World’s Finest: Teen Titans #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Steve Wands
If you’ve been keeping up with DC Comics recently, especially the wonderful Batman/Superman: World’s Finest, then these names should be familiar to you, but if not, then at least Mark Waid should. Regarded as – and also, in my opinion – one of the greatest superhero comic writers ever, the guy who took Messner-Loebs’ foundation and made Wally West the blueprint of legacy superheroes everywhere. A writer whose writing always echoes that silver-age feel of comics, capturing the feel of those comics – both through tone and through the visuals his artists channel in the work – while also reading like a modern comic, the perfect blend of the two and thus super accessible.
Which is why it makes sense that after his return to DC with the aforementioned book, it only makes sense that World’s Finest: Teen Titans was next on the itinerary. For this book, he’s joined with Emanuela Lupacchino, who also illustrated the extremely fun Robin and Supergirl date issue on Batman/Superman: World’s Finest, Eisner-winning color artist Jordie Bellaire, who’s colored a lot of fantastic DC books like Superman and the Authority, Suicide Squad: Blaze and Mariko Tamaki’s Detective Comics, and Steve Wands, who’s lettered World’s Finest and a wide variety of DC books you’ve probably read like Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman.
This book is a return to form in many ways. Unlike the current Titans book by Tom Taylor and Nicola Scott, this one takes place during the same period as the other World’s Finest book, a long time before any of the present-time books, but still set in continuity. We follow the original Titans lineup here, with the addition of Karen Bleecher, aka Bumblebee. It’s an already established team, but very clearly early on in their existence.
One of the many beauties of this first issue, just as Batman/Superman’s was, is how new reader friendly it is. Even if you don’t know any of these characters, the book does a fantastic job at expertly weaving between introducing you to these characters without doing an exposition dump and allowing the plot to progress. It treats everyone here – Robin, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Aqualad, and Bumblebee like characters you’re not familiar with, and even if you are, there’s enough intrigue in their character dynamics that it’s interesting and really pulls you into the narrative.
The highlights for these two are Dick Grayson and Roy Harper. Mark Waid has been treating me right with Dick Grayson, and with this book, in addition to the other World’s Finest book, it’s just a showcase of how well he gets the character. He’s still stuck within Batman’s shadow, and not happy-go-lucky all the time on missions, only when he’s clearly in control of a situation. Waid truly demonstrates this while also remembering his love for the circus act.
Roy Harper is fantastic too. At first, I was worried at the change of him live streaming the fights of the Titans, but given the context of his character in this issue, it makes perfect sense for him to be doing what he does. In general, too, them being alerted by social media made sense to me – these guys are still teenagers, they’re not going to get access to Justice League tech just yet, so this feels like a natural way for them to operate.
Lupacchino and Bellaire are a perfect choice for this book’s art too. Lupacchino’s thick lines and borders give it a very 70s/80s feel and coupled with Bellaire’s coloring – which is more layers upon layers of colors than a gradient, it really does fit the tone and style of the book. Wands’ lettering is cool, always feeling in place and never gets in your way.
Overall, if you’ve ever wanted to get into these characters, this team, or even just want something to get into, this is the one! A killer creative team, and an amazing start, what more could you ask for with a #1? Highly recommend.