This October, Damian Wayne takes over the Teen Titans, aided in part by the incoming creative team of Benjamin Percy and Jonboy Meyers -- who will debut the new-look version of the team in October's "Teen Titans" #1. And it really is a new-look version of the team, as artist Meyers has decided to overhaul everything -- not just the characters and their costumes, but Titans Tower, the Titans' jumpship and more. Whilst keeping an eye to the classic designs and ideas of artists like George Pérez, Meyers' take on the team looks to update the characters whilst paying tribute to their past.
With Damian now the leader of the team (or at least, so he thinks), the Titans will find themselves suddenly in the crosshairs of some of the biggest threats in the DC Universe -- including, in the first arc of the series, none of other than Damian's grandfather himself, Ra's Al Ghul. To look into what we can expect as the series begins next month, CBR spoke with Meyers about his role as artist on the book, and how the team are getting along.
CBR News: What's your personal history with the Teen Titans as characters, as a team, as a concept? Were you a fan before you came to the team for DC: Rebirth?
Jonboy Meyers: I’ve been a fan of and reading "Teen Titans" since the '80s starting with the [Marv] Wolfman/Pérez stuff and then onto Tom Grummet’s amazing work on the book soon after. Some of my first drawing samples were of the Teen Titans fighting Deathstroke and Wildebeest -- though I dropped off until Geoff [Johns] and Mike [McKone] rebooted the series with those amazing Mike Turner covers.
I’m also a fan of the "Teen Titans GO!," "Young Justice" and "Teen Titans" direct to video movies. For me, those have been a huge source of inspiration. I’ve been a longtime fan, and still can’t believe I’m drawing "Teen Titans." It really hasn’t quite sunken in!
Various people have assumed leadership of the team over the years, but now Damian Wayne has taken the reins. How does Damian’s approach vary? What made you want to see him in the role?
For sure, though no one is as good a leader as Dick Grayson! I wouldn’t quite say Damian is leading the Titans -- more like wanting to, at the moment. Honestly, most of the Team is deferring to Starfire. She seems to command the respect and trust that Damian covets.
But for Damian, I think it’s a role he can grow into. He’s learning that respect and trust are things that need to be earned and not given or just taken. Keep in mind, Damian is, in a sense, a Prince of sorts, and is used to getting his own way.
But outside the League of Assassins, respect and trust is not such an easy thing to earn.
What does his arrival mean for the other members of the team, and how they work together?
Without spoiling things, Damian’s arrival and how he goes about “assembling” the Teen Titans is dubious and, at first, highly questionable. I’m sure Damian fans will be scratching their heads a bit, but when issue #1 rolls around, we see why he brought them all together and it makes perfect sense.
The team is fractured and struggling with their own inner demons and a sense of loss, so there’s a lot for them to overcome personally and as a team. But as the story unfolds, they’ll come to appreciate why Damian brought them all together and will bond along the way as well. And those bonds run deep as the team learns they have a lot more in common than they think. It’s very much a story about self-discovery and family.
You’ve redesigned everything for this series -- the costumes, the jumpship, Titans Tower itself! What were your goals with the new designs? What did you want to convey for the team’s new approach?
Well, the Titans history is so rich, and in my mind, I’m not a Pérez or Grummett or McKone (those guys are giants), so I really needed to step up my game as much as possible. DC Rebirth is very much about legacy, so I wanted to keep the design sense familiar and iconic as possible -- although I tried to modernize and streamline their designs. Perez’s original designs and color schemes were my design template.
Their overall look is to harken back to what everyone knows and loves about Teen Titans -- the looks feel familiar and relatable, and speak to Geoff’s mantra about 'Legacy'.
I did want the designs to feel a bit more aggressive, so for the Jumpship and the Titans Tower I went with a more brutalism/military feel in the design, especially since, well, Damian steals a lot of the tech from Batman. Just to stick it to his Dad, of course.
One note, though, Kid Flash’s design was really heavily influenced by my editor Alex Antone. I really fought for black and red, but he was totally right by telling me that the classic color works the best. Thanks Alex!
Damian’s approach is going to be interesting, because you can’t imagine he’ll get on well with either Beast Boy or Starfire. What role will they each play in the book?
I think certain characters will naturally gravitate to one another. I can see Beast Boy and Kid Flash becoming best bros for life, and Robin and Raven have a lot in common. I think the dynamic between the team will grow and develop as the series progresses. The main theme of our book is "family." They really need one another, and each family has their own dynamic and structure. I hope fans will keep reading, because where these characters start out is not where they’ll end up. Each character will do a lot of growing up as the book progresses -- some more than others.
Speaking of, I think a lot of people have found out just how invested they are in Kid Flash, Wally West, recently. How is he coping with the shift to full-time heroics?
I’m very happy fans are giving Wally a chance. He’s very much the heart of the team, and the most well-adjusted. Like his mentor, Barry Allen, he’s always trying and pushing his limits. Wally loves being a superhero and helping people. He’s that kid who wished for superpowers and got it. How cool is that?! Now, he wants to strut his stuff and see what he can do.
What approach are you taking to Raven? A long-term fan-favorite, what does her presence bring to the team?
Raven is very complex. With her design, I used a lot of sharp corners and covered her up as she has to keep herself closed off from the world. She's at arms length, but at the same time needs that human contact to keep her tethered to this world and her humanity.
Like Robin, she has issues. Hopefully, we can do a story that allows her to resolve some of that -- hopefully, she’ll not turn to the dark side! We very much want to build arcs around our characters so right now while it may feel like a Robin story; next we may focus more on Kid Flash.
How are you each approaching the series as a collaboration? Ultimately, what do you want readers to take away from this new era for the Titans?
Ben is very gracious to allow me to help with plot ideas and pacing. There’ve been lots of ideas and dialogue that the entire team is sifting through to help make the series as good as it possibly can be. We are fans and want to treat these characters with love and respect. There’s a lot of choice out there on the racks these days and, for myself, I want to give our readers the most bang for their buck. I’m doing all I can, art-wise, so they know they're getting their money’s worth!