TITANS “Titans” review

Titans (DC Universe)

Titans stars Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson/Robin, Anna Diop as Starfire, Teagan Croft as Raven, Ryan Potter as Beast Boy, Alan Ritchson as Hawk and Minka Kelly as Dove.

Titans is available to watch now on DC Universe in North America. The series will arrive on Netflix in international markets soon.

Synopsis

Rachel Roth, a teen haunted by dark visions and powers, falls under the wing of Detective Dick Grayson. We also meet Kory Anders and Beast Boy Gar Logan.

Review

So much has been made of Titans grim atmosphere and THAT line in the trailer. Even before the series has had a chance to prove itself it has been written off by some as overtly dank entry in to the DC Universe. So surprise you as it may this show, or at least this episode, has a lot more to it that superficial atmosphere and its edge.

This is DC Comics and Warner Bros. spreading their wings and getting comfortable with self-censorship on their own platform. Not only is this episode our introduction to the world of Titans, it’s our introduction to the entire world of DC Universe original programming. There’s a lot riding on the success of the show and at times you can feel it during this episode.

Pilot episodes always suffer under the sheer weight of exposition required to bring us in to its world and Titans is no exception. First up we need to be introduced to its characters. Interestingly the writers chose to save Gar Logan aka Beast Boy until the episodes end. Instead we spend the bulk of the episode with Rachel aka Raven, Dick Grayson and Kory Anders aka Starfire.

Depending on what you are looking for there’s a character for you here. Rachel is introduced first, the goth girl with the witchy, demonic tendencies. We first see her in a dream sequence around the deaths of John and Mary Grayson. Seeing a glimpse of her home life really helps to contextualise the character. The brief time spent with her before she goes on the run is fairly intense and worthy of much more exposure if the show implements more flashbacks.

Next we meet Dick Grayson. He’s not the boy we know from the comics. This Dick is particularly weary of the world. It’s a year since he’s left Gotham and he’s now landed in Detroit where he’s been working as a detective for around a month. Although we see him in cop mode for a while we don’t learn too much about him aside from he’s a bit of a loner.

Things get more interesting when he dons the Robin costume for a scene glimpsed in the trailers. Robin is brutal. Utterly brutal. When Detective Grayson tracks down Tyler Hackett, a child abuser who somehow walked free after brutalizing a little girl, he interrupts a drug deal and things go south. Robin springs in to action and brutally attacks the goons.

It’s worth noting that many fans have complained that Robin leaves a pile of dead bodies behind him. That is not the case here. There’s no obvious or confirmed kills in this sequence. Though his methods are extreme it doesn’t seem that Robin kills.

The next scene, set the following morning, it an interesting look at ‘the morning after’ for the vigilante. Another scene with his new partner when he discusses why he left he previous ‘partner’ in Gotham is also worth a second watch.

Lastly Starfire. She has perhaps the most interesting and unexpected introduction in this episode. She wakes up in a crashed car outside Vienna in Austria. With no memory of how she got there we follow as Kory sets out on a journey to remember who she is. This is by no means the Starfire of the comics. She’s most certainly not the Starfire of the cartoons either.

Whilst she might not be the character we know, it’s clear she’s on a journey to become her. What will be interesting to see is why Kory is looking for Rachel and how this ties in to her missing memories. Anna Drop has come in for an unnecessary amount of criticism since her casting. Not only does she get to torch a classic comic book character in this episode, she gets to speak foreign languages and does it like a pro.

Gar Logan does get an introduction of sorts here. His brief appearance at the end provides a great tease for next weeks episode.

There’s not a huge amount of action due to the consistent exposition required to get the story going. The sequence with Robin in the alley is well choreographed. If the rest of this season features sequences like this then I’m going to be one happy boy.

Special effects are also sparse here. Beast Boy’s appearance as a tiger and subsequent transformation are convincing enough. I’m looking forward to seeing much more of this in future. Similarly when Starfire lights up and torches the Bratva members it looks pretty damn cool on screen.

The best effects are saved for Rachel. Throughout the episode her reflections are her demonic counterpart. Usually abusing her or persuading her to kill. When her inner Raven manifests it’s equally impressive. This is, in many ways, the Raven you’ve always wanted to see. The writers have truly embraced her dark side.

I hadn’t realised the series was being scored by Clint Mansell as well Kevin Kiner. I’ve been a fan of Mansell ever since I first saw Requiem for a Dream and I hope the influence of that music creeps in to Titans. The musical landscape of this episode is interesting. There’s a mix of pop songs and score. The score features echoes of Stranger Things so it’s definitely a great start for me.

Verdict

Thought Titans from the usual pilot cliches it remains a thoroughly engaging and entertaining first look in to the world of its characters. A fairly self contained story but one with enough intrigue to make this the kind of show you’ll immediately be craving the next episode of.

8/10


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About Neil Vagg 1836 Articles
Neil is the GYCO Editorial Chief. He has a BA in Film & Tv and an MA in Scriptwriting; he currently works 9-5 as an office manager and 5-9 as a reviewer/web designer. He has been subscribing to comics for around nine years but has been reading them as long as he can remember. Favourite comics: Batman; Nightwing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and All New X-Men Favourite films: Batman (any apart from & Robin); Star Trek Generations, Underworld, Beetlejuice Favourite TV shows: Fringe; Buffy, Arrow, TBBT, Being Human UK and Star Trek TNG