Review – Titans: Rebirth #1 (DC Comics)

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Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brett Booth
Release Date: 15th June, 2016

Even at this early stage, it’s safe to say that Wally West has been the undisputed “Most Valuable Player” of DC’s Rebirth.  Serving as an unexpected focal point for the entire storyline, Wally’s desperate attempt to reclaim his lost life – as well as the lives of the rest of the DC Universe – has provided the raw, beating heart of what could have potentially otherwise been viewed as yet another cynical, cash-grabbing reboot.  So with this new series from Dan Abnett and Brett Booth being built around Wally reuniting with his old running mates (no pun intended) the Teen Titans, there was absolutely no chance that I was going to let it pass me by.

DC’s Rebirth #1’s have followed a fairly simple format so far, establishing the new status quo for their associated characters while dropping some juicy hints about some of the potential stories to come.  However, as impressive as they have undoubtedly been, few have managed it with such flair and emotion as Abnett and Booth’s offering does here.   Essentially, what we have here is a “bottle issue” made up of one extended scene where Wally encounters the Titans in one of their old ‘hideouts’, inadvertently restoring their memories of him one at a time.  It sounds simple, and it is, but while the questions surrounding the extent of Wally’s new abilities remain unanswered for now (so, can he do this to anyone, or just people he was previously close to?), the execution here is nothing short of flawless.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of this issue is the actual memories that Wally’s return triggers in each of the Titans.  It isn’t the dramatic, larger-than-life battles against super-villains that come flooding back, but is instead the quieter, more personal exchanges that help rebuild the links between the heroes. It’s a brilliant touch that really helps to cement this group as more of a family than just a “super group”, and really adds some significant emotional heft to the issue as a whole.

Visually, Booth’s art is exactly the kind of bold, dynamic work that has typified DC’s “house style” for years now, but for all the action and energy packed into his pages, he also manages to include an impressive amount of emotion.  From the shocked look on Grayson’s face as he inexplicably remembers Wally’s name to the tenderness and warmth conveyed during the various ‘flashback’ scenes, Booth does a truly stellar job of underlining the heart of the story, laying the groundwork for what promises to be a fantastic series.  Extra credit should also be given for two particular visual beats; the first, a double-page spread where the Titans confront Wally for the first time, is truly poster-worthy in its sense of drama and tension, and the second, a splash page near the end of the issue, is guaranteed to deliver the “feels” in a major way.

Cards on the table, I’ve never really been much of a fan of the Teen Titans until now, but this issue paints them in such an utterly intriguing light that it’s difficult not to get excited about the prospect of watching this team – no, this family – come together again in the weeks and months to come.   Full disclosure, I was kind of hoping that DC’s Rebirth would serve as a good point for me to clear some titles from my already bloated pull list, but with every week that passes, another stellar series manages to creep its way into the ‘buy pile’.  So while my bank account may not necessarily be all that happy, my love of exciting, engaging, well-written comics most certainly is.

Rating: 5/5.

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The writer of this piece was: 576682_510764502303144_947146289_nCraig Neilson-Adams (aka Ceej)
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