Tag Archives: Cassandra Sandsmark

A Teen Titans #1 Review – Yet Another Missed Opportunity

Teen Titans #1 (2014)TITLE: Teen Titans #1
AUTHOR: Will Pfiefer
PENCILLER: Kenneth Rocafort
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: July 17, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Teen Titans #1 was DC’s chance to take a series that had fallen on its butt since the New 52 began, and take it in an entirely new direction. There were so many ways the company could have taken this book about teenage superheroes, and made it different than anything else they’re putting out right now. They could have taken a more light-hearted, almost cartoony approach, like Amy Wolfram and Karl Kerschl did with Teen Titans: Year One. They could have recruited a young adult author to take advantage of the popularity of that genre, while also getting some new eyes on the product. Heck, they could have even played up the teens’ everyday lives more than their actual superheroics.

Instead, they gave the book to the guy who wrote Amazons Attack!

Teen Titans #1 sees a mysterious supervillain hijack a bus filled with schoolgirls and go speeding through Times Square. This quickly attracts the attention of our new line up of Teen Titans: Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Raven, and Bunker. For reasons unclear, the hijacker apparently has a grudge against S.T.A.R. Labs. In any event, the Titans definitely have a new enemy. They also may have a P.R. crisis on their hands, as Bunker snaps on a civilian who nearly uses a slur against homosexuals.

Teen Titans #1, 2014, Kenneth RocafortBefore we get into why this issue sucks, let’s talk about why Teen Titans has sucked overall since the relaunch happened…

In the New 52 canon, the team that began forming in Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth’s 2011 Teen Titans is, for whatever reason, the first and only incarnation of the group that has ever existed. While the book itself, along with books like Red Hood and the Outlaws and Batwoman, initially indicated otherwise, all such conversations have subsequently been edited out of existence. Thus, in this continuity, Tim Drake, Cassandra Sandsmark, and the other heroes from the Lobdell series are the original Teen Titans.

To put it plainly, that sucks. It robs a sense of richness and history from not only the Teen Titans series, but from characters around the DCU. Dick Grayson, Beast Boy, Raven, and Starfire are just a few of those effected. Hell, even if they weren’t called the Teen Titans, can’t we at least say they hung out? Can’t they have been some sort of group to set the precedent?

Teen Titans #1, 2014, Secondly, the Red Robin costume. It sucked in 2011, it continued to suck through 2012 and 2013, and it still sucks in 2014. Brett Booth completely butchered any aura of coolness Tim Drake had by giving him a suit that’s way too busy and gimmicked up. The wings are idiotic, and there are way too many belts, capsules, pouches, pads, etc. This new series was the perfect chance to clean Red Robin up. But they missed the boat on that one too.

Thirdly, and most importantly, for the past few years Teen Titans has been just another superhero team book. Again, a GIANT missed opportunity. The element that makes the Teen Titans different, and what can potentially draw in a different demographic than say, Justice League, is the fact that they’re teenagers. They’re young, moody, and haven’t fully discovered who they are yet. That concept has so much fertile ground for storytelling, and that’s why it’s used so often in popular culture. The last writer to really get what Teen Titans should be about in the 21st century was DC’s very own Chief Creative Officer, Geoff Johns. If you look back at the first issue of his run, which began in 2003, you see heroes who are rebelling against the adults in their lives, coming to grips with what’s expected of them, and trying to find their place in the world. They were acting like teenagers. Imagine that…

We got hardly any of that in Lobdell’s series, and in this issue we have next to none of it. We have a cover that looks like a Facebook photo, because social media exists. And we have a young hero that takes exception to his sexuality being demeaned. But that’s certainly not something specific to teenagers is it? So what we end up with is just another superhero story. And not a very interesting one, because we don’t know enough about our villain, or what she (it’s a woman, apparently) intends to do.

Teen Titans #1, 2014, Kenneth Rocafort, Wonder GirlKenneth Rocafort isn’t the best choice to handle the pencil, either. This is especially true when it comes to Wonder Girl. Cassandra Sandsmark’s New 52 redesign essentially turned her into a Power Girl clone wearing a variation on Donna Troy’s old costume. As if that weren’t enough, Rocafort draws her without a trace of human emotion. At one point, she rips one of the kidnappers out of the speeding bus, and subsequently stands atop the bus while holding him up with one arm (shown below). She did this because she was angry he threatened to kill a young girl. But judging by her face, you’d think she was picturing herself laying on the beach or something. She seems to be there just to be the hot blonde with big boobs. What is this, The Big Bang Theory?

As for Bunker’s little outburst toward the end of the issue, I don’t have a problem with superhero comics tastefully addressing and incorporating gay issues in our culture. But I don’t have even the slightest confidence that Teen Titans can do that effectively. Yet another missed opportunity.

At the risk of sounding like a run of the mill fickle comic book geek, Teen Titans #1 gives us almost everything the series shouldn’t be. It’s business as usual. And when I open Teen Titans I’m not looking for business as usual. I’m looking for something different, something that takes on the DCU from a different angle. That’s not what this is. And unfortunately, it may be a long time before we see it again.

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First Impressions: Superman, Aquaman, Ghostbusters, Teen Titans

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman #1 (2011)TITLE: Superman #1
AUTHOR: George Perez
PENCILLER: Jesus Merino
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This was a FANTASTIC first issue, which carried over one of my favorite elements from Action Comics #1: Superman searching for truth and justice on the social level in a world that seems dominated by corporate interest.

In this issue we learn that The Daily Planet has been sold to a corporation called Galaxy Communications, which apparently uses illegal tactics and yellow journalism in its reporting. Furious, Clark Kent refuses to attend the big gala in honor of the sale. Galaxy proceeds to change it’s name to the Planet Global Network, and names Lois Lane as their nightly news producer and executive vice president of new media. Suddenly, the city is attacked by a giant fire monster (who apparently has ties to Krypton). Superman battles the creature, and at the end we get a glimpse into Clark and Lois’ personal lives in the new DCU (Remember, they’ve never been married in this continuity.).

Superman #1, 2011, Clark and Lois, Jesus MerinoAs a former reporter, I found the insight into the current state of the news industry to be an effective way to illustrate Superman’s views on white collar corruption. We also see the battle between Superman and the monster from PGN’s vantage point, which is very effective. During the fight, much of the narrative consists of text from a news story later written by Clark Kent, which is cheesy. Still, it’s forgivable.

Superman spends a portion of this issue brooding, which is something we’re not necessarily used to. When the old Superman got angry, often times he was like a parent who’d lost his temper. This character isn’t like that. He seems inclined to be much more emotional, which isn’t a bad thing. I just hope we get a balance between the grim and the optimistic. Superman has been a rather angry young man this month, and he has reason to be. But let’s not turn him into Batman, okay?

All in all, a complete 180 in quality from what we’ve been seeing in Superman recently. I’m very excited about this book.

***

Ghostbusters #1 (2011)TITLE: Ghostbusters #1
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
PENCILLER: Dan Shoening, Tristan Jones
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

I once said that any writer of a Ghostbusters comic book would likely never recapture the magic Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis created in the movies. I maintain that to this day. However, the first issue of IDW’s new Ghostbusters series comes the closest out of any GB book I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a few).

We start the book with Ray having a nightmare, which features a delightful appearance by Ray’s brother, who looks exactly like John Belushi’s character from Blues Brothers. It’s a very endearing tribute. We then go into Winston and Peter tracking down a ghost at an apartment complex, who turns out to be someone that fans know VERY well. Then, in a back up story, we see that Walter Peck (William Atherton’s character from the first movie) will be butting into our heroes’ lives very soon.

Ghostbusters #1, 2011, Dan ShoeningThis book really has the total package for Ghostbusters fans. Burnham’s writing is solid. It’s not too corny, but not too serious either. To me, there’s a delicate balance that goes into creating a Ghostbusters story. You’ve got to make the threat believable and scary, but also be lighthearted and funny. That’s tough to do. But Burnham’s off to a great start.

Dan Shoening’s art is always a treat for me. I’ve loosely followed his Deviant Art page for a few years now, and it’s obvious he’s a Ghostbusters nut. He even co-manned a pitch for a new Ghostbusters comic a few years ago. His art fits the style and tone of the story, and it’s obvious he’s as passionate about the content as any diehard fan would be.

If the book keeps up with this kind of content, Ghostbusters #1 could very well become one of my favorite ongoing titles. I could gush about this book for awhile, but I’d prefer you go out and read it for yourself.

***

Aquaman #1, 2011TITLE: Aquaman #1
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Ivan Reis
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

Well, how about this? An Aquaman who’s aware of his status as a pop culture punch line.

The most interesting moments in Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis’ first issue of Aquaman are when ordinary citizens are either chuckling at the character, or saying weird things to him. At one point, Aquaman attempts to have lunch at a seafood restaurant, and someone says: “You can’t get the fish and chips…you talk to fish!” The character himself is getting a chance to respond to the public’s perception of him, which is interesting. Though, I find the idea of Aquaman sitting down in a seafood restaurant in full costume to be pretty stupid.

As a threat known as The Trench makes its way up from the Atlantic ocean, Aquaman and Mera decide that they’re going to live on the surface, and attempt to start a new life. One would assume their lives as superheroes won’t allow this transition to be easy.

Fans have wanted to see Geoff Johns tackle Aquaman for awhile now. They got that in Brightest Day, and they’ll get more of it here. I’ll stick with this series for the near future, simply out of interest for what Johns will do. Plus, Ivan Reis’ art is always lovely.

***

Teen Titans #1, 2011TITLE: Teen Titans #1
AUTHOR: Scott Lobdell
PENCILLER: Brett Booth
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

I don’t think I’m ever going to dig Red Robin’s new costume. It’s just…wrong. It just looks way too cumbersome and silly. In this issue, Tim Drake uses his new wings to block a storm of bullets coming at he and Wonder Girl courtesy of a helicopter. That’s great and all, but the old Red Robin would have simply EVADED THE GUNFIRE!!!!

My disgust with the costume aside, Teen Titans #1 isn’t so bad. We kick the issue off with Kid Flash (who is apparently still Bart Allen, not Wally West), rushing to help with a burning building, but ends up making the situation a LOT worse. This apparently adds fuel to the media’s claims that many teenage meta-humans are menaces. Meanwhile, Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (see Superboy #1) is hunting down teenage metas, and the poorly dressed Red Robin rushes to save Cassandra Sandsmark, who the press call Wonder Girl. In response to the resulting battle, N.O.W.H.E.R.E. decides to release their secret weapons (or at least one of them): Superboy.

Teen Titans #1, 2011, Brett BoothA few things that caught my attention in this issue:
– It seems to run side by side with the current Superboy story arc.
– Tim Drake will apparently be the one who to bring the Teen Titans together, much like Batman will be the one to form the Justice League (according to solicitations at least). Funny how these two loners are inclined to create superhero teams…
– Wonder Girl’s costume is slightly reminiscent of Donna Troy’s, from the standpoint of the stars in space design. Curious.

Will I come back for more Teen Titans? Probably. The concept of teenagers being reckless with their superpowers intrigues me, as that’s something real teenagers would likely do. But I’m telling you, Red Robin’s costume might ruin it for me. I’m THAT bothered by it.

Interior image 1 from insidepulse.com. Interior image 2 from bleedingcool.com.

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