Earlier this year, “Titans Hunt” and “Titans: Rebirth” took most of the original Teen Titans and reintroduced them to readers as the new cast of “Titans.” But with that in mind, who’s left for Ben Percy and Jonboy Meyers’ “Teen Titans” title? As it turns out, several characters originally introduced in “New Teen Titans,” along with two legacy heroes of the modern era.
The Old New Teen Titans
In 1980, Marv Wolfman and George Perez revived the concept of the Titans by mixing four new members alongside some old favorites for “New Teen Titans,” after debuting in “DC Comics Presents.” One of those new characters, Cyborg, has been snatched up by the Justice League ever since the New 52 debuted in 2011. For the other three characters — Beast Boy, Raven and Starfire — it’s as good a time as any for them to form the core of the new “Teen Titans” comic. It’s safe to say, though, that all three have had some slightly problematic origins in the New 52.
Starfire’s approach was easily the most controversial of the trio. Originally a member of “Red Hood and the Outlaws,” this alien princess and former slave was portrayed as a scantily clad, sexually free-spirited woman with amnesia and possibly other mental issues. Ill-received by the readership as a whole, the character eventually left the title and briefly starred in her own solo series where she moved to Key West and was portrayed as innocent in the ways of Earth but in a manner that was toned down and more charming than anything else. Having developed the start of a relationship with Dick Grayson, that’s still on display in “Teen Titans: Rebirth” #1 as Starfire mentions offering him the opportunity to travel with her in the Caribbean. Percy also emphasizes the part of Starfire’s origin that had her sold into slavery by her sister; she’s travelled to the nation of Torando specifically to fight a slave trade that presumably uses the island as a base.
Raven was another new character back in 1980. Both then and now, she’s the daughter of the dreaded demon lord Trigon, fighting the evil inside of her while attempting to be a hero. <a href=”http://www.cbr.com/everyones-favorite-goth-teen-titan-returns-in-raven-1/”>This month’s new “Raven” mini-series</a> has gone a long way towards turning her from an untrustworthy ally/part-time adversary into a genuine hero, and it’s that depiction that we get in “Teen Titans: Rebirth” #1. Here, she’s in New York examining fine art at a museum; it’s a more relaxed and down to earth version of the character than we’ve seen in the past five years.
Beast Boy has the most intricate modern origin of the three characters who originally joined back in 1980. That’s apt, since when he was originally added into the mix, he was a pre-existing character, a green-skinned shapechanger who was a regular supporting character in “Doom Patrol” prior to the series’ conclusion and the deaths of its four core team members. In the New 52, he was originally part of the short-lived “The Ravagers,” a mix of characters escaping the diabolical villain named Harvest. When the series was cancelled (and all of its heroes save Beast Boy recaptured by Harvest), Beast Boy made his way to “Teen Titans” where he eventually became a member of the team, striking up friendships with most of the cast, but especially Bunker. Here, he’s living the high life in Los Angeles, using money from his uncle to host massive parties alongside the elite. It’s the closest we’ve seen to the version of Beast Boy from pre-“Flashpoint” when he was part of the Hollywood world, and this carefree version of him once again feels like a real back-to-basics approach. It may not 100% mesh with what we’ve seen up until now, but Percy’s made enough of it work that it’s about as close as a smooth transition as we’d get to shifting the character to a more enjoyable personality.
The New New Teen Titans
Three team members does not form a full roster of Titans, though, and along those lines we still have two more starting lineup members to add onto board. First up is the new Kid Flash, aka the “other” Wally West.
This version of Wally West is a new creation, certainly inspired in small part to the character on “The Flash” television show played by Keiynan Lonsdale. The son of Daniel West, the modern Reverse-Flash, his first appearance is at his funeral 20 years in the future, with the Barry Allen of 2034 swearing to travel back in time and save Kid Flash. In the present day, that death is averted, and in the process Wally is struck by lightning and gains his super speed. He’s a very new hero, one just starting to figure out his powers, but it’s worth noting that the first thing this Wally West does with his powers is to stop a classmate from being bulled. His initial portrayals in the comics are as a slightly troubled character, but he’s someone whose heart is in the right place, and who is still experiencing the overall wonder of gaining super speed.
Then there’s Damian Wayne, the current Robin, and Batman’s son. Grant Morrison introduced him into the comics at the start of his lengthy “Batman” run a decade ago (although technically he showed up twenty years before that as a baby in “Batman: Son of the Demon”), presented as the child of Bruce Wayne and villainess Talia al Ghul. The character’s gone through a lot of twists and turns in the decade; becoming Robin, teaming up with Dick Grayson during Bruce Wayne’s temporary death, then dying himself near the end of Morrison’s run at the hands of one of Talia’s living weapons. If that wasn’t enough, he was eventually resurrected using technology from Apokolips that briefly (but thankfully, temporarily) granted Damian massive super powers. Having just concluded his own “Robin: Son of Batman” series, he’s riding a massive dragon-bat named Goliath, and deciding to do something about Tim Drake’s recent “death” in “Detective Comics” that helped spark the dissolution of the last Teen Titans.
That something? Form a new Teen Titans with himself as the team leader. Damian Wayne is anything but a soft, easy-going character, though. Known for his biting personality and overall assumption that he’s superior to everyone around him, he’s creating his lineup the old fashioned way: kidnapping his prospective members. Just another day for Damian Wayne.
With the initial lineup united, where do these Teen Titans go next — other than a large headquarters shaped like a T, that is. No matter where they’re situated, this is a classic grouping of characters, and most importantly, five characters who bring a good mix of personalities to the table. Some are a little rougher around the edges than others, and there are clashes surely ahead, but this feels like a group of characters that would grab a reader’s attention. In other words, it’s just the right mix for “Teen Titans” #1 next month. So far, so good.