There was a time when the word comic was synonymous with children's reading material. I don't begrudge the grown ups their fun - but it is nice to see a well known name in comics, Geoff Johns working on a book designed for the children. After all children are the future - not just in the song - but for the comics book industry as well, if they neglect this generation, they may find themselves without customers in the next. I really love to see good quality comics like this being made for children. Some children take straight away to full length novels, but many children do prefer something visual, even when they have outgrown picture books. Good comics keep them reading until they are ready to move on to another format, and some continue to enjoy comics as a good way to relax and unwind. Comic books are pure fantasy and a wonderful way to just get away from it all.
This book predates the new animated Teen Titans series - so the characters are not quite the same. The characters in this series are more mature - closer to adulthood and the females are very much sex symbols.Robin, Beast Boy, Kid Flash, Starfire and Superboy are all present, each as the personification of some teenage personality trait.
Wondergirl - who for some reason has been left out of animated series is beautiful, but more teenage looking. She is the most like a typical teen, recently exposed as a superhero she is having serious problems at school. She feels the adults don't listen to her and she needs to make choices for herself.
Starfire has a leading role. This isn't the happy go lucky skipping child of the animated series. Starfire here has the perfection of figure that only an art form can possess and is very mature and very barely dressed. She exudes a pure unbridled passion and sensuality that would better suit a somewhat more adult character.
Raven is barely in this at all - but she is not the wee goth of the animated series either and I could see a great many men being attracted to this, the darker side of femininity. She coveys all the darkness and despair of the teenage years quite well.
Robin is sensible, hard working and dependable, but he still has a mind of his own and won't hesitate to speak his peace even if that means challenging his mentor.
Superboy is haunted, not sure who he is. He hasn't had years to grow up - he was born a teen - a clone of Superman and Lex Luther. He refuses to accept half of his parentage but has not found an identity of his own to hold on to yet. He is deeply frustrated with being forced to sit all day in school when he longs to be doing something and declares "school sucks". He wants adult responsibilities and decisions right now - but perhaps he is the least prepared to deal with them. He has elements of teenage rebel without a cause syndrome - but he also comes across as a bit lost.
Kid Flash is the favourite of both of my boys. If he were a real child he'd likely be diagnosed with ADHD and a plethora of drugs pumped into him to calm him down, but his energy is what makes him special. He never shuts up, he's bouncing off walls, rushing about, but has a heart of gold and is true friend. I've known a lot of kids like him - a shame so many people can't seem to see that just because they don't fit the molds doesn't mean they need to change. The world would be a darker place without them. That said Kid Flash drives his uncle mad - any many other adults as well - he has to find away to put that energy to use - but to take it away would be a horrible thing. He is energy.
Next we come to Beast Boy - he's doesn't quite get enough character development here, and I can't help grafting characteristics from other series onto him in this case, but we ll known teenagers can be a beastly - he is typical boy rough housing and a bit wild but courageous when he needs to be.
The final character is the coach or scout leader for this pack - Cyborg. Half man half machine he is the only adult member of the group and plays a relatively minor role.
This book begins with the Teen Titans be reformed after a tragedy that took the life of the last Wondergirl. They have a formidable villain to fight - Deathstroke - but they will also have a minor battle with the Justice League as they attempt to assert their independence - if you thought ordinary teens could be a handful imagine them with super powers. My sons found this a riot and I have to admit I found it amusing myself. this book has tons of action, some brutal fights and a bit of mystery to solve. It is broken up by wee bits of humour at just the right times. It also has real issues that tens face and conveys the frustration of youth very accurately. There is not one, but two reasonably well developed stories in this book. On story alone - I would give this 5 stars.
Of course this a graphic novel - or really just a very thick comic book. that means illustrations are extremely important, but this is very well done. It isn't museum quality artwork like some of the graphic novels I've seen, but by comic book standards it is very good. The scenes are action packed and very much alive but never cluttered, attention to detail is very good and and 99.9% of the time the characters are very well portrayed showing emotion and action quite well. There is the odd frame that just doesn't look up to par, and I surprised one picture didn't get thrown back to the drawing board considering the overall quality of this book, but I won't be churlish enough to rate down on one frame. Overall - I'm giving this a 5 on illustrations as well.
Finally we have the quality of the book itself. The majority of graphic novels are printed on thick glossy paper now, but this is thin rough comic book style paper - which is far off from that used to make newspapers. It does tear more easily and this sadly did have one 1 " tear when we got it . It has been taped up easily, but I don't think this book wold last long in the hands of a child who does not treat books carefully. You also never get quite the same brightness and richness in colour with this type of paper. I will not rate down for this though, as I'd rather see books for children made on cheaper paper and more affordable.
I believe I paid roughly £3 for this used from Amazon. It was an ex library book and as mentioned did have a very minor tear. Currently there are no new copies unless you want to pay silly money - over £50 - so this must be out of print. Used copies are available from £6.80 which I do feel is fair enough as this has 192 pages so it contains a decent amount of reading material.
My children are ages 4 and 7 and both really enjoy this book, but they did get this before they saw the cartoon. If a child was expecting a book of the cartoon - they might be dissapointed. I would recommend this for children and younger teens, and I did enjoy reading it to my sons myself, but I do see this as a child's book not an adult comic. I do think this is a wonderful book to motivate children to read, but will point out the vocabulary is advanced ans the text small. A child will need to be able to read fluently to read this without extreme frustration. There are also some sections where the text is in red on a black background that I find annoying.