EARTH ONE TEEN TITANS VOLUME ONE is a Fun Re-Imagining – Comic Review
For those that don’t know, the Earth One series published by DC is a continuity free universe where characters are re-imagined by popular creative teams and published exclusively in hardcover collections. Prior to the Teen Titans story, two volumes of Superman Earth One and one volume of Batman Earth One have been printed. Earth One Teen Titans Volume One written by Jeff Lemire and penciled by Terry Dodson is sure to be on a lot of fan’s must-read lists.
Lemire fans will know that he is no stranger to reboots of DC characters having written the New 52 relaunches of both Animal Man and Constantine. He does not disappoint with this alternate timeline. The graphic novel exclusive format allows him to build the story at a different rate than most of his other DC books. The extra pages result in a slower pace, though most readers will see the reveals coming. The story focuses mainly on Tara, an old fan favorite earth manipulator, for the first half of the story with glimpses into the other teens lives. The lack of focus on most of the other characters is slightly disappointing as Tara’s story, a rebellious teen with a single parent, has been rehashed so many times. The majority of the conversations between her and her mother seem to forcefully guide the reader to those previously mentioned reveals.
Most of the changes to the other characters back stories are interesting and fun if seemingly superficial. Raven is portrayed as a Native American with no known demon relations (for now), while Starfire arrived on Earth as an infant rather than a teenager. The rest of the Titans have other slight changes while Slade Wilson has arguably the most revamped personality and appearance. The important changes and best parts of the book are found in the interactions between the Titans.
The Earth One universe is still being populated by superheroes and villains so the Teen Titans, traditionally sidekicks, don’t have advisors or guardians. Rather than being placed together by their superiors to learn how to interact with peers, the majority of characters attend the same high school. This is the where the magic lies. The titans are brought together by a deeper connection than previous iterations. As this was the highlight of the book, it will hopefully evolve and become even more important as the story continues in volume two.
The art by Dodson seems to be more subdued than his other works. Focusing on younger heroes he appears to push the cartoon aspects of his art. The book feels a little flatter than some previous works but fits the tone of the story perfectly. For the Titans fans that found the team through the cartoon, this may be an even more welcoming transition than any other rendering in comics. There are interesting artistic teases throughout the book that will have the readers actively guessing where the story will lead in volume two, an excellent world building tool for this fresh universe.
If you are a fan of Lemire, the Dodsons, or the Teen Titans (show or comics), this is definitely worth a read. The potential here is very high! If you have never liked the teen books in DC, I would recommend you hesitate to pick this up.