Teen Titans: Beast Boy

DC Comics. Sept. 2020. 208p. pap. $16.99. ISBN 9781401287191.
Gr 8 Up–Garcia and Picolo reimagine Beast Boy, the green-skinned Teen Titan who can turn into any animal, as an undersize adolescent longing for the spotlight. Overlooked and self-deprecating to the point of self-defeat, 17-year-old Gar wishes he had a buffer body, romance with a popular classmate, and the adoration of internet viewers. His friends Stella and Tank derive acceptance and confidence from live-streaming video games and eating contests, respectively; Gar sees himself as merely their goofball sidekick. But when he decides to stop taking the daily supplement his scientist parents give him, an overnight growth spurt leads to a mature physique, attention from his crush, and the approval of the prank-obsessed social media crowd. He also starts to gain some strange powers—like a tree shrew, he can eat an incredibly hot pepper, and in gym class, he’s as quick as a cougar. He begins questioning his parents (why were they making him take that supplement?) just as the shady Slade Wilson enters the picture. Gar’s journey of self-discovery, including his friends’ concerns with dyslexia and the mistreatment of laboratory animals, is believable and accessible. Picolo’s art is crisp and angular; layouts rely on about four to five panels per page in wide shapes, as well as large spreads that use smaller bubbles to emphasize characters moving within them. The plot ends on a cliff-hanger, with a couple of plot hooks suggesting a sequel.
VERDICT Gar the high schooler takes his first clawed steps from insecurity to gregarious performer in this adventure that pairs well with Garcia and Picolo’s Teen Titans: Raven.

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