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‘Teen Titans Go!: Roll With It!’ (review)

Written by Heather Nuhfer, P.C. Morrissey
Art by Agnes Garbowska, Sandy Jarrell
Published by DC Comics
Buy it Digitally from comiXology

 

I was going to praise the new Teen Titans Go! graphic novel for young readers, Roll With It, featuring a charismatic but evil leader who tricks a large portion of the population into downright adoration whilst blatantly looting and manipulating everything solely for the benefit of herself, for its sneaky way of interpreting 2020’s reality for kids…but then came the poop joke.

And the thing is, they managed to make the poop joke integral to the plot!

And kids love poop jokes. If I had to guess, I’d say the poop joke might well be the biggest takeaway from the whole book for some kids!

The book is done in the now-familiar Teen Titans Go! style, naturally, an anime and manga-inspired cartoony take on characters who all grew too serious to be fun anymore in grown-up comics.

We have Robin, of course. In spite of the fact that it’s been nearly four decades since Dick Grayson has been Robin in the comics, I believe this is supposed to be HIS Robin. He’s teamed here with Beast Boy/Changeling and the three newbies from the now-classic Wolfman/Perez era—Raven, Cyborg, and Starfire.

Raven’s still dark but not AS dark. Starfire’s cuteness is played up rather than any sexuality, and Cyborg is a lovesick lug for most of the story.

And that story?

Well, for the characters it’s a game of Dungeons and Dragons that gets out of hand.

Well, not exactly D&D as DC didn’t have the rights. So here it’s B&BBasements and Basilisks. Robin is the Dungeon Mas…um…the Basement Boss and, as a longtime player, he has put together a long, complex quest. He insists that everyone follow the rules exactly in order to have fun, dammit!

This, as you might expect, leads to no one having fun.

In the way of fantasy games, each of our heroes becomes another character and from there it’s pretty much traditional gameplay at first with dragons, skeletal knights, fairies, unicorns, and the ever-present rolling of the many-sided die.

Robin’s strict adherence to HIS ways makes the others rebel and ultimately it’s decided they need a more neutral Basement Boss so the woman who runs the local gaming store is chosen.

Bad move on their part as this turns out to have been her secret plan all along.

Only Robin senses the truth and it’s up to him to convince the others, all of whom are now, finally, having so much fun they don’t care and just think he’s sore at having been replaced.

Surprisingly coherent as it’s done by a mix of creators, Roll With It is just a delight all the way through. Kids and readers unfamiliar with gaming are likely to be lost as far as the plot but will still enjoy the crazy, colorful situations the gang gets into with each roll of the die. Nothing too scary and always with light-hearted dialogue to show that everything’s really all okay.

My personal favorite parts are Starfire’s unique, almost Yoda-like way of speaking—a carry-over form the cartoon, I believe—plus Robin’s mask and how it’s always used to emphasize his eyes—or lack of eyes, actually. Very creative cartooning.

I do have to wonder, though, if that political subtext was put there on purpose or purely by accident.

Booksteve recommends.

 

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