Review by Tony Keen
As a final sign-off for the team that created the New Teen Titans, Games works pretty well. It was conceived in 1987 as a swansong for Marv Wolfman and George Pérez on the title they’d co-created and propelled to critical and commercial acclaim in the early 1980s, but for various reasons it wasn’t completed until over twenty years later.
This remains very much late 1980s Titans, as the haircuts alone make clear. Danny Chase, possibly the least popular Teen Titan ever, is there. Donna Troy is Troia. Raven’s costume is white, not black and Changeling’s is ridiculous. This was inevitable as many of the pages were drawn in the 1980s, and could not be changed, and it results in a jarring moment where a villain flies past the twin towers of the World Trade Center, long gone by the time of publication. Nevertheless, some aspects of the story remain resolutely contemporary, such as vindictive government action towards the Titans, even more relevant today than when first published.
First, it’s necessary to address the artwork. It’s gorgeous. This ranks alongside JLA/Avengers as Pérez’s finest published work, and well deserves the larger pages and glossy paper of this large European-style graphic novel format. All his virtues are on display – well-designed spreads, clear storytelling, realistic and expressive faces, and intricate detail. There are a mixture of inkers – Pérez himself, his long-time Avengers collaborator Al Vey, and Mike Perkins, who had previously worked with Pérez on Common Grounds. The result, however, is pretty seamless. The first page is Pérez, and the last Perkins, but telling who did what beyond that would require an expert.
What of the story? After 23 years of anticipation, on publication there was inevitably a lot of weight riding on this. It should not be forgotten that when Games was originally planned, Wolfman’s writing on Titans without input from Pérez was bereft of quality and shedding readers at an alarming rate. Here, however, on the whole, Wolfman and Pérez’s plot (mostly Pérez’s, it would appear, at least initially) stands up. It’s a pretty good Titans story, with a credible threat to be faced.
Wolfman and Pérez take advantage of this being essentially now an Elseworld, the main continuity having moved on. This results in character developments that would have been dramatic in 1988, especially as some were clearly planned to be part of the main continuity, and some which might not have been allowed. Some villains lack a credible threat, but the story gets past that.
Overall, this is a pretty decent package available in both hard and soft cover that’s definitely worth a look.