is mostly character- and origin-focused. From a team that at the outset seemed like it might be too "hip" for its own good, Glass has managed to find the right balance of new characters, especially, that are both irreverent and likable, and this feels like a feat in just two short volumes. With Young Justice on the rise, the waters are likely only to get choppier for Glass's title, but I came away from this volume rooting for Glass to continue.

[Review contains spoilers]

Turn It Up consists of the double-sized issue #25, the Teen Titans Annual #1, a story from the Mysteries of Love in Space special, and two more regular issues. That is, there's a lot here outside the title's norm, and also — between the anniversary issue and the annual and the special — a lot of short stories. Glass does well making it all feel connected with through-ways between the annual and the regular issues, so the volume does not precisely come off as an anthology, but still the tone is one of conversation and introspection over punching bad guys (for the most part).

We learn, through these pages, the origins of Crush, Djinn, and (at least greater than before) Roundhouse. Crush's is perhaps the most surprising, in that we learn that the rampaging young Czarnian grew up somewhat Clark Kent-like on Earth, adopted by caring (if often drug-addled) parents. I had assumed Crush came from space and that she knew unquestionably that Lobo was her father, so the fact of so much ambiguity surprised me, and also that we've quickly seen this apparent bruiser become something of the heart of the team.

I'm not sure I ever registered Mysteries of Love in Space was a thing, but DC editor Andrea Shea does a fine job with a Crush spotlight story. The hurt/revenge arc isn't particularly surprising, but I thought Shea wrote Crush with significant emotion, and bookending the book as she does, Crush moves closer to being the breakout star of this run. I also appreciated how Shea's story takes place an ambiguous time before the start of Glass' Titans and no effort is made to overexplain her status to the readers; in that, this reads like a true standalone "short story."

Djinn's origin was less surprising overall, except for how we learn that some of her struggles parallel Damian Wayne's own (if that's not a trick, for which I'm not quite sure yet). Interestingly, if we follow the analogues here, Glass has done a curious thing (even wonderfully transgressive) by positing a relationship between his Robin (Damian Wayne) and his Raven (Djinn) rather than his Starfire (Crush), and having "Starfire" be jealous because of her love for "Raven," not Robin. (In this equation, Red Arrow Emiko Queen is a Bizarro Donna Troy; she evidences little of the classic Donna's interpersonal compassion, but she is Robin's confidante and second-in-command and de facto team "den mother.")

In the midst of this, we also spend some time looking at Damian's current estrangement from the Bat-family and, in the annual, Damian also confronts Red Hood Jason Todd. Among the book, which I thought was great overall, the annual was the weakest chapter for me. For one, world's-greatest-junior-detective Damian is quite convinced based on one piece of bad intel that Jason has gone rogue instead of a variety of other quite logical possibilities. For two, despite being a psuedo-nod to Teen Titans Go!, Joystick is a rather silly villain even if Glass does affect a good Kilgrave vibe with him. To the annual's credit, however (or at least the aftermath of the annual, as Damian recovers from being beaten by Jason), I had been resistant to Glass aging Damian up and giving him a love interest, but his later scene with Djinn (ruse or not) is well done and considerately rendered by Bernard Chang.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Teen Titans Vol. 2: Turn It Up

Following Teen Titans Vol. 2: Turn It Up (an unfortunately irreverent title, which I imagine might turn some off, for what's actually a pretty thoughtful book), Adam Glass' Titans next participates in a crossover with Christopher Priest's Deathstroke, much like Benjamin Percy's Teen Titans did before this. That book, Titans: The Lazarus Contract, was an opportunity wasted, a Rebirth "first meeting" (crossover-wise) between the Titans and their arch-nemesis that ultimately held no real surprises and no consequences. Hopefully Glass' attempt will be better; he's got a good start with this Titans book and I'm rooting for him.

[Includes original and variant covers, character and cover sketches]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Teen Titans Vol. 2: Turn It Up
Author Rating
4 (scale of 1 to 5)


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