It's taken a while, but under Scott Lobdell and Brett Booth, the characters of "Teen Titans" are finally coming together as a team -- but is it wrong to feel like taking ten issues might be a bit much to finally hit that point?
On the plus side, with all but the character of Skitter finally together and not trying to beat up one another, these Teen Titans finally feel relaxed and somewhat playful. The interactions with one another are good and this is starting to read like a group of friends rather than a legion of warriors. It's an important distinction and it's part of what made classic runs of "Teen Titans" back in the day a success. Bunker's attempts to convince Red Robin to keep the team together are good and on the whole it's nice to finally have the whole, "Superboy is out to capture the rest of the Titans" storyline gone and see them all working with one another. Solstice and Kid Flash's scene together is particularly fun and I feel like their relationship is believable. Considering that "Superboy" #10 took place before this issue with a side-adventure for Wonder Girl and Superboy, it integrates well here with those who only read "Teen Titans" not getting left out in the cold.
At the same time, though, it's hard to ignore the fact that it's taken us ten months to get here and in the process we've had far more questions raised than answered. This issue is no exception; never mind the still-missing Skitter, we've got a strange mystery island that is explored for an issue, has the characters (and readers) scratching their heads and then promptly left behind. Is this being saved for a future storyline? Perhaps it's supposed to be deliberately unsolvable? I actually don't mind the latter from a storytelling perspective, but with so many other dangling plots from "Teen Titans" #1-9, adding one more is starting to feel like overkill.
While most of this issue is somewhat relaxed and fun, there's still a little bit of grimness to this issue too. The problem with the moment is that it feels forced; this is a character that we barely know, and the sacrifice and fate that happens as a result doesn't have the punch that it might have otherwise had we seen a bit more up until this point. I think that's where the not-a-team nature of "Teen Titans" #1-9 has hurt the title; it's been all over the place for the majority of the year, so losing someone that was barely around isn't that big of a deal.
Booth's pencils this month are good overall; he's best when tackling moments like Kid Flash's darting around the dinosaurs, or rescuing the team. There's a blazing speed in the art that jumps to life on the page, and I love it. Some of the smaller moments work well too, like Wonder Girl and Superboy's expressions as they peek through the trap door. My one big nitpick is that with a lot of characters in swimsuit-like outfits this issue, there's a bit too much of the crazy "Men's Health" body on display. I get that these are heroes, but I wouldn't mind seeing some of them having less than perfect pecs or abs. Everyone's so idealized that it makes the effect almost numbing. A little more variety would make those who are supposed to be in peak physical condition actually appear that way.
Still, "Teen Titans" #10 is nice. The good parts are what make me want to come back, and I'm glad that things are finally calming down. Now if we can just get some dangling plots resolved faster than they're introduced, well, we'll be golden.