Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
<i>Teen Titans: Beast Boy</i> is a worthy update of an underutilized character

Teen Titans: Beast Boy is a worthy update of an underutilized character

Illustration: Gabriel Picolo/DC

Teen Titans: Beast Boy (DC) expresses its mission statement right away, with Gar Logan saying he wants to reinvent himself. The green shapeshifter has been overdue for the kind of evolution that his fellow Titans have been given in recent years, but nothing else he’s been in has really made an attempt. Either he’s the comic relief alongside his other Teen Titans, or one of many heroes who are fighting for screen time.

Beast Boy aims to get its title hero out of his state of arrested development—quite literally. The smartest move made by writer Kami Garcia and artist Gabriel Picolo is a complete commitment to having their version of Gar Logan be so utterly normal at the outset. Instead of living in a glamorous city like L.A., he lives in Georgia. His friends—an athlete and a game streamer—are just as normal as he is, with problems just as relatable. This isn’t a weird kid with a quirky trait or a strange past, as YA stories usually have; he’s simply average.

What makes Gar an outsider is something seemingly out of his control: Despite being a high-school senior, he looks much younger. Image issues have been a staple of Beast Boy’s insecurities across all mediums, and this clever reworking allows Garcia and Picolo to use Gar as a way to talk about self worth and toxic expectations. He feels like a real, fully developed character, and Garcia writes him with a lot of charm even before he grows into himself.

Once Gar learns his daily supplements have been stunting his growth and stops taking them, the book shifts into the more traditional origin story, as he has a literal overnight puberty and his powers emerge. It’s in these moments where Beast Boy shines, allowing Picolo to show off Gar’s animal powers. The artist gained fame through drawing the Titans in his beloved series of “Casual Teen Titans” fan art in recent years, which makes him a perfect fit. He calls himself a fan of Beast Boy in the book’s foreword, and it comes across in how expressive and energetic he draws Gar. Wisely, the book largely eschews showing him morphing into animals, but instead emboding their traits, such as taking the stance of a mountain lion. It makes the payoff of his actual morph all the more special, an exciting prelude for what he’ll become in later adventures.

DC’s YA graphic novel imprint has mostly been a success, and Beast Boy is another strong entry. This is a fun modern update for Gar, and one of the more interesting stories involving the Teen Titans in years. Finishing it should leave the reader excited for what Garcia and Picolo have planned for Beast Boy Loves Raven in 2021, and hopeful for this team to take a shot at the remaining Titans in the near future.