The New Teen Titans: Volume Two

Fresh off my foray into Volume One of The New Teen Titans storyline, I was greeted with Volume Two next on “the shelf”. (spoiler: Volume Three follows directly after this.  Who’da thunk??)

As mentioned in the last post, I very much enjoyed reading about The Teen Titans, and was perfectly content to continue reading about their exploits in this next collection.

The first volume generally focused on one or two main storylines.  In that trade, one of those stories was fairly neatly tied up (or at least concluded satisfactorily enough to disappear from the main story for the foreseeable future).  I had a feeling the presence of the H.I.V.E (the big baddies in this series) would continue to be felt in each issue, but I wasn’t sure where they would take the overall story from there.

Luckily, my questions were answered rather quickly, as a new threat is introduced to the fray.  After an encounter with The Terminator (I know, I know, eventually he becomes more widely known as Deathstroke, but I still can’t get over that name), Changling is mortally wounded.  To save his life, the Titans rush him to Paradise Island where Donna (aka Wonder Girl) hopes to use the purple ray to heal him.

I’m still trying to wrap my head around what exactly happened, but at some point after arriving on Paradise Island Hyperion, one of the original Titans (as in the all-powerful gods from Greek Mythology) breaks free from Tartarus, Donna falls hopelessly in love with him, and all hell breaks loose.

Just your average, ordinary day in the life of The  Teen Titans.

I really enjoyed this particular story, especially because of the Amazons’ portrayal.  Moreso here than in perhaps any of the comics I’ve read so far, the warrior side of the Amazons shows through, and it’s absolutely thrilling.

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In most of the stories in which they’ve appeared, they remain in the background, preaching pacifism and not playing much of a role in any action scenes.  Here, we get to see just how formidable they can be, vowing to battle literal gods for what they believe in.  I was excited to see the Amazons portrayed as strong, battle-ready warriors, rather than just the peaceful women that we usually see.

It was also refreshing to see the Amazons shown in such a strong light considering how Wonder Girl acts in these issues.  Enraptured by Hyperion, she falls completely in love with him (in her defense, he forces her through mind control). Still, Donna is completely enthralled with the man she thinks she loves, and follows him blindly into battle.  No big surprise, given the affect he seems to have on her:

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I’m thinking a lot of guys wish they could make women react this way.  Just a guess.

As I read, I started to notice a trend in the storylines.  It seems that a series of issues will focus on a single villain, usually someone with a specific tie to one of the Titans.  So far Raven, Wonder Girl, and Changling have been the focus of such plotlines, and I thought each were exceedingly well-done.  We learn a bit more about each character through their interactions with the villain, while still gaining further information about the Titans as a whole and how they work together.

What made the stories more engaging, even moreso than the action, was the allowance for introspection with each character.

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The action is intense, but its these moments of self-reflection that drive this series.  Each character faces their own demons at one point or another throughout the series, both literally and metaphorically.  Such inclusions enrich the stories moreso than just about any other trade I’ve read so far.

With all of these serious moments driving the series, that doesn’t mean that there are never points of light-heartedness.  Indeed, the comic is filled with jokes and random asides, often alluding to relationships between the Titans:

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Honestly, Robin.  This is why fans question your sexuality.

References and jokes like this not only lighten the mood of the overall comic, but they also serve to enhance each character’s personality, giving them their own unique voice.  Just from the single panel above, Robin’s no-nonsense attitude and Starfire’s overt sexuality are clearly displayed, without the writers having to bore us with long-winded descriptions outlining each character.

Two trades into this series, I’m very eager to continue reading.  So much so that I’m almost done with Volume Three as I’m typing this post.  The stories are fast-paced, the characters are interesting, and I just can’t wait to see what will happen next.  As each Titan’s backstory is slowly revealed, I am that much more endeared to their characters and want to read even more about their exploits.  The relationships and situations feel very realistic (well, as realistic as any story with a few aliens and a green shape-shifting dude can feel).  Reading these stories feels like I’m reading about people I could be friends with, something I really haven’t been able to say up until this point.  As the issues progress I hope their teenage antics, along with the strong, character-driven stories, continue.

-Jess

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