United both as a team and with a common cause, the Teen Titans surge ahead in their mission to rescue Djinn from her magic ring! But to do that, they need her former master, the evil Elias!
Elias, though, is more than ready for them!
After a brief, pitched battle, Elias steals the ring with Djinn in it!
Elias begins to make his escape, but not before Djinn summons help...
Long-lost JSA hero J.J. Thunder, keeper of the mighty THUNDERBOLT!
But can even the unstoppable Thunderbolt be enough to stop the power-mad Elias?
Teen Titans #39 continues writer Adam Glass’s mega-arc throughout this title as the team careens from one haphazard situation to the next to rescue their teammate Djinn, but something feels a bit off this issue. That’s not necessarily a knock on the book’s quality; far from it. This issue rip-roars from the start and doesn’t let up until the last page. But it’s little things just just feel off – namely, that usual series artist Bernard Chang isn’t on art, but also that Glass is utilizing a co-author this month in the form of Robbie Thompson.
There’s nothing against either guest-contributors, of course. Robbie Thompson has a fine and distinguished writing career, and artist Eduardo Pansica does a pretty fair Brett Booth impression without necessarily aping that style outright. But not having the usual team of Glass, Chang, and colorist Marcelo Maiolo (who does in fact work on this issue, and does a great job of it – Pansica’s style brings out a different quality to his style) just throws the issue off a tad from this title’s usual levels of awesomeness.
Be forewarned, this issue is definitely not new-reader friendly. Enough breadcrumbs are sprinkled throughout that it could be enjoyed without having read the rest of Glass and Chang’s run, but lots of little things would be missed, too. The interpersonal dynamics between the team reflect a whole lot of growth and change in the past twenty issues (including an annual) and really resonate with how far they’ve come as a (knowingly dysfunctional) family. Those little things may be missed by a new reader. But no matter. This is Teen Titans as they’re supposed to be, regardless of lineup!
And then there’s the surprising and welcome inclusion of J.J. Thunder, missing in action for years now (per the DCU wiki, he hasn’t shown up since 2010), a heralded sign that, along with the return of the JSA a few months back in Justice League, DC is steadily making progress in righting the sins of New 52 and giving fans the DCU they know and love back. J.J. and this Thunderbolt’s appearance isn’t mere fan service, though – Yz has a definite connection to Elias, and that connection does not bode well for the team. J.J. has a part to play in this drama and hopefully, he sticks around a bit (at least until DC gives us what we really want – a new JSA title).
Elias himself isn’t particularly fascinating as a villain, unfortunately. He’s pretty straightforward as a scenery-chewing bad guy who wants to Do Bad Things. Essentially, he’s collecting rings of power like the one Djinn is trapped in in an effort to storm the gates of Heaven and overthrow its rule. It’s nice to have aspirations, but frankly, it’s more important to be interesting. His dynamic with his younger sister Djinn probably holds the key to unlocking his potential as a villain readers can actually care about, rather than a one-dimensional obstacle to be overcome.
The Titans themselves play off one another every bit as well as ever, although some of the dialogue feels off, not because of anything Thompson does wrong but just because he has a different voice as a writer than Glass, whose plot I’m assuming he scripted over. Their plan for freeing Djinn is pretty haphazard, though, relying on Red Arrow to cast a spell in a language she doesn’t understand, conjuring magic she isn’t trained to handle. Then things go from bad to worse, which is pretty much par for the course for this lovable team of disparate personalities – and fans wouldn’t want it any other way.
Teen Titans #39 feels a bit off due to the regular creative team only being partially present for the proceedings, but is still a good old-fashioned superhero brawl that brings the stakes and a pleasant and surprising guest-star. If you're sleeping on this title, it's time to wake up!
Teen Titans #39: SO COOL!
Writing - 7/107/10
Storyline - 7/107/10
Art - 7/107/10
Color - 8/108/10
Cover Art - 7.5/107.5/10
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