Today it’s hard to understand just how big comics were in the 80s and early 90s. Comic companies were starting and making millions following the trends of that time.
One of the biggest trends at the time were teams of young heroes balancing their personal relationships with the pressures that come with being a hero. Two notable examples of this were Marvel’s New X-man and DC’s New Teen Titans. Today were going to talk about the latter of the two.
New Teen Titans was written by Marv Wolfman, who at that time was known for his long run on The Tomb of Dracula and the creation of the vampire slayer Blade. In the 80s after having a dispute with Marvel comics Wolfman returned to DC comics and teamed with George Perez to work on the New Teen Titans.
Over the decade the team’s original roster (Robin, Cyborg, Beast Boy, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, Starfire and Raven) would change due to new members, betrayals (Judas Contract) and deaths of characters.
Fans loved this book and there was a demand for more. So both Wolfman and Perez started working on a brand new original graphic novel in 1988. Due to a number of reasons (scheduling issues, universe changing reboots and re-writes) the comic was never finished until 2010 and then released in late 2011 (better late then never I guess).
The plot of the book revolves around a game of cat and moose. The Titans are asked to help a shadowy government agency (as if there is any other kind) to stop a mad man from killing people in a war game like operation.
Right from the get go I have a issue with the storyline and it’s not the shadowy government trope.
There’s a mad man planning on attacking multiply different areas, with multiple different super powered villains and the group that they go to is the Titans? Was the Justice League/Outsiders/Justice Society or any of the other teams that were around then busy?
“Sups is busy and Batman doesn’t return my calls. What we need are teenagers with attitude. But, the Power Rangers aren’t around yet…Teen Titans will do.“
Over the coarse of the book the Titans must fight such foes as…a guy who makes cartoon characters come to life…a sniper on top of a building shooting lasers at people…or the worst of all a person in a suit of armor destroying priceless paintings in a museum (Holy Picasso Batman). So the Titans aren’t exactly fighting the Legion of Doom here (but destroying paints really?). Was there another team member littering on a highway somewhere while fighting Apache Chief? (That’s the Super Friends reference of the month)
Another issue with the book is the fact that it doesn’t do a good job of introducing who the characters are. Sure, the average reader would know who Nightwing is but who is Danny Chase? And why is he so annoying?
While the original fans of Titans are the intended target audience for the book, it’s been twenty years since the book was started, a two-page intro would have been easy.
Despite the culture gap the book still holds up fairly well, even if it feel like your walking into a time capsule (Jericho and Starfire must use a lot of hair spear).
If you’re a fan of the original run, you need this book. If you aren’t but you are interested in the history of both the Titans and comic in the 80s it’s a solid read. If you don’t fit into either of those categories I would recommend that you pass these one up and maybe look into the Geoff Jones run of Titans from a few years ago. It’s modern and most of the team are big names.
Creative Team: Writer-Marv Wolfman Art-George Perez
http://www.dccomics.com/dcu/graphic_novels/?gn=15580 for additional information.