TEEN TITANS #18 by Ben Percy, Scot Eaton, Wayne Faucher and Jim Charalampidis
While the book suffers from some unbalanced characterization, TEEN TITANS #18 is a fun romp with the team. The spotlight on Beast Boy succeeds completely, and the plot has a nice, controlled pace. The artistic team has scored a win as well.
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In DC’s current run on the team, (TEEN TITANS #18) the Teen Titans have been no strangers to distrust. Damian Wayne’s makeshift team has come together and fallen apart throughout the past 17 issues. After Slade Wilson manipulated Kid Flash, Robin kicked the speedster off the team. Aqualad, uncertain about himself and his history, nearly left to join his father.

Most recently, after the destruction of Titans Tower in “Super Sons of Tomorrow,” Beast Boy has had to question his place on the team. Gar Logan’s current predicament carries a heavier weight than the others, though. After all, through the New 52, Gar had fought alongside the original Teen Titans. Now, though, as TEEN TITANS #18 begins, Beast Boy may have left the team forever.

For the first time in his life, Beast Boy feels truly accepted. Having joined the tech wunderkinds at Nevrland, he has agreed to become the face of their newest VR System, Pixie. The system, capable of allowing people to live out their greatest fantasies, seems like a dream come true. However, the rest of the Teen Titans aren’t convinced.

A recent assault in the city seems to be tied to the new technology. In order to investigate deeper, Robin and the rest of the team decide to attend Nevrland’s first public event. However, when Gar learns that his former teammates threaten his new friends, where will his loyalties fall?

Into the Heart of Nevrland

TEEN TITANS #18, Page 1. Courtesy of DC Comics

The plot of TEEN TITANS #18 felt rather satisfying. It doesn’t have any high tension action sequences or flashy set pieces. However, it does feature some really cool concepts. The story does a good job of mythologizing the current VR gaming trends. Percy fantastically transitions the technology into a science fiction minefield just waiting to be exploited.

More importantly, the story feels well paced, with very little slack throughout. Percy has gotten into a rhythm with his TEEN TITANS storytelling, and this issue really shows his understanding of the team. I especially thought that the dialogue throughout felt very real, without delving into kitschy exposition. The characters felt like real teenagers, not mockups.

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I will say, though, that the lack of action in this piece does throw me off. It doesn’t necessarily feel like a superhero story. The stakes are there. Joran and Nevrland’s scheme to use Pixie for mind control comes across believably. However, TEEN TITANS #18 seems primarily about the character moments.

This becomes a really great set-up for future issues, but this issue does have its slow moments. The whole basis for the issue at the moment is Beast Boy’s role as marketer for Pixie. Even the moments with the rest of the Titans didn’t quite have the momentum the previous issue had. This doesn’t necessarily detract from the reading experience, but some fans may not enjoy this issue for these reasons.

The Beast or the Boy?

TEEN TITANS #18, Page 2. Courtesy of DC Comics

TEEN TITANS #18 really shines in its characterization. This issue continues the fantastic spotlight on Beast Boy’s character. Even through the New 52, readers didn’t really get the chance to explore this character’s personality or history. Pixie provides Ben Percy with a fantastic opportunity, though.

It lets Beast Boy relive his memories in a believable context. He doesn’t rely on flashbacks to tell Gar’s story. Percy focuses in on his emotional landscape over the loss of his parents and his fear of loneliness. Suddenly, character moments from throughout this series take on a new light as Beast Boy’s true fears come into focus.

I sadly wasn’t as happy with the characterization of Joran in this issue. I wanted so badly to like her character. Her character provides a lot of striking exposition about her motivations and her support of “weird” kids. I thought her stance on this issue made a lot of sense, but I felt that this lost a bit of credibility near the issue’s end. She also discusses her history as an abused child, and I really wanted to be on her side.

However, I couldn’t exactly get behind her story. It never quite got the coverage it deserved. With a little more focus on this potential striking villain, the characterization of this issue would have been perfect. As it stands, though, it does falter a bit here.

The TITANS (2018) Have Found Their Beast Boy!

Green With Talent

TEEN TITANS #18, Page 3. Courtesy of DC Comics

Coming to TEEN TITANS #18 is an all-star creative team. I already applauded their combined work in the previous issue, and it continues here. Scot Eaton’s pencils are nothing short of inspirational. His depictions are realistic to a point, but they still have a highly energetic cartoon feel.

I especially love how expressive his characters are. Much of this story only works through the emotions being shared between characters, and Eaton manages to make everyone incredibly clear. Wayne Faucher’s inks add to this fantastic work without taking anything away. His depiction of the monstrous Beast Boy at issues end, covered in black ink, really added some horror to the scene.

Jim Charalampidis, meanwhile, really upped his game from the previous issue. The dichotomy between Titans’ Tower and the Nevrland event in terms of colors is genius. He paints the Nevrland scenes in highly saturated color palettes. This gives them an otherworldly feel that matches the design of Pixie and Joran’s aesthetic. Next, to these pinks and blues, Beast Boy seems to fit right in. In fact, compared to the dull grays and muted reds of the tower, the visuals of Nevrland inspire a true sense of wonder.

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Final Thoughts: TEEN TITANS #18

TEEN TITANS #18 is a satisfying and interesting character analysis. While the plot may leave some readers wanting, I found it a perfect vehicle for an examination of Gar Logan. While the villain doesn’t quite receive the same focus, I did enjoy the passion Ben Percy gave her for her ideals. The drive to protect the bullied kids of the world inspires a lot of support. While this issue isn’t perfect, it goes just far enough to get me excited about the series’ future.

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