TEEN TITANS #6
Written by Benjamin Percy
Art by Khoi Pham, Wade Von Grawbadger, Jim Charalampidis, & Corey Breen
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: March 22, 2017
An Aqualad arises.
The Teen Titans are still learning how their personalities mesh, but they are all willing to answer the most important of calls. As they face dangerous odds, a new Titan seeks to understand himself and the world around him. Yet his journey to the Tower may lead to a rather dire situation.
I’m wary when a story puts a character at odds with everything around them because these types of tales need specific tailoring and skill to pull off effectively. I’ve been excited for Jackson, but I hate that his (re)introduction is couched in something painful. There has to be a significant payoff to cast his initial story in one revolving around isolation regarding his powers and sexual orientation, otherwise this could end up feeling more exploitative than intended. Everything about Jackson seems like it could be awesome and game-changing, but his characterization doesn’t lend toward that.
I can see how the set up of being gay and having superpowers could be evocative, but the elements that correspond to these points feel shallow. There may have been a deeper and more intimate way of exploring why these issues matter for Jackson, but they do not show up in the context of this issue. They feel like points of interest to draw sympathy rather than understanding, and for Jackson to be the next premiere member of the Teen Titans, they do him no justice.
Benjamin Percy seems to be getting a groove with the characters. They are similar to their Teen Titans GO counterparts, in ways both good and bath. The differing perspectives lighten the mood, but in characters like Gar it almost feels overboard. Damian at least has become much more grounded, and his place on the team is more apparent with him as a leader and as someone who needs to learn how to rely on a team.
I’m not sure how Jackson will fit into the fold, though I am apprehensive about his story. The obvious bigotry in his story needs to be addressed, though it almost feels like it will be one note that isn’t continued and was only used to make him seem more appealing to readers.
Khoi Pham gets superpowers and funky elements well, though there are other moments, specifically in character expressions, where the art is awkward. Facial expressions and behaviors are oddly cast. The place this stands out the most is actually with Jackson. In numerous panels with varying emotional contexts, his expression is the same. Wade von Grawbadger provides suitable density with inks, and Jim Charalampidis’ colors are sufficiently bright. While some of the art feels off, the team does work together to craft the more odd elements of the Titans.
I’m a firm believer that comics should reflect reality, but Teen Titans #6 does so for Jackson in a way that doesn’t feel like his background matters. It’s only a setup, driving him toward the Titans, not a realistic way of explaining his experiences with pain, hurt, and oppression. Beyond his story, there are other moments, in writing and art, that detract from the feel of this new arc. Jackson has been touted as the next major member of this team, but for him to feel like he was worth the wait, the story itself needs some drastic changes.
The Verdict: 6.0/10