(Editors Note: All editorials are solely the opinion of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of DC Comics News or its staff.)
Let’s face it, New 52 Teen Titans is no where near as good as it should be. When you compare it to other runs of the team, it’s downright insulting. So what’s the problem with the current Teen Titans? What makes those other runs so special? How can it be fixed? Well my friends, lend me your ear…er um, just read the article.
Teen Titans (The Legacy)
Originally debuting in 1964, Teen Titans was never really successful until it finally caught fans’ attention and approval in the 1980’s. Marv Wolfman and George Perez crafted the most popular run on the series with the characters most people remember, Robin/Nightwing, Cyborg, Changeling/Beast Boy, Kid Flash, Starfire, Donna Troy, and Raven.
The New Titans continued into the 90’s under different titles and different creators, most notably Dan Jurgens and of course Geoff Johns. Johns re-invigorated the team in 2003 with a new lineup and direction. The team featured the likes of Tim Drake as Robin, Superboy, Bart Allen as Kid Flash, Cassandra Sandsmark as Wondergirl, and many others. Teen Titans was an excellent showcase of how young heroes could be just as efficient and heroic as their older and more experienced counterparts.
The immensely popular animated Teen Titans series aired on Cartoon Network a short time before Johns started on the title. When most people think about the Teen Titans franchise, comic fans included, they usually think about this show. It was an excellently written, well produced show for all audiences, and perfectly captured the essence of the characters. Although the show concluded in 2006, it carries on today with Teen Titans GO! The team of crime fighting teenagers went through many creative and roster changes as the years went by, but it remained the same for the most part and the characters were still in tact.
Then in 2011 the DC reboot happened and, unfortunately, Teen Titans got completely screwed over.
Teen Titans The New 52 (AKA Why Bother)
We will be looking over Issue #0 and Volume 1 of Teen Titans, and the opinions below are based on those two books.
Despite Bunker and Skitter being on the cover of Teen Titans #0, this issue has nothing to do with them. This issue is Tim Drake’s New 52 origin. Tim’s previous, and perfect, origin was outlined in Batman: A Lonely Place of Dying and in Batman: Year Three. Tim was a child sleuth who deduced the identities of Batman and Robin. He then realized that Batman was behaving irrationally because of the death of Robin and, with the help of Nightwing, Tim saves the day and becomes Batman’s new sidekick. Great. Perfect. Excellent.
Now, Tim Drake is some weird Olympic prodigy kid that gets stalked by Batman disguised as an old man. Alright…well what happens next? Batman recruits Tim, who becomes Red Robin. That’s right, Red Robin. He was never technically Robin. It’s also implied that “Tim Drake” isn’t even his real name.
Tim may still be a computer expert, but his character is just not done right. The new Tim is arrogant, snooty and self-centered. In the past, Tim was always a nice kid, who was relatively humble about his incredible intellect.
And the cancer that took over Tim’s character doesn’t stop there. Other Teen Titans suffer their own noxiously re-written personalities.
The main team consists of Tim Drake, Superboy, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, as well as new characters Bunker, Solstice, and Skitter.
Pre-New 52 Superboy was a nice guy and friend to all the titans. Here, he’s a rebellious asshole who starts off by trying to kill the team. He doesn’t really join the team until the end of Volume 1. Nice first impression. Later, he ditches the team for issues at a time. Nice. Aren’t Tim and Superboy supposed to be best friends or something?
Wonder Girl also suffers the same fate as Superboy. Tim tries to recruit her to the team and help her out, but she just acts like a total ass. Don’t call her Wonder Girl, or she’ll get mad.
Kid Flash seems to be the only character in tact. He is still hyperactive, spunky, and heroic—much like his earlier, pre-New 52 incarnation.
How They Can Fix It
It boils down to this: Some of the characters don’t act like themselves, and the writing is bad. The book has a very confusing and boring direction. Even the color scheme is boring. The solution is simple—get a new creative team.
Scott Lobdell is very hit or miss. While his Red Hood run was decent, he is obviously not the right choice for Teen Titans. Brett Booth is a great artist, but is a much better fit for a book like Nightwing.
The choices for a new team are plentiful. There have been so many great writers who have effectively helmed this title, and DC has a ton of great writers at its disposal. Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire would be great choices, and even Justin Jordan (Superboy) could do it. I bet James Tynion IV could do a great job with a group of young heroes, as he did such wonderful work writing Tim in Batman #0.
Another solution? Add some new members to the team! People really miss Static and Blue Beetle, and they would be great fits for the title. Static even showed up once in Volume 1, and Blue Beetle would be the perfect offset to all the red colored uniforms. How about adding Supergirl? Bring back Stephanie Brown maybe? Please?
Comic book fans are almost always willing to change their collective mind. When Green Arrow got Jeff Lemire, it finally caught on. No doubt people bought Superman Unchained because of Scott Snyder.
Teen Titans is a great concept with great characters. With a roster change both in the creators and the content, it could be the book we’ve all been waiting for. It’s easy stuff DC, make it happen.