TEEN TITANS #20 by Adam Glass and Bernard Chang
While some of the minor team members could do with a bit more characterization, TEEN TITANS #20 is a highly satisfying experience with some absolutely fantastic action sequences. The way Glass explores Damian's mentality especially works well in this issue.
98 %
Dark but Brilliant
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Ben Percy’s TEEN TITANS were a fun bunch to hang around with. In many ways, Percy captured the joy associated with being a teenager. When the team wasn’t saving the world, they were forming their own little family. Now, in TEEN TITANS #20, that family is no more. In fact, these fresh faces, under the overseeing eye of writer Adam Glass, have decided to explore another aspect of the teen experience. This team has decided to rebel against the status quo.

To Damian Wayne, the adults’ path no longer works. He sees an endless cycle flooding in and out of Arkham at all times. He doesn’t see any change. So his new team, including Red Arrow, Kid Flash, and Lobo’s daughter Crush, have decided to take matters into their own hands. Their first target? The vampiric Brother Blood and his cult of sacrificial thralls.

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Rebellious Action

TEEN TITANS #20 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

TEEN TITANS #20 is a highly fun and energetic comic book. Writer Adam Glass never fully allows the intensity to stop, even with the use of frequent flashbacks. This does several things for the story. First and foremost, it separates Glass’s run from Percy’s. Percy’s stories focused on character, with action only serving as a means to push the story forward. Glass instead uses the action as the main plot element, but does so in a way that never forgets character.

He uses the team’s fighting, the more brutal and intense battle that this group is capable of, to set this team apart from previous aspects of the story. In doing this, he also examines the story’s themes in a highly concentrated manner. After all, this is a tale about Robin trying to push past the Justice League’s rules. This team should fight differently than any other team out there.

Glass uses flashbacks really well throughout the course of TEEN TITANS #20. Instead of constantly changing perspectives and exploring different aspects of characters’ pasts, he instead keeps everything in Damian’s head. The flashbacks used stem from Damian’s first encounters with each individual teammate. By keeping everything in Damian’s perspective, Glass allows this cynical character to fill in some necessary blanks. However, he also doesn’t share everything with the reader. Glass and Damian give just enough to keep our interests high while still enticing us to keep reading. Glass walks a really thin rope in this issue, but he still manages to capture enough character in these flashbacks to make them worthwhile.

A Wealth of Character

TEEN TITANS #20 page 2 & 3. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

TEEN TITANS #20 succeeds because of its huge cast of characters. Adam Glass doesn’t sacrifice the individual members of his team for the sake of his narrative. As I said, the flashbacks work really well for Damian to expound on his impressions on the team. However, Glass gives each team member a chance to shine in the present narrative. Their interactions are gold, and while there is quite a bit of angst in Robin and Red Arrow, the overall story feels very youthful. While the subject matter is much darker than Percy’s run, Glass still manages to capture this team’s more fun side in their interactions. I still wanted to know some more about certain characters, especially Roundhouse, but what we get is incredibly fun and interesting.

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One of the strongest characters in this story, though, is Damian Wayne. Glass writes Robin so convincingly, and his focus on the character simply makes sense. Even with the former incarnation of this team, he had a bad tendency to keep secrets. With his newer, darker path in front of him, those secrets are even deeper. The character arc in this story seems obvious.

There will likely be an intervention of some kind in the future, especially with the secrets revealed during this issue’s end. However, getting to that point will likely be a thrill ride. I especially loved the lie that Damian uses to convince his friends. The idea that they, as a team, were a preventative force, that they wouldn’t wait until AFTER the crisis began, made a lot of sense. I could see why the team would fall for it. It simply shows just how intelligent this teenager is.

Power and Energy

TEEN TITANS #20 page 4. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Bernard Chang handles the art in TEEN TITANS #20. While a lot of this issue’s energy stems directly from the plot’s events, Chang truly makes this story pop. His artwork is so crisp and clean, and it infuses the issue with a sense of expediency. I think a lot of this comes from Chang’s rendering style. He does not use a lot of deep black patches for shading. This gives the story a more open feeling, in a way. The simpler rendering style does nothing for the atmosphere. Those heavy blacks typically work to give a story a darker, more serious appeal. However, this style puts all of the attention on the incredible character designs. Chang has done wonders for this incredibly diverse teenaged team, and I cannot wait to see where his work will take the series next.

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TEEN TITANS #20: Final Thoughts

TEEN TITANS #20 is a veritable thrill ride. The intensity in the story telling makes this an incredibly fast and kinetic read. However, writer Adam Glass never once sacrifices character for action. He melds the two in nearly perfect harmony. This team is immediately likable, despite their new dark philosophy. Pair that with some incredibly energetic art, and you have a winning combination. I still do not know how I feel about this more rebellious TEEN TITANS. However, if the series continues to be this good, I cannot wait to see where Glass and Chang take us next.

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