The world has been reborn.
Last month’s release of DC Universe: Rebirth #1 kicked off a new era of storytelling for the publisher. The house that gave us Batman and Superman is looking to make up for the mistakes of the New 52 canonical reboot, reinstating old plot points that were erased from their timeline and even bringing back old versions of classic characters that had been discarded in favor of newer, “edgier” ones.
Rebirth #1 promised us character driven stories filled with more heart than fist. Can they deliver? Each week, Kyle Pinion and Alex Lu will dig into the Rebirth titles kicking off DC Comics’ line overhaul to find out. This is week three of DC Reborn.
Note: the review below contains **spoilers**. You’ll find our buy/pass recommendation for this book near the bottom of the article, so if you’re looking for a quick guide before heading out to the store, you’ll find it there!
(Editor’s Note: We’ve switched up the formatting on the DC Reborn series a bit. We’ll still be reviewing all the series that come out each week, but we’ll be posting one review per hour instead of all of them at once. We’ll also have a round up post and final thoughts at the end of the day. Happy reading!)
Titans: Rebirth #1
Writer: Dan Abnett Penciller: Brett Booth
Inker: Norm Rapmund Colorist: Carlos M. Mangual Letterer: Booth, Rapmund, & Dalhouse
Kyle: Brett Booth. Well, he’s not my ideal kinda artist, but I guess he’s got a sort of 90’s Image/Ian Churchill vibe that attracts a certain segment of the audience. Moreso than even David Finch above, I was definitely at my most trepidacious when embarking upon this collaboration between he and Dan Abnett, who had whiffed a bit just last week with Aquaman: Rebirth. But to my surprise, this was another big intro that I had a pretty fun time with. It’s not great comics in any respect, and I get the sense that if you didn’t know who any of these characters were off the bat, you’d be so terribly lost, but it seems clear to me that’s not the audience DC wants to focus on right now anyway and this is a comic that’s about as clear about that intention as any they’ve published in the past few weeks.
Titans: Rebirth is basically the next chapter in the Rebirth mega-story, which makes sense given that it focuses on the elder Wally West who was the lead of that 80 page event comic. This is Wally trying to reconnect with his old teammates and they, much like Barry Allen before them, have no recollection of their adventures with this speedster. The premise is engaging enough for the fan like me that has some serious attachment to this cast, particularly the idea of returning to the original Teen Titans line-up, which I feel all too often gets cast aside in favor of the more popular Wolfman/Perez team.
Sure, the way everyone gets their memories back is pretty convenient, Wally touches someone and instantly we get a flashback and everything is right as rain. But as a sequel to both Rebirth and Titans Hunt (a book I have to admit I didn’t read, but am aware of Abnett picking up his own pieces here much like Tomasi did with Superman), this does the trick.
Alex, as a somewhat newbie DC reader, did this connect with you whatsoever?
Alex: Well, for starters, let me say that I find it hilarious that Wally West’s plan to stop being a punching bag for the DC Universe essentially amounts to continuing to play the role of said punching bag until the timeline is fixed– I guess purgatory isn’t so bad when you can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Anyways, I enjoyed Titans: Rebirth well enough. While I can’t begin to fathom the layers to this comic that must reveal themselves you as someone who has read adventures with these characters, I think that Abnett and Booth do an effective job of establishing Wally’s connection with each of the other heroes in this Titans lineup.
I think the fact that Wally connects with Dick Grayson, arguably the most recognizable character in this book, makes it easier to approach as a new reader. I’m most familiar with this team through the Cartoon Network show that aired in the early 2000s, so it was nice to have some analogous characters in this issue as well– Lilith does a particularly fine Raven impression and I’m interested to know more about her past relationship with Wally as well as what the future might hold for the two of them. I can’t say that I got a great sense of who the other members of the team were as people, but they’re all riffing off of more prolific heroes including Green Arrow, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman, so there is at least some base level of connection between the characters and the reader there.
Ultimately, what really makes this issue such a standout one for me is how little plot there is compared to character development. Granted, it’s all flashback work that gets us back to ground zero for the team, but Abnett gives us the opportunity to witness hugely humanizing moments between the heroes such as Wally and Donna Troy teaming up to play a trick on Roy Harper. It’s these little two-panel moments that do most of the heavy lifting in this comic, and their inclusion makes me hopeful that Abnett and Booth understand this is what readers want more of. While many of the Rebirth oneshots have pointed south, theirs clearly points north.
Now…the art. You mentioned that Booth isn’t your favorite, Kyle. I personally found most of it to be passable, but thought some of the anatomy was wonky– Wally looks like Elongated Man in that two page splash where he is surrounded by his teammates. Was it moments like these that got your goat?
Kyle: Easily, between the angular faces, and overly-rendered color, this book is not what I would normally jump towards in my superhero reading. But again, there was nothing here that broke my interest. The momentum of the story was strong, Booth and Abnett kept things zipping along at a nice enough clip that my attention never flagged at any point. And well, I really like Wally’s new costume a lot, and that hug scene between the team got me right where it hurts.
It’s all in the little moments really. I’m a sucker, I know. And yes, Lilith is totally becoming the Raven replacement. Given how they tanked the actual Raven in the New 52, I’ll take it.
What do you think about Dan Abnett’s second go in the post-Rebirth DCU? Buy?
Alex: Yes! Titans: Rebirth #1 is not the most accessible Rebirth book, but it’s far friendlier than it appears at first glance. While there’s no indication of what the story for this series will look like moving forward, Abnett seems to have a solid understanding of what makes a good story tick. Here’s hoping for more fond memories and some great new adventures! And you, Kyle?
Kyle: A surprising buy, especially for the book that at its initial announcement, I had very little interest in. I gotta see what this team does next.
Stay tuned for our DC Reborn Roundup, featuring links to all the reviews and our overall thoughts on this week’s titles.