TITANS TOGETHER! Geoff Johns talks about 'Teen Titans!'

While 80's nostalgia has been returning to the comic book world in the form of classic cartoon characters, like "G.I Joe" and "Transformers," DC Comics latest set of new release announcements for 2003 seem to have a sort of "welcome back 80's" feel to them, too. Arguably one of the biggest announcements is the relaunch of "Teen Titans," under the auspice of writer Geoff Johns and now DC exclusive artist Mike McKone, which spins out of the "Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day" special that is also slated for mid-2003. Taking time out of his busy schedule, writer Geoff Johns spoke briefly with CBR News about "Teen Titans," though he admitted that he didn't want to say much as the series wasn't due out till next July.

"Yes, I'm writing Teen Titans! I can finally speak out…it was so weird reading all those rumors and seeing what was going on. Some of the stuff was like 'what?' but others were dead-on. With the amount of people that knew about this I'm actually surprised it didn't get out earlier. I'm very excited to take on this team with Mike (McKone)," says Johns who currently writes "Flash" and "Avengers" solo and co-writes "Hawkman" with James Robinson and JSA with David Goyer. "Yes, I'm busy. I know," says Johns, "I love writing, I love the creators and characters I work with and I'm going to do nothing less than my best. I do promise that.

"I've been dying to write Superboy since he first appeared and I can't wait to tackle Deathstroke. Move over Captain Cold."

The formation of this new group of Titans is sure to excite a lot of fans of both the classic team and Young Justice, as it's membership includes Robin, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Cyborg, Superboy, Starfire, Impulse, and Raven (to start with), and one of those excited fans is Johns himself. "Dan DiDio approached me, he knew I was a Titans fan, and asked me if I wanted to write the new 'Teen Titans' book- so, of course, I said YES! And Editor Eddie Berganza's passion for Titans is exploding as always," said Johns. "Dan is a great asset to DC and I'm thrilled he's there. He takes personal interest in everything you do and invests time and thought into every decision made. He was vital in the creation of the Teen Titans and in the new direction for Flash next year. He cares about the company, characters and talent. I'm very, very glad he's at DC.

"My goal with 'Titans' is to tell action-filled character-centric stories with a balance of history and new territory. I also am thrilled to work with kids again, which I did in 'Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.' I love Star and Jakeem Thunder in 'JSA.' The kids make it feel very, very different from other team dynamics and I'm trying to make it very accessible. At the same time it'll have an edge to it…just wait and see. Another personal goal is to give 'Titans' the best cliffhangers on the stands. I want people dying to read the next issue."

Some fans might be skeptical, with all the different incarnations of the Titans, teen or not, in recent years and Johns says that he does have a unique perspective to bring to the book, but he can't go into too much detail yet. "I'm really focusing on the kids being kids, teenagers being teenagers and why they have to be together, but I can't really talk [New Teen Titans #1]specifics at this point," says Johns. "It's just too early and I don't want to spoil Judd's mini-series or our first arc. But I can tell you that I chose the characters for this book because those are the characters I gravitate towards and the reason they mirror the Wolfman/Perez era is because that's my favorite era, of course. No one said I had to take the characters - I chose them. And yes, before anyone points it out, I realize that Cyborg and Starfire are not teenagers. However, you'll be seeing a very different kind of Raven…"

As mentioned previously, Johns' series will spin out of the "Graduation Day" special written by Judd Winnick and while Johns didn't have a lot of input into the events in that issue, he isn't worried about the outcome. "I just know how it begins and ends so far. But all the credit, everything goes to Judd," admits Johns. "I read the first script and he's doing a really great job. I love his work, and what he did with the characters in 'Exiles' - I can't wait to see what he's going to do with 'The Outsiders!'"

In regards to the other series coming out of "Graduation Day," namely Winick's "Outsiders" that features Nightwing as leader of a new team of heroes, Johns said that readers need not worry about buying both series. "They'll stand alone. There might be some inter-connection, we don't know yet."

While Johns has barely begun his collaboration with artist Mike McKone, whose work he admired on Marvel Comics' "Exiles," Johns says he has a good feeling about his new creative partner. "It's great," says the writer of the art samples he's got back so far. "He's done some designs, we don't start working for a couple of months, but it seems like it's gonna be amazing. I'm a big fan of Mike's work and he's a big Titans fan, so I know we're going to work well together. Plus his re-designs on the characters are fantastic. Cyborg kicks ass. Raven is dark and mysterious. And our speedster…perfection."

It's no secret that Titans fans are some of the most devoted and most vocal fans in the comic book industry and Johns has some encouraging words for those fans, and all others, who might wonder what this new Titans series has to offer. "It's the same take that we did on 'JSA'- the old and the new," says Johns passionately. "The old and the new, that's it. We're trying to make the best of the both worlds. I'll be able to get into more specifics in a few months after we really begin working. Check back in with me then. It's going to be a very, very fun ride. And we're taking these characters in directions most couldn't ever predict."

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