If you missed my discussion of the first Titans Rebirth collection, then you missed me confessing that I love the Teen Titans more than almost anything in the comic book sphere. Just so you know that this is where my bias is coming from.
TEEN TITANS VOL. 1: DAMIAN KNOWS BEST begins with the titular character and current Robin celebrating his thirteenth birthday. Thirteen is a bad year almost universally and it’s inspiring to see Damian Wayne decide to make the best of it. Writer Benjamin Percy (who you may also be loving from Green Arrow: Rebirth if your reading list is at all similar to mine), does a wonderful job at tapping into the humanity that Damian does possess and harnessing that for the good of recreating the Teen Titans.
Now, to be fair, he does capture Beast Boy, Raven, Starfire and Kid Flash and, sort of, force them to join his team, but in a pretty cool sequence each member of the team is able to understand what makes them individually unique and valuable to the others. This is the type of storytelling where the Teen Titans really excel. In contrast to the Justice League—where the members usually come together full of confidence and a basic understand of how their roles are destined to work—the Teen Titans often enter their relationship with all of their insecurities on display and have to stumble their way into finding a team structure. Luckily for this incarnation of the team, Damian thinks he knows what’s best and is perfectly ready to tell everyone else what to do.
Sidebar: Damian Knows Best is a great run to read if you also enjoyed the recent RAVEN miniseries and want to see what she gets up to when she goes out into the greater DC Universe a little bit.
Once Beast Boy, Raven, Starfire and Kid Flash have deduced who their captor is and what he wants from them, they are pressed into deciding whether the ends justify Damian’s means. Luckily for him, everyone is fond of Goliath and that buys him a little bit more time.
Their hesitance, though, is understandable. Damian is a potentially difficult character, but Percy uses his abrasive traits to bring out the best in the young heroes that surround him. Raven learns how to open up to her peers. Starfire discovers a place where she can belong on Earth. Wally is given the chance to create his own legacy separate of his predecessor. And Beast Boy must act seriously and is rewarded by being taken seriously for maybe the first time in his life (at least in this newest continuity).
Fans of The Flash: Rebirth—and regular readers know that I’m definitely a fan—will be happy to know that the new Wally West plays a very prominent role in Damian Knows Best. He is the greenest (pun completely intended), Teen Titan at this point, but he’s also the real emotional core of the team. He brings an empathy and levity that no other character possesses and does a flawless job picking up the legacy that the original Wally West established during the legendary Marv Wolfman and George Perez NEW TEEN TITANS run.
…If you haven’t read New Teen Titans you have to pick up the sweet new omnibi that are out right now!
On top of having to reinvent the Teen Titans team structure (while keeping Robin securely at the top of the circus) for this new generation of legacy heroes, Percy also has to deal with Damian’s complicated parentage by making Ra’s al Ghul the team’s first antagonist. Rather than pit Damian in the middle of a conflict between Talia al Ghul and Bruce Wayne, Ra’s puts his focus on bringing Damian back into the fold and the Teen Titans find themselves caught up in the fray. The team must come together and become a new family to protect their de facto leader and take on the panoply of threats that the League of Assassins sets against them.
This new school of foes that Percy has created in Damian Knows Best are perfectly matched to the aforementioned specific set of skills and are interesting enough to remain regular adversaries for these Teen Titans moving forward. It’s pretty special when you get to experience the genesis of some really cool characters.
Damian Knows Best has a few different artists on duty. Jonboy Meyers launches the book and draws my very favorite Beast Boy of all time. (You can let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree, but I will never stop believing this.) He melds the young man and the animal into what is, for my money, his best look to date. Diogenes Neves and Khoi Pham also get a chance to take a swing at the Teen Titans. If you’re someone who is super into the visual aspect of comic books, then this first volume is a real treat. Seeing three tremendous artists tackle five contemporary icons is just plain cool.
This first volume of Teen Titans: Rebirth is a worthy addition to the canon of one of the most well-loved superhero teams of all time. It seamlessly melds members from the original and new canon and establishes a foe worthy of the Titans. This team is all about legacy and it’s so awesome to have Damian Knows Best live up to the legacy of the amazing stories that precede it.