Worth the wait

I hadn’t planned to run more comic reviews so soon, but a recent sick day let me catch up on some reading, including the long-delayed New Teen Titans graphic novel, Games, by series creators Marv Wolfman and George Perez. After all, if it took two decades for the book to finally see print, I figured it would wait until I could read it in one sitting, and I’m glad I did!

I always enjoy Perez’s lush artwork– as detailed as my own is simple– and content-packed pages, though Mike Perkin’s inks here weren’t always the best match for his pencils. It’s been a while since I read a Wolfman script (the 2008 Supergirl/Raven crossover from The Brave and the Bold), but he had written a lot of my favorite comics (Nova, Fantastic Four, New Teen Titans, Crisis) of the 70s and 80s. The pair had worked well together on projects in the past, and reteamed here very smoothly, merging artwork from the original project (read more about the ups and downs of this project here) with newly created art and a fresh script. It was a fast-moving action/suspense plot, while retaining elements of characterization that had made the series a fan favorite during its original run. None of the cast seemed out of character here, and each had scenes of character enrichment to round them out beyond their costumes and powers. Many of the supporting cast and past members made appearances, and there were two particularly moving scenes, one heartbreaking, one redemptive. My only quibble would be that the character’s powers (notably Jericho’s) weren’t always introduced well for new readers … but then again, this book isn’t for them, appealing mainly to 40-somethings who have fond memories of the original New Teen Titans comic of the 1980s. Or it could just be a sign, as Wolfman says in his introduction, of “the style of storytelling” that has changed since they last worked on these characters.

The best thing about this book’s long gestation period is the fact that it freed it from the continuity of the ongoing Titans comic of the time. Able to stand on its own as a single story, Games is able to highlight the best aspects of the characters, such that they still rang true for me, over 20 years since I last read an issue of their comic. While I suspect Games won’t be a big seller for DC, it shows the quality that can be achieved by letting creators loose on characters they care about, freed from a line-wide continuity. Of course if it does, maybe they’ll let Jerry Ordway have another shot at the Shazam! family …

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6 Comments to “Worth the wait”

  1. 5 years ago I was really stoked for this book. While I’d still enjoy reading it, at $24.99 it’s a little lower on my list than it was. I have fond (but very fuzzy) memories of the first 50 issues of New Teen Titans series from the early 80’s. A new Shazam family book by Jerry ordway would probably be more exciting to me than this is right now. But seeing this book actually published and on the shelf after over 20 years of announcements and delays is very satisfying. The book I just found out about today (for which I’ve been wishing for several years) is the Untold Tales of Spider-Man Omnibus HC. Maybe I’ll put “Games” on my Christmas wish list.

    • Compared to JLA/Avengers, I hadn’t followed all the gossip regarding this project over the years, so it was an unexpected treat for me. Maybe it’s a sign of how short my pull list is these days, but the price wasn’t that much of a deterrent right now..

      I wonder if the recent DC Comics Presents books reprinting Ordway’s Shazam stories were a test balloon to see if there would be an audience for more? Sadly, if that was the case, I was no help – I’d already read (and still have) the original comics.

      • My own pull list varies significantly these days. A few weeks ago I actually had a week with zero books (first time in over a decade), but this week I had 4 titles – 2 from Bongo, 1 from DC/Vertigo, and 1 from a small-press publisher, plus I had an original softcover graphic novel come in that was on reorder from a few weeks ago that I had missed.

        I bought the first of the of the 100-page Shazam reprints, partly because I didn’t realize immediately that it was a reprint, and after I did I got it anyway because I really liked Peter Krause’s artwork on the series, and I see him regularly at the Minnesota 2-day convention each Spring.

  2. Now I want to go out and pick up GAMES. Another book to add to the list! Thanks, Dale! 😉 Speaking of books that vanished and that are going to reappear, I’m looking forward to FLEX MENTALLO coming out early next year.

    • I’ll have to keep an eye out for Flex Mentallo, too – the Morrison/Quitely All-Star Superman gave me a new appreciation for their work together, especially since I had never really warmed up to Quitely’s art until then.

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