There's a good deal to be critical about with Dan Abnett and Brett Booth's primer for the imminent new Titans series, a revival series which features the original DC Comics Silver-Age group of side-kicks brought back together as a group once more. Titans Rebirth follows on from the recently concluded and surprisingly engaging mini-series that boasted some quite frankly superb visuals, and while not without some small problems it was a series that succeeded in its mission of selling a new revival or some old faces under the Titans name.
For Titans Rebirth we are presented with the ongoing story of that reunion, now joined by Wally West, and this is the tale of the Titans through the perspective of the returned Wally, Wally is the anomaly here as while he has a history inside of his head none of the people he confronts share it, and this as with other aspects of the Rebirth project creates some difficulties for the reader. But coming after the slick production of 'Titans Hunt' this is a taster of what will come for the ongoing series, and unfortunately it suffers an immediate obstacle in the overexcited artwork and layouts of Brett Booth, ex-penciller of the Teen Titans. Booth's work is, shall we say, not to everyones taste... and after his reign on the Teen Titans definitely not to mine I regret to say. Marked out with a Wally West redesign from Booth, which evokes the repugnant Bart Allen of whom Booth worked on alongside Scott Lobdell, Titans Rebirth presents a simple narrative that has Wally meeting his old friends in the Titans and through the MacGuffin of the Speedforce is able to restore their memories of the lives they in fact never had. How this works I cannot guess - should we assume the Speedforce is so unfathomably powerful it lies outside of reality? It has been suggested before, most pertinently in John Byrne's Wonder Woman where the villainous Dark Angel deletes Donna Troy from history, with only Wally West shown to remember her due to Speedforce interaction. So the precedent exists.
Looking to be positive about this simple read the signifiant feature of this issues narrative is the emphasis on the value of Friendship, of a group of people with a shared history that has bonded them to be a substitute family for the other. And when looked at on an individual basis loners and orphans are exactly what this Titans team is - a group of individuals all alone in the world with no one but each other. They all share in this sense of isolation in the world. And as a bonding mechanism it is a detail which works extremely well in understanding why it is they choose to stay together, and why it is that this group is the most interesting and attractive group to call themelves Titans in many a year.
As we follow Wally West's gradual journey from being the ultimate pariah, filled with understandable pain, loneliness, and loss at the cruel fate he has been dealt, to unexpectedly becoming reaquainted once more with his oldest and dearest friends whom he thought forever lost to him, the true strength of the 'Rebirth' project becomes very apparent. For in the sight of seeing Wally, Donna, Dick, Roy, Garth, etc, come to recognise the other again we are not seeing some blank slates thrust together as happened in the 2011 relaunch, instead it is made clear that these characters now recall everything. A restoration has taken place that reinstalls the history that these characters once had, the histry that created the strong complex bonds of friendship and loyalty to the other that ground zero style of rebooting simply cannot offer. Which is why despite the substantial flaws in this issue it is still an exercise of which I will commend the writer on and will even tip my hand to Brett Booth for delivering at least one page I found quite effective in its design...
I may not be able to bank on the authenticity of the Teen Titans anymore, but at least The Titans I remember are once more back together, and are people I warmly recognise. For that at least I am grateful, and supportive of this series going forward.
This was one of the books I considered before buying and once again have been so happily surprised I can't articulate it. The sense of family was powerful and I can not wait for the first official issue. If only this were a bi-weekly book like the 'main' titles.
Pull List: Invincible-Savage Dragon-Ragnarok-Superman Titles-Titans-Teen Titans-JL Titles- Copperhead-The Terrifics-Damage-X-Men Blue/Gold-Marvel 2 In 1