Titans Hunt #1
By Dan Abnett, Paulo Siqueira, Geraldo Borges, and Hi-Fi
Reboots are rarely easy, especially the DC Comics brand of reboot. DC has rebooted their continuity approximately 5 times now, depending on how you count it, and over the course of those 5 reboots they’ve slowly settled into a standard approach to the problem, which is to blow up everything in continuity and only keep the popular parts. That particular approach has always been emblematic of a deeper issue with DC’s penchant for reboots as the whole process ends up a loosely defined popularity contest where interesting parts of the mythos can end up on the cutting room floor because they weren’t deemed popular enough. That seems to be the case with Titans Hunt as DC’s New 52 branding reboot more or less excised the entire history of DC’s Teen Titans and the company has only now realized that the classic make-up of the team was actually quite popular. It’s unclear why DC has come to this conclusion now given the Teen Titans have been a popular television franchise for well over a decade now, appearing almost exclusively in the classic team make-up. However, the point is DC now has to find a way to both return the classic Titans line-up to their continuity and revive their history as a team: that’s what Titans Hunt is for.
The basic plot is fairly in line with most reboot mistake clean-up operations with hidden memories and secret histories punctuating the entire proceedings. This first issue gives us a chance to check in with most of the Teen Titans who are already in the New 52 continuity like Arsenal and Nightwing, while also going to great lengths to fill some other spots on the team. As Cyborg is now a founding member of the JLA, his spot on the team is being filled by a massively reimagined Mal Duncan. Duncan’s been a minor aspect of the Titans mythology since the ‘70s and even though he was never the most important character, he at least WAS a character in his own right, with his own identity and persona. In Titan’s Hunt, however, he’s more or less just filling Cyborg’s shoes, complete with a visual redesign to make him look as close to Cyborg as possible. It’s honestly a bit of a shame Duncan was never a fan favorite before, but he at least did his own thing and wasn’t just a pale imitation of some other hero. The same fate afflicts Lilith, a long running Teen Titan supporting character whose history is convoluted and unrewarding. Most of her past seems to have been jettisoned and she appears to be playing the role of Raven, though she’s the only one of the Titans who knows more about what’s happening than she’s saying.
As stated, this issue is really only here to reintroduce us to the Titans, old and new, and that does end up wearing thin by the end of the overstuffed issue. Dick Grayson’s sequence, a run in with a re-imagined Tempest, is the highlight of the issue as everything else comes off far too empty and limited. Overall it feels more like we’re reading an extended issue 0 than a real #1 and the comic clearly has no idea what to do with all the extra space it’s been afforded. Duncan’s scene is the most egregious as he doesn’t even interact with another Titan or build foreshadowing, it’s just a few pages of filler to let the audience know Cyborg was too busy to appear in this comic, though it does feature a very surreal cameo by Animal Man.
The artwork is pretty good if not exactly memorable. It’s the curse of passable art, the work is all very clean and enjoyable, but doesn’t leave an impact beyond looking nice and being fun. It is pretty impressive that artists Paulo Siqueira and Geraldo Borges manage to blend style very well and there’s no obvious indication two different people drew the comic. Hi-Fi is on coloring duty and saying Hi-Fi does good colors is basically redundant now given that they literally wrote the book on coloring comics it’s not surprising they do a great job as usual, great use of tones and shades to light whole scenes, differentiate aesthetic between character stories, and highlight action through block color backgrounds..
The lingering issue with Titan’s Hunt is that it really has no justifiable reason to exist. Even the argument that it exists to reintegrate the Teen Titans into DC Universe canon is a precarious and unsatisfying claim as there’s no way reviving the Titans justifies this much circuitous and lackadaisical storytelling. This forgotten hero comeback plot was old when DC was trying it on Triumph in the late ‘90s and it’s only gotten staler and more worn through as the years drag on. Even if you’re a big Teen Titans fan there’s really not much for you here, the personalities of the characters aren’t the same and most of the core characters like Cyborg, Beast Boy, Raven, and Wally West are conspicuously absent. This isn’t the return of the Teen Titans so much as an awkward attempt at covering a pretty embarrassing mistake that never should’ve happened in the first place.