Teen Titans: Beast Boy
Written by Kami Garcia
Drawn by Gabriel Picolo with Rob Haynes
Colored by David Calderon
Lettered by Gabriela Downie
Reviewed by KrisK
First off, let’s get this out of the way: I love Beast Boy. He might be my favorite DC character. I have always related to the way he uses goofiness to shield his insecurities. He is the Teen Titan I can’t imagine “growing up”. If anything, because Changeling (his more “mature” alias) reeks as a name.
So, when DC announced they were doing a YA graphic novel for Garfield Logan, I knew it would be the first one for me to buy. I have heard mixed reviews of the books, so I went in hesitantly. I was not disappointed.
To start, if you aren’t familiar with the character, Beast Boy turns into green animals. I don’t mean he can only turn into animals which are naturally green; he can turn into any animal, but it will be green. (Not great for blending in, honestly) He serves as the team clown, whether it be Teen Titans or Doom Patrol. Depending the media, Gar also can take the form of aliens and even entirely new forms based on imagination, which hints at some truly epic power levels. (Beast Starro, anyone?)
For this version of the character (we can call it the Titanverse), we get a teenager with no connection to Doom Patrol or any heroes. He has been taking supplements everyday at the behest of his parents for as long as he can remember. He has friends, crushes on the popular girl and never gains any weight, though he lives on protein shakes and bars. (He sits at 144.5, about what I weighed at 17 and a weight I miss.) Gar wonders if his supplements are causing the lack of weight gain. He googles them, and he finds, that a symptom of the substance is interference with the Pituitary Gland. He flushes the drugs, and the changes occur.
The book functions well as a Beast Boy story. The team clearly adore the character, and though the book exists outside of continuity, this still feels like Gar. The jokes and insecurities, all emanating from a heart of gold, feel like Logan every step. Gar loves animals, and he risks his future multiple times to help them out. He does the same with his friends. While there is conflict in his friend group, he never becomes an annoying jerk, like so many Teenage characters undergoing change. He stays Gar. I effortlessly read every line in Greg Cipes’s voice.
Garcia writes a great Logan. She understands what the character’s core consists of, even if you remove the standard back story. I don’t know how much Picolo influenced the story, but he apparently favors Beast Boy over all other characters, so I bet he added his input. The story lets Gar’s powers progress in ways you don’t expect, so that he doesn’t turn into a gorilla to stop a runaway car, but instead has small bits of powers emerge in odd settings. The path seems more gradual. The story lacks a supervillain, too, per se. One appears near the end, but he appears as a friend. The conflict stays rooted in the Teen portion of the Titan’s life.
Picolo maintains the best artist to pick for this. He cut his teeth on Twitter drawing a series of images revolving around the Teen Titans in their downtime. He still draws the images and posts them, and he clearly loves the characters. He has his ships and head cannons for the characters you can only get by consuming the characters constantly. Plan on seeing Picolo more in the future. The colors by Calderon are often muted except for one item in the panel, drawing your eye to that pop of color. I love some of the hues he chose, particularly the blue for the hair of one of Gar’s friends.
Verdict: Buy! If you are a fan of Beast Boy or the YA books coming out of DC, pick this up. It represents the character splendidly, but it does it in a world that manages to be grounded without being dark or “raw”.