Why the TEEN TITANS Have Endured for Decades, by MARV WOLFMAN

TEEN TITANS WEEK kicks off with thoughts from the team’s greatest writer…

Welcome to TEEN TITANS WEEK — an anniversary celebration of comics’ greatest (or at least most entertaining) superteam. The term Teen Titans was coined 55 years ago this year and The New Teen Titans #1 debuted 40 years ago Aug. 14. So all week long here at 13th Dimension, we’ll be featuring a variety of tributes to Robin, Wonder Girl, Speedy, Cyborg, Starfire and all the rest. For the complete index of columns and features, click here.

Meanwhile, it would be hard to find someone better to kick off TEEN TITANS WEEK than Marv Wolfman, who of course created The New Teen Titans with George Perez and also had a hand in the original series.

So, here’s Marv with WHY THE TEEN TITANS HAVE ENDURED FOR DECADES. We couldn’t be prouder to have him launch the festivities:

By MARV WOLFMAN

I’ve been asked by Dan Greenfield to write about the enduring success of the Teen Titans and their characters. In many ways I’m the worst person to ask. There’s no way for one of the creators to give an answer that doesn’t sound like bragging.

Growing up, I alternated between being a Titans fan and being someone who didn’t really care for them. I certainly liked the idea of the younger heroes getting together but I didn’t like that they were portrayed as being some kind of junior Justice League who had to ask their “parents” permission to do anything.  I liked that they were all strong characters but didn’t like that the stories were all low-key and not big superhero tales. Why weren’t they fighting villains as powerful as the JLA was? I liked the idea of superhero teens but didn’t like that they spouted teenage clichés that no one their age would have ever said.

I got a chance to write several of those early Titans stories and tried my best not to put too many “groovys” or “Dig it, mans,” in their speech. They didn’t talk or look like any teens I knew. I also didn’t like — no, make that I hated — that they had an adult mentor, Mr. Jupiter,  supervising them.

Teen Titans #22, 1969

So when I asked for the chance to create my own Teen Titans I knew exactly what I wanted to do: Age the characters from young teens to older teens. No fake kid slang that would be dated the moment it was used. No Junior Justice League. No answering to adult mentors. Actually, no adult mentors of any kind; they were all old enough to make their own decisions.

Also, the stories needed to be scaled up, not down. The New Teen Titans wouldn’t fight second-rate baddies; their villains would be adults and as powerful as any character the JLA ever fought. Treat the characters with respect and the fans will respect them.

Each Titan would be as real as my partner in peril, George Pérez, and I could make them. With real, personal problems. With real emotions and passions. With real control over who they are and what they’d want out of life. They would have real identities people could understand. And they would all have their own lives outside the group as well as relatives and friends who weren’t part of their superhero adventures.

Each Titan was designed from scratch to allow us to write and draw any kind of stories we wanted. Science fiction: Starfire would be our way into those tales. Horror? Raven covered that. Detective: That’s Robin — later Nightwing’s — area of expertise. Tech and the real city: Cyborg. Each Titan would have real problems and real concerns. If they were old enough to get married, they were old enough to live on their own and make their own decisions.

That’s the Titans George and I wanted to write and draw, and fortunately that’s the Titans the fans were interested in, too. I’m sure anyone can tell you what specifically they liked about the Titans, but that was our mindset when we created them.

I’m thrilled that our version of the Titans has gotten more popular over the years but you’ll have to ask the readers why. We just wrote and drew the kind of stories we wanted to read.

MORE

— The Complete TEEN TITANS WEEK Index of Features and Columns. Click here.

— GEORGE PEREZ: This Issue Was THE NEW TEEN TITANS’ Turning Point. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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4 Comments

  1. Well said, Mr.Wolfman.
    The Teen Titans were always a “realistic” team that was fairly easy to relate to. Really nice to know at times some of their biggest villians are related to growing pains….
    Much like our favorite teenage arachnid.

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  2. I would like to thank Marv and George for their wonderful work on this series. My first issue was #17 and I was instantly hooked. I’ve been diligently buying the trades collecting the series (though I now see that Vol. 11 slipped by me in May; I will correct that) and it was been wonderful revisiting the characters and stories (and even reading some I’d never read in early volumes!)

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  3. Marv, you and George really made my high school years! I could not WAIT for the next issue, every month. It was hands-down the greatest comic of it’s time. I once found my little sister flipping through an issue I had left out, and pretty soon, she asked me to pick up a copy for HER each month, too! It was one of the very few things we had in common during those years, and I thank you for that.

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