About two years ago, "Teen Titans" seemed to break down. It's hard to say exactly what the cause was that made the quality slip. The removal of Superboy from the title? The wholesale cast-shuffling that happened during the "One Year Later" gap? Geoff Johns departing the title mid-storyline? Replacement writer Adam Beechen's having to pick up another writer's stories?
Whatever the reason, I do think it's safe to say that the book has suffered as a result. When Sean McKeever took over with "Teen Titans" #50, I was optimistic that it would be the title's turning point, only to find a sequel story to Johns' "Titans of Tomorrow" that didn't seem to click in the slightest, be it writing or art. So you can imagine my surprise that a few months ago, I gave "Teen Titans" another shot, and found something very different.
It feels almost like McKeever had to bring the group down to its low point to start bringing them back together. Months of mistrusting characters and cross-purposes come to a head here, with characters admitting they're wrong and starting to make amends, and what better starting point than a story teaming up Kid Devil and Blue Beetle? The two characters that are the most like a real teenager in the Teen Titans are a perfect counter for each other, with Kid Devil's fear over Blue Beetle taking his place on the team a reasonable wedge between the two. And, at the same time, it's nice to see some sort of resolution to that matter happen here, with McKeever wisely not stretching that mistrust well-beyond the breaking point. It's taken a while, but we've gotten to the point where this feels like an actual team again, instead of a random group of characters thrown together.
Guest pencils by Carlos Rodriguez are solid here; while not up to the levels of new regular artist Eddy Barrows, Rodriguez is able to provide a clean line to draw the characters. He's able to take the humorous portions of McKeever's script and really run with them; it's hard to not laugh at Shockwave's fingers squishing Kid Devil's cheeks in their grasp, for instance, or Blue Beetle's surprised and cringing "Hot damn," when Kid Devil leaps to the attack.
Could this be the turning point for "Teen Titans?" I hope so. I used to really love the "Teen Titans" revamp, and it's starting to feel like a book I want to read. I'll be sticking around for a while longer if McKeever keeps this up.