Titans Launches on DC Universe Service
DC Comics launched its new service, DC Universe, in September 2018. The initial launch included a number of DC’s TV shows, movies, and digital comic books. On October 12, the service launched the first of its live action shows specific to the service in Titans. Initial releases of pictures and video showing the main cast of Titans (Robin, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy) called a lot into question. The initial trailer made a big impression with Robin saying “Fuck Batman!” Later views of the characters brought things into question. Beast Boy was shown with green hair but normal colored skin. Starfire had the appearance of a black woman with a huge head of tightly curled magenta hair instead of her golden skin and long straight (or a bit wavy at most) red hair. There was a lot of questions about how good the show would be despite the reported positive reaction at the show’s preview.
The first episode introduces us to a Dock Grayson who is part of the police force and pretty much a loner. The character is played out pretty dry and lacking personality though he is pretty violent. Starfire wakes up in a crashed car as an amnesiac who is on the run and only knows her name as Kory Anders from an ID she found in the car. When she accidentally uses her powers, they look more like a burst of fire from the Human Torch than energy blasts. It even leaves things charred and in place as you would expect from flame instead of something with any concussive force. (She does turn slightly golden when using her powers though which is a pretty lame compromise.) Rachel/Raven is living with her adoptive mother but has dreams about the death of Dick’s parents in the circus and keeps seeing her demonic form in mirrors. Crosses are all over their home. When someone breaks into the house and kills Raven’s mother, her soul self shoots out and attacks him allowing her to get away. After getting arrested, she ends up meeting up with Dick at the police station. She gets kidnapped by someone posing as a police officer so Dick goes off after her. Before he can save her, Raven’s demonic side takes over again and she kills her captor. It’s not until the last couple minutes of the show that Beast Boy even appears. He’s in the form of a green tiger (though you can barely tell it’s green as dark as it is) where he steals a video game from a store. The transformation back to human form looks like the standard cheesy werewolf shape shifting. With Gar almost not even appearing and Starfire’s set-up being incredibly confusing, the Raven introduction is the only really interesting part. I was really hoping that the episode would be better given the reviews but my concerns were well founded.
The second episode really only revolved around Robin, Raven, Hawk, and Dove. Yes, Hawk and Dove make an appearance in the series. I saw in IMDB that they were listed in the cast but I didn’t expect them to appear so early. I do have to say that they did an incredible job with the costumes. That’s one of the few good things about them though. Like everything else in the show, there is more of a darkness and violence to the characters. This works for Hawk but not so much for Dove. They also seem to be treating them as standard vigilantes instead of agents of the Lords of Chaos and Order that they are. I was really hoping to see them call out their names and transform but no such luck. There are comments about a previous relationship between Robin and Dove in the past although Hawk and Dove are together now which causes all sorts of tension when Dick shows up with Rachel at their door. They end up getting attacked by a family trying to capture Raven who end up beating the pulp out of the 3 heroes. (The family is being referred to on IMDB and other places as the Nuclear Family but they don’t seem well related to the comic characters of that name so far.) This shows that Hawk and Dove don’t have the power levels they should have since it leaves you wondering if Dove will survive the end of the episode.
The third episode aired last Friday, picking up with Dove in the hospital, alive but not in good shape at all. The episode is called “Origins” but the history shown is mostly all about Dick being taken in by Brice Wayne, something that pretty much anyone already knows about. Starfire tracks down Raven and saves her from the family of kidnappers. She’s hoping to get more clues to who she is but no luck there. Dick tracks the two of them down and works with Starfire to figure out who both Raven and Starfire are as Starfire finds some clues she left herself. In the meantime, Raven stays in a convent where she was raised. After getting locked in the basement by the nuns to protect everyone, Raven’s demonic side comes out again and blows up a part of the building. This episode is better than the first one but the mystery of Starfire isn’t interesting. Also, Gar appears briefly when Rachel is playing a video game but that’s about it. It’s pretty lame how little they’ve used him compared to the others.
Am I impressed with the show? Not at all. Could it be worse? Yes. Giving Beast Boy and Starfire their regular skin tones doesn’t seem like a hard thing to do and not doing it really detracts from the characters. Starfire is actually described as an “African-American female” at one point in episode 3 to point out more about how she doesn’t look like an alien. I don’t know why they are showing so little of Gar. He’s only had a total of a few minutes of air time over all of the episodes so far. I really hope the show picks up soon. IMDB shows casting for Jason Todd, Donna Troy, and the Doom Patrol. They’ve got a lot going on and some good characters to work with. I just really wish the writing and characterization for all of this was better.