If Beast Boy is so important, where is he?!
So, despite the first issue not holding my interest at all, and the fact that I dropped the series quickly, I still managed to get a hold of issue 2, and I might as well talk about it. While this is a superior issue, there are more than a few problems that hold this series back from being anything more than average at best.
The first thing you'll immediately notice is how quickly they were to drop the cast down from what looked like dozens of former Ravagers that escaped with the main group down to just Caitlin, Thunder, Lightning and Ridge, with Beast Boy and Terra floating around somewhere. Now obviously this is meant to keep the story relatively focused, instead of juggling 20 characters around, but it also implies that a whole bunch of kids just got slaughtered or captured, despite having a whole event of them escaping (kinda seems meaningless when 3/4 of the escapees die). Whatever, lazy writing meant to sweep the cast issue under the rug so we don't have to worry about things getting cluttered, moving along.
Reading on, I immediately noticed a bit of a problem with the characterization. Ridge and Caitlin are by far the most likable characters, and they even have a bit of a back and forth thing going on. It's not written brilliantly, but it's nice to see how certain characters interact with each other. Thunder and Lightning on the other hand have none of that, despite being brother and sister. Thunder's personality is limited by the way he talks. I believe he has a bit of a mental deficiency after what he went through during the Culling, which is fine, but it severely keeps me from seeing him as a rounded character. At best you could call him well meaning, but that's about it. Lightning is just pretty unlikable. I suppose they're trying to make her the cold but protective older sibling, but it doesn't make her endearing at all. As for the villains, it seems like all they're ever gonna say about Harvest is how much he plans. and plans. and plans. Literally, they should have called him the PDA, because they just use so much wasted dialogue to tell us that he never makes any mistakes and sets everything to his own schedule. We're gonna unmask him and find out he's Light Yagami. the thing is though, we never SEE HIM make a plan, or see it come to fruition. It's just characters ungracefully telling us that he's a REAL BIG THREAT, nothing more. Isn't that exciting?
Again, I'm not liking how they're using Beast Boy. Despite being only in 2 pages last book and 1 page in this one, they make damn sure to tell us he's gonna be pretty important as the story moves along. It's obvious that they're making use of his high profile from the Teen Titans cartoon, despite having slashed and burned a huge chunk of his history and character pre-DCU. There is however what I interpreted as a hint to his connection with the Red, which is a nice touch, but still, I would sacrifice all of that just to make him Green again. There's too much red in the DCnU, from the Teen Titans coloring to Nightwing's new uniform, and it's not too pleasing on the eyes seeing it everywhere.
Despite this, the art is quite good, and I can't really complain too much on it.
I think what positives I can say about the story in general is that it is for the most part competently executed. Story pacing is much better than last issue, and as a whole this series reads much better than any other book tied to the culling. The dialogue, while not brilliant, is still written by someone who has actually talked to real people, as opposed to the 90's story telling methods frequently used in Superboy and the Teen Titans.
The real problem with this issue is that there's nothing special about it. I've jokingly said before that I had already read this story in Avengers Academy, which is a book about kids with great abilities taken in by a scheming supervillain to be used in his private army, but they get released and now they have to try and be heroes despite the trauma they've just gone through, and I feel that's the sad truth about this series. It's already been told before, and better. The idea of escaping from capture, and struggling with whether to get revenge or to be better than you assailants is something that has been done to death, and as a result nothing about the story really grabs your interest. The characters are uninteresting not because of the writing, but because there's nothing special to work with. Every character here acts in a way you could recite without even reading it, and the result is an overall bland story, relying on more popular works to bring you in and hopefully get you to stick around, since there really is nothing really all that bad about it. It's not memorable, and when this series finally wraps up, or if it eventually shifts directions away from the culling a few years from now, you won't remember it at all. Like the average Superman story published after his death: it might be enjoyable, but you certainly could have lived your life without reading it.