TEEN TITANS #13 By Benjamin Percy, Khoi Pham, Jim Charalampidis
TEEN TITANS #13 is a fun, exciting addition to Benjamin Percy's series. While I think that the plot focuses way too much on Damian Wayne, the exquisite art by Khoi Pham and Jim Charalampidis does enough to make up for it.
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TEEN TITANS #13 begins the “The Return of Kid Flash” arc. After the “Gotham Resistance” crossover, the Teen Titans have to find a new direction for their team. Does said direction reside with Damian Wayne, their current leader, or with Starfire, the oldest Titan? This is the question I expect this arc to answer.

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Benjamin Percy has done a good job introducing the latest iteration of the Teen Titans. I’ve had a blast reading these entertaining issues. However, I do understand why many criticize the heavy focus on Damian Wayne while the other Titans are sidelined. I hope that Percy can find a way to spend time developing everybody’s favorite characters and not just the Son of the Bat.

No “I” in Team

It’d be an understatement to say that the Titans’ approval of their leader Damian is dwindling. Ever since he made the decision to kick out Kid Flash, the other Titans have argued with Damian’s leadership. Damian, of course, isn’t helping his case by behaving like a real jerk to the rest of his team. Even though he’s the youngest Titan, he acts like he’s the only capable member of the group. Under him, the group functions as “Damian Wayne and his Titans” rather than an actual team.

TEEN TITANS #13 page 7. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Many who read TEEN TITANS #13 will find Damian insufferable. As a fan of the latest Robin, however, I understand where he’s coming from. The League of Assassins taught Damian that solitude and self-dependence were essential components of strength. Now Damian wants to prove that, like his father, he can functionally lead a team at the level of the Justice League. Does this make him naïve and delusional? Perhaps. Remember, he’s a teenager with a lot of angst and insecurities. He also happens to be a trained ninja and one of the smartest minds on the planet.

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While I do enjoy Damian’s character, even I’m beginning to grow tired of the heavy focus on him. Benjamin Percy is working on some of my all-time favorite superheroes like Raven, Starfire, and Beast Boy, but they have been treated like background characters throughout this series. It’s time to focus less on Robin and more on the team as a whole. Perhaps Percy should write a Damian Wayne solo series so that he can write interesting stories with him while not taking time away from the other great characters.

Budding Romances

I grew up on the original Cartoon Network TEEN TITANS animated series. Even as a child, one of my favorite elements was the romantic tension that would blossom between team members. Romantic subplots are a necessity in ongoing team-related properties. For the most part, TEEN TITANS has stayed off that subject. Now, much to my glee, I believe we’re going to see some budding romances form.

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The obvious one that Percy has hinted towards is a relationship between Raven and Kid Flash. The characters haven’t said anything that confirms to the readers their relationship. However, Raven was by far the most saddened by Wally leaving the team. She’s the one that tries the hardest to convince him to return to the Titans. Furthermore, Robin has made childish accusations that Raven only cares about getting Kid Flash back on the team because he’s her boyfriend. I hope that this arc further expands the Raven & Kid Flash relationship. Perhaps, by the end of this arc, we will finally see the two admitting their feeling towards each other.

TEEN TITANS #13 page 17. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The second relationship is one that Percy hinted at during the “Gotham Resistance” crossover. Green Arrow mentioned that Robin reminds him of his half-sister, Emiko Queen (AKA Red Arrow). In TEEN TITANS #13, Damian seeks to find Emiko and add her to the Titans’ roster. When he finds her, Damian is shocked to find that Emiko isn’t interested at all in joining the Titans, whom she labels “junior varsity.” What’s fantastic about this interaction is that, for once, Damian isn’t the most composed, wise-ass person in the room. Damian’s astonished by Emiko’s blatant rejection of the team and, more importantly, his leadership. I think this is the first time that Damian has met an ally his age who is as clever, cocky, and confident as he is. I wonder if the Boy Wonder’s admiration of Emiko may grow into stronger feelings as the series progresses.

The Role of Costumes in TEEN TITANS #13

The art in TEEN TITANS is always a pleasure to look at. It’s a great example of how simple details can help differentiate characters. From the opening pages of the comic, artist Khoi Pham and colorist Jim Charalampidis do a splendid job depicting the specific looks of each character. I think a lot of this is because of the magnificent costume designs for each of the Titans.

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The New 52 Titans suffered from horrible costume design that went against each character’s classic interpretations. The worst example of this had to be Starfire’s sexist appearance in RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS. Rebirth realizes that fans want their character’s costumes to have a splash of color on them. More than that, each of the costumes in TEEN TITANS #13 has become a part of the characters and their personalities. Beast Boy and Starfire’s bright colors are so recognizable to their roles as heroes and remind us of their classic costumes from the 1980’s NEW TEEN TITANS series. Aqualad and Kid Flash’s costumes are similar enough to their mentor figures’, but distinct enough in color to separate them as characters.

TEEN TITANS #13 page 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Finally, there are Raven and Robin’s costumes, which highlight both characters’ emphasis on solitude. Raven’s cloak often conceals her, whereas Robin wraps his cape around himself like Batman. This shows the two characters’ discomfort with human connection. Yet Robin and Raven aren’t exactly like their fathers. Neither of them embraces the colors of their parents with Damian using the classic Robin red, yellow, and green and Raven wearing her dark indigo cloak. While Raven and Robin act somber and self-serious, there’s a part of them that embraces the light as much as their friends do. All of this proves the amount of thought that Pham and Charalampidis put into the character designs.

Final Thoughts

TEEN TITANS #13 is a success, in as far as it’s an entertaining comic that plays well to adults and younger readers. It’s frustrating that the focus on Damian takes up most of the pages of this issue. I’m more willing to forgive this than others since I love this Robin. Nonetheless, Benjamin Percy needs to spend more time developing the original Titans like Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy. So far, they only function as supporting characters. This shouldn’t be the case, as every Titan should be the protagonist in this comic.

I still feel quite positive regarding this series, just because it’s so fun and the art is gorgeous. Benjamin Percy knows how to write characters, even if he isn’t always focusing on the right ones. I beg DC to let Percy write a Damian Wayne solo series that would give this Robin the time he requires, while not eating too much into TEEN TITANS. As Damian slowly learns that the Teen Titans isn’t all about him, I hope that Percy learns the same lesson.

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