Teen Titans: Beast Boy by Kami Garcia & Gabriel Picolo [Comic Review]

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Beast Boy is one of my favourite comic book characters and he has been for a long time. I remember as a kid watching the Teen Titans cartoon and loving the idea of having the power to turn into a T-rex or a tiger or whatever animal I could think of. Some other kids my age might have wanted to be Pokemon trainers or princesses but I wanted to be Beast Boy because I thought he was amazing.

Going into this comic I not only expected loving it because it is with a character that I love but it also has Gabriel Picolo artwork–which I am such a huge fan.

I also knew where the character originated; how his powers worked and the sort of personality I would be walking into. Maybe that was a bit of a downside in some people’s minds because when you know a character well it can impact how you view creative license on the character in later works. Especially if you love the character so much that you don’t want it to deviate from what you’ve already expected.

I’m not that kind of a person because I think going into a new story about a character means the character is going to be different. If I wanted the Beast Boy from the cartoons or previous comics I would watch that cartoon or read those comics and not this one.

Expression in Simplicity

I’m going to take a moment and just gush about the artwork because I have to.

There were multiple times during this comic where I went back to specific panels or pages just to look at the way that the characters were drawn. Not even something as understandable as liking the character design but for little things like lighting and shading choices; for how clean the linework was in some parts as opposed to others where there was more of a sketch-quality to the drawings. I was paying attention to colour choices and background designs as a contrast to whatever was in the foreground.

There’s something about the simplicity of the designs that Picolo has that are also really expressive. I love the exaggerations in some of the facial expressions that Gar had and the body language that he had when imitating specific animals. The transformation pages were also pretty amazing to look at too.

More Gar, Less Beast Boy

For the story side of things, I definitely found it interesting and there wasn’t a point when I thought it was slow or found myself checking how much I had left the story.

That being said I think that this might be a moment when knowing a lot about the character was a disadvantage for me. I know the origin of Beast Boy so I already had a good idea of what was going on. There wasn’t a mystery aspect to it and they didn’t go into the backstory in as much detail as some of the previous versions. I totally understand not wanting to get into detail on that because there are previous comics for people to look at if they want the full backstory of Beast Boy. If there are people like me who know the backstory you don’t want to take half the comic to explain it.

Knowing the backstory and knowing how the power works made me feel like I wanted there to be more of a focus on Beast Boy being Beast Boy as opposed to being Garfield Logan. This story is really about Garfield being a teenager and not knowing why he’s different. He’s trying to navigate things that he wants as just a teenage boy and the more serious grown-up issues that come along with his power and him understanding the world that he and his parents exist in.

On the Side of Animals

Gar is both trying to fit in in high school and has kind of a last hurrah before he graduates but he’s also becoming more aware of the world that his parents exist in. Specifically when it comes to biological research and animals being a part of that research.

We deal with some issues of animal cruelty and animal testing and what Gar’s stance is on those issues. Also a lot of trauma and confusion on his part with regards to his parents being scientists and what they have done in their past, especially when it directly affected him as a person.

Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I feel like this was a lot of establishing who the character was in terms of personality and power set and less about Beast Boy of the Teen Titan or of Doom Patrol or the superhero that I have in my head when I think about this character. It was a set up to something to come–which is how I felt about the Raven comic too (you can read my review of Teen Titans: Raven I did last year when it came out).

I can’t assume that everyone picking up these comics is going to have as much comic book knowledge as I do or that they grew up with the characters and Garcia and Picolo can’t assume that either.

I’m excited to see where further comics go.

I adore the aesthetic of these comics and I will just gush forever about how much I love Picolo’s work. But ultimately the comic isn’t for me–as a reader and a comic book fan. It’s sort of for me in that it’s a character I like being given a different kind of story from other superhero comics.

It also is mostly for people who don’t know who these characters are and trying to reach a different audience by making it a character story and not a fast-paced action story. Making these complex, character-driven stories is important and populating those stories not only with our main lead Garfield Logan but his friends who have their separate issues and their separate personalities. Also, his parents have very important roles to play because, yes, we have a superhero character who has two living parents which is madness.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to survive the next year waiting for the next comic where Beast Boy and Raven are finally going to meet in some way and we’re going to get some answers from Slade–and we’re going to see some kind of team-up.

But for now, I will wait patiently and I will continue to reread these comics because they just make me so happy as both a comic book nerd and art nerd.

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